Gustav Beikircher

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Gustav Beikircher (born September 20, 1879 in Mühlen in Taufers , † August 9, 1953 in the Martinsbrunn sanatorium near Merano ), trained mechanic , turbine builder , photographer , car specialist from the very beginning, as a machine manufacturer, one of the pioneers of the Pustertal economy.


Gustav Beikircher was the second son of the loden manufacturer and electrical engineer Josef Beikircher (1850–1925). After graduating from elementary school in Campo Tures , he found that he was unable to continue studying at the church-run grammar school in Brixen due to his father's well-known liberal attitude. So the only way left for the technical training sought by father and son was the craft. That is why Gustav Beikircher came to Bozen to do an apprenticeship with master Josef Hötzl, the board member of the locksmiths cooperative and head of the vocational training school there. At the same time as his apprenticeship, he attended the three-year specialist courses at the vocational school and returned to his father's electromechanical company in 1898 as a fully trained mechanic. At that time the workshop was still dedicated to the production of cable lifts and sawmills, but was increasingly concentrating on the production of turbines, pipelines and all the accessories for small and medium-sized power plants.

As a boy, Gustav received his first and lasting impressions of the art of photography. They were brought to him by a friend of his father's, the academic painter Max Gudden (1859-1893) from Munich . This, a son of the well-known psychiatrist Bernhard von Gudden , who was associated with the death of King Ludwig II of Bavaria , roamed the Taufer mountains during his long summer stays from Mühlen , using both the paint box and the camera, and often let himself be seen accompany the talented and eager to learn boy.

After Gustav's other three brothers, Josef, Emil and Eugen, had completed their technical training, the father decided in 1900 to take a step that was very unusual at the time, in which he gave the four sons an equal share in the company, so that every partner was covered accounted for a fifth.

It is no less unusual that his father became the first car owner in the Puster Valley in 1901 with the purchase of a De Dion – Bouton Voiturette (3.25 HP , built in 1900), which also had a decisive influence on the life of his son Gustav. During his three years of military service (1901–1903) Gustav Beikircher used every opportunity available for professional training and acquired the certificates of competence for the operation and maintenance of light and power machines, of stationary and locomobile steam engines and finally the qualification as an independent workshop manager. From a military point of view, he rose from the rank of foreman to corporal and was then promoted to platoon leader before he ended his military service "in the presence" as an Austro- Hungarian fireworker at the fortress artillery regiment Count Colloredo-Mels No. 4 in Pola. Returning to his father's business, which subsequently also supplied the entire village of Mühlen with electricity, he and his brother Josef passed the driving test that was held for the first time in the monarchy in the spring of 1906.

At the beginning of the First World War , the two brothers were immediately called up to Innsbruck where an Austro-Hungarian motorcade was set up, which was to be sent to the Russian front under the command of Captain Ernst Freiherrn von Handel-Mazzetti. While the operation of the electromechanical workshop in Mühlen was practically paralyzed by the outbreak of war, an extremely exciting time began for Gustav Beikircher, both in terms of his interest in automobiles and his love of photography , with the friendship that soon developed with his direct superior lieutenant Ing.Aladar Nehoda, who shared the same preferences, was very helpful. The motorcade was stationed in Krakow in the immediate vicinity of the front (10 km). Unlike his brother Josef, who was responsible for the inside work in the column right from the start (workshop supervision, duty roster creation, etc.), Gustav decided on the trips in the field (daily care of the front line, return transport of the wounded and prisoners, etc.), which led him far into the tsarist empire , but were also correspondingly dangerous.

After Italy entered the war in May 1915, his motorcade was moved to the Dolomite front, located in Neumarkt . From here he made a daily inspection trip in a passenger car along the front from the Neumarkt location via Cavalese , Predazzo , Moena , Canazei to the Pordoi Pass . In August 1915, he met the Commander-in-Chief of the Southwest Front, Archduke Eugen , to whom he gave personal reports.

In the autumn of 1915 he was transferred to the Motor Vehicle Replacement Depot (KED) in Innsbruck, where he was entrusted with training the next generation of drivers. Not very satisfied with the administrative part of his new job, he tried, giving in to his pronounced wanderlust, to be accepted into one of the two "motor vehicle formations for Turkey " that were being established. He passed the required tests and entrance exams, was incorporated into Formation II and arrived in Constantinople in early October 1916 . There he first took part in the construction of a large vehicle depot on the Bosporus before he had to start his first business trip to Diarbekir (1700 km from Constantinople). On his return to the capital of the Ottoman Empire, his knowledge as a chauffeur and driving instructor was immediately used by the family of the Turkish sultan , before the highest levels of government from Enver Pascha to Mustafa Kemal Pascha , the later "father of the Turks", for theirs Obligated journeys that covered the entire Ottoman Empire from Constantinople to the Caucasus , Mosul , Jerusalem , Gaza , etc. Chief of Staff Fuad Pasha persuaded him to stay in Turkey even after the end of the war, where he could guarantee him an adequate existence. Far from thinking of the possibility of a defeat for the Central Powers, the fireworker Gustav Beikircher seriously considered this proposal, as his letters show.

Gustav Beikircher was awarded the “Iron Crescent with Ribbon Clasp” by the Turkish government for his services as an instructor and as a chauffeur . For his extraordinary commitment at the reception of Kaiser Wilhelm II , he received the extremely rarely awarded “Prussian Warrior Merit Medal” from the Apostolic Legate and Patriarch of Constantinople he received the Jerusalem pilgrim cross . He had already been awarded the "Silver Cross of Merit with the Crown on the Ribbon of the Medal of Bravery" from the Austrian Reich Ministry of War .

After the collapse of the Palestine front, the Austro-Hungarian car formations were interned on the island of Prinkipo in the Marmara Sea . In mid-January 1919, however, the time had come when Gustav Beikircher and his crew were taken by sea from Constantinople to Trieste and then by train to Vienna , where the World War II ended for the Turkey II motorcade. Due to numerous rumors about chaotic conditions in South Tyrol , which was now occupied by Italy , he waited some time in Innsbruck before he was the last of the four brothers to return home. Here not only the political situation had changed dramatically: the company, which once worked across the monarchy, was now limited to the small South Tyrol; neither the father nor the older brother Josef had the necessary energy for a new beginning. So now Gustav had to take care of running the business more and more, before it passed on to him after the death of his father in 1925. At the same time, he successfully tried to keep the private railway from Bruneck to Sand in Taufers established by his father as a public limited company . It was nationalized, but Gustav succeeded in preventing the company from being dissolved and the authorities granting him a permanent seat on the board of directors. In order to continue the route served by the electric railway, he founded his own post bus line in several attempts from 1920 to 1922, which ran from Sand in Taufers to the end of the Ahrntal valley to Kasern . The turbine company managed by Gustav finally became autonomous from the Italian authorities and was authorized to carry out larger projects when his son Adolf received his doctorate at the Turin Polytechnic in 1930 and took the state examination in Milan a year later , which enabled him to do his habilitation freely was connected as an electrical engineer.

From a political point of view, the option implemented by Hitler and Mussolini in 1939/40 followed for South Tyrol , in which all four Beikircher families, those of Josef, von Gustav, Emil and von Eugen as well as 86% of the South Tyrolean population voted for emigration to the German Reich decided. The realization of this fatal decision was largely thwarted by the further course of the war.

Gustav Beikircher was the last of Josef Beikircher's sons to die on August 9, 1953.


  • Ivo Ingram Beikircher: Tyrolean auto pioneers in the First World War. Galicia, Alto Adige and the Middle East in photographs and letters from the kuk fireworker Gustav Beikircher. Haymonverlag, Innsbruck-Vienna 2012, ISBN 978-3-85218-740-2
  • Michael Forcher, Meinrad Pizzinini: Tiroler Fotografie 1854–2011. HAYMONverlag, 2012, ISBN 978-3-7099-7036-2