German Switzerland

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Language areas of Switzerland - majority ratio according to the FSO survey 2010; Map showing a parish as of January 1, 2020
  • German
    (65.6% of the population; 73.3% of the Swiss)
  • French
    (22.8% of the population; 23.4% of the Swiss)
  • Italian
    (8.4% of the population; 6.1% of the Swiss)
  • Romansh
    (0.6% of the population; 0.7% of the Swiss)
  • The term German-speaking Switzerland (also: German-speaking Switzerland ) describes an area of Switzerland that crosses the cantonal borders and has a predominantly German or Swiss-German- speaking population ("German-speaking Swiss"). About 65 percent of the territory of Switzerland (the north-western Switzerland , the Eastern parts of the Central Plateau , the Central Switzerland as well as large parts of the Swiss Alps ) which belong to the German-speaking Switzerland. The other language areas of Switzerland are as Romandie , Italian Switzerland and Romansch Switzerland referred.

    The population of German-speaking Switzerland is around 5.9 million, i.e. around 70 percent of the total Swiss population, which in turn is mainly concentrated in the metropolitan areas of Zurich , Basel and Bern .


    Everyday language

    The everyday language spoken is mostly Swiss German , a collective term for the Alemannic dialects spoken in German-speaking Switzerland . Swiss Standard German is rarely spoken in everyday life, mostly for communication with or among people who are not able to speak Swiss German , e.g. B. with residents of French-speaking Switzerland, Italian-speaking Switzerland or with non-residents or newcomers. While in the rest of the Alemannic-speaking area Standard German has often replaced local dialects as the primary language variety , Swiss-German dialects are used primarily in almost all conversation situations. In this context, the German-Swiss writer Hugo Loetscher described in an essay the language situation of the German-speaking Swiss as bilingual within their own language .

    Sign language

    The German-speaking Swiss Sign Language (DSGS) is used in German-speaking Switzerland . If loan words are used, words from the Langue des signes Suisse romande (LSF-SR) used in French- speaking Switzerland are preferred , less those from the German Sign Language (DGS) or the Austrian Sign Language (ÖGS), so the national borders are more important decisive, less the spoken language limits. The DSGS is an independent language whose family affiliation is unclear ( French or German ).

    Official language

    The language regions of Switzerland do not in themselves constitute administrative units. The cantons are also not linguistic borders , so Switzerland has further diversity: cantons with several spoken languages ​​and official languages. The status of languages ​​in Switzerland is regulated at canton level. In 17 of the 26 cantons , Swiss Standard German is the only standard and official language due to the population structure . In four other cantons, Swiss Standard German is one of the official languages:

    • In the cantons of Bern , Friborg and Valais , French and Swiss Standard German are the official languages.
    • In the canton of Graubünden , Swiss Standard German is an official language alongside Romansh and Italian , as more than half of the population speak varieties of Swiss German.

    Cultural boundaries

    The Romance-Germanic language border between Swiss German or Swiss High German in German-speaking Switzerland and Swiss French in French-speaking Switzerland is also known as the Röstigraben . A little to the east, the Brünig-Napf-Reuss line of dialect marks another cultural border.

    In the school system, it is becoming apparent that only the German-speaking cantons of Basel-Stadt , Basel-Landschaft , Solothurn , Bern and Upper Valais teach French as the first compulsory foreign language in primary school; Italian will be introduced first in the German-speaking part of Graubünden , and English will be taught first in the remaining German-speaking cantons.


    As with all major language regions in the country, the cultural and intellectual life of German-speaking Switzerland is also largely oriented towards the rest of the German-speaking sphere. Nonetheless, the cultural life of this part of the country is also strongly influenced by the exchange with Latin Switzerland and the many local customs.


    The most important museums in German-speaking Switzerland generally include:


    The Kunstmuseum Basel (oldest and largest art museum in the country as well as the first public art collection in Europe), the Fondation Beyeler in the Basel suburb of Riehen , which is considered the most visited art museum in Switzerland and is internationally renowned for its exhibitions in the field of classical modernism . In addition, the Kunsthalle Basel (founded in 1872), which has established itself as a platform for dialogue for contemporary art, and the Schaulager designed by Herzog & de Meuron in the Basel suburb of Münchenstein also play an important role in the city's art life, with national and international appeal. Mention should also be made of the Tingueley Museum , which deals in its exhibition rooms with the works of the artist of the same name, Jean Tingueley . In Zurich, on the other hand, there is the Zürcher Kunsthaus , which dates back to 1797 and has a strong international reputation , with a focus on Edward Munch (the largest collection of the Norwegian painter outside of Norway) and, for example, the country's most important and extensive collection of works by Alberto Giacometti . The current building on Heimplatz dates back to 1910 and was built by the Swiss architect Karl Moser . On the other hand, the EG Bührle Collection Foundation is the most important art exhibition space in the city. The Rietberg Museum in Zurich-Enge is also of great importance as it is the only exhibition space for non-European art in Switzerland.

    The Böcklin Hall in the Kunsthaus Zürich , floor installation by Hans Danuser (2000–2006)

    In the federal city of Bern, on the other hand, are the Kunstmuseum Bern , which opened in 1879 (focus on classical modernism, with the collection ranging from Gothic to the present day ) and the Zentrum Paul Klee . The Kunsthalle Bern , which dates back to 1918, also achieved worldwide fame through numerous exhibitions of contemporary art . In Eastern Switzerland, on the other hand, the St. Gallen Art Museum is the most important cultural institution for art in the region. The museum dates back to 1877 and its collection focuses on 17th-century Dutch painting and 19th-century art from Switzerland, Germany and France, Appenzell peasant painting and international modern art .

    As art museums from regional resp. The national importance of the region includes the Kunstmuseum Winterthur (founded in 1916), the Kunstmuseum Solothurn (founded in 1902) and the Lucerne Art Museum , established in 1933 and now located in the KKL building by Jean Nouvel .

    History and culture

    The German- Swiss seat of the Swiss National Museum in Zurich from 1898 deals in its exhibition rooms with the history and culture of Switzerland over the centuries and is one of the most visited museums in Switzerland. The Abbey Library of St. Gallen , which dates back to 719 and is the largest monastery library in the country and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, is also of great national importance . From national type are also the Historical Museum of Basel , the Basel Natural History Museum , the Bernese Historical Museum (the second largest in Switzerland History Museum), the Castle Frauenfeld , the Museum der Kulturen Basel and the Museum of Transport Switzerland in Lucerne. In the area of archeology , the exhibition area of Augusta Raurica ( Augst , Canton Basel-Landschaft) and the Museum of Archeology of the Canton Thurgau in Frauenfeld are of great importance. The open-air museum Ballenberg in Hofstetten b. Brienz (Canton Bern) also has a certain importance as the country's ethnographic museum.

    Cultural workers

    The cultural workers in this part of the country who consider themselves to be important in terms of memory and reception include (in chronological order):

    Hans Holbein the Elder J. from Basel, who achieved international renown during the Reformation and Renaissance, and Niklaus Manuel in Bern . In the 18th century, the Grisons painter Angelika Kaufmann was given a high level of international radiance. Finally, the realist writer and lyric poet Conrad Ferdinand Meyer achieved international fame in Zurich, who in the 19th century was one of the most important German-speaking cultural workers alongside the writers Jeremias Gotthelf , Gottfried Keller and Johanna Spyri . Later the writer Robert Walser (born in the bilingual city of Biel) joins the great German-speaking writers in the country.

    In the field of the visual arts, the Bernese Ferdinand Hodler (who throughout his life also maintained a close relationship with western Switzerland) and Albert Anker , Arnold Böcklin from Basel and Cuno Amiet, who was born in Solothurn, should be mentioned in the second half of the 19th century .

    In the 20th century, Friedrich Dürrenmatt (who later settled in the canton of Neuchâtel) and Max Frisch were among the country's greatest creative artists in the German language; both authors are generally regarded as the literary mirror of German-speaking Switzerland of their time. On a smaller scale, this later also applies to Adolf Muschg and Hugo Loetscher . In the field of art, the names of Hans Arp , Sophie Taueber-Arp , Max Bill , Paul Klee (born near Bern), Meret Oppenheim , Pipilotti Rist and Irène Zurkinden should be mentioned in the first place.

    From the 20th century, Switzerland in general (but especially the area of ​​German-speaking Switzerland due to its linguistic affinities) became increasingly important for cultural workers from the German-speaking area as a place of exile and emigration. Mention should be made of the names of Hermann Hesse (later a branch in the canton of Ticino), Else Lasker-Schüler (Zurich), Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (Davos, canton of Graubünden), Franz Marc or the members of the Mann family of writers on the shores of Lake Zurich , with Erika and Klaus Mann make the city of Zurich the place of activity of the cabaret Die Pfeffermühle . In Zurich, the siblings were again closely connected to the Thalwil- born author and photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach . On the other hand, Walter Benjamin and Gerschom Scholem , for example, also completed their studies at the University of Bern in the 1920s.

    Higher education

    In total, there are six full universities in German-speaking Switzerland in Basel, Bern, Lucerne, St. Gallen, Zurich and the bilingual University of Freiburg i. Üe. as well as the German- Swiss seat of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

    The University of Basel was founded in 1460, making it the oldest university in Switzerland . Until the 19th century it was the only university with university status in today's Switzerland. The university is generally one of the birthplaces of European humanism and is associated with Erasmus von Rotterdam , Paracelsus , Jacob Burckhardt , Friedrich Nietzsche , Marion Gräfin Donhöff , Karl Jaspers and Karl Barth , among others . In total, with around 12,000 students (as of 2018), nine Nobel Prize winners and two Swiss Federal Presidents studied or studied at the university. taught.

    The University of Bern was founded in 1834 after the collapse of the old patrician political relations in the canton by the new liberal government based on Humboldt's educational ideal . It was preceded by the Faculties of Medicine, Theology and Law from the Academy of 1805, and the Academy of Liberal Arts from 1528. Among other things, Albert Einstein accepted a license to teach theoretical physics and Theodor Kocher (Nobel Prize for Surgery) accepted a professorship at the medical faculty. Today the university has almost 18,000 students, making it the second largest comprehensive university in Switzerland.

    The University of Lucerne , founded in 2000, is the youngest of the Swiss universities and one of the smallest. It is generally seen as the successor to the Jesuit College of Lucerne , which was founded in 1574 after the University of Basel was lost as an educational institution for the Catholic elite in the course of the Reformation . The foundation of the University of Freiburg i. Üe. 1889 then destroyed Lucerne's chance to expand the Jesuit college to a Catholic university, but the theological faculty is still the starting point for the development of the later university. The University of Lucerne is currently attended by almost 3,000 students.

    The University of St. Gallen originally founded at the end of the 19th century as a commercial academy and traffic school in St. Gallen, changed its name in 1963 to the University of Economics and Social Sciences St. Gallen (HSG). The number of students there is now a good 6,500, making the university one of the smaller Swiss universities. The main focus of teaching is on the training of specialists and managers in the fields of business, public administration and the administration of justice. In the 2018 THE ranking , the University of St. Gallen is placed in the category of the 400 to 500 best universities in the world.

    The University of Zurich was founded in 1833 after long arguments in the Zurich cantonal parliament on the new teaching law of the same year. However, it is based on previous institutions (Faculties of Medicine, Jurisprudence, Politics, Natural History and Ancient Languages) from the 16th resp. 17th century. In 1866, Nadeschda Suslowa, the first woman to matriculate at a Swiss university in Zurich . The university is associated with a total of 12 Nobel Prize winners, including Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen , Theodor Mommsen and Albert Einstein. It has a total of around 25,000 students (as of 2018) and is thus by far the largest university institution in the country.

    The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology , or ETH Zurich for short, is a technical and scientific university in Zurich . It was founded in 1855 as the Federal Polytechnic and enjoys the highest international reputation. There are 29 Nobel Prize winners associated with ETH, including Albert Einstein , Otto Stern and Vladimir Prelog . Furthermore, the two Fields medal laureates Wendelin Werner and Alessio Figalli are associated with the university . Around 20,000 students from over 120 countries study at the university, making the university one of the largest university institutions in the country.


    German-speaking Switzerland is traditionally shaped as a very differently shaped area, which is politically and socially characterized differently by different centers and cultural customs.

    Northwestern Switzerland

    Basel and neighboring communities on the bend in the Rhine from a north-western perspective
    Lake Lucerne viewed from Rigi

    The economic area of north-west Switzerland consists of the greater Basel area , i.e. it includes the cantons of Basel-Stadt , Basel-Landschaft , the districts of Laufenburg and Rheinfelden of the canton of Aargau and the districts of Dorneck and Thierstein of the canton of Solothurn . The economic and social center of the region is the city of Basel, in which, among other things, the University of Basel , the oldest university in Switzerland (1460), the Kunstmuseum Basel , the largest art museum in Switzerland and the worldwide headquarters of the Bank for International Settlements are located. In addition, the city of Basel is also counted among the leading chemical and pharmaceutical centers in the world, with the headquarters of the two major companies Novartis and Hoffmann-La Roche .

    Central Switzerland

    For Central Switzerland comprises the cantons of Lucerne , Schwyz , Uri , Obwalden , Nidwalden and train . The economic and cultural center of this part of the country historically represents the city of Lucerne , where, for example, the seat of the Federal Insurance Court and the University of Lucerne , founded in 2000, are located, but also the Lucerne Culture and Congress Center with the Lucerne Festival and the Swiss Museum of Transport .

    Eastern Switzerland and Zurich

    The Eastern Switzerland comprises the cantons of Schaffhausen , Thurgau , St. Gallen , Glarus , Appenzell Inner Rhodes , Appenzell Outer Rhodes and the German-speaking parts of the canton of Grisons . Although the Zurich area is usually not culturally counted as part of Eastern Switzerland, it is its economic and social center and thus remains closely intertwined with the region. The Federal Administrative Court and the University of St Gallen are located in the city of St. Gallen . The canton of Schaffhausen, on the other hand, still has a certain importance in the watchmaking industry behind Geneva , Biel and La Chaux-de-Fonds , while the canton of Thurgau around the Lake Constance region is known above all for its wine and apple culture.

    The area and the city of Zurich , the most populous city in the country, are also characterized by a diverse range of cultural and educational opportunities, as well as a very diversified business location. The city is home to the University of Zurich , the ETH Zurich , the headquarters of the Swiss National Bank , the headquarters of the Swiss stock exchange , the largest national airport in the suburb of Kloten , the headquarters of FIFA and the Kunsthaus Zurich .

    Aare loop in the capital region of Bern

    Espace Mittelland and Upper Valais

    The Espace Mittelland is made up of parts of the cantons of Friborg and Solothurn and the canton of Bern . The general center of the region is the city of Bern , with the secondary centers Biel , Freiburg , Thun and Solothurn . The Federal City of Bern is characterized, among other things, by the numerous federal departments located in the city, the Federal Palace , the second seat of the Swiss National Bank , the University of Bern as well as the Zentrum Paul Klee and the Bern Art Museum .

    The canton's capital, Friborg , is home to the bilingual University of Friborg , the Museum of Art and History and the Espace Jean-Tinguely – Niki-de-Saint-Phalle . The city of Biel is mainly characterized by the local watch industry, the headquarters of the Swatch company , and the cantonal capital Solothurn with the St. Ursenkathedrale is generally considered to be the most beautiful baroque town in Switzerland.

    The German-speaking part of Canton Wallis , the so-called upper Wallis, characterized by the fact, that as culturally and economically, both for neighboring German Canton Bern, as well as the lower, French-speaking Canton area and thus to the French-speaking , there are close relationships. The two towns of Brig and Visp form the economic and cultural center of the alpine part of the canton .


    Individual evidence

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    2. Penny Boyes Braem, Tobias Haug, Patty Shores: Sign language work in Switzerland: Review and Outlook , Hamburg: Journal for Language and Culture of the Deaf
    3. ^ Henri Wittmann : Classification linguistique des langues signées non vocalement. In: Revue québécoise de linguistique théorique et appliquée. 10: 1.2, 1991, pp. 15-88 ( online , PDF).
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    7. ^ Museum Rietberg: History «The Museum - Museum Rietberg. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on October 23, 2018 ; accessed on October 22, 2018 (Swiss Standard German). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
    8. Kunstmuseum Bern and the Zentrum Paul Klee -. Retrieved October 22, 2018 .
    9. ^ Institution - Kunsthalle Bern . In: Kunsthalle Bern . ( Online [accessed October 22, 2018]).
    10. St. Gallen and Culture: Art Museum. Retrieved October 22, 2018 .
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    14. History of the University. September 2, 2015, accessed October 22, 2018 .
    15. ^ Max Huber: University of Lucerne. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland . January 14, 2014 , accessed October 22, 2018 .
    16. ^ Karl Heinz Burmeister : University of Sankt Gallen. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland . January 14, 2014 , accessed October 22, 2018 .
    17. ^ Sebastian Brändli: University of Zurich. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland . January 14, 2014 , accessed October 22, 2018 .
    18. Ideas that change the world - Nobel Prize Winners from the University of Zurich. Retrieved October 22, 2018 .
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