Stamps don’t have to be expensive to have a story to tell. Austria #907 is one such stamp. In it we see the Europa Bridge, part of the superhighway over the famed Brenner Pass. At 4,500 feet, the Brenner is one of the lower routes through Alps and it is open year-round. It is an important link for goods flowing between Italy and Germany and for northern European tourist heading through Innsbruck to Italy.
The Europa Bridge is an impressive structure that is a half-mile long and 625 feet high; supported by massive pillars visible in the stamp.
The peaceful scene depicted in the stamp does not tell the story of the history of the Pass and certainly no of the controversy that has surrounded in in recent years. This route was of strategic importance, even during the Roman Empire and was a vital link between Hitler’s Germany and Italy during World War II. It was estimated that 24,000 tons of supplies moved daily through the pass to support German troops in Italy.
In November 1944, the Americans began air attacks on the pass that lasted for 3 months. Eventually 475 German heavy guns were clustered around the pass to fight off the American bombers.
In recent history, a different sort of battle has engulfed the historic Brenner Pass. Heavy traffic. One estimate claims upwards of 27,000 vehicles, including 5,000 trucks moving merchandise use the pass every day.
Innsbruck, Austria – June 08, 2018: View of the Europa Bridge or Bridge of Europe a 777-metre-long bridge
The resulting pollution has led citizens to block the pass. Stymied truck drivers, upset about long delays staged an eight day blockade years ago. Additional complaints arising from the noise made by truck traffic caused travel bans at night. Efforts made by the Austrian government to impose tariffs to reduce traffic earned a reprimand from the European Union.
So, while the image depicted on the stamp is idyllic and shows how the pass could look – real life is a bit different.