Visit with Alain 

Theme: History

 

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE GENERAL THAT SAVED SWITZERLAND

 

GENERAL Guillaume Henri Dufour -  nicknamed the pacificator 

 

1) The tombston of the 'Captain of Swizerland' in Plainpalais:

The walk begins in a special cemetery in the Plainpalais neighborhood, located just a few blocks from the big banks. The Cimetière des Rois (the Cemetery of the Kings) is the burial place of famous local figures and families mostly from the XIXth century. Jean Calvin who founded a branch of Protestantism or the poet Borges are buried there. In the middle-age, the place was originally used as a common mass-graveyard for citizens who died from plague. The place was then far outside the city walls in the middle of  marsh lands. Why is there a King cemetery in a country that never had one? The name derived from the club of Geneva sharpshooters that was located around the corner for centuries:  the best shot was then called the ‘King’.

In the middle of this urban cemetery lays the simple tombstone of a person. A small rounded stone with a name G.H .Dufour. Green herbs covers the ground. On top of the stone, a small Swiss cross is carved. Below his name, there is just a simple mention in Latin : ‘HELVETIA DUX’ or 'Switzerland's Captain' in Latin language.  On the left, the tombstone of his wife is as simple as his.

 
 

 

Such a small burial place for such an important person for Switzerland.

 

In this simple place lay a person  that :

o   One of the founders of the Red Cross Conmitee in Geneva in 1864 that aimed at providing support to casualties of wars.

General in Chief of the Swiss Federal Army in 1847  in the Civil War against rebel Cantons, leading the war in a humanistic way. His efforts saved the country as rebel states could be re-integrated without hatred.

Created the first ever topographic map of Switzerland. The highest mountain of Switzerland in the Alps (Pointe Dufour) was named in his honour.

Contributed to the founding of the first military academy in Thun (Napoleon III was a student there under his command)

A graduate in Polytechnique school in Paris, city architect of Geneva, created one the first metallic hanging bridge in Europe (now gone)

 

3) His house in Eaux-Vives area

Don't ask people on the street, few will be able to indicate the direction or the address of this house. Dufour made this house built in 1845 and lived there until his death in . In 1847, he was living there when he was called by the Assembly of cantons in Bern to lead the federal army in a civil war. At that time, some conservative and mainly catholic cantons decided to make secession. They wanted to keep the political system as it was, Switzerland was a real jutaposition of cantons and little ot none central state. The Liberal wanted to build. On top cae religious disputes as some Jesuits monks were expelled in some cities.

Dufour led the war n a way to avoid building rsentment in the opposing army. To him, they were fellow countrymen and he did not want them to develop a hatred for the future. At the end of the war, he was given a sword in Berna and called the 'Pacificateur' (the peace maker). He returned incognito in Geneva.  

Surprisingly the house was not kjept as a museum. It is located at Rue des Contamines 9A: it is not visible from the street but we take a small path enteri g the propery with a large garden. One can imagine how the property lookd at that time; it was still country side.

 

 

The Swiss flag:

In th hallway of his house, we look up and see some flags. The house has been kept in shape by Swiss army offices and one still live there with his family to take care of the place. Dufour was a strong proponent of having a national flag and 

 

In the middle of this urban cemetery. lay the simple tombstone of a person. A small rounded stone with a name G.H .Dufour. Green herbs covers the ground. On top of the stone, a small Swiss cross is carved. Below his name, there is just a simple mention in Latin : ‘HELVETIA DUX’ or Switzerland Captain in Latin.  

 

Such a small burial place for such an important person for Switzerland.

 

In this simple place lay a person  that :

o   One of the founders of the Red Cross Conmitee in Geneva in 1864 that aimed at providing support to casualties of wars.

o   General in Chief of the Swiss Federal Army in 1847  in the Civil War against rebel Cantons, leading the war in a humanistic way. His efforts saved the country as rebel states could be re-integrated without hatred.

o   Created the first ever topographic map of Switzerland. The highest mountain of Switzerland in the Alps (Pointe Dufour) was named in his honour.

o   Contributed to the founding of the first military academy in Thun (Napoleon III was a student there under his command)

o   A graduate in Polytechnique school in Paris, city architect of Geneva, created one the first metallic hanging bridge in Europe (now gone)