|Swiss National Identity and Pride|
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Every nation likes to think highly of itself, and the Swiss are no exception. Swiss national pride does not show itself in military parades and demonstrations of international supremacy, but rather in the quiet conviction that Y’en a point comme nous (There are none like us).
This superiority complex is reinforced by most statistics and observations from foreign visitors. You will not make a big hit complimenting the Swiss on the beauty of their landscapes. However, you will please your Swiss acquaintances greatly if you learn something about the few famous Swiss. Here are some examples:
Henry Dunant, was born in Geneva in 1828. A wealthy Calvinist businessman, he turned philanthropist after visiting the battlefield of Solferino and helped create the International Red Cross and the Geneva Convention (1864). Dunant’s life went from riches to rags (declared bankrupt in 1867) and back again as a result of his charitable pursuits. He received the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901 for his efforts.
Cesar Ritz, was born in 1850 in Valais and emigrated to Paris to learn the restaurant business. Coming up through the Parisian restaurant hierarchy, he finally came to open his own Palace, which has been known as the Ritz ever since.
Karl Gustav Jung, a founding father of modern psychoanalysis was born the son of a preacher in 1875. After having been Freud’s right hand for years in Vienna, he became increasingly critical of the Freudian school and developped his own theories from 1913 on.
Louis Chevrolet, born in 1878 in la Chaux de Fonds, was so fond of race cars that he created the Chevrolet Motor Company in 1911 in the US.
Le Corbusier, born Charles Edouard Jeanneret in 1887 in the same city as Chevrolet, became known as a concrete loving architect and urban planner all over the world. One of his most striking projects was the planning from scratch of Chandigarh, an Indian city, where he was able to test his theories on a large scale.
Alberto Giacometti, born in Ticino in 1901 first studied in Geneva and then began a sculptor's career in Paris. Most know him for his long, skeletal bronze statuettes such as the Pointing Man (Tate Gallery, London).
For good measure you can add Albert Einstein, who although he was born in Germany (1879), lived for years in Switzerland where he first developed his theory of relativity while moonlighting in the federal patent office. Einstein obtained his Ph.D at the University of Zurich and was later appointed as a lecturer at the University of Berne.
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