August 1 - we celebrate heroes and heroines of Swiss history - NIKIN CH

August 1 - we celebrate heroines and heroes of Swiss history

Switzerland celebrates its birthday. Switzerland as we know and love it today began on August 1, 1291, 730 years ago. To mark the anniversary, we are shining a light on the heroes and heroines in our history.

Switzerland celebrates its birthday. Switzerland as we know and love it today began on August 1, 1291, 730 years ago. To mark the anniversary, we are shining a light on the heroes and heroines in our history.
Swiss Alps

It's that time again, Switzerland's national holiday is being celebrated for the 730th time this year. Since 1291 and the infamous "Rütli Oath" in the heart of Switzerland, the Swiss people have always celebrated in red and white on August 1st. At that time, the people joined together as a loose "Confederation". From 1798, a centralized "Helvetic Republic" was established between the various confederations and in 1803 (and reorganized in 1815) the "Swiss Confederation". Since the adoption of the Federal Constitution in 1848, Switzerland has had the status of a federal state. Since then, Switzerland has upheld its valuable neutrality - enabling it to fight and overcome two world wars, a Cold War, several economic crises, humanitarian and health crises, such as the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Switzerland is culturally and traditionally very diverse and therefore has a lot to offer. The fact that we are still able to live in peace and prosperity today has a long history and cannot be taken for granted. That's why we want to dedicate this article to some of the most important heroes and heroines in Swiss history to mark the 730th anniversary. By heroes and heroines, we mean mythical heroes and heroines, but above all influential personalities who helped shape Switzerland during their lifetime. And of course the list is not exhaustive, but the length of this article is limited.

Heroes and heroines from mythology

William Tell

The hero of all Swiss heroes is and remains, of course, William Tell, the bearded Alpine Adonis with a hood and crossbow. He was an inner-Swiss freedom fighter who defied the rules of Habsburg rule, was punished by having to shoot an apple off his son Walter's head with his crossbow and finally shot the Habsburg bailiff Hermann Gessler in the heart with this very crossbow in the "Hohle Gasse". A heroic story - if it really happened that way, as it is based on a drama by Friedrich Schiller from 1804. William Tell is and remains a hero and even adorns our 5-franc coin to this day.

William Tell


To this day, Switzerland is still often romanticized and presented in the idealized way it was portrayed in the Heidi novels of the 1880s. Wonderful mountain landscapes, cows on lush flower meadows and an orphaned girl with pigtails who lives with her grandfather on the alp and doesn't want to go to town and school, but would much rather spend time with the young goatherd, Peter. Hardly any other woman has shaped Switzerland's image as an ideal mountain nation as much as Heidi. The story is known worldwide, has been translated into many languages and made into several films.


The heroines of the Villmerger War

Unfortunately, there are only a few sources of female heroes from next past. However, the women of Fahrwangen and Meisterschwanden (today's canton of Aargau) have earned hero status with their deeds. Since 1912, their efforts in the Villmerger War of 1712 have always been honored with a three-day celebration in January. Back then, they marched through the surrounding forests in large numbers and made the enemy from neighboring Villmergen believe that an army was approaching.

Villmerger War

Heroes who still shape us today

General Henri Guisan (1874-1960)

Switzerland and its neutrality. Few people owe the preservation of this valuable asset as much as Henri Guisan. The last Swiss general led Switzerland through the Second World War, at the center of the European war, surrounded by fascist war actors. The whole nation stood behind him and trusted him completely - for many of the older generations, he is regarded as the "savior of Switzerland" and an undisputed national hero.

General Henri Guisan

Henry Dunant (1828-1910)

He has the same first name as the previous one and his influence is no less. Henry Dunant was the founder of the Red Cross, which to this day carries out incredible humanitarian work around the world, he also founded the Geneva Convention and was honored as the first Nobel Peace Prize winner for his lifelong fight against suffering.

Henry Dunant

John Calvin & Huldrych Zwingli (1509-1564 & 1484-1531)

Without these two reformers, we would not live in such a free and democratic Switzerland as we do today. Zwingli reformed the church and ensured that important parts of the country broke away from conservative Catholicism. Calvin had similarly modern economic ideas and found approval in the surrounding countries. The two of them, and other Enlightenment thinkers such as Jean-Jaques Rousseau later on, are partly responsible for the modern Switzerland as it is today.

John Calvin & Huldrych Zwingli

Heroes and heroines from the present

Lise Girardin (1921-2010)

Equal rights for men and women and the associated right to vote and be elected are still burning issues today. This right was only introduced at national level in 1971, and even later in certain regions. When talking about this struggle, there are various personalities who should be mentioned here, but one of the central and representative figures was Lise Girardin. She was the first woman in an executive government (State Councillor and Mayor of Geneva), she was also the first woman member of the Council of States in Switzerland and the first woman on the Board of Directors of what is now UBS (then Union Bank of Switzerland).

Lise Girardin

Roger Federer (1981)

Is Roger Federer really a hero? We think so, he is the most successful Swiss sportsman of all time, a crowd favorite and magnet. He is a consummate professional, a role model and THE figurehead of Switzerland par excellence. With his modesty, he represents Swiss values on the international stage. King Roger is a cult figure and is still playing tennis at the highest level at almost 40 years of age - and has therefore earned himself hero status.

Roger Federer

All the helping forces that care for us in times of crisis

Corona has become part of everyday life - countless measures, restrictions and changes have turned our lives completely upside down in recent months. And while we are annoyed that there are only four of us at the table in the restaurant, we forget how well we are actually doing, because many people have lost loved ones because of corona and are now sitting at the table alone. For around a year and a half, thousands of people have been working tirelessly in many areas to ensure the well-being of us all. And we at NIKIN just want to say thank you for that. Solidarity is incredibly important in times of crisis - continue to show consideration, stick to the measures and keep the number of cases low.

Corona heroes

Who have we forgotten?

Who are your Swiss heroes and heroines? Who has achieved something extraordinary and therefore deserves hero status? Let us know - in the comments.

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