ROTTACH-EGERN, Germany — Nestled among snow-capped mountains an hour’s drive south of Munich, the villages around the Alpine lake of Tegernsee have been a playground of the superrich for centuries — whether Bavarian kings, Russian czars, Nazi elites or pop stars.
They have been drawn not just by the pristine views, but also by the cozy air of discretion that in more recent years has made the area a favorite destination for Russian oligarchs, too.
“This valley has been a hideaway not only for the rich, but for the very opaque. It is a long tradition,” said Martin Calsow, an author of German crime novels, who lives in Tegernsee and sets many of his stories there. “We live off them, they are the source of our wealth, and as long as we don’t mention it, everybody can prosper. It’s like a silent contract.”
But Russia’s war in Ukraine — and the sanctions targeting Russian elites in response — have roiled the placid waters of Tegernsee, upsetting the calm veneer with nagging questions about whether it is right anymore to look the other way from the sources of wealth of those the area has hosted.