Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Natural resource law in Salzburg

Mark Weiner's recently posted his video, "Anna in the Mine", which, among other things, has some interesting talk about historical legal rights to natural resources in the Salzburg region. Archaeologist Anna Holzner explains that the Austrian administrative court has ruled that workers on the Dürrnberg still retain their medieval right to mine (salt) on the mountain.


  1. David and Mark,
    There is a curious transnational law aspect to the old salt mine in Salzburg-Dürrenberg: At the beginning of Mark's video interview with Anna Holzer, you can see a sign "Staatsgrenze" (state boundary) with the former Austrian coat of arms, the twin-headed eagle. The salt mine actually stretches beneath the Austrian-German border underground into neigboring Bavaria. According to the bilateral "salt mining treaty" (Salinenkonvention) of 1829, the northern part of the mine beneath Bavarian territory is subject to German sovereignty, whereas all matters of administrative/economic (and hence environmental) regulation are subject to Austrian law; in return, Bavaria was granted the right to use timber from the Austrian "salt forest" (Saalforst) across the border. Even though salt mining has long been discontinued, the treaty (including the timber use rights) is still in force, amended/revised in 1957 and confirmed by Article 31(2) of the general German-Austrian boundary treaty of 1972/1979. You can find its history discussed in Karl Neumeyer's volume II/2, "Internationales Verwaltungsrecht" (Munich 1922), at p. 61; Neumeyer happened to work as junior clerk, during his own legal training, at the Traunstein Court of Appeals on the other side of the border, which had "sovereign" jurisdiction over the Bavarian part of the mine, hence his first-hand familiarity with the issue.
    - Peter

    1. Thanks, Peter, for this interesting comment. Readers interested in this should check out Peter's post on this blog on Karl Neumeyer (in the list of popular posts on the right, or using the search box on the top left of the page).

  2. Thanks very much for your comment, Peter! Absolutely, it's the transitional aspect of the space that interested me, guided precisely by the physical border crossing you mention and its symbolism. And the space is transitional not only in legal terms, but also in historical ones—its a space that registers change—capturing the special tension between continuity and change in contemporary Austrian society and identity that I hope to bring out in the larger video project. In developing the idea, I was especially interested in capturing the way that Austrian law, and the Austrian relation to the landscape, expresses an underlying search for "Sicherheit" (in the sense that Stefan Zweig used the term in Die Welt von Gestern) in its resistance to the liberalizing forces of EU enlargement and centralization and economic globalization—which is part of what drives my interest in the Austrian sense of cultural traditionalism. At least, that's the idea with which the project began, though it's since developed in various other directions, somewhat less conceptually driven. David just kindly offered me the chance to blog about the film project, so hopefully I'll have a chance to explore those ideas a bit more here in coming weeks. In the meantime, thanks very much for your interesting comment, and for the Neumeyer reference and story, about which I hadn't known. By the way, regarding mining in Austria, I have another video about a law student who is the son and grandson of coal miners. I'm currently not making it public until the music I use clears copyright, but if you'd like to take a look to offer creative suggestions like the helpful comment above, please do feel free to get in touch. I can be found at Cheers!