Crime Story: The Pius Walder case: How the death of a poacher tore an entire village apart

It is said that the farmers of Kalkstein, an East Tyrolean mountain village at an altitude of 1,641 meters, only come down to the valley twice a year, in the summer with the debris avalanches and in the winter with the snow.

Crime Story: The Pius Walder case: How the death of a poacher tore an entire village apart

It is said that the farmers of Kalkstein, an East Tyrolean mountain village at an altitude of 1,641 meters, only come down to the valley twice a year, in the summer with the debris avalanches and in the winter with the snow.

These are old stories, legends, words congealed into proverbs that stand around in the world today like the mountains around them.

You would have to ask the dead what is true and what is just fiction, but they don't talk anymore, it's enough. They lie in the ground in the shadow of Maria Schnee's church tower. They died in childbirth, in the rooms, in the fields, in the ice, despite the prayers, despite all the kneeling before the crucified Christ; they froze and starved and were carried off by the plague, just as death came to their door with their neighbors knocked.

This text was awarded the Reporter:innen Prize 2022 by the Reporter:innen-Forum as the best free report. In the laudation, among other things, "the author's archaic, baroque language - which stands out from the lack of decoration with which many reports are written today" was praised.

Thirteen graves surround the small church, like children waiting to take each other's hands in a dance; twelve narrow crosses made of iron, a grave is large and wide and made of light stone.

A young face, wide sideburns, is carved into this stone. “Pius Walder rests here,” it says, and: “On September 8, 1982 in Kalkstein, I was shot at in cold blood and deliberately by two hunters from the neighborhood and fatally hit in the back of the head with the 8th shot.”

A cemetery should be quiet, peaceful, not a place of strife or revenge. But a lot has changed in Kalkstein since that evening almost 40 years ago. Since then, a rift has been running through the village; you can still feel it sometimes. It is said that God never forgives a Tyrolean.

At that time, shots echoed through the valley, and there was a repeated crash, as if the imprisoned man was hitting his fist against the church gate.

How did Pius Walder die? What's true? How many times do you have to tell something before it becomes true?

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