Swiss Misc.On August 7, 2019 by Elyse
Second Glance History strives to present as much of the truth of any story as possible, and as a service to my vast readership, I’m currently in Switzerland to investigate the veracity of the Swiss Federal Railroads’ audacious claims. Most picturesque playground in the world? Unparalleled scenic beauty? Inexpensive rail service? I’ll report back.
While I’m dressing like Heidi and yodeling on a snow-capped mountain, please enjoy a selection of miscellaneous Swiss tidbits—sorry, not the cheese kind—clipped from nearly fifty years of eye-catching articles and advertisements.
Poor Switzerland; let’s hope it’s not contagious.
. . . the trouble just now is that Switzerland is chock full of dethroned royalty, overturned statesmen, new brands of Bolsheviki, and political exiles generally, all of whom are just itching to put across something in a political way that would further their own interests, but which, having been concocted on Swiss soil, might be regarded by other interested powers as a breach of neutrality by Switzerland. . .– The Palatka Daily News, November 24, 1919
As a consequence, Switzerland is taking her precautions—and her precautions are almost as amusing for an outsider as they are serious for her.
First of all, before Switzerland opened her arms to receive—with overflowing hospitality—not—the dethroned royalty of Europe such as Emperor Charles, King Constantine, and numerous German royal personages whose names and titles are hardly known to any but themselves, to say nothing of fleeing statesmen and political exiles, Switzerland exacted from them all a solemn promise that during the period they might enjoy her hospitality they would cease from all political plotting, all propaganda in their own behalf, all agitation and all activity that might cause the most sensitive European mind to interpret as permitting a violation of Swiss neutrality. . .
However, hope springs eternal in the human breast, especially in the chests of kings, emperors, politicians, statesmen and diplomats out of jobs, and the whole lot had barely saved their skins by getting sheltered behind Swiss neutrality than they began to devise ways and means for getting back to their former jobs or something equally as good.
While, of course, there is no way of actually keeping these people from plotting without actually hitting them on the head with a club—which there is no question but what Switzerland would gladly do were it not for the fact that the laws of hospitality are equally as binding as those of neutrality—she can at least try to keep any of the plots from actually hatching out, and this she is doing with a vengeance.
WebMD provides no guidance on treating neutralitis. However, as Wikipedia has a page devoted to Swiss neutrality, it’s safe to assume Switzerland recovered from this ghastly illness.
As the sole focus of another Wikipedia page, I have high expectations for Swiss chocolate. And after coming across this advertisement, I was almost as excited for the ice cream:
Unfortunately, upon further investigation, it appears the Chapin-Sacks Corporation has about as much connection to Switzerland as I do. Instead, according to one unverified source, its story is uniquely American, with periods of entrepreneurship, monopolistic business practices and finally, industry consolidation. Still, I’m not one to judge prematurely; I’ll try the ice cream anyway.
This standalone item—found between cattle and sheep prices and an advertisement for a cure for hog worms—evokes more questions than answers: Who conducted an international study of tango instructors’ hourly rates? For what purpose? Does it really refer to dance teachers? Why was it printed in the “world’s greatest farm newspaper?” And, how can I become a tango teacher? For $40/hour (more than $1,000 when adjusted for inflation), I’m clearly in the wrong line of work.
Swiss tango instructors may have been doing well for themselves in the early 20th century, but if this blurb from 1900 is any indication, their watchmaking compatriots were not so fortunate:
Don’t feel too badly for the Swiss watchmakers. By 1948, the Swiss Federation of Watch Manufacturers had launched an advertising campaign touting the superior quality we associate with Swiss timepieces today:
It might have been a little too successful: By the 1950s, the organization was accused of violating federal antitrust laws.
Last and certainly least:
After last month’s cat puns, it’s a wonder any of you keep reading. Until next time, Auf Wiedersehen!
Disclaimer: The modern era is far from the first to grapple with rampant “fake news.” As I am neither a historian nor journalist, I make no claims about the accuracy or lack thereof of the above historical articles. I assert only that they make for a good story.
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