Home History of Switzerland


Swiss Peculiarities - Swiss Personalities - Swiss Firms – Swiss Products

With special consideration of Central Switzerland


see also in short: Schweizergeschichte: Meilensteine

                               Kleine Schweizergeschichte


Part I: Early History and political history

Part II: Economic history and economic pioneers (800/1200-2000)

Part III: Swiss in Switzerland and abroad, foreigners in Switzerland (400 BC-2000)




Mountain panorama from Stanserhorn, 14.10.2011

In the middle: Titlis.



Part I: Early History and political history


Starting from 500 000 BC: Hunters and gatherers


Perhaps half a million years nomadic huntsmen touched by the area of today's Switzerland. They hunted - probably by fire hunt (battue) and drop pits - cave bear, giant deer, primeval oxen, woolen rhinoceros and mammoth and picked wild fruits, mushrooms, honey, insects and amphibians.

They used caves and over-hanging rock roofs as shelter and established simple tents from branches in the free landscape. The fire granted light and warmth to them and served for cooking and roasting.

In Switzerland we have no cave paintings as the marvelous ones in France and Spain since 30 000 BC, neither small art (statues, jewellery), only some engravings.


5000/4000 BC - 800 BC: Farmers and craftsmen


Between 5000 and 4000 BC the hunters and gatherers were displaced by farmers. They came from northeast (band-ceramic culture) and from Southern France and established soon at the lakeshores in settlements of 7-10 houses. These are often called „Pfahlbauten" (buildings of stakes), because one tried to prevent the foundations from sinking in the damp underground by ram in of long stakes.

Agriculture and cattle breeding led to a rich cultural development, in addition, to rapid growing of the population. Important cultural achievements were the building of houses and the clearing of forests, pottery, weaving and metalworking, stocks of provisions and trade, the improvement of devices and weapons as well as establishing a social order.

Around the year 1000 BC the buildings were formed of blocks, and terrace settlements were constructed.




800 BC - 15 BC: Barbarian Celts


Since the beginning of the Iron Age (since 800 BC) we know of the Celts northwest the Alps. They pushed away the Ligurians and Veneti south to the Mediterranean. They are described by Greek authors as "barbarian”, since they expanded from 400 BC all over Europe (on the one hand to Italy, Turkey and Romania, on the other hand to France and Spain, England and Ireland).

In the eastern Alpen lived the Raetians (probably descendants of the Etruscans), in Ticino the Lepontii and Insubri.

One the numerous Celtic tribes were the Hevetics. They lived in the Swiss midlands in villages (“Weilern”) and farms, later also in fortified places (“oppida”). Some cultural traces are objects of gold.

58 BC they wanted to emigrate to Gallia (Southern France). But they were defeated at Bibracte by Julius Caesar and had to return to their native country.


1-400: Romans, since 400: Germans


see also the beginning of: Berühmte Schweizer und bemerkenswerte Schweizer


Until 400 the territory of Switzerland belonged to the giant Roman Empire. Then the Vandals (406) and the Hunns (436) passed.

It followed till 537 a time of less rule in the reign of German tribes: The big western part of Switzerland came under the influence of the weak Burgunds, the middle one under the influence of alemanic groups, the eastern and southern parts under the influence of the Ostrogoths.

Then came from the west the Franks, first the Merovingians, then the Carolingians. In the south there were for 200 years the Lombards.


In those days the region that is now Central Switzerland was virtually unpopulated. Only the Urner Föhntal and the tiny settlements of Schwyz and Lucerne were sufficiently attractive to-the Alemanic settlers, who began mixing with the Romanized Celts and Romans in the year 537.

The dukes of the Alemanni soon became increasingly dependent on the Franks; this resulted, among other things, in their conversion to Christianity. First written records (deeds, books) date from 700.


800-1200: Counts, Dukes and Overseers


The Carolingian monarchy reached form the Spanish Mark to the North- and East-Sea and near to Vienna and Rome. After the death of Charlemagne it was divided step by step in an eastern and a western part. East-Switzerland got into the sphere which later became the German Empire. Western Switzerland belonged another 150 years to a reign between the kingdom of Burgundy which was picked up by the German Empire in 1033. The Ticino was reigned by italian Kings for 80 years.


Around 850 relatives of the Eastern Frankish Carolingian emperor, Louis the German, rebuilt the cloister of Lucerne; he himself founded the Fraumünster Abbey in Zurich and endowed it with lands in Uri and other areas in the original Switzerland.


Shortly after 990 once more foreign troups invaded the area of today’s Switzerland for a short time: the Normans from the North, the Saracenes from the South and the Hungarians from the East (926).


Since 911 we can speak of the German Empire, and since 962 of the Holy Roman Empire. (In fact this term is used only since 1254; the addition “of German Nation” after 1400. From 1034 to 1499 resp. 1648 whole Switzerland belonged to the German Empire.)

But the Saxon (or: Ottonian) and Frankish (or: Salian) emperors had a hard time with the rebellious local dukes. And later also the native princes, like the Counts of Zähringen (since 1090), Lenzburg, Habsburg (since 1177) and Kyburg, grew more powerful. They functioned as administrators (overseers) for the Hohenstaufen Emperors.

In the Valais and the western part of Switzerland there were the counts, later dukes of Savoy acting between the Frankish and the German Empire. The Ticino is ruled by the chapters of Milan and Como and later also the dukes of Milan.


1200-1300: Towards independence


However, the citizens of Schwyz had already achieved "immediacy" in the twelfth century, and were granted a "letter of independence" (making them directly responsible to the throne) from the Emperor in 1240. Uri was also exempt by the Emperor from paying tribute to the Habsburgs, but this turned out to be of little importance since Count Rudolf of Habsburg (who became King of Germany in 1273) was a just and even beloved overseer.

When he died in 1291, the three valley communities of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden formed the "Everlasting League" to protect their rights of independence even at times when there was no king or under a possible “absentee" king.

"We want to be a single people of brothers, who will always keep faith in times of need and danger; we want to be free as our fathers were, rather dead than living in slavery. We place our trust in the Almighty God and fear no human power", says the Oath on the Rütli.


(Other translation: „We swear to be a nation of true brothers, Never to part in danger or in death! We swear we will be free, as were our sires, And sooner die than live in slavery! We swear, to put our trust in God Most High, and not to quail before the might of man!“)


Reworded in literary language, it is the founding document of the Swiss Confederation; its personified expression is the legend of William Tell. The written document which still exists today is the "Bundesbrief" of 1291.


1300-1400: The way to political power


The three “old places” had the right idea, because successive Habsburgs did try to "tighten the screw of power." When the Swiss resisted, Count Leopold organized a punitive expedition. Warned by knight von Hünenberg, the men of the young alliance were ready at Morgarten (1315); they drove the Austrian army into Lake Aegeri, thereby becoming both a military and political power. Now one spoke of the “Swiss”, and they used already a white cross as their identification sign.


Lucerne, which had suffered under Habsburg rule, joined the confederation in 1332. Thus, the Everlasting League of 1291 became the league of the four "forested areas" or "Waldstätten" as they were called in German. Lake Lucerne, on which they all border and which links them, is locally called the "Vierwaldstättersee" („Lake of the Four Forest Cantons“).

While even the city of Zurich joined voluntarily (1315) the league of the forested areas, Glarus and Zug had to grit their teeth and bow before the pressure of expansion. As Bern joined the following year, the Old Swiss Confederation essentially assumed its final shape.


At the Battle of Sempach (1386) the people of Lucerne, and at the Battle of Näfels (1388) those of Glarus, had an opportunity to demonstrate how important it was for them to stand up to the Habsburgs.



From 1400 on: Expansion, squabbling and mercenary


The urge for Swiss expansion could no longer be contained. It was felt first by Aargau and then by Thurgau, and even by the Burgundies, whose fall the Confederates initiated at the Battle of Murten (1476).

It was true that they had become a European power, but they squabbled among themselves. The hermit saint of Obwalden, Nicholas von der Flüe, managed at the last minute at the Council of Stans (1481) to avert a civil war between the cities and the “forested areas”.


The thirst for battle had somehow to be quenched, so the Swiss joined foreign armies as mercenaries. Many an emperor and king paid a high price to hire the fighting skills of the harsh and merciless soldiers of the former "land of the shepherds," armed with halberds and morningstars. Mercenary was a very important source of income for the male inhabitants till 1800.


Urs Graf: Battlefield. Drawing indian ink and pen. 1521



In Lucerne there stands a famous monument, the Lion of Lucerne (1820), testimony to the fighting spirit of the Swiss when they defended the Tuileries to the last drop of blood for Louis XVI in 1792. Even today, it is Central Switzerland that provides the - assuredly most peaceful - Swiss Guards for the Vatican in Rome (founded 1506).


After the conquest of the Ticino (1478-1512) as well as of Vaud and Lower Valais in 1536 the territory of Switzerland was about the same as today.


Mercenary activities, however, did not prevent the cantons from squabbling with one another, usually in religious wars. The farmers' drive for independence and the restlessness of areas held in subjugation kept on bursting forth in uprisings.



From 1815 on: Neutral, stable and prosperous


After the failure of the Napoleonic ideas, which determined the organization of Switzerland for a short time (“Helvetik” and “Mediation”), the land was guaranteed permanent neutrality at the Congress of Vienna in 1815.


Since then, this country has assured itself a permanent place in international politics by its "good offices"; Switzerland has participated in the formation of many international organizations, and hosts innumerable institutions and congresses.


At the same time, farsighted pioneers have used the industry and accuracy of the Swiss people as well as of many foreigners to make a country that is poor in raw materials, one of the leading economic powers of the world.


Switzerland as seat of international organizations


When after 1865 the first international organizations were set up, most chose the capital of Switzerland, Berne, to their seat, e. g. the International Telegraph Union ITU (1868-1948), the World Postal Union UPI (in 1874), the Intergouvernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (1890; since 1985: OTIF), the Inter-Parliamentary Union IPU (1892-1911) and the Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property BIRPI (in 1893). Elie Ducommun from Geneva was 1892 a co-founder of the Permanent International Peace Bureau in Bern (today IPB).


Swiss neutrality favored also the foundation of the first international Society of Peace (1830), the Red Cross (1864) and the Blue Cross (1877) in Geneva, and also the International Bureau of Education (1925) and International Federation of Business and Professional Women (1930).


Considering the Swiss neutrality, but also as a place of the Red Cross, in 1919 Geneva was chosen to the seat of the League of Nations (to 1946), the precursor organization of the UN. Therefore it is easy to understand that Switzerland could never be complete outside of the UN.


Next to the European seat of the UN Geneva houses today numerous organizations of the UN (ILO, WHO, WMO, ITU, WIPO, Unctad, UNHCR) and further international organizations (e. g. IPU, founded 1889, and IPB founded 1891; as well as IATA, ISO and WTO). The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) operates here since 1954.


Since 1815: An “island of stability”


Since 1815, the Swiss Confederation (Confoederatio Helvetica) has been known as an "island of stability." It has not changed its borders since that date.


The Federal Constitution of 1948 made it a modern federal state with a bicameral legislative body, the Federal Assembly (the Nationalrat or National Council, and the Ständerat which works like a senate with two representatives from each canton), as well as a seven-member Bundesrat or Federal Council, as the supreme executive body.

The original representative democracy soon changed, beginning in the cantons, under pressure from the middle classes, into semi-direct democracy. This means that every citizen is enfranchised. He chooses his representatives to the Federal Assembly, but he also has a direct say in government affairs through binding ballots, the initiative (introduction of new laws in the Federal Assembly) and the referendum (forcing the Federal Assembly to submit any enacted law to the approval of the people).


The relationship between the Federation and the cantons is governed by the principle of "cooperative federalism": the cantons, twenty-six in number, are sovereign, but cooperate with one another and with the Confederation on the basis of an exactly defined separation of powers. In most cantons, districts form an intermediate level for administration and organization of the courts.


Since the municipalities existed at the beginning of the development of the Swiss state - indeed, the independent cantons developed from them with their lands, they also enjoy a considerable degree of autonomy today. They confer citizenship and handle numerous tasks which affect people directly and in their everyday life.

Most of the more than 3000 municipalities still use the direct form of government through the institution known as the “Gemeindeversammlung”, or town meeting. On the cantonal level is practiced a tradition that goes back nearly 700 years: the "Landsgemeinden" (cantonal assemblies) in Appenzell and in Glarus.


Switzerland enjoys a diverse and carefully designed political structure in which self-government, civil rights, and international involvement combine in a distinctive merger of respect for the past and a pioneering spirit.




Part II: Economic history and economic pioneers


Starting from 1218: First prosperity: Goldsmiths and silk trader


Since Zurich was “independent” of the Empire (1218) the art of the goldsmiths flourished and since 1250 the trade and production of silk. For 300 years the goldsmiths of Zurich dominated middle Europe. The Reformation, which did not like luxury, set an end to it. Only shortly before 1600 to 1800 the craft of the goldsmiths flourished again.




Zurich Silk was exported to Swabia and Lorraine, South France and England, Vienna and Prague, Hungary and Poland. But Silk trade lost the connection to the “aristocratic" world of the German Reich soon after the affiliation of Zurich to the confederation (1351), and after the Old Zurich War (1439-50) exports stopped completely.

Only after religious refugees from Locarno (e. g. Muralt and Orell) 1555 settled in Zurich the families Werdmüller, Holzhalb and Schulthess initiated a new upswing of the silk trade, which culminated in the 19th century (Pestalozzi, Gossweiler, Usteri, Escher and Gessner, Bodmer, Arter, Zürrer and Abegg, Stehli and Stünzi).


In 1710 the “Seidenhöfe” (silk houses) of Werdmüller (1587) were bought by two brothers of the merchant family Escher. 1874 The silk firm of “Muralt an der Sihl” (1612) was taken over by the family Bodmer and continued till the 20th century. The Schwarzenbach Group - founded around 1830 - employed in 1910 more than 10 000 people worldwide and became later after the expansion in the USA (Schwarzenbach Huber) around 1930 the biggest textile enterprise in the world. 1980 the last production plant in Wädenswil was closed. A little bit longer produced Weisbrod-Zürrer (1825) in Hausen am Albis and Gessner (1833) in Wädenswil.


Shortly after 1400 the treatment of cotton has been established at Zurich. But it took 350 years to reach an international remarkable boom. After 1690 printing of fabric spread from Geneva to the eastern parts of Switzerland as far as Zurich (1740), Glarus (1740) and the Thurgau.


Since the erection of the first bridge on the Rhine (1225) the economy of Basel has been based on long distance trade and guilds of craft (e. g. weaving, tannery). The council of 1431-48 led to an upswing of the paper industry. The university, founded in 1460, and the humanists coming from far away made Basel soon a centre of printing.


The Bernese economy was mostly local and regional. Only the production of leather (tannery) could be exported, and between 1350 and 1450 the long distance trade flourished.


At the crossroads of the connections between the Mediterranean and northern Europe as well as between France and eastern Europe Geneva was a centre of trade in the Middle Ages. 1420 a subsidiary of the Medici bank opened; most money transactions were made by Italian banks. In the 15th century the market had European reputation.


The most important export in the 13th century was linen from east Switzerland. In the next century already some mills changed to barchent (a mixed fabric from cheap linen and expensive cotton). After 1770 the processing of cotton replaced the canvas industry in this region. Export by trading firms of St. Gall and Appenzell exceeded those of Zurich soon in quality as quantity.


Spa’s healing powers – hospitable inns


From 1230 to 1530 - especially in the 15th century - Swiss people and some guests liked to visit thermal spas in Baden, St. Moritz, Leukerbad and Pfäfers – which stem mostly from Roman times. The warm springs of Brigerbad were re-discovered 1471, the sulphurous bath of Alvaneu is described for the first time in 1474.

These baths were not only good for health and hygiene, but also for social life. Also steam baths (“sweat saloons”) were very popular.


Despite a steep decline of bathing after 1500 – of hygienic as well as economic reasons – some further spas were opened, e. g. Schwefelberg-Bad (1561) and Gurnigelbad (1591), Gontenbad (1597), Bad Schinznach (1658), Lenk (1689) Yverdon-les-Bains (1728) and „Heustrich Weyd“ (1775).


Since Carolingian times we have also at various places inns and hotels. “Les Trois Rois“ in Basel was founded, goes the legend, in 1026 (in reality 1681), the hotel „Storchen“ in Zurich and the guild house „Zum Rüden“ – a “drinking room” - around 1350. Also the oldest hotel in Interlaken is from the 14th century, the rural inn „Löwen“ in Heimiswil is documented since 1340, the „Wynhus zu Bären“ in Münsingen 1371, the "hotel Adler" in Murten 1396.

1349 in the Aeschenvorstadt of Basel the „Schwarze Sternen“ (black star) ist mentioned as „gentlemen’s inn“ (today: “Goldener Sternen”). The hotel „Schwert“ (sword) in Zurich hosted for 500 years (1421-1919) emperors and artists, adventurers and scholars. 1499 resp. 1570 was built the hotel „Crusch Alva“ in the mountains of Grisons, in Zuoz.

The „Hotel du Lac“ in Coppet was granted in 1626 the exclusive right to receive and lodge people arriving by coach or horseback. In Gersau the inn “Schiff” existed already in the 15th century; 1741 Andreas Camenzind built the “Gersauer Hof”.


Early reports of travelling through Switzerland are around 1550 from the Germans Johannes Stumpf and Kaspar Brusch and the French Joachim du Bellay; later from the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne (1580/81) and the English Dandy Thomas Coryate (1611).


Nearly one after the other (from 1637 on) the English John Milton (poet), Robert Boyle (chemist) and Edmund Waller (lyricist) toured Europe and visited Switzerland.


Inspired by Joseph Addison’s (1699-1702) and Horace Walpole’s „Grand Tour“ through Europe (1829-40) a lot of writers came from 1750 on also to Switzerland: Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, Oliver Goldsmith, Giacomo Girolamo Casanova, Edward Gibbon, James Boswell and William Beckford as well as André Chénier. Leopold III. Friedrich Franz von Anhalt Dessau toured several times through Europe looking out for gardens; Goethe toured three times through Switzerland. The Englis William Wordsworth praised in his poem "Prelude" (1805) which was published only in 1850, his Swiss trip of 1790.

About her experiences in Switzerland reported the English lyricist Helen Maria Williams (1796), about his “walking tours” a year later the Baltic Karl Gotthard Grass.


The first „Traveller’s guide through Switzerland“ is from the Prussian Johann Gottfried Ebel (1793).


Exploration of the Alps


Since Carolinigian times the passes in Grisons (Septimer, Lukmanier, Julier, Ofenpass) and Valais have been frequently passed. The hospices on the Great and Little Saint St. Bernhard are a 1000 years old. The hospiz on the Septimer was founded around 1100 by bishop Wido of Chur. The „Spittel“ (hospital) on the Simplon is documented since 1235. The Gotthard pass is open since 1200 after the gorge of the Schoellenen has made passable.


Mountain tops were avoided by men. They were interwoven with sagas and legends and thought to be the area of dragons. Therefore the first climbers on the mythical mountain of Central Switzerland Pilatus in 1387, the monk Niklaus Bruder from Lucerne and five clerical companions, were arrested afterwards by the local authorities.


Vadian, reformer from St. Gall, climbed the Pilatus free from religious bonds in 1518. Also the scientist Conrad Gessner from Zurich climbed up in 1555 – but he believed in dragons. As late as in 1619 was reported that a dragon came out of his cave at the Pilatus and flew majestically across the valley.


In 1538 the historian Aegidius Tschudi from Glarus published his geographic-antique investigation „Die uralt warhafftig Alpisch Rhetia“. The historic, geographic and folkloristic description of the Valais and the Alps by the theologian and historian Josias Simmler (1574) are among the pioneering works on the Alps – even though they were dictated in the bed.


Around 1600 the politican and scholar Renward Cysat from Lucerne investigated the flora of the most striking mountain of Central Switzerland, the Rigi, and praised the marvelous view from it. Chapels of pilgrimage were erected 1556 in Rigi-Kaltbad and 1689 in the “Klösterli”.




1642 Joseph Plepp drew the lower glacier of Grindelwald, and Mathäus Merian made a copperplate engraving. 50 years later the 18 year old march count Albrecht von Brandenburg and Thomas Coxe visited also the glacier and Johann Jakob Scheuchzer, physician and mathematician from Zurich, started (1694) scientific investigation of the Swiss Alps. Scheuchzer believed still in dragons (1718).


But it was not until 1730 when the “Alpine sense" developed in Europe. The need for recovery in good mountain air, the interest in the study of the Alps, the desire of reaching larger heights and the sentiment for the beauty of high mountain nature did lure intellectuals, aristocrats and others in the Bernese Oberland, particularly in the Lauterbrunnental.

Albrecht von Haller (with his poem “The Alps”, 1732), Rousseau and the German poet Goethe (1775) initiated travelling with their reports, the English painter William Turner (from 1802 on) and the German musician Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1822 and 1831) with their sketches and watercolours.

1751 the pastor and teacher of Greek Johann Georg Altmann collected the knowledge of his time in his „Essay of a historical-physical description of the Helvetic ice mountains“. Jacques-Barthélemy Micheli du Crest of Geneva drew the first panorama of the Alps (1754) in the state prison of the fortress Aarburg.


Among the first mountaineers (“alpinists”) known by name are some friars of Engelberg, who climbed the glacier-covered Titlis 1744, then from Geneva the brothers and geologists Jean-André and Guillaume-Antoine Deluc (since 1754) as well as the scientist Horace-Bénédict de Saussure (1787 on the top of Montblanc), furthermore the cartographer Franz Ludwig Pfyffer von Wyher (from 1762 on) from Lucerne, the landscape painters Caspar Wolf, Marc-Théodore Bourrit, Heinrich Wüest, Ludwig Hess and Hans Conrad Escher von der Linth as well as the priest Placidus a Spescha (from 1782 on) from Grisons. The top of the Jungfrau was climbed only 1811 by the brothers Johann Rudolf and Hieronymus Meyer from Aargau and two chamois hunters from Valais.


1777 the pioneer of glaciology, the Bernese Jacob Samuel Wyttenbach, published the first guide through the Alps.


Since 1800: Tourism and hotellerie


Napoleonic time brought France and Switzerland closer together. Tourism began to emerge rapidly - in Swiss words also called “foreign traffic”. Likewise initiated by Napoleon himself the extension oft the Alpine passes to real roads took place (e g. Simplon 1805; Gotthard 1830).


The French politician and writer François René de Chateaubriand visited Switzerland from 1805 to 1833 several times, especially Madame de Staël in Coppet. She has been painted 1809 by the French portraitist Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun.

Lord Byron visited in 1816 in Cologny near Geneva Percy and Mary Shelley. He caused Mary to conceive her monster "Frankenstein” and his companion John William Polidori to create the figure of a vampire. He himself wrote after a visit to the Chillon Castle his famous poem „The Prisoner of Chillon".

In Geneva stayed ten years later also Victor Hugo. 1832 Alexandre Dumas visited here Chateaubriand. Franz Liszt lived some time here 1835-1839 with countess Marie d'Agoult – George Sand visited them.

The English wirier on art John Ruskin travelled the French part of Switzerland several times since 1833. Gérard de Nerval toured Switzerland in 1939. 1845 Gustave Flaubert was in Geneva and Chillon.


The later governor of Victoria (Australia), Charles Joseph La Trobe, grew up in England and in Switzerland, was private tutor 1824-1827 in Neuchâtel and wrote here his wonderful "Sketches of Swiss Scenery and Manners" under the title „The "Alpenstock". Honoré de Balzac met in Neufchatel 1833 Madame Eveline Hanska.


In his letter novel „La Nouvelle Héloise" (1761) Rousseau had described the area of Montreux-Clarens so vivid that it became soon a dream goal. Since 1815 simple boarding-houses were opened here, 1837 the hotel „Le Cygne" (1906 integrated into the new building of the “Montreux Palace”), and still in spring 1857 Leo Tolstoy stayed in Clarens remembering Rousseau. 1837 the hotel “Byron” was opened at Villeneuve, 1842 the hotel “Des Trois Couronnes” at Vevey.


Since 1830 hotel business took a rapid upswing in all of Switzerland (von Almen, Baur, Badrutt, Seiler, Bucher-Durrer) in fact as well in cities as in the mountains. For instance the „Hotel des Bergues“ was opened in Geneva 1834, the „Baur en Ville“ in Zurich 1338. The “Three Kings” in Basel was new w built 1842. From the „Schwanen“ in Lucerne, which was erected 1835, William Turner painted 1841-45 some views of the Rigi in water colours and oil.


From 1810 on the foot paths to the Rigi were extended to make them passable also for horses. On the top 1816 the first guesthouse on the summit of a Swiss mountain (Kulm-Gasthaus; better: Almhütte) was opened. In Vitznau, Weggis and soon in Arth horse guides and sherpas for tourists were ready. The classicistic edifice of the hotel „Du Lac“ in Weggis was finished in 1838. 1871 the first mountain railway was opened, the Vitznau-Rigi Railway, four years later the Art-Rigi Railway.

In August 1868 Queen Victoria of England spent her holidays in Central Switzerland and mounted the Rigi by horse. Exactly ten years later the American Writer Mark Twain followed. King Louis II. of Bavaria toured Central Switzerland in 1865 and 1881, the second time „on the traces of William Tell“; he is also said having mounted the Rigi.


The first hotel in Grindelwald, „L’Hôtel de l’Aigle“, opened 1818. Since 1839 there followed in rapid succession hotels in Lauterbrunnen, on the Wengernalp and on the Kleine Scheidegg.

The first hotel in the Saastal (Valais) was opened 1833; 20 years later Alexander Seiler opened in Zermatt a hotel for mountain climbers “Monte Rosa”.


1857 in London "The Alpine Club" was founded, six years later the Swiss Alpine Club in Switzerland. The pioneer of natural health, Arnold Rikli, „invented“ hiking in the mountains.

1863 Thomas Cook organized the first “Conducted Tour” to Switzerland. Since then Switzerland is visited form people of all over Europe for recovery, holidays and winter sports.


1824-28 Schinznach-Bad was entirely new built. Maria Isabella, Infant of Spain, and Queen Hortense with her little son Charles-Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte are said to have stayed here. 1859 in Interlaken the „Kursaal“ was opened, six years later the new hotel „Victoria“.


1831 in St. Moritz has been built a health resort with drinking hall and bathing-cabins. Around 1840 Ragaz became a bath, after 1853 Schuls-Tarasp. 1868 Dr. Alexander Spengler established in Davos a Kurhaus; six years later a health and seaside resort was opened in Flims.

Around 1880 Davos hosted the poets John Addington Symonds and Robert Louis Stevenson. Others followed. The Irish Scottish inventor of the detective „Sherlock Holmes“, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, not only visited the Reichenbachfälle in the Haslital (1891), but also went skiing at the slopes of Davos (1894).




1914 the „Paramount Pictures Corporation“ has been founded in Hollywood. In the first years the mountain in the middle of the star ring was the Matterhorn. A reproduction of this mountain in the scale of 1:100 has been erected 1959 in Disneyland.


Alpine music instruments and music


The music of the mountain people and mercenaries, farmers and manual workers is of course very different form military, sacred and courtly music. Sacred music is mostly portative and organ playing as well as choral singing, the players and vagabonds used sometimes very expensive instruments as the singer’s harp, oud and lute, flute and fiddle. In the salons were used guitars, big harps and harpsichord. The instruments of the rural an rustic area wer much more cheaper and simpler.


Of the “Trümpi” (jews harp) there is archaeological evidence in Switzerland from the 12th to the 15th century; the “Drehleier” (hurdy-gurdy) is first mentioned 1407, the Rebec around 1500. The hurdy-gurdy is suitable for dance as well as for accompaniment of singers. The „Scheitholz“ (14/15th century), a precursor of the zither, was named „Hexenscheit“ („witch log“).


Other special instruments for folk music are the Schwegel (fife) and the Schalmei (shawm – from which evolved the oboe), the „Sackpfeife“ (bagpipe; 15. Jh.) and the „Cister“ (cittern; 16. Jh.).

The fife is together with the drum known as „Feldspiel“ (campaign play), which around 1500 replaced the bagpipe in the Swiss military formations. The straight natural trumpet (busine) was blown for many signals.


The first documents for two specific Alpine musical instruments stem from Switzerland: „Hackbrett“ (hammered dulcimer; 1447 - invented around 950 by Al Farabi) and „Alphorn“ (1527, monastery St. Urban – archaelogical evidence since 1300). Léonor d’Orléans, among other titles count of Neuchàtel, is said to have taken an Alphornblower from Schwyz in his service in the year 1563.


It is important to see that old folk music of Switzerland has nothing in common with the so-called „Ländlermusik“, which developed in the 19th century by superseding genuine and original folklore. The nasal sound rich in overtones has been replaced by a round and smooth one. Important for that change were new instruments as clarinet (invented 1700) and accordion (1829). Sometimes one used also concert zither (1830-60) and accord zither (1880), later piano (1709) and saxophon (1840). The bass accompaniment by a three-cord bassett (1600) was practiced shortly before 1800. The today famous „Appenzeller Streichmusik“ with violin and cello developed from 1800 to 1900 (Alder family).


Historical folk songs telling of peace treaties and battles, origins and heroes (e. g. William Tell) are documented since the 13th century.


The prayer call („Alpsegen“) originally has been allied with magic and cattle blessing; sinc 1500 it changed to a more and more christian-religious converted defense, implore and spell action, long regarded as idolatrous. The “Kuhreihen” song by the heardsmen to call the cattle together and to calm for milking is documented since 1545.


The word „yodel“ turned up for the first time 1796 in a dictionary. Some regard this use of the human voice as continuation of the Minnesingers. Goethe found the “popular yodel” – as he wrote in 1828 – “bearable only in the open or in big rooms”. Three years later the musician Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy was delighted by yodelers on the Rigi.


Swiss cheese


It is often said that the Old Romans estimated Swiss cheese, and that it had been a high priced speciality in Rome. But there is no written evidence for it (see: Die Alten Römer und der Schweizer Käse and „Plinius zum Käse“) nor has there been a thing called „Caseus Helveticus“


Knowledge of cheese production survived in the monasteries of the early Middle Ages. In the canton of Glarus “white ziger” is produced since the 8th century. Around the turn of the millennium it is mentioned as Glarner duty to the monastery Saeckingen. Some times later the nuns refined it by the strong smelling Zigerkraut (blue clover), brought by the crusaders from the Orient. After 1400 it is already sold on the Zurich market. Since 1463 he has to be declared an labelled by his origin from the canton Glarus; therefore it is one of the oldest brands of the world. In USA he is called „Sap Sago“.


The hard cheese „sbrinz“ is considered for the oldest cheese in mediaeval Europe. He is said to be produced already in the 7th century; but in records he is mentioned only in 1530 as „Brientzer käss“.Around 1200 Emmentaler and Raclette („Bratchäs“). Tête de Moine originates from the monastery Bellelay in the Jura, founded 1140, and is mentioned for the first time in 1192.


First longer descriptions of the Alpine economy we find 1160 in the “Acta Murensia”, the records of the monastery Muri. Appenzeller cheese ist recorded since 1282.


Emmentaler, Sbrinz, Gruyère and also Appenzeller became export hits. In the 15th century they were so rapidly set off outside of Switzerland that authorities had to intervene repeatedly, in order to ensure that the native population did not get a bad deal.


Around 1700 the abbot of the monastery Engelberg intensified cheese and cattle exports. Over the Gotthard pass the large southern markets of Lugano, Varese and Milan were supplied; business relations existed to Bergamo. Starting from 1750 keeping of cattle and pasture were rationalized. It resulted an increase of cheese production.


In the 18th century cheese export from the Emmental and the Greyerzerland to France became a large business.


The upswing of the milk and cheese economy is to be owed to a break with crop rotation, which was practised for 1000 years. Inspiration came from the Ökonomische Gesellschaft, founded 1759 in Bern: The cultivation of artificial grass, as clover, esparcet (sainfoin) and lucerne (alfala), in connection with feeding in the cowshed, led to a revolution of agriculture.

After 1800 the first cheese factories down in the midlands were built (1802 Hofwil, 1815 Kiesen). In 1820 cheese makers from Switzerland showed the people of the German Allgäu how to produce the fat, large round cheese (Emmentaler). Trading firms (e.g. Castell; Gerber, Sutter-Fuster) sold Swiss cheese in home markets and abroad. At the end of the 19th century Switzerland had 2'600 cheese factories.


Tirggel, Meringue, Laeckerli, Fondue, Absynthe, Chocolate and Bündnerfleisch


Gingerbread was already known in Antiquity. The monasteries continued the tradition of the picture biscuits. 1461 in the country of Zurich the “Dirgel” is mentioned for the first time. The oldest surviving model dates from the same year.


As the legend goes the meringue was invented by a Swiss pastry chef called Gasparini around 1600 in Meiringen. The other Swiss culinary specialities are better documented.


A few years ago the oldest recipe for the Swiss cheese fondue has been discovered in a library of Zurich: in a collection of manuscripts of a housewife of the year 1699. The famous recipe of Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin dates nearly 100 years later (1794).


There were gingerbread makers in Basel since 1350. The time of the Council (1431-48) brought a strong demand for such biscuits. But in the records of Basel we read only 1720 the word “Leckerli”.


A genuine Swiss speciality of spirits is absynthe. In the Jura region since 1737 we have records that wormwood is mixed with wine, since 1769 we hear from a concentrate (“Bon Extrait d’Absinthe”). Industrial production of absynthe started in 1797 in Couvet by the families Dubied and Pernod. In the 19th century absynthe was dangerous people’s dope. 1837 we find it also in New Orleans.

Other Swiss sprits are Kirsch (cherries), Pflümli (plums), Williams (pears), Abricotine (apricots), Zwetschgen (plums), Härdöpfler (potatoes), Enzian (gentian), Chrüter (herbs). The “Appenzeller Alpenbitter” is a trade mark since 1907.


The confiseur Philippe Suchard established the first chocolate factory 1826 in Neuchâtel; in the same year also Jacques Foulquier (later brand: Faverger) produced chocolate in the middle of Geneva; followed soon by Charles-Amédée Kohler and François-Louis Cailler. Around 1840 David Spruengli and his son Rudolf were the first to produce chocolate in Zurich.


Beef has been dried in the air in the Grisons for centuries. An early mention is in the known travelogue of Johann Gottfried Ebel 1793. Shortly after 1900 Engelhard Brügger in Parpan and Johann Spiess in Churwalden established the first professional air-dryeries to produce the famous “Bündnerfleisch”, to be served in paper-thin slices. Analogous dried beef from Valais and Ticino is called “Bindenfleisch”.


Since 1500: banks; since 1550: watches


Already in 1504 in Basel has been established the first Swiss State Bank („Basler Stadtwechsel“), which remained for nearly 150 years the most important public bank. Besides there were a lot of merchants of Basel, St. Gall and Geneva (banquiers-marchands) busy as private bankers; the disposed of a good extended international network. The Name of the first Bernese bank, Malacrida, is associated with rapid international expansion and rapid decline in the finanial crisis of speculations of 1720.


By name we know then from 1740 private banks in St. Gall (Wegelin - 2013 defunct) and Zurich (Rahn and Bodmer; Leu - first public; 2012 absorbed by Credit Suisse; Pestalozzi – later: Orelli); towards the end oft the century there followed ones in Lausanne (Hofstetter and Landolt), Paris (Hottinger), Basel (La Roche) and Geneva (Ferrier, Hentsch, Lombard). The stock exchange of Geneva opened not until 1850, that of Zurich 1877.


Fob watches have been manufactured in Geneva since 1550. In 1790, Geneva was already exporting more than 60,000 watches a year.




The autodidact Daniel Jean-Richard introduced watch making in the Neuchâtel Jura 1680. In 1737 Abraham Favre founded a watch workshop in Le Locle. Pierre Jaquet-Droz and his son designed here in the 1770s their “human” automats: „the writer”, „the draughtsman "and „the Musicienne". Abraham-Louis Perrelet invented here at the same time the automatic watch, his pupil Jacques-Frédéric Houriet invented a regulator as basis for a chronometer. Another pupil is said to have been Abraham-Louis Breguet.


Around 1735 the farmer Jehan-Jacques Blancpain introduced watch making in the village Villeret near St. Imier. One of the first well known watch makers of Geneva was Jean-Marc Vacheron, who opened there 1755 his workshop. The first clock shop of the world was managed by Theodor Beyer 1760 near Schaffhausen; 1800 followed a Beyer shop in the old part of Zurich.




In 1845 Polish cavalryman Antoine Norbert de Patek invited the French watchmaker Jean-Adrien Philippe to come to Geneva, to continue the manufacture of watches he founded six years before. In 1868 the firm built a „Key-winding lady’s bracelet watch“ for the Hungarian countess Koscowicz.



Blossom of science in the 18th century


It certainly looks like the Enlightenment fell onto particularly fertile ground in Switzerland. From 1700 to 1800 we see a striking period of bloom of science and research. Nevertheless this country believed still in dragons and remained a captive of the system of burning of witches, which was practised with cruelty to 1782.



Since 1750: Chemicals, medicines, dyes


1758 Johann Rudolf Geigy took up in Basel the trade with chemicals and medicines, a hundred years later one of his successors, Johann Rudolf Geigy too, started the production of aniline dyes.


In 1804 Daniel Frey in Aarau established a little chemical workshop, soon followed by Carl Friedrich Renz in Basel. 1818 the siblings Schnorf founded a workshop for producing sulphuric acid and sulphate salts in Uetikon at the Lake Zurich. Two years later Jakob Ziegler-Pellis established a dyery for Turkish red besides his bleachery in Neftenbach. In addition to his pharmacy Dr. J. Schnell established in 1822 in Burgdorf a workshop for dye.

1844 Rudolf Maag, „the dyer“, provided the farmers near Dielsdorf with indigo blue fabric; his son Rudolf, „the chemist “ produced and exported dye (1865) later fertilizer and spray for vines.


1854 Alexander Clavel established a dyery in Basel, the origin of CIBA. It followed Siegfried in Zofingen, in Basel Sandoz and F. Hoffmann-La Roche, then 1895 the aroma producers Givaudan in Zurich and Chuit & Näf (later: Firmenich) in Geneva.


From 1800 on: Industrialization


1800 mechanical spinning mills laid ground for the Swiss textile industry, and not much later the machine and heavy industry started (Fischer, Escher-Wyss, Rieter, Zellweger, von Roll, Sulzer, Honegger, von Moos, ACMV, Burckhardt, Geilinger).

In 1750 the art of embroidery has been introduced in St. Gall. Already 1773 in Eastern Switzerland and in the Vorarlberg were 6000 stickers busy for exporters in St. Gall, 1790 as much as 30 000 to 40 000. In the 19th century there arouse a centre for mechanical sticking after invention of the sticking machine (1829) and the shuttle stick automat (1863). Around 1900 St. Gall embroideries (Sturzenegger, Schläpfer) attained world wide respect.


After 1813 Pierre-Louis Guinand and his descendants founded optical workshops in Les Brenets and Paris, 1819 Jakob Kern founded a workshop for precision mechanics in Aarau, 1846 Samuel Laubscher a workshop for precision screws in Malleray. 1822 Johann Jakob Jezler founded in Schaffhausen a workshop for fine silver craftsmanship.


Swiss firms are among the first “multinational” companies. In 1833 Johann Conrad and Georg Fischer built two plants in Austria; 1845-50 Caspar Honegger bought three paper mills in Sankt Mang and established a powerful cotton spinning mill. 1851 the watchmakers “Baume Frères” of La Chaux-de-Fonds established a subsidiary in London. 1856 Escher-Wyss got a site in Ravensburg.


Already in 1782 a fire insurance company has been founded in Zurich. Since 1805 in short time there were founded public fire insurances for buildings in 14 cantons. 1825 an insurance against hail damages was established in Bern, a year later in Murten an insurance for furniture (“Mobiliar”). Till 1850 there arouse more than 300 mutual relief insurances for sick, widowed and old people.


Since 1800 in Zurich there have been founded permanent builders and contractors as Brunner, Diener, Locher and Baur.


From 1848 on: More economic up-turn and technical ideas


The transformation of the old confederation into a modern and liberal federation in 1848 released again economic energies and technical ideas.


In the traditional branches there was further progress in the

  • Insurance business (Rentenanstalt, Helvetia, La Suisse, Rückversicherungs- Gesellschaft, Basler, Zurich, Winterthur, Pax, Patria, National, Union, Vaudoise)
  • Banking business (Bankverein, Kreditanstalt, Basler Handelsbank, Bank in Winterthur, Toggenburger, Eidgenössische Bank, Volksbank, Banca della Svizzera Italiana, Bär, Bodenkreditanstalt)
  • chocolate industry (Lindt, Peter, Tobler)
  • textile industry (manufacturers in Glarus, Appenzell, St. Gall and Zurich; further Heinrich Hauser, Heinrich Theophil Baeschlin, Zimmerli, Handschin and Ronus)
  • machine and heavy industry (Rauschenbach, Bell, Bauer, Saurer, Buehler, Suhner, Dubied, Aebi, Ammann, Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon MFO, Schindler, Bucher, Forster, Junker, Aluminium Industrie Schaffhausen)
  • precision mechanics (Kugler, Staib, SIP in Geneva, Karrer).


Starting from 1850 also new economic branches arose:

  • International trading companies (Volkart, Missions Handlungsgesellschaft, Siber & Brennwald, Weitnauer, André, Diethelm, Eduard Keller, Desco von Schulthess)
  • Jewellery (Guebelin, Meister, Golay, Bucherer)
  • Shoe production (Elgg; Bally, Strub/Glutz, Walder, Hug, Fretz, Ochsner)
  • Food industry (Wander, Page and Nestlé, Konservenfabrik Frauenfeld, Bell, Maggi, Hug, Bernhard, Hero, Biomalz und Galactina)
  • Electrical apparatus (Hipp, Hasler, Zellweger, de Meuron/Lamon, Cortaillod, Alioth, Brown Boveri, Motor Columbus, Accumulatoren-Fabrik Oerlikon, Landis & Gyr)
  • Railways, mountain railways and tramways (SIG Neuhausen, Lokomotiv- und Maschinenfabrik Winterthur, Internationale Gesellschaft für Bergbahnen, „System-Abt“, Malletlok, MFO, Wagonsfabrik Schlieren)
  • Construction of roads and bridges (Locher, Bertschinger, Frutiger, Vigier, Zschokke, Cornaz, Züblin – Pasquale Lucchini, Richard La Nicca, Carl Culmann, Ernest Guglielminetti, Robert Maillart).



Swiss pioneering achievements, inventions and medicines


It is to a large extent unknown which pioneering achievements, discoveries and inventions were made by Swiss.

See the extensive separate list with approximately 500 of them.


Imitation and perfection


In spite of this impressing list we have to note, that the Swiss mostly - it is cultural or economical – were not pioneers. They were good in the snapping up of new ideas (e. g. paper production and printing, reformation, embroidery) or in the copying of other products (machines for embroidery and knitting) - and afterwards perfection.


Around 1880 Switzerland was described by France as a country of fraudulent imitators (pays des contre-facteurs) and repeatedly by the German Reichstag as "Pirate state" and "Robbery state". The entrepreneur Adelrich Benziger form Central Switzerland said at the Swiss patent congress of 1882: "Our industry evolved only by using foreign countries - if that is theft, all our entrepreneurs are thieves.”


In some fields as universities, finance and insurances, instrument making or railroad construction, chemistry and pharmacy, Switzerland limped the other countries, but later turned on often powerfully.


However Switzerland joined in the modernization of the agriculture (from 1750) as well as the mechanization and industrialization of craft and trade (from 1800) and got prosperity.


Whole industries are missing – but good suppliers


Some industries are missing completely in Switzerland, for example the building of automobiles, entertainment electronics and computer. Of no great importance is the production of ships, airplanes and arms as well as optics and cameras. Missing are also internationally known drinks and spirits as well luxuries as fashion, accessories and cosmetics, precious furniture and décor.


Swiss industry is mostly active as suppliers, for example with insulations for the automotive industry, fragrances and flavors for the perfume industry or with silk and embroideries for the haute couture



Initial success building ships, automobiles and airplanes


Ships on Swiss lakes – Swiss flags on oceans


Anyway. Big passenger ships have been built mainly by Escher, Wyss & Co (1836-1914) and Sulzer (1867-1927). Marine steam engines and later diesel engines by Sulzer (built till 1991) gained acceptance worldwide.

The shipping company on the "Vierwaldstättersee" (Lake Lucerne).is building their ships since 1931 in their own shipyard.


On the oceans there were no ships of Swiss source. But since 1850 sometimes merchant ships sailed under Swiss flag. In the First World War the „Maloja“, loades with corpa, has been scuttled by British aircrafts.

Today six Swiss shipping companies operate some 50 merchant ships on the ocean, mostly freighters and tankers. Oft he 900 people working for this fleet only 3 are Swiss.


Automobiles: first self-built, later (1934-1975) foreign cars as “Montage Suisse”


The father of Marc Birkigt was German. Marc has been born in Geneva, attended here the school, got the citizenship and a diploma as engineer. In the age of 21 a friend took him to Barcelona. There he built an electric omnibus of a Swiss factory of accumulators. After the rapid collapse of this firm he changed to construct gasoline engines and constructed two automobiles. Soon he ound a wealthy sponsor and they founded in 1904 the automotive company „Hispano-Suiza“ – that means: Spanish capital and Swiss ingenuity. Birkigt built more and more big and strong machines..The automobiles attracted attention and in 1911 it was a need to open a factory in France, near Paris, „Hispano Suiza“ became a noble brand, worldwide renown and til 1938 produced in Spanien and mostly in France.

Shortly afte beginning of World War I Birkigt started producing motors for aeroplains. In the War years some 50 000 have been produced. They were essencial for the success oft he French, English and American air forces.

1935 Birkgt developed also a fighter aircraft cannon, useful in a lot of aircrafts in the World War II (e. g. Hurricane, Spitfire; Potez 631, Morane-Saulnier).


Another Swiss operating in a foreign country was chemist Walther Steiger. He starte das manager of a bleach plant and dye-works in Burgrieden (Upper Swabia). In World War I the „Heeresleitung“ urged him to maintain fighter aircrafts and to produce bomb detonators and grenades. Afterwards he founded with a collegue knowing to construct automobiles engineering works and produced 1920-1926 touring and racing cars under his name.


Also in Italy Swiss cars have been built. Johann Ernst Robert Züst, of a family of Appenzell, started it 1903 in Intra (at Lake Maggiore). With his brethren he soon founded additional plants in Mailand and Brescia („Brixia-Züst“). They produced person cars and some trucks til 1917.


In 1909 the Russo-Baltic Waggon Factory in Riga started to build cars according tot he Swiss engineer Julien Potterat.


The only successful built car was the „Martini“ (1897-1934). Its constructor, Friedrich von Martini, has been born in the Banat and got his education as engineer in Vienna and Karlsruhe. He came in 1858 to Frauenfeld; his sons the built cars, sometimes racing cars and busses.

Less longe have been built „Herkules“ (1900-1913), „ZL“ (in France: „Zedel“; 1901-1908), „SNA“ (Système Henriod-Schweizer; 1903-1914), „Turicum“ (1904-1913) „Stella“ (1906-1913), and „Pic-Pic“ (1906-1920).

Electro vehicles have been produced by Johann Albert Tribelhorn in Altstetten (1902-1923). 1904-1906 CIEN in Geneva produced some hybrid vehicles, driven by gasoline engine and electric motor; but they were too ponderous.


Finally, the Swiss came to a different solution, and began to put together foreign cars. In an assembly plant in Biel some 330 000 automobiles have been assembled for General Motors in the years 1936 to 1975 („Montage Suisse“); likewise in Schinznach 1949 to 1972 about 30 000 American and German models. Sulzer assembled American models 1934-1939, Werner Risch „Swiss-Packard“ (1934-1939).


Another possibility has been opened by some coachwork factories. Self-designed bodies on European and American frames were built by “Carrosserie Graber” in Wichtrach from 1926 to 1970. The coachwork factory of the Brethren Beutler in Thun made sporty bodies for lightweight European frames from 1943 to 1987. Convertible bodies were built by Willy Bernath in La Chaux-de-Fonds from 1938 to 1946. Precious bodies wer also constructed by the native of Basle Peter Monteverdi (1960-1994), the Italian Franco Sbarro in Grandson (1968-2006) and Willy H. Felber in Morges (1974-1984). The native of Zurich Peter Sauber started by building his own sports cars (1970-1991); since 1981 Frank M. Rinderknecht designs in Zumikon concept cars.


Airplanes: first self-built, later (1929-1999) military aircrafts built under licence


Producing airplanes underwent a similar development.

The first bounce with a self-built flying machine came off by the Estonian Alexandre Liwentaal, born in Lausanne, with a monoplane with tandem wings („Libellule“) 12th September 1909 at an airshow in Vernier. One the brethren Armand and Henri Dufaux had presented their helicopter (1905) the built some experimental airplanes: one with eight wings, the next a triplane. Piloting the biplane „Dufaux 4“ Armand crossed the Léman lengthwise mastering strong turbulences. The better follow-up „Dufaux 5“ allowd the transport of passengers.in 1911. After accomplishing 15 airplanes the production was abandoned.

At one time René Grandjean – co-founder or the military airport Dübendorf – constructed some monoplanes. He furnished his „Hydroplan“ with skis and landed on the icebound Lake Davos on 5th February 1912. But tourism by airplane prospered since then in winter in St. Moritz.


Two Swiss have been busy constructing of airplanes abroad.

The precision mechanic and electrical engineer Franz Schneider worked some time for Nieuport in Paris and then, since 1911, with the „Luftverkehrsgesellschaft (LVG)“ in Berlin-Johannisthal. In 1917 he founded his own firm. Twenty years later he was invited to Tokyo by a Japanese general.

Hans Burkhard, engineer, became a pilot and constructor. Among others he built various biplane long distance bombers 1915-1917 for the former waggon factory Gotha. In 1917 dozens of them (G IV) were used to attack cities iin the „Operation Türkenkreuz“.


In the mean time in Switzerland the Federal Department of Military took over control. It let build self-constructed airplanes for the newly-established Swiss Air Force. Actualö built were:

1916-1926 43 Wild WT-biplanes,

1915-1929 nearly 200 Haefeli-airplanes (DH1 to DH5) and

1937-1940 80 C-35 reconaissance biplanes, and afterwards 142 C-36 monoplanes til 1943.


But already in 1929 the newly-established firm Alfred Comte re-buildt 8 copies of the legendary fighter of World War I, Fokker D VII. Soon followed copies oft he French ligh monoplane fighter Dewoitine (D -27 amd D-26).


1938 Switzerland got a licence to build the French fighter aircraft Morane-Saulnier MS.406 and produced more then 80 copies under the designation D-3800.

As from 1951 the first military jets have been assembled 100 De Havilland Vampire (DH-100 Mk 6) and afterwards 150 Venom DH-112 Mk 1 and 100 Mk 4 Next were from 1971 60 Hawker Hunter (T Mk 58 A and 68).and from 1964 36 interceptors Dassault Mirage IIIS.

1972-74 60 helicopters Sud-Aviation SE-3160 Alouette III have been assembled by part-licence. 1990-199119 Jet-Trainer British Aerospace Hawk Mk 66 have been mounted. Of Northrop F-5E Tiger II – declared as „Raumschutzjäger“ – final assembly started 1976 in Emmen, likewise of 32 multirole fighters McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet 1996-1999.






The only namable contemporary producer of aircrafts has been established 1939: Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. First products were the trainer aircrafts P-2 (1945) and P-3 (1953). The legendary Pilatus Porter PC-6 (1959), PC-9 (1984) and PC-12 (1991) are in the line of duty worldwide. On August 1st 2014 the prototype of the Super Versatile Jet PC-24 (see picture) has been unveiled.


Light aircrafts are built by another firm: Light Wing AG, established 2000.




Various kinds of “luxury”


Some Swiss luxury products are granite tiles and beautiful kitchens, expensive watches and jewellery, "Jezler" (1822) and “Meister” silver (1881), „Sigg“ bottles (1908), „Davidoff“ cigarrs (1911), „Caran d’Ache“ fountain pen (1970), „Boesch“ (1952) and „Pius“ motor boats (1985) and „Wilke“-sailing boats (1986), „De Sede“leather seating (1961), „Alpa“ medium format cameras (1944-90; 1998) and “Arca-Swiss” all round cameras (1952) as well as „Revox“, „Nagra“, „Goldmund“ and „Holborne“-hifi systems (1948, 1951 resp. 1981, 1992), „Piega“, „Rowen“ and „Boenicke“ lodspeaker (1986, 1987, 1998).


Noteworthy are also

  • Shoes of different kind „Bally“ (1851), „Künzli“ (1927/ 2004), „Kandahar“ (1932), „Navyboot“ (1991) and „Joya“ (2006), ladies’ shoes by “Stefi Talman“ (1990), Lele PyP“ (2008) and „yép“ (2014) as well as „On“ runners (2010),
  • in textile and fashion: Hanro lingerie (1884), „Akris” couture (1922), „Strellson“ suits (1984), embroideries and fabric of „Forster Rohner“ (1904/ 1988), fabric for couture and interior decoration by „Jakob Schlaepfer“ (1904/ 1993), bedding and terry cloth by „Christian Fischbacher“ (1819/ 1980), „Schlossberg“ (1833/ 1959) and „Divina“ (1954), silk fabrics by „fabric frontline“ (1980), Mammut outdoor clothing (1862), „odlo“ (1946/ 1986), „jet set“ (1969) und „mover“ sport clothing (1982) as well as „Nabholz“ jackets and coats (1821/ 2010),
  • natural skin care of „Biokosma“ (1935), „Just“ (1941), „Gerda Spillmann“ (1944), „Juvena“ (1945/ 1954), „Marlin“ (1948/ 1989), „Arval“ (1952), „La Prairie“ (1954), „Mavala“ (1958), „Louis Widmer“ (1960), „fenjal“ (1962), “Bioforce” (1963), „Déesse“ (1971), „Valmont“ (1980), „Rausch“ (1983), „farfalla“ (1985), „Declaré“ (1990), „La Colline“ (1990), „Li cosmetic“ (1995), „L. Raphael“ (1997), „Luminaris“ (1997), „Makari“ (2000), „La Peau“ (2001), „Teoxane“ (2003), „Artemis“ (2005), „Le Jardin des Alpes“ (2005), „Swiss Nature“ (2006), „Eva J.“ (2006), „Goldbad“ (2006), „Niance“ (2007), „Lacrèm“ (2007), „Adu“ (2011), „Qamaré“ (2013) and „Similasan“ (2014) as well as
  • scents by „Davidoff“ (1988), „Tauer“ (2005), „Swiss Army“ (1997/ 2007), „Charriol“ (1998), „art of scent“ (2007 – til 2014 Odem Swiss Perfumes), „Vero Profumo“ (2008), „Sentifique“ (2009), „Bibi Bigler“ (2009), „Emeshel“ (2011), „Kokym“ (2013), „Richard Lüscher Britos“ (2013) and „Swiss Cashmere“ (2014).



On an other level Switzerland has scenic attractions, well finished traffic networks and sports facilities, perfect services, comfortable hospitality, perfect catering and hotels, first-class private schools and modern equipped clinics.



Useful inventions, but also spoiled chances


Inventions for the domestic everyday life


Inventions of Swiss are mostly of practical character, for example

the central draft burner (1784), cube sugar (1843), powdered milk (1867) and bag soup (1886), the Swiss Army Knife (1891), the "Kaba" turn key (1934) and the lead sharpener (1940), the "Rex" economical peeler, the "Turmix" mixer, the electrical compass saw "Scintilla" and the aerosol spray valve (all 1947-48), the garlic press "Zyliss" (after 1950), the "Velcro" fastening (1951), the decalcyfier “Durgol” (1951), the pneumatic cork screw "Corky" (1963), the hydroculture "Luwasa" (1967) and the “WC-duck” (1980).


Sometimes it was only a matter of making inventions apt for every day use, e. g.

the sewing machine ("Bernina", 1893; "Elna", 1940), the zipper ("Riri", 1923), the fast scale ("Busch", 1926), the travel typewriter "Hermes Baby" (1935), the RECTA compass (1941), pre-stressed concrete (BBR, 1944), vending machines (“Selecta”, 1957), the computer mouse ("Logitech", 1981) or the steam iron system "LauraStar" (1986).


Chemicals and medicines


Most influential of the many chemicals and medicines, which the Basler chemical industry produced in addition to the dyes, since 1895 were on the one hand DDT as insecticide (1942) and the adhesive "Araldit", on the other hand Coramin, vitamin C, cortisone, LSD, some tranquilizers and the sports drink: "Isostar" (Wander, 1985). Also the first total hip prosthesis (1960) had worldwide success.


Many inventions commercially not used


Often courage left the Swiss and they neglected a commercial use after having made an epoch-making invention.

That started after1500 with the opium tincture "Laudanum" (Paracelsus, 1520) and the pencil (Conrad Gessner, 1565) and continued in the time of the industrialization with the electrometer and solar thermal collector (1767), the breech-loader (1803), the internal combustion engine (1807) and optical lenses (around 1810), the fuel cell (1838) and the roundabout lathe (1839), gun-cotton (1846), rayon (1855) and the car with two-stroke engine (1880).


In the 20th century we see the same fear or impotence for example for the bituminization (1902), the helicopter (1905), the aluminium foil (1905), the cellophane (1908), and the crimp yarn "Helanca" (1931), to the phone answering machine (1936), the delta airplane (1947),"Eidophor" projector (1953) and to the electronic calculating machine ERMETH (ETH, 1955), the electrical toothbrush "Broxodent" (1960), the electronic wristwatch (1959), the quartz wristwatch (1967) and the LCD display (1970), the workstation "Lilith" (1980) and the supercomputer "GigaBooster" (1995).



Swiss brands and firms in the 20th century


Swiss economy was impeded in some branches by the First World War (1914-1918) and the following wave of influenza through whole Europe, by the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Second World War (1939-45). Only from 1950 to 1990 there was another boom. But at the same time heavy competition arouse in nearly every economic sector, first in the USA afterwards in the Far East.


A great part of founder’s names are immortalized in the brands of watches, chocolates and private banks. Likewise from firms with roots in the 19th century stem

  • “Kern” drawing-pens (1819), “Steinfels” soap (1832), “Sihl” and “Cham” paper, “Wybert” (later: GABA) tablets (1846) and “Zellerbalsam” (1863), “Schiesser” tricots, “Nabholz” tracksuits and “Zimmerli” underwear, “Aebi” and ”Bucher” agricultural machines, „Geberit“ toilet flush, “Plüss-Stauffer” putty, “Bülacher” bottles (1891), “Oulevay” sponge and “Herbalpina” herbal sweet
  • and in the 20th century “Ovaltine”,



  • “Gala” double cream fresh cheese, „Milka“, „Zweifel“ fruit juice and later Chips, “Ramseier” apple cider and „Toblerone“,




  • „Niaxa” washing powder, “Kugler” or „K+W“ tap fittings, SIG pistols and the USM Haller furniture system, „Calida“ pyjamas, “Spatz” tents and „Mammut“ ropes.


According to an Interbrand-rating of 2001 the most powerful Swiss brand is “Nescafé” (1938), placed 23rd and worth 13 billion dollars.


Most Swiss brands of the 20th century known worldwide mark also practical things for daily use - not luxury products – as

  • from the first half: „Galactina“ children food (Gottfried Bangerter) and “Kambly” Fine Crêpe, “Thomy” mustard and “Sais” dripping (Società anonima italo-svizzera per la produzione degli olii vegetali, 1916), “Langenthal” porcelain, “Therma” oven, electric blankets and hair drier „Solis“ (W. Schaufelberger), “Jura” irons (Leo Henzirohs), candies “Sugus” (Hans Conrad Lichti) and „Ricola“ (Emil Richterich), “Rotel” kitchen machines and the pressure cooker “Duromatic” (Heinrich Kuhn)
  • from the second half: “Mistral” surfboards (Peter Brockhaus), “Nidecker” snowboards (Henri IV Nidecker) and „Advance“ paragliders (Rolf Zeltner, Robert Graham).


Other well known brands are „Rapid“ motor mower (Jacob Fahrni), Mettler balances (Erhard Mettler), “Mowag” motor cars and military vehicles, „Mövenpick“ (Ueli Prager), “Habasit” transmission belts, “Garaventa” cable railways and CWA cable cars, Closomat“ (Hans Maurer), “Maxon” motors (Karl-Walter Braun).


The Lebanese Nicolas G. Hayek saved the Swiss watch industry with his „Swatch“ (1983).



Swiss Global Players


Today the 30 most important genuine Swiss “global players” have their roots mostly in the 19th century and rule a lot of subsidiaries:

  • Nestlé, Novartis (fusion of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz [with Wander]; since 2004 again with “Sandoz” for generics) and Roche (with Boehringer Mannheim, DePuy and Genentech), Givaudan, Syngenta (with Maag), Clariant (since 1997 with Hoechst Special Chemicals and since 2011 with Süd-Chemie) and Lonza
  • Holcim (former: Holderbank), Schindler and Georg Fischer, Sulzer, Rieter, Saurer and Buehler, Bucher Industries, Franke, Liebherr and Sika
  • Panalpina
  • Swiss Life (former: Rentenanstalt), Swiss Re (former: Rückversicherungsanstalt) and Zurich Financial Services (former: „Zürich“ Versicherungs-Gesellschaft)
  • Diethelm Keller Group, SGS Group (former: Société Générale de Surveillance), Sonova (former: Phonak), Swatch Group and Synthes
  • as well as the banks
    UBS (fusion of Union Bank of Switzerland and Swiss Bank Corporation; with Warburg and Brinson, PaineWebber) and
    Credit Suisse (former: Schweizerische Kreditanstalt; with First Boston and some privat banks) as well as the privat banks Pictet, Julius Bär, Vontobel and „Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch“.


Despite their headquarters are in Switzerland some enterprises are varying “Swiss” e. g. Glencore, Metro and Cargill, ABB and Adecco, Danzas, Kühne & Nagel and Ziegler Group, Siemens Building Technologies and Liebherr, Richemont and Triumph, Cementia, Rehau and Serono, BASF Intertrade, Duferco, Mercuria, MSC, Nobel Biocare, Nycomed, Petroplus. Syngenta und Tetra Pak.



Around 1990 the end of an era


Around 1990 finished an era of 200 years building and boom. Most firms merged, were over and over again restructured, split, sold and new named, e.g. Acino, Alcorex, Alimarca, Amazys, Antalis, Aquilana, Ascom, Asklia, Axima, Axpo, Clientis, Conzzeta, Fenaco, Helsana, Implenia, Nexis Fibers, NextiraOne, Nextrom, Nuance, Omya, Polymeca, Sidenzia, Swiss Dairy Food, Swissgrid, Swisslog, Swissmill, SwissOptic, Swiss Property, Swiss Steel, Sympany, Unaxis, Unique, Valiant, Valora, Xstrata.


Further strange Swiss names are: Actelion, Arpida, Avaloq, Careal, Cicor, Coltene, Cytos, EFG, Galexis, Gottex, Komax, Newave, Quadrant, Speedel, Tecan und Temenos.


A lot traditional firms fell into the hands of foreign groups (see: Ausverkauf der Schweizer Wirtschaft?), e. g. a lot of watchmakers to the Groups LVMH and Richemont, various chocolatiers and food producers to Philip Morris/ Kraft (since 2012: Mondelēz International), Unilever/ Bestfoods, Alimarca and Schwartau, nearly all brewers to Carlsberg und Heineken, some assurances to Allianz und Generali.


Various Hotels got in the hands of international hotel chains as Inter-Continental, Marriott, Raffles, Sheraton, Sofitel und Steigenberger of private investors as Karl-Heinz Kipp or Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud.


Swiss industrial objects were bought by Alcan, Alcatel, Alstom, Klöckner, Bombardier, Cement Roadstone, IPM, ITT, Körber, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), Lafarge, Merloni, Nexans, Rheinmetall, Roca, Rockwell, Siemens, Textron and Wärtsilä, other objects by Autogrill, Beiersdorf, Bouygues, Coca Cola, Compass Group, Deutsche Post World Net, Paul Hartmann, Henkel, Johnson & Johnson, Rhodia, Texas Pacific, Thiel Logistik and Tui.


2002 it was said Switzerland had the highest density of business consultants in the world. Every fourth working place is filled with a stranger.




Part III: Swiss in Switzerland and abroad, foreigners in Switzerland

see also: Berühmte Schweizer und bemerkenswerte Schweizer, Teil II


The Anabaptist Movement


1525 originated in Zurich around former pupils and friends of the reformist Huldrych Zwingli the anabaptist movement. It soon spread over Europe and split in five branches:

1) Swiss Brethren in the Confoederatio Helvetica and in Alsace

2) South German Anabaptists in southern Germany and Austria

3) Mennonites (since 1535) in the Netherlands and northern Germany

4) Hutterites (1529) in Tyrol and Moravia

5) Baptists in England (John Smyth and Thomas Helwys, 1609) and America (Roger Williams, 1611).


Intern conflicts of the Swiss Brethren (1) in the realm of Berne led to the formation of the Amish in 1693 by Jakob Ammann (ca. 1644-1730). He was from the Simmental, converted at the age of 35 to the anabaptists and soon after 1680 fled to Alsace where he taught until his death. He demanded strict discipline in the community. Many of his adherents emigrated to North America, mainly Pennsylvania.

Hutterites flew since 1767 to Russia, since 1874 to North America. Also many Mennonites emigrated since 1772 to southern Russia. A third of them emigrated since 1874 also to Canada and USA.

Baptists started after 1792 to do missionary work in Asia and Africa.



From 1500 on: Great Swiss personalities


Since 1500, the costly mercenaries have been counterbalanced by a long series of personalities - statesmen, scholars, architects and artists - who have made Switzerland a powerful force in European culture: in front the Reformers Huldrych Zwingli, Johann Jakob Ammann and Heinrich Bullinger in Zurich, Thomas Wyttenbach in Biel, Vadian in St. Gall, Johannes Comander in Chur and Pierre Viret in Lausanne.

All other Reformers were foreigners (see later).


Well known scientist at this time was Conrad Gessner from Zurich and the municipal physician of Basel Felix Platter. During the Enlightenment we have the family of mathematicians Bernoulli of Basel, the Bernese scientist Albrecht von Haller, from Geneva the scientists Charles Bonnet and his nephew Horace Bénédict de Saussure as well as the versatile Simonde de Sismondi and the inventor of the “comics” Rodolphe Toepffer


Zurich was a intellectual centre with the two literary critics Johann Jakob Bodmer and Johann Jakob Breitinger, the pastor and physiognomist Johann Caspar Lavater, the idyllic painter Salomon Gessner and the educator Heinrich Pestalozzi. Around 1860 there were the poets, Gottfried Keller, Conrad Ferdinand Meyer and Johanna Spyri.


The author of the “Swiss Family Robinson” was pastor of the Bernese cathedral; the writer Jeremias Gotthelf came for an old Bernese family of civil servants and pastors, the two culture historians Johann Jakob Bachofen and Jakob Burckhardt from old Basler families. Remarkable were also the painters Ferdinand Hodler and Cuno Amiet, the protestant theologians Karl Barth and Emil Brunner, the zoologist Adolf Portmann as well as the two poets Max Frisch and Friedrich Dürrenmatt.


In 1864 Henri Dunant of Geneva founded the Red Cross. 1877 the pastor Louis-Lucien Rochat, also from Geneva, founded the Blue Cross. Elie Ducommun, editor and chancellor of Geneva, had already joined 1862 the peace association in Geneva and since then was active for peace organizations and congresses. 1891 he organized the Bernese „International Peace Office "and directed it up to his death. Just twenty year old Hector Hodler, son of the famous painter, founded 1908 the World Association of Esperanto.


Théodore Flournoy, Eduard Claparède and Pierre Bovet, Auguste Henri Forel, Eugen Bleuler, C. G. Jung and Oskar Pfister, Ludwig Binswanger, Walter Morgenthaler, Hermann Rorschach, Max Pulver, Alfred Carrard, Hans Zulliger, Jean Piaget, Medard Boss, Marie Meierhofer, Balthasar Staehelin and Jürg Willi got reputation for their research in psychology and psychiatry. In 1980 it was said Zurich had the highest density of psychologists in the world.

Not less than 21 Nobel Prize winners have finished their studies or taught at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology which was founded in 1855. 17 Nobel laureates were active at the European centre for nuclear research CERN in Geneva. Here the English Tim Berners-Lee and the Belgian Robert Cailliau developed 1991 the “World Wide Web” (www).


Pioneering physicians are the Argovian Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner, the Davosian Carl Spengler, the Bernese Paul Niehans and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross from Zurich. In 1931/32 the stubborn Vaudois physicist Auguste Piccard explored the stratosphere at a height of 16 000 meters in the balloon, in 1960 his son Jacques got the record in the deep-see with around 11 000 meters in the Mariana trench, and grandson Bertrand toured the world in balloon 1999, 2015 to 2016 with a solar-powered aircraft.

The solar-powered experimental vehicle „Spirit of Biel“ won the „World Solar Challenge“ in Australia in 1990. In June 2016 the “grimsel” electric racing car broke the world record for acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 1,513 seconds. The vehicle was developed by students at the ETH and the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.

In the 1990s Astronaut Claude Nicollier has logged more than 1000 hours in space.



Central Switzerland and Glarus


Important cultural works of Central Switzerland are the manuscripts of the monastery of Engelberg (ca. 1150-1220), the “Mariensequenz” of Muri (1180/90), the mediaeval Easter play of Muri (ca. 1250), the open-air festivals of Lucerne (since 1453), the richly illustrated „Lucerne Chronicle“ of Diebold Schilling (1513), the carnival play „Convivii Process“ of Renward Cysat (1593) and the astronomical discoveries of his son Johann Baptist Cysat (1619), the medallic art of Johann Carl Hedlinger (around 1730) and the big model relief of Central Switzerland by Franz Ludwig Pfyffer von Wyher (1786).


In the 18th century important were the two composers from Lucerne Franz Joseph Leonti Meyer von Schauensee and Joseph Franz Xaver Dominik Stalder. In the 19th century came from Lucerne the philosopher Ignaz Paul Vital Troxler, the composer Xaver Schnyder von Wartensee and the landscape painter Robert Zünd.


In the 20th century notable are the writers Heinrich Federer, Meinrad Inglin und Josef Maria Camenzind, the goldsmith Meinrad Burch-Korrodi, the painters Max von Moos and Hans Erni as well as the multimedia artist Urs Luethi.


From Glarus originate the historical writers Heinrich Loriti, called Glarean (1517-22 in Paris), and Aegidius Tschudi (1571), in the 19th century the scientists Oswald Heer and Johann Jakob von Tschudi as well as the historian of law Johann Jakob Blumer, in the 20th century the astrophysicist Fritz Zwicky and the poets Ludwig Hohl and Eveline Hasler.



Since Roman times: Swiss abroad

see also: Schweizer, die im Ausland wirkten


Evidently already the Helvetians liked to go south. One of the first “Swiss” known by name is an artist or artisan, Helico, living around 400 BC in Rome. In Mantua a black glazed vessel was found, dated 300 BC, with the inscription: „I belong to a Helvetian“. Then the chronicle of the Swiss abroad gets off to a dramatic start. In 111 BC young Helvetians from the Celtic tribe of the Tigurins moved with three German tribes to the south of France. Under the young chief Divico they conquered four years later a roman army. The surviving soldiers had to pass under the yoke. After a further victory the four tribes advanced to Italy but were driven back soon.

Not quite a century later the region of today’s Switzerland was under Roman control, and strong young men had to serve in the Roman armies scattered through half Europe.

In the late flourish of the Roman Empire (from 280 AC) several honorable families of Valais - but strangely from no other area of Switzerland – provided Rome with numerous senators.



Soon after the first christianisation (from 300 on) Swiss clergymen and monks were active abroad (e. g. Valentin from Rätia in Passau). Of Tuotilo, an artist and craftsman in St. Gall, we hear around 900 that he „was a good traveller and knew a lot of countries and cities”.

About 32 of the well-known Minnesingers (approx. 1150-1300) originate from the area of today's Switzerland, particularly between Constance and Zurich. The mystic Heinrich Seuse stems from a knightly family of the village Berg in Thurgovie and preached in Konstanz and Ulm.


Architects and artists from the Ticino are active in Italy since 1140, after 1550 particularly at the St. Peter’s Basilica, since 1700 also in Russia.

Since the 13th century sugar bakers drew from the Bergell into the Republic of Venice, later also into other countries, from France to Russia. Rodolphe Salis created the restaurant-cabaret “Le Chat Noir " around 1880 in Paris. Also from other parts of Grisons and from the Ticino sugar bakers emigrated and often made their fortune as owners of coffee houses in the urban centers of Europe.


Since 1400 travelling merchants (Niklaus von Diesbach, Heinrich Halbisen) alnd a lot of scholars, musicians and painters stayed in Germany or France, rarely in Italy; since 1830 also in the USA. The Swiss art of negotiation was very useful in diplomatic missions.


Jakob Sprenger, Dominican from Rheinfelden, acted in Cologne as teacher and inquisitor; his collaboration in the "Malleus Maleficarum" of Heinrich Institoris (1487) is denied.

1511 the bishop of Sitten, Matthaeus Schiner, became appointed cardinal by Pope Julius II. He led the troops of the confederation to the victories over the French at Pavia (1512) and Novara (1513), but also to the painful defeat at Marignano (1515), which led the Swiss to a political rethinking and to neutrality.

The three most important artists shortly after 1500, Niklaus Manuel Deutsch, Urs Graf and Hans Leu jun., participated in their restless life also as mercenaries in campaigns.


Mostly abroad were the versatile physician Paracelsus, the Toggenburger autodidact Jost Buergi, who invented the tables of logarithms, and artist family Merian of Basel (in Frankfurt/Main). In the Enlightenment it followed the theologian Johann Jakob Wettstein of Basel in Amsterdam, the mathematician Leonhard Euler of Basel in St. Petersburg, Jean-Jacques Rousseau of Geneva in France, Abraham Trembley of Geneva in Leyden and London, the jurist Emeric de Vattel of Neuchâtel worked in Dresden, the theologian and art theoretician Johann Georg Sulzer from Winterthur in Berlin, the Bernese classicist Daniel Albert Wyttenbach in Amsterdam und Leyden, the physician Johann Georg Zimmermann from Brugg in Hannover, the geologist and meteorologist Jean-André Deluc from Geneva in England.


The painter Jean-Etienne Liotard from Geneva stayed nearly everywhere in Europe. The portrait painter Anton Graff from Winterthur lived in Germany, Johann Heinrich Füssli (Henry Fuseli: “The Nightmare” 1781) of Zurich lived in Rome and London, the painter Jacques Laurent Agasse of Geneva 1802-1849 in London.


1745 young watchmaker Ferdinand Berthoud from the Val de Travers went to Paris and soon constructed marine chronographs; 1775 another young watchmaker from Neuchâtel; Abraham-Louis Breguet, founded in Paris a workshop to produce watches. At the same time the Vaudois Josiah Emery produced at Charing Cross in London also marine chronographs and pendulum clocks.


Since 1770 numerous Swiss bankers (the family Delessart, Jacques Necker, Etienne Clavière, Jean-Frédéric Perregaux, Hans Konrad Hottinger, Ulrich Zellweger) held high positions in Paris. Pierre-Isaac Thellusson became director of the Bank of England in London. In 1815 Hans Conrad Hippenmeyer from Thurgau was appointed director of the Austrian National Bank.



From 1800: Engineers, artists, adventurers and scholars abroad


Since 1800 also engineers worked abroad: Johann Georg Bodmer and Adolf Guyer-Zeller from Zurich, Conradin Zschokke and Carl Roman Abt from Aargau, Louis Favre, Théodore Turrettini and Mark Birkigt from Geneva.


From Romandie to Paris went the sculptor James Pradier, the painters Charles Gleyre, Théophile Alexandre Steinlen and Felix Valloton as well as the father of the composer Maurice Ravel - one of the first automobile designers -, the linguist Jules Gilliéron, the composer Gustave Doret as well as the physicians Sigismond Jaccoud and Victor Morax.


The porcelain painter Abraham Constantin of Geneva lived in Paris, Florence and Rome, the painter Arnold Boecklin of Basel lived in Rome and Florence.


The professor for geometry Jakob Steiner and the jurist Friedrich Ludwig Keller, the physician Emile Henri Dubois-Reymond, the botanist Simon Schwendener and the romanist Adolf Tobler taught in Berlin, the physician Rudolf Albert Koelliker in Würzburg. The botanist Karl Wilhelm von Nägeli, the lawyer Johann Jacob Bluntschli, the classical philologist Eduard Wölfflin from Basel and his son, the cultural historian Heinrich Wölfflin, taught all in Munich. The two physicians from Basel, Wilhelm His, father and son, taught in Leipzig, the younger also in Berlin. Victor Moritz Goldschmidt of Zurich ended up in Oslo, where he laid the fundaments for geochemistry. The professor for jurisprudence Eugen Huber worked 10 years in Halle, the physiologist Emil Abderhalden over 30 years.


1802 Marie Grossholz from Berne opened her wax museum in London („Madame Tussaud’s”). 1838 the Vaudois Antoine-Henri Jomini, who early in his life became general in French and Russian duty, according to his experiences introduced „logistics” in war science, equivalent as strategy and tactics.


Building master Gaspare Fossati from Ticino saved 1847 the Agia Sophia from collapse. Another architect from Ticino, Antonio Croci, built 1869 the Valrose Castle near Nice with a big concert hall.


The explorer and adventurer Johann-Ludwig Burckhardt („Sheik Ibrahim Ibn Abdullah“), discovered 1812 the town Petra and a year later the temple of Abu Simbel. The businessman and explorer Werner Munzinger looked out for the source of the Nile and in 1872 became „Pasha“ and Governor-General of the eastern Sudan. 1897-1906 Alfred Ilg was premier minister of foreign affairs of Ethiopia. The veterinarian Arnold Theiler emigrated 1890 to South Africa and there developed a vaccine angainst cattle plague. The physician Alexandre Yersin studied plague epidemies in the Far East and made agricultural experiments in Indochine.


Caesar Ritz from Valais opened the “Grand Hotel” in Rome and three Hotels bearing his Name at the Place Vendôme in Paris (1898), in London and Madrid. Since 1914 the architect Charles Edouard Jeanneret from Neuchâtel astonished with new ideas for houses and cities; since 1920 he called himself „Le Corbusier". He built mainly in France and India, but also in Moscow, Rio de Janeiro and Cambridge (Massachusetts). William Lescaze from Geneva built mainly in New York.


In the 20th century Paris was again an attraction for writer Blaise Cendrars, actor Michel Simon, pianist Alfred Cortot, composer Arthur Honegger and dancer Trudi Schoop as well for many painters and sculptors as Jean Crotti, Augusto Giacometti, Meret Oppenheim, Robert Müller and Jean Tinguely.

Italy attracted for some time painters as Hermann Haller, Max Gubler and Hans Falk, the composer Frank Martin and the clown Grock.

In Germany were active the architects Hannes Meyer and Max Bill, the composers Rolf Liebermann and Heinrich Sutermeister as well as the conductors Edwin Fischer and Peter Maag.



Swiss in America

see also: Schweizer in USA und Kanada


Swiss characteristics are still shown today by some Amish people (since 1700) and some Mennonites (since 1800), also called “Dutch people” in Pennsylvania.


Swiss served twice as Governor-General of Canada: Sir Frederick Haldimand (1778-86) und George Prévost (1811-16). Albert Gallatin was secretary of the Treasury under the American President Thomas Jefferson.


Spanish missionaries introduced viticulture to California (1769). Shortly before 1800 the French Pierre Legaux tried it in Pennsylvania and the Swiss Jean-Jacques Dufour from Montreux at the border of Kentucky River. Lorenzo Delmonico from Ticino opened the “Delmonico” in New York 1843 and introduced the French and Italian cuisine to the Americans. 108 Swiss settled in 1845 in Monroe, Wisconsin – the “Green County” – and began to produce cheese (“Swiss” and Limburger).


Cheese Days Parade

Since 1914 biennial “Cheese Days” in Monroe with “Food Stands” and “Beer Garden” and a lot of activities, music and parades (see picture), also with „Chinder Trachte Umzug“ and „uf der Strass tanze“.



“General” Johann August Sutter rouse the Gold rush of 1848, Meyer Guggenheim founded an empire on mining and smelting, Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz laid ground for the modern American science and Philip Schaff the ecumenical church history. The Appenzell born technician and inventor John Heinrich Kruesi was a close collaborator to Thomas Alva Edison. William Nicholas Hailmann from Glarus introduced the Kindergarten, and John Meyenberg from Zug evaporated milk.


Shortly before 1900 the psychiatrist Adolf Meyer, the composer Al Dubin and the silk trader Robert J. F. Schwarzenbach felt drawn to the USA; they were followed by the automobile designer Louis-Joseph Chevrolet and the builder of bridges Othmar Hermann Ammann, later by the musicians Rudolph Ganz and Ernest Bloch and the director William Wyler. Later came the thanatologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. A fortune gained Robert H. Abplanalp, the inventor of the aerosol spray valve.

The musher Martin Buser emigrated to Alaska when he was 21. From 1992 to 2002 he won four times the Iditarod Trail Sledge Dog Race.


Second generation Swiss were in the early times the physician and politician Benjamin Rush and the attorney general William Wirt, later the philanthropists Adrian Georg Iselin (New York), George H. Hermann (Houston, Texas) and Milton Snavely Hershey (Hershey, Pennsylvania) as well as the father of Chief Justice Warren Earl Burger. In the 20 century we have movie producer John Rudolf Freuler, actors Wallace Beery, Yul Brynner and August Schellenberg, racing driver and fighter ace Eddie Rickenbacker and the writer Mari Sandoz.


Even sons of Swiss ascended to admirals of the US Navy: the father of Edward Walter Eberle (in WW I) originated from Walenstadt, ancesters of Elmo Russel Zumwalt (in WW II) originated from Erlenbach im Simmental.


The Bernese bandleader Teddy Stauffer lived for 50 years in Acapulco. Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, son of a Swiss pharmacist from Andelfingen, was 1951-54 president of Guatemala. Eduardo Frei, son of a Zurich born father, was president of Chile 1964-70; his son again thirty years later. Néstor Kirchner, grandson of a Swiss woman from Interlaken, was president of Argentinia from 2003 to 2007.



Since Roman times: Foreigners in Switzerland

see also: Ausländer in der Schweiz

Germanischer Adel in der Schweiz


Since the region of today’s Switzerland was complete under Roman control (15 BC), "foreigners" stayed here: Military leaders, soldiers and veterans, also officials, landowners, tradesmen and craftsmen. The father of emperor Vespasian lived here as a wealthy banker.


Since 300 came missionaries (e. g Verena from Egypt to Zurzach) and priests, since 1000 notable scholars and artists, architects and master builders (particularly in the 15. century) as well as poets and mystics.


From 1200 to 1500 in nearly all Swiss towns Italian change agents, mostly form Lombardy, were active; only in Basel there were native agents (“Hausgenossen“).


Of the first great painters of Switzerland Konrad Witz (1431) und Hans Holbein (1519) came from Germany to Basel.


From 1470 on there came many humanists, e. g.

  • to the just established University of Basel: Johannes Reuchlin, Sebastian Brandt, Konrad Pellikan (later in Zurich), Thomas Murner (later in Lucerne), Erasmus von Rotterdam and Celio Secondo Curione (first in Lausanne)
  • to Zurich: Leo Jud (first in Basel), Ulrich von Hutten and Peter Martyr Vermigli
  • to Geneva: Mathurin Cordier (also in Neuchâtel and Lausanne), François Bonivard, Théodore de Bèze (first in Lausanne), Jean Budé and François Hotman (also in Lausanne and Basel).


Apparently Switzerland attracted a lot of printers and publishers, who came also from 1470 on to

  • Basel: Johann Petri, Johannes Amerbach, Johannes Froben, Ulrich Gengenbach (father of Pamphilus Gengenbach) and Bartholomäus Westheimer
  • Zurich: Sigmund Rot, Hans Hager and Christoph Froschauer
  • Geneva: the French religious fugitives Robert Estienne, Jean Crespin, Conrad Bade and Laurent de Normandie.


Two of the oldest firms of Switzerland still active trace themselves to these times: the publishing house of Basel, Schwabe, to Johann Petri (1488), the publishing house Orell Fuessli of Zurich to Christoph Froschauer (1519).



Half of the Reformers originated from other countries:

Jean Calvin (Geneva) and Guillaume Farel (Neuchâtel) from France,

Johannes Stumpf (Zurich), Berchtold Haller (Bern), Johannes Oekolampadius (Basel) and Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt (Basel) from Germany,

Giulio da Milano (Bergell, Poschiavo) and Pietro Paolo Vergerio (Engadin) from Italy.

The Scottish Reformer John Knox got asylum for four years in Geneva.


A powerful man of the Counter Reformation, the Dutch Jesuit Catholic priest Petrus Canisius, worked at the end of his life twenty years in Fribourg.


Switzerland owes much to the reformed refugees from France (since 1536; Night of St. Bartholomew 1572) and Italy (Chanforan 1532; Inquisition 1542). A second wave followed after the abolition of the edict of Nantes (1685).

These people enriched the country with diligence and knowledge in printing (as just mentioned for Geneva), in financial matters and watch making (particularly at the Lake Geneva and in the Jura), in tannery and silk production (in Basel and Zurich).


A large magnet was the area of Geneva. Here not only settled most of the Huguenots, but also later the French universal scholar Firmin Abauzit – „le Socrate genevois“ – and Voltaire (for 24 years) as well as the German Jacob Schweppe, inventor of the first soda water („Schweppes“).


Since 1750 pushed commerce in Neuchâtel the protestant families of Jacques-Louis de Pourtalès, David de Pury and Paul Coulon.


In Lausanne occasionally lived the founder of the French Natural Law, Jean Barbeyrac, the theologians Antoine de Court and his son Antoine Court de Gébelin, the writer Edward Gibbon, the gourmet Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin and the thiplomat and journalist Joseph de Maistre. In a mansion in Colombier at the Lake Neuchâtel lived Isabelle de Charrière.


The architect Caspar Moosbrugger from Vorarlberg designed around 1700 plans for the monasteries Muri, St. Lazarus, Einsiedeln, Disentis and Kalchrain. From southern Germany came the families of glass blowers Siegwart, who installed a workshop in the Entlebuch and produced the “Flühli Glass”, and the engineer Johann Sebastian Clais, who rehabilitated mines and salt works. From Thueringen later came the salt work specialist Carl Christian Friedrich Glenck. From Rhenish Hesse came chemist Georg Wander.


Private tutors in Zurich were the writer Christoph Martin Wieland and the philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte, in Berne the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. In intensive cooperation with Heinrich Pestalozzi stood the educationists Johann Friedrich Herbart and Friedrich Fröbel. The author Heinrich Zschokke and the publisher Heinrich Remigius Sauerländer settled in Aarau. The spiritual healer Franz Anton Mesmer cured 20 years people from all Europe in Frauenfeld.


Charles-Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, later emperor Napoleon III., grew up since 1820 in the Arenenberg Castle over the Bodensee (Lake Constance) and became an artillery captain in the Thurgau.



19th century: The attraction of the French part of Switzerland and the Ticino


In Lausanne lived since 1833 Giuseppe Mazzini for a short time, the Polish national poet Mickiewicz and the French socialist Pierre Leroux. From 1870 on worked the French specialist for architecture Eugène Viollet-le-Duc and the political economists Léon Walras, followed by the economist Vilfredo Pareto, the musicians Ignacy Ian Paderewski and Igor Strawinski as well as Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the olympic games. The Swedish dramatist August Strindberg was 1883 and 1884 in Ouchy (later at the Lake Lucerne).


The visitors of Geneva and Neuchâtel in the first half of the century were already mentioned in the chapter “tourism”. In the 1860’sthe later English marine minister Hubert Horatio Kitchener attended school in Geneva, and the family of the later philosopher Henri Bergson lived at the „Boulevard des Philosophes“. At the same time the pacifist Ferdinand Buisson taught as professor of philosophy at the University of Neuchâtel.


For 40 years Hans-Christian Andersen visited Montreux from 1833 on time and again.

The French literature professor, patriot and Republican Edgar Quinet was here from 1558 on for 12 years in exile. Peter Tschaikowsky spent here 1877-79 three vacations for composition. One of the first to build a house here, was the theoretician of anarchism Elisée Reclus (1879). Holidays cherished here also Alphonse Daudet (1884), Empress Sissi (1893-98) and Sarah Bernhardt (1897/98). Gustave Courbet spent his last years in La-Tour-de-Peilz, Paul ("Ohm") Krueger in Clarens.


Since that time more and more personalities enjoyed the sunny slopes of the eastern Lake Geneva, called “Swiss Riviera” (Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux).


Children of wealthy foreign families attended private schools in the western part of Switzerland (e. g. “Le Rosey”, founded 1880), among others the Shah of Iran and Soraya, the kings of Spain, Belgium and Thailand, Karim Aga Khan IV., the Duke of Kent, the Crown Prince Alexander II of Yugoslavia and Emanuele Filiberto, Prince of Savoy.


The Milanese publisher and politician Carlo Cattaneo got asylum 1848 in Lugano and was here active for another twenty years. Then the canton Ticino was discovered as the “Sunny room” of Switzerland. It was the anarchist Bakunin who gathered his friends since 1869 at Locarno-Minusio. On the Monte Verità near Ascona an anarchistic school was established; after 1900 came the naturists and reformists. Since 1885 the Russian Baroness Antonietta Saint-Leger welcomed her friends on the Brissago islands. 1904 the Italian composer Ruggero Leoncavallo built a villa in Brissago.


Involved in the upswing since 1848


The upswing of the industry after 1848 is to be owed to many foreigners, e. g. in

  • trade: father and son Danzas, Hermann Ludwig Rottmann and Gottlob Pfleiderer (Basler Missions Handlungsgesellschaft) and Henri Davidoff
  • textiles: Georg Heberlein, Wilhelm Rudolf Schoeller and Ernest Carnot
  • food: Henri Nestlé and Charles Page, Daniel Peter, Georg Wander, Wallrad Ottmar Bernhard (ROCO) und Gustav Henkell (HERO)
  • chemistry: Carl Christian Friedrich Glenck (Schweizerhall), Alexander Clavel (CIBA), Léon Givaudan and Richard Doetsch
  • machines and apparatus: Franz Bauer, Franz Saurer, Friedrich von Martini, Charles Brown und Walter Boveri, Franz Brozincevic (FBW), Jacques Bogopolski (Bolex), Emil Georg Bührle (Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon; Pilatus Aircraft)
  • building: Ernst Göhner
  • watches: Antoni Norbert Patek de Prawdzic und Jean Adrien Philippe, Matthäus Hipp (chronoscope), Florentine Ariosto Jones (IWC), Jacques Didisheim (Juvenia), Achille Ditesheim (Movado), Paul Ditisheim (Solvil), Hans Wilsdorf (Rolex)
  • banking: Ludwig Hirschhorn (Julius Bär).



Some specifications


Some company founders are sometimes designated as foreigners, some personalities and firms as Swiss. That is not correct.

The spread of the roots of innovators and firms is enormous. Brothers Sulzer stem from an old Winterthur family. Although he was born in Alsace the mechanic Niklaus Riggenbach stems from a old Basel family. From old Vaudois families stem the versatile François-Henri Lavanchy-Clarke („Sunlight“) and Eduard von Goumoëns, from 1906 on for long years director of „Viscose Suisse“. Jacques Schiesser, who founded 1875 in Radolfzell at the German border of the Lake Constance a factory to produce tricots, came from the canton Glarus.


Already the grandfather of Carl Franz Bally was naturalized in Rohr. Julius Maggi has been born in Frauenfeld as so of an Italian immigrant from Monza already eighteen years in Switzerland and citizen of Affoltern am Albis. Also the father of the physician and inventor Ernest Guglielminetti has been naturalized in the Valais; Ernest designated himself as “good Swiss and Valaisan”, others named him „Docteur Goudron“ because he coated the first piece of a street 1902 in Monaco with bitumen (in French: „goudronnage“) to prevent dust.


The butchers Bell from the neighbourhood of Basel got their citizenship of the town only after they had their benches at the Weisse Gasse for ten years.

From Alsace were also the versatile philosopher Johann Heinrich Lambert, who invented systems theory and photometry, the architect Johann Daniel Osterrieth, who was given 1798 the order to plan Aarau for the capital of the Helvetic Republic, Louis Eser, who in 1803 introduced the production of drawing-pens to Aarau, as well as father and son Danzas, father and sons Dreyfus (bankers in Basel), the designer of the Eiffel tower Maurice Koechlin, the chocolate producer Daniel Peter, the watch producers Jacques Didisheim („Juvenia“), Achille Ditesheim („Movado“) and Paul Ditisheim (Solvil) as well as the chemist Alfred Werner. From Lyon came the dyer-chemists Alexander Clavel and Louis Durand.

Father and son Brown remained their life long English; in 1916 the son got honorary citizenship of Baden.


The firm „Knorr“ (today with Unilever) had already existed in Germany for 50 years when it opened a pack plant in Thayngen. Also the manufacturer of women's underwear „Triumph“ existed for more than 40 years in Germany until it opened a subsidiary at Zurzach. The German textile knitting firm „Schiesser“ was bought by the Swiss industrialist Jakob Heusser-Staub (HESTA) already 44 years after been founded.



Since 1830: foreign revolutionaries, scholars, philosophers and artists


From 1830 to 1917 Switzerland accommodated al lot of revolutionaries and anarchists, e. g. Georg Buechner, Giuseppe Mazzini, Johann Phillip Becker, Georg Herwegh, Wilhelm Weitling, Michael Bakunin, Friedrich Engels, Alexander Herzen, Hermann Greulich, Vera Figner, Elisée Reclus, Peter Kropotkin, Georgij Walentinowitsch Plechanow, Rosa Luxemburg, August Bebel, Luigi Bertoni, Angelica Balabanoff, Lenin and Leo Trotsky.


In addition, scholars, philosophers and artists were attracted by the liberalization at that time.


Among the first professors at the 1833 founded University of Zurich were Lorenz Oken, Ludwig Snell, Johann Lukas Schönlein, Ferdinand Hitzig, Julius Fröbel and David Friedrich Strauss. They were followed by Theodor Mommsen, Friedrich Theodor Vischer, Jakob Moleschott, Eberhard Schrader, Friedrich Albert Lange, Wilhelm Wundt, Eduard Hitzig, Wilhelm Windelband, Richard Avenarius and later Constantin von Monakow, Ernst Meumann, Friedrich Wilhelm Foerster and Gustav Störring.


1855 the Polytechnic was founded – later called Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). Here we have Carl Culmann, Rudolf Clausius, Franz Reuleaux, Francesco de Sanctis and Julius Wilhelm Richard Dedekind. The impressive building is from Gottfried Semper (1864). 1866 came Georg Kinkel as professor of archaeology and history of art, 1873 the engineer Ludwig Tetmajer von Przerwa, 1875 the mathematician Georg Ferdinand Frobenius, 1892 the turbine engineer Aurel Stodola and the mathematician Adolf Hurwitz, 1905 the chemist Richard Willstätter.


Maurice Koechlin made his studies with Carl Culmann. Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen studied at the ETH (with Clausius) as well as at the University of Zurich, likewise Alfred Werner from Alsace. As the latter Fritz Haber from Breslau studied at the ETH chemical technology. The psychologist Arthur Wreschner from Breslau taught about 30 years at the University as well as at the ETH Zurich.


Attracted by Switzerland too were the zoologist Carl Vogt, Richard Wagner, the composer Heinrich Götz, the philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche und Rudolf Eucken, the fathers of Frank Wedekind and Paul Klee, the mechanic Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel as well as the composer Lily Reiff-Sertorius and the poetesses Lou Andreas-Salomé and Ricarda Huch.


Alone in the few years from 1910 to 1917 came besides the already mentioned (Stravinsky and Coubertin) among others

  • at the ETH: the chemists Hermann Staudinger (and his doctoral candidate Tadeus Reichstein), Otto Stern and Leopold Ruzicka as well as the mathematicians Hermann Weyl and George Polya
  • at the University of Zurich: the surgeon Ernst Ferdinand Sauerbruch, the pysicists Peter Debye and Max von Laue as well as the philosopher Gottlob Friedrich Lipps
  • the writers: Franziska zu Reventlow, Mary Lavater-Slomann, Thomas Mann, Alfred Hermann Fried, Romain Rolland and Pierre-Jean Jouve, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Jorge Louis Borges, James Joyce, Karl Kraus, Elias Canetti, Klabund, Harry Graf Kessler
  • the philosophers: Rudolf Steiner, Thomas Garrigue Masaryk and Ludwig Klages
  • the artists: Lotte Lenya, Mary Wigman and Rudolf Laban, Marianne von Werefkin, Frans Masereel, the Dadaists, Balthus, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, etc.


After the First World War Switzerland was again, especially 1933-1945 a place of refuge for many artists, in particular writers and theatre people.


After 1945 there followed e. g. Wilhelm Furtwängler, Wilhelm Backhaus, Nikita Magaloff, Darius Milhaud and Helmut Zacharias, as well as Coco Chanel, Karl Jaspers and Oskar Kokoschka, from the movies Charles Chaplin, Audrey Hepburn and Capucine, William Holden, James Mason, David Niven and Richard Burton as well as the writers Paul Morand and Vladimir Nabokov, Werner Bergengruen and Ernst Wiechert, Hans Habe, Walter Mehring, Alfred Andersch and Henry Jaeger, Jean Anouihl and Georges Simenon, Noel Coward, Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, Elias Canetti (again) and Patricia Highsmith.


In addition there are a lot of actors, musicians and singers, but also racing drivers and tennis cracks, and last but not least some wealthy entrepreneurs and heirs.


Of the 26 Swiss Nobel laureates there are eight naturalized, among them the poet Hermann Hesse (1923 in Berne) and the physicist Albert Einstein (1901 in Zurich); the Secretary-General of the UN, Kofi Annan, has been appointed honorary citizen of Geneva in 2002.



See also:       Famous Swiss

                        Swiss Hall of Fame

                        Über 350 Firmengründungen in der Schweiz

                        Ausländer in der Schweiz

Schweiz: Rund um die Nobelpreisträger





 (Personalities, see at the end of: Famous Swiss)


Switzerland in general and history


Curt Englert-Faye: Vom Mythus zur Idee der Schweiz. Lebensfragen eidgenössischer Existenz geschichtlich dargestellt. Zürich: Atlantis 1940.

Walter Drack: Illustrierte Geschichte der Schweiz. 3 Bände. Einsiedeln: Benziger 1958-61, 2. Aufl. 1971.

George Mikes: Die Schweiz für Anfänger. Beobachtungen eines Ausländers. Zürich: Diogenes 1961; englisch: Switzerland for Beginners. London: André Deutsch 1962; zahlreich Auflagen.

Hans Weigel: Lern dieses Volk der Hirten kennen. Versuch einer freundlichen Annäherung an die Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft. Zürich: Artemis 1962; München. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag 1966; zahlreiche Auflagen

Sigmund Widmer: Illustrierte Geschichte der Schweiz. Zürich: Ex Libris 1965, 4. Aufl. 1977.

Hans Tschäni: Profil der Schweiz. Ein lebendiges Staatsbild. Zürich: Rascher 1966.

Ernst Bohnenblust: Geschichte der Schweiz. Erlenbach: Rentsch 1974.

Niklaus Flüeler et al.: Die Schweiz – vom Bau der Alpen bis zur Frage nach der Zukunft. Zürich: Ex Libris 1975.

Peter Dürrenmatt: Schweizer Geschichte. 2 Bände. Zürich: Schweizer Verlagshaus 1976 (1. Aufl. 1957).

André Beerli et al.: Unbekannte Schweiz: Von Zürich zum Rhein. Hrsg. Touring-Club der Schweiz. 1979.

Handbuch der Schweizer Geschichte. 2 Bände. Zürich: Verlag Berichthaus 1980.

Dieter Fahrni: Schweizer Geschichte. Zürich: Pro Helvetia 1982 (8. Aufl. 2000); engl.: An Outline History of Switzerland. 1994.

J. Murray Luck: A History of Switzerland. Palo Alto: SPOSS Inc. 1985.

Geneviève Lüscher: Wanderungen in die Urgeschichte. 17 Ausflüge zu Stätten der Stein-, Bronze- und Eisenzeit in der Schweiz. Thun: Ott 1986.

Beatrix Mesmer et al.: Geschichte der Schweiz und der Schweizer. Basel: Helbing & Lichtenhahn 1986.

Christian Schütt, Bernhard Pollmann: Chronik der Schweiz. Zürich: Ex Libris 1987.

Hans Tschäni: Das neue Profil der Schweiz. Konstanz und Wandel einer alten Demokratie. Zürich: Werd 1990.

Jürg Altwegg, Roger de Weck (Hrsg.): Kuhschweizer und Sauschwaben. Schweizer, Deutsche und ihre Hassliebe. Zürich: Nagel & Kimche 2003.

Bruno Meier: Ein Königshaus aus der Schweiz. Die Habsburger, der Aargau und die Eidgenossenschaft im Mittelalter. Baden: hier + jetzt 2008.

Roger Sablonier: Gründungszeit ohne Eidgenossen. Politik und Gesellschaft in der Innerschweiz um 1300. Baden: hier + jetzt 2008.



Switzerland economy


Walter Bodmer: Die Entwicklung der schweizerischen Textilindustrie im Rahmen der übrigen Industrien und Wirtschaftszweige. Zürich: Berichthaus 1960.

Albert Hauser: Schweizerische Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte. Von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart. Erlenbach: Rentsch 1961.

Lorenz Stucki: Das heimliche Imperium. Wie die Schweiz reich wurde. Bern, München: Scherz 1968; engl. The Secret Empire. The Success Story of Switzerland. New York: Herder and Herder 1971.

Ernest Schmid: Schweizer Autos. Die schweizerische Automobilkonstruktion von 1868 bis heute. Lausanne: Edita 1978.

Jean-François Bergier: Wirtschaftsgeschichte der Schweiz. Zürich: Benziger 1983, 2. Aufl. 1990.

Barbara E. Messerli (Hrsg.): Seide. Zur Geschichte eines edlen Gewerbes. Zürich: Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung 1985; darin Ursula Isler: Zur Geschichte der Zürcher Seidenindustrie, 65-77, und Michael Bernegger: Die Zürcher Seidenindustrie von der Industrialisierung bis zur Gegenwart, 78-95.

Christian Kolbe (Red.): Seide. Stoff für Zürcher Geschichte und Geschichten. Zürich: Kantonalbank 1999.





Switzerland in general (mostly with history)



Switzerland’s history by Markus Jud



Swiss traditions




general information






Swiss tourism - My Switzerland



list of links



Seco: State Secretariat for Economic Affairs



Swiss Statistcs



Why Zurich?



Switzerland: history



Timeline Switzerland



Swiss History



Switzerland: special themes (current)


Wolf Linder, Andrea Iff: Swiss Political System, ca. 2010 (pdf)




Directory of Swiss Banks



overview of science and research



Switzerland: special themes (historical)


History of watchmaking




Pioneers of Swiss chocolate


Swiss Textiles









Jakob Schlaepfer, established 1934 in St. Gallen: textile print (2015)



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