What is the worst museum in Buffalo

Switzerland elsewhere

150 years ago Switzerland was not an affluent country. At that time, many set out to find property, wealth and freedom of religion in a foreign country. Some emigrants founded settlements and gave this name to the old homeland. That is why today we can find a Bern, Zurich or Friborg and others all over the world.

Petra Koci is a freelance journalist and author. In her book “World Atlas of Swiss Places” she portrays settlements founded by the Swiss on five continents.

Migration is a hot topic. Many people are looking for a better life in Europe, including our country. Emigration in the 19th century was mainly in the opposite direction: from predominantly agrarian Switzerland to other continents. Some cantonal authorities supported the move, also because they could get rid of unwanted, impoverished residents. In other cantons, emigration was forbidden. Agencies or individual advertisers lured people with false promises. Not infrequently they profited themselves and plunged the emigrants into misery. But the colonists were also often the plaything of politics. Some governments promised to expel the indigenous peoples, regardless of whether they were Indians, Indians or Tatars, with the help of the colonization of Europeans.

19th century - years of emigration

Climate disasters, agricultural crises and social and economic changes also contributed to emigration. In Switzerland, industrialization in the textile sector advanced early on. After an economic blockade imposed by France on England was lifted, Switzerland was also flooded with cheap textiles. Jobs, especially home and manual labor, were lost. When the Tambora volcano erupted in Indonesia in 1815, the huge mass of ash absorbed some of the sunlight even in Europe. 1816 went down in history as the "year without a summer" and led to crop failures. The consequences were rising prices, mass poverty, famine and emigration.

Painter Hans Bachmann addressed emigration in this painting from 1911.
Swiss National Museum

Nova Friburgo in Brazil

During this time the Swiss colony Nova Friburgo was founded in Brazil. The deal between the cantonal government of Freiburg and the Portuguese king in Brazil was sealed on May 16, 1818. Over 2000 people, mainly from Friborg, but also from other cantons, registered to emigrate. "Homeless" were deported by the authorities.

Brazil was interested in labor as the abolition of slavery was underway. The Swiss were considered good craftsmen and soldiers. In addition, the South American country should become "whiter" through the immigrants. The king himself allocated land to the settlers about 150 km in the hinterland of Rio de Janeiro. The hilly terrain and the climatic conditions should be reminiscent of the foothills of the Alps. The colonists were given some land, temporary housing, and ten years of tax exemption - at least those who made it to South America. Because the envoy of the Freiburg government and organizer of the emigration was a profiteer who put most of the money in his own sack. Not only did the resettlers in Holland have to wait for the ocean-going ships for weeks under the worst conditions. The hardships of the long crossing and the arduous journey inland also took their toll. It soon became apparent that the steep, stony terrain in Nova Friburgo was unsuitable for agriculture. The settlers were free to choose whether they wanted to stay or work on more fertile land a little further away. Years later, some Swiss actually managed to grow tobacco, sugar cane and coffee successfully. Nova Friburgo earned money with the surrounding coffee plantations and later with the textile industry. Today Nova Friburgo is considered the underwear capital of Brazil.

Nova Friburgo is located around 150 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro in the hinterland of Brazil.
Photo: Benno Gut

Nova Friburgo is considered the underwear capital of Brazil. The textile industry has created around 20,000 jobs in the region.
Photo: Benno Gut

Zürichtal in the Crimea

The founding of the Zürichtal settlement in the Crimea happened against the will of the Zurich authorities. At the end of the 18th century, the rural population came under the rule of the "gracious lords" in Zurich. Emigration was forbidden. But after a few prosperous years, the textile and weaving industry fell to the ground. Many weavers, spinners, farmers and artisans wanted to escape poverty. At that time, the settlement in "New Russia" was advertised, in 1783 the peninsula was annexed by the Russian Empire. The tsar promised land, tax relief and exemption from the army.

In 1803, around 60 emigrant families secretly set out and traveled on the Danube towards the Black Sea under the direction of Major Hans Caspar Escher, Alfred Escher's grandfather. After a long, hard journey through the winter, they reached the southern Crimea with the last of their strength and settled in an abandoned Tatar village. They called it Zürichtal, built farmhouses, cultivated arable land and vineyards. German repatriates came later. After the October Revolution of 1917 the village became a sovkhoz. Around 1930 repression began against the Crimean Germans and Crimean Swiss. They had to hand over harvests, houses and money and were deported to Siberia. In 1945 Zürichtal was renamed “Zolotoe Pole” - the golden field. Today Crimean Tatars, Russians, Ukrainians live here. Only a few farms and tombstones that were not used to build garden walls are reminiscent of the Swiss founders.

In 1945 Zürichtal was renamed Zolotoe Pole, the golden field.
Photo: Benno Gut

Today there is not much left of the former Swiss colony. The “golden field” is primarily used as pasture for the cows of the few who still live here.
Photo: Benno Gut

Mennonites and Amish in the United States

In the middle west of the USA, however, in the small town of Berne, the Swiss heritage is still clearly visible: the Muensterberg Clocktower is an exact replica of the Zytgloggeturm. The "First Bank of Berne" is built in the chalet style. Numerous Swiss surnames are emblazoned on posters and business signs.

In the middle of the 19th century, the search for religious freedom and exemption from military service led to the founding of Berne. The Mennonite religious community lived in seclusion on isolated farms in Switzerland, practiced adult baptism and refused to serve in the army. She was no longer officially pursued. Nevertheless, around 70 Swiss Mennonites from Moutier in the Bernese Jura set out for America in 1852. They found cheap land in the state of Indiana. Much of it was wilderness and swampland. The emigrants cleared, fought against bears, wolves and diseases. When the railway line was built later, the settlement was connected. In 1871 it was officially registered as Berne. The settlers cultivated the land and worked as craftsmen. Berne became the furniture capital of Indiana.

All around, Amish families have settled. This strict religious community - the name goes back to the Swiss Jacob Ammann - lives according to the Old Testament, does not use motors, electricity or the internet. Every now and then you can see them driving through the village in a horse-drawn carriage. They largely avoid contact with their neighbors, the descendants of the Mennonite founding fathers. Although both go back to the Anabaptist movement. And have Swiss roots.

A piece of home in distant America: the Muensterberg Clocktower, which was built based on the model of the Bernese Zytgloggen Tower.
Photo: Benno Gut

A typical picture on the streets of Berne: The Amish use the typical black "buggies" without rubber tires.
Photo: Benno Gut

Switzerland elsewhere

Forum of Swiss History Schwyz

13.04. - 29.09.19

Over 700,000 Swiss people live abroad. In terms of the four language regions, they are referred to as “fifth Switzerland”. The exhibition in the Forum of Swiss History in Switzerland sheds light on the history of the Swiss Abroad and draws a link with the present, their role in federal politics and their relationship to their homeland.

More to: Modern TimesEconomyReligionPoliticsSocialArticleSeries

more comments

Dominik Landwehr 03.08.2020

From the end of the 15th century onwards, printing made it possible to provide people with printed news. These were often written in the style of today's tabloid media.

Erika Hebeisen April 6th, 2020

The political motto «One for all. All for one »achieved new relevance during the corona crisis. The motto has its roots in the early 16th century.

Alexander Rechsteiner June 13, 2017

In the last witch trial in Western Europe, Anna Göldi was beheaded on June 13, 1782 at the age of 48. It is estimated that around 10,000 people in Switzerland were victims of the witch madness.