Else Züblin-Spiller

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Else Züblin-Spiller, non-profit entrepreneur
Else Züblin-Spiller
Street for the soldier's mother, Zurich- Albisrieden

Else Züblin-Spiller , until 1921 Else Spiller (born October 1, 1881 in Seen (now Winterthur), † April 11, 1948 in Kilchberg ) was a Swiss journalist, abstainer , entrepreneur and co-founder of a non-profit organization that still exists today.

life and work

She was the daughter of a Sulzer fitter who died of tuberculosis at the age of 39 . After the father's death, the mother and the three children moved into a small home with some farming in Wallisellen . To help with the family's livelihood, Spiller took various jobs in paper shops and in the hotel industry.

In 1904 she got a job in the printing office of Jean Frey Verlag , where she began writing reports for various country newspapers. She later wrote social policy reports for the NZZ and in 1911 became the first editor of a political newspaper, the Swiss weekly newspaper . At the same time she edited the Swiss house newspaper and headed the press service of the Salvation Army . Among other things, she reported from the slums of modern large cities in Europe that she traveled to.

In 1914 she founded the Swiss Soldiers' Welfare Association as a non-profit organization to provide the Swiss soldiers with inexpensive and healthy food and to counter the widespread consumption of alcohol. Under her leadership, during the First World War , from November 1914 ( Bassecourt ) to the end of 1919, around 1000 throughout Switzerland and around 700 non-alcoholic places ("soldiers' rooms") where soldiers could spend their free time during World War II .

In 1916 Else Spiller founded the Soldier Welfare Service in collaboration with the Federal Military Department and the Swiss Red Cross , which also employed sick soldiers from 1917. At the end of the First World War, she accompanied 200 Swiss industrialists on their trip to America. The entrepreneurs took the assembly lines of the Detroit Ford car factory as a model, Spiller the facilities for the workforce: after-school care centers and canteens.

After the war she got involved with the workers in Winterthur and the surrounding area and set up non-alcoholic canteens in factories and offices based on the model of the soldiers' rooms. Züblin developed regulations for canteen management and fought for employers to share the costs. In 1918 the first such workers' room was opened at the Bühler brothers machine factory in Uzwil .

With the establishment of further canteens, the Swiss Association of Soldiers' Welfare developed quickly and was renamed the Swiss Association of People's Service in 1920 . Today, as the main shareholder of the SV Group , the SV Foundation has the task of preserving the founding idea.

In 1921 Else Spiller married Ernst Züblin, whom she had met on a trip to America, and raised their four children after the early death of her sister-in-law.

Else Züblin-Spiller was active in the Swiss women's movement, participated in the Swiss Exhibition for Women's Work (Saffa) in 1928 and in the Third Women's Congress in 1946. From 1939 she headed the Swiss Women's Journal cooperative . In 1938 she was a co-founder of the civilian women's welfare service FHD and was a member of the FHD commission until 1941 . During the Second World War she was President of the Federal Commission for War Nutrition, but after the war she had to be content with a seat on the Commissions for Issues of the Swiss Abroad and Home Work as a woman.


  • 1936 the Binet-Fendt Prize of the Federal Department of the Interior
  • In 1941 she was the second woman to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Zurich
  • The cities of Zurich (since 1949) and Winterthur (since April 1, 2003) have honored them with street names. In Winterthur, the nearby bus stop is also called “Else Züblin”.

Fonts (selection)

  • Slums. Experiences in the mud quarters of modern big cities. 1911. (Reissued and with an afterword by Peter Payer. Czernin Verlag, Vienna 2008, ISBN 978-3-7076-0267-8 .)
  • From the hardship of life. Trade Department of the Salvation Army, Bern 1913.
  • From our soldiers' rooms. Foreword by Theophil spokesman von Bernegg , Verlag Schweizer Verband Volksdienst (Soldiers' Welfare), 1915.
  • Out of my life. Memories. Rascher Verlag, Zurich 1929, OCLC 603858632 .
  • 30 years of people's service soldiers' welfare. Swiss Association of People's Service Soldiers Welfare, Zurich 1944.


  • Suzanne Oswald : Else Züblin-Spiller. (= Swiss homeland books. Volume 137). 1968.
  • Moia Schnyder: Two pioneers in public health. In: Swiss pioneers in business and technology. 26, 1973.
  • Alfred A. Häsler : Else Züblin. In: E. Jaeckle, E. Stäuble (Eds.): Grosse Schweizerinnen und Schweizerinnen. 1990.
  • SV Foundation (Ed.): Nutrition, Emancipation and Success: For a Lifetime. Contrast Verlag, Zurich 2009, ISBN 978-3-906729-72-5
  • Peter Payer: Words and actions. The Swiss journalist Else Spiller (1881–1948) and her fight against poverty. In: media & time. No. 1/2010, pp. 4-11.
  • Verena Parzer Epp, Claudia Wirz: pioneers of modern Switzerland. Avenir Suisse (Ed.) Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung Libro, Zurich 2014, ISBN 978-3-03823-928-4 .
  • Bernhard Ruetz: Swiss pioneers in business and technology: The unique history of the SV-Group: Pioneer in community catering. Association for Economic History Studies VWS (publisher) Zurich 2014 ( pioniere.ch PDF).
  • Franziska Rogger: Give the Swiss women their story! Marthe Gosteli, her archive and the overlooked struggle for women's suffrage. Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung Libro, Zurich 2015, ISBN 978-3-03810-006-5 . ( Reading sample )


Web links

Commons : Swiss soldiers' rooms in World War I  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Züblin-Spiller Else, journalist and editor, 1881–1948 in the Winterthur glossary.
  2. Excerpt from the 13th annual report of the Sunnige Hof housing association from 1956: We wanted to honor this noble woman and unforgettable soldier's mother and therefore gave her name to a neighborhood street in our housing estate in Albisrieden.