Placed on an emerald green pasture, under an azure blue sky, the five-star hotel classified as a historic monument offers an impressive view of the Wetterstein massif and its famous Zugspitze, the highest point in Germany at almost 3,000 m above sea level.
It is in this landscape mixing meadows, plump cows, wooden chalets flowered with geraniums and forest of fir trees that Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed on the red carpet his six American, French, British, Canadian, Italian and Japanese partners.
“It’s beautiful!” Enthused Joe Biden just after contemplating the surrounding peaks with the host of this G7.s
At the start of the afternoon, the leaders – all men with the exception of the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen – posed for the traditional family photo, dropping the tie.
Only Frenchman Emmanuel Macron and Briton Boris Johnson arrived in Bavaria accompanied by their wives. On the program, for those who were welcomed by Olaf Scholz’s wife, Britta Ernst, the regional Minister of Education: Nordic walking, violin making, presentation on climate change in the Alps.
All the leaders discover for the first time this spectacular site located about a hundred kilometers from Munich, not far from the Austrian border.
In 2015, Germany had already hosted the G7 leaders in Elmau.
– Sausages and beer –
The then American president, Barack Obama, had tried the local specialties: sausages and white beer, pretzels. The Bavarians in traditional dress and wearing Tyrolean hats who surrounded him had made the photographers happy.
The choice of a hotel withdrawn from the world owes nothing to chance. The German authorities want at all costs to avoid a repeat of the nightmarish scenario of the G20 summit in Hamburg in 2017, which was dominated by violence on a rare scale in Germany. Olaf Scholz was then the mayor of this port metropolis.
In Elmau, a metal fence 16 km long and up to three meters high was erected to prevent access to possible protesters.
And up to 18,000 police are mobilized with reinforcements from all over Germany, according to the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior.
On Sunday, anti-G7 demonstrators had to settle for a rally in the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, about twenty kilometers from Elmau. They were around 800, some wearing masks bearing the effigy of the seven leaders, chanting slogans such as: “There is no peace with the G7!” or “Fight against war and capital!”.
Police guarded all the roads in an area subject to the incessant noise caused by police helicopters and delegations.
In Garmisch-Partenkirchen, some did not hide their discontent. “All the roads are blocked, the children will have distance learning again on Monday and Tuesday and all the tourists have left,” complained Ingrid, who rents rooms to holidaymakers.
According to German media, the total cost of this summit amounts to 177 million euros.
– Spas and concert hall –
The residence with 115 rooms and suites, equipped with spas, outdoor swimming pools, a concert hall, five restaurants, one of which has two Michelin stars, will therefore place the leaders in a bubble.
In addition to a few hiking trails, only one small road, blocked, provides access to the castle.
The seven leaders were transported by helicopter from Munich International Airport.
They were able to discover on their arrival the particular history of this place, exemplary of the way in which Germany faced its post-war Nazi past.
Located at more than 1,000 m above sea level in the municipality of Krün, the castle was built from 1914 to 1916.
The vast residence had served from 1942 as a reception center for Wehrmacht soldiers who went to rest there after the battle. After the fall of the Reich, the castle, seized by the United States, served as an American military hospital, then as a refuge for survivors of the Holocaust.