While we frequently travel to faraway lands these days — made possible by cheap flights — more than one hundred years ago, it was generally a more stately affair. Long journeys by coach had to be taken into account, which meant people thought very carefully about the destination and duration of any vacation.
Hiking instead of the fitness center
As an enthusiastic and very sporting nature lover, Robert Bosch generally took his whole family into the mountains, mostly to Tyrol or the Allgäu Alps. While celebrating his 70th birthday, he recalled:
“Every year, when my children’s school holidays began, we all drove to the “hut” in Hinterautal and stayed there for four weeks. I, for one, then had to stalk game every morning and afternoon, which saw me climb up to 1,000 or 1,200 meters each day. This boosted my metabolism considerably and I am convinced that these many years of summer vacations in the mountains, which I continue to this day, have kept me healthy and sprightly.”
The tours he took with his first family sometimes turned into major endurance tests. His daughter Margarete recalled from her youth: “Father was a passionate mountain climber and took my mother on long tours in the mountains when we were small. […] When I was ten and my brother seven years old, we were allowed to accompany them for the first time into the mountains, which was a major event. Our first tour up high was on the Eastern Karwendelspitze. We spent the night on the alpine pasture and got to sleep in the hay. The next morning, at the crack of dawn, we continued uphill to the summit of the Karwendelspitze […] My sister and I had to traverse a ridge. Our guide carried my brother, as we did not feel it was something he could yet manage. My father demanded huge hiking feats from his children […] on these tours. […] That particular one to the Eastern Karwendelspitze lasted a whole 13 hours. My father himself was an extraordinarily resilient hiker, who sometimes drove his companions nearly to despair from not wanting to blurt ’I really cannot go on.“
As with his work associates, Robert Bosch clearly expected his children to take a lot of responsibility for themselves. It obviously did them no harm. At the end of the hike, they were allowed to sleep once again with the men in the hay, while Anna Bosch and companion Mrs. Göhrum, who had also joined in with her husband and children, slept in the herdsman’s bed under the dried sausages. Where the herdsman spent the night is not revealed.
“He explained many things to us children and gave us an enormous amount of intellectual stimulation, particularly during our childhood years. But you had to watch out, because he wouldn’t explain anything a second time,” is how Margarete describes her father.
Robert Bosch also spent a lot of time in the mountains and nature with the children from his second family, Eva and Robert the younger. However, with age he had clearly become less demanding in the endurance he expected from them, or perhaps this was down to his own advanced years. For now they were often accompanied into the mountains by a horse, which carried either their luggage or the children themselves, as the cover photo shows.
To mark the 150th birthday of Robert Bosch on September 23, 2011, the path to the Stuttgart Hut in the Lechtal Alps was given his name. He had signed the visitors’ book there almost exactly one hundred years before, on September 9, 1911.
I am the head of Historical Communications at Robert Bosch GmbH, and I work on preserving and communicating our company’s long and multifaceted history. Before joining Bosch in 2007, I was employed for over ten years in various museums in an academic capacity. I also worked freelance in the same field. As a historian and specialist in cultural studies, I want to show that history is far from dusty and lifeless, but rather relevant and exciting.