1874-1891 History of Italy 1914-1918

Switzerland 1891-1914

A.) Foreign Policy

Switzerland, in continuation of her traditional policy of Neutrality and aware of nationalism and imperialism fervent in her neighbouring countries and of the arms race going on, promoted international agreements aiming on the peaceful regulation of international relations, such as the Peace Conferences in Den Haag ("the Hague") in 1899 and 1907. When, largely due to the effort of French Pacifist Pierre de Coubertin, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) was founded, it established her headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. In 1901 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Swiss Jean Henri Dunant, the founder of the International Red Cross (1863) and organixer of the (first) Geneva Convention (1864); the Nobel Peace Prize for 1902 went to Elie Ducommun and Charles Albert Gobat, both Swiss, honorary secretaries of the International Peace Bureau, Bern (est. 1891); in 1908 and 1913, the institute, renamed Permanent International Peace Bureau, was again honoured by the prize being awarded to her presidents, Dane Fredrik Bajer (1908) and Belgian Henri La Fontaine (1913).
The assassination of Austrian Empress Elisabeth (Sissi) in Montreux/Switzerland in 1898 by an anarchist (who only killed her as his intended victim did not show up) caused international irritation.
In 1893 the International Railway Bureau was established, with seat in Bern. In 1897 an International Congress for the Protection of Labour was held in Zürich; a later result would be the foundation of the International Labour Bureau in 1919.
Basel (Switzerland) was the venue of 7 out of 11 Zionist Congresses held between 1897 and 1913. Among political exiles in Switzerland was Vladimir Ulyanov, called Lenin (1900-1917).

B.) Domestic Policy

Mandatory health and accident insurance, rejected by referendum in 1900, was introduced in 1912
Four political parties - The Progressive-Democratic Party (Radicals), the Catholic-Conservative Party, the Liberal-Conservative Party (Protestants) and the Social-Democratic Party - dominated Swiss politics. In 1910, Switzerland had 3,765,002 inhabitants.

C.) The Economy

In 1896 a Swiss National Exhibition was held in Geneva. In 1897 the Swiss government nationalized the railways; railway construction, because of the Alpine terrain, in the past had required massive state subsidies. Switzerland prospered economically, which caused the immigration of workmen from Italy, France and Germany; in 1910 565,200 foreign residents lived in Switzerland (15 % of the total population). In 1905 the Swiss National Bank was given the exclusive right to print banknotes.
In 1911 Switzerland introduced the registration of motor vehicles.

D.) Intellectual Life

The Swiss Football Association was formed in 1895; Switzerland was one of the founding members of FIFA in 1904, which - of course - established her headquarters in Switzerland. In 1912 German novelist Hermann Hesse, as a pacifist a critic of German militarism, moved to Bern (Switzerland) to become a Swiss resident.

Biography of Elie Ducommun, from Nobel e-Museum
Biography of Charles Albert Gobat, from Nobel e-Museum
Biography of Hermann Hesse, from Hermann Hesse.com
The First Twelve Zionist Congresses, from Jewish Virtual Library
DOCUMENTS List of Swiss Presidents, from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
Article Switzerland, from Catholic Encyclopedia 1912 edition
International Treaties Switzerland has signed on War and Neutrality, posted by Confoederatio Helvetica, in French; numerous treaties signed in 1899 and 1907 ("Hague" Conventions)
Treaty on the residence of Swiss, German nationals with Germany, 1909, posted by Confoederatio Helvetica, in German (also in French, Italian)
REFERENCE Charles Dandliker, History of Switzerland, The History of Nations Volume XIII. NY : Colliers (1907) 1916, pp.327-594, revised by Elbert J. Benton [G]
Article : Switzerland, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1913 pp.1143-1148 on events of 1912) [G]
Article : Switzerland, in : Statesman's Year Book 1895 pp.995-1010, 1898 pp.995-1011, 1901 pp.1104-1121, 1905 pp.1197-1214, 1910 pp.1248-1262 [G]
Article : Switzerland, in : International Year Book 1898 pp.764-766, 1899 p.762, 1900 pp.851-852 [G]
Article : Switzerland, in : New International Year Book 1907 pp.756-757, 1908 pp.677-680, 1909 pp.683-685, 1913 pp.664-666 [G]
Article : Switzerland, in : Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia and Register of Important Events 1894 p.734, 1902 pp.662-664 [G]
Algernon Bastard, The Gourmet's Guide to Europe (1903), posted by Gutenberg Library Online, chapters VIII pp.151-157 on Switzerland
Frederic Augustin Ogg, The Governments of Europe (1913), posted by Gutenberg Library Online, Pt.5 pp.405-442 on Switzerland

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on February 5th 2002, last revised on October 17th 2007

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