James Schwarzenbach

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James Schwarzenbach (1970)
James Schwarzenbach (1970)

James Eduard Schwarzenbach (born August 5, 1911 in Rüschlikon ; † October 27, 1994 in St. Moritz ) was an initially frontist and later right-wing populist Swiss publicist and politician ( National Front , Republican Movement or National Action ). From December 12, 1967 to February 28, 1979 he represented the Canton of Zurich in the National Council .

Origin and occupation

James Schwarzenbach came from a Protestant textile industrial family from the canton of Zurich . The anti-fascist writer Annemarie Schwarzenbach was his cousin, her mother Renée Schwarzenbach-Wille his aunt. In 1933 he converted to Catholicism under the influence of the right-wing conservative Freiburg intellectual Gonzague de Reynold . Joseph Gutzwiller SJ (May 26, 1896 - May 29, 1958), who worked as a student chaplain in Zurich, is also likely to play an important role in this . Schwarzenbach mentions him by name in his diaries.

He was an author and publisher with his Thomas Verlag , which published the autobiography of the refugee Soviet diplomat Viktor Andrejewitsch Kravchenko . Some of the publications by Thomas Verlag were anti-Semitic .


In his youth, Schwarzenbach was a member of the National Front, which glorified National Socialist ideology. On record is an incident on November 16, 1934 in Zurich, when Schwarzenbach and a group of frontists disrupted a performance of the Pfeffermühle cabaret . It is time to show that there is no place in Switzerland for emigrants and Jews who abuse the right of hospitality. He was also an admirer of the Spanish dictator Franco . He later became party leader of the National Action. He was a member of the National Council from the 1967 to 1979 elections and was parliamentary group president from 1971 to 1974. In 1971 he founded the Republican Party of Switzerland .

With the national action against foreign infiltration of people and homeland , he launched the so-called «Schwarzenbach Initiative» in 1968. He wanted to protect Switzerland from “ foreign infiltration ” by ensuring that the proportion of foreign residents in each individual canton should not have exceeded the 10% threshold. Geneva would have been the only exception where 25% foreigners would have been allowed. The voting campaign was very emotional and in some cases tore deep rifts. Had the initiative been accepted, 300,000 to 400,000 people would have had to be expelled.

Schwarzenbach was considered an excellent speaker and the first Swiss politician who knew how to exploit the strategy of right-wing populism . He liked to present himself as a lone fighter. He was the only supporter of most of the panel discussions surrounding his initiative. The request was rejected on June 7, 1970 with 54 percent no to 46 percent yes votes, with a yes majority in eight cantons .

The Schwarzenbach family is also the subject of a documentary novel by the Swiss author Eveline Hasler from 2015: Stormy years: The Manns, the Riesers, the Schwarzenbach.


In 1984 James Schwarzenbach gave the Swiss Social Archives his personal documents from the time of the foreign infiltration initiative. The nine linear meters of inventory includes Schwarzenbach's extensive correspondence from the time of his active political career, newspaper articles and propaganda material on the Schwarzenbach initiative, files on Schwarzenbach's partisan and parliamentary activities, lectures, speeches and reviews as well as documents on several court cases in which Schwarzenbach was involved . In 1986 the collection was supplemented by the files of the Republican Movement , which Schwarzenbach's secretary and later SVP National Councilor Ulrich Schlüer submitted. These extensive documents are public and can be viewed on site. James Schwarzenbach's diary before 1945 has also been accessible since 2020. It can be found in the Archives for Contemporary History at ETH Zurich. It contains private notes and was initially locked. Documents and files can also be found in the Swiss Federal Archives in Bern and in the Zurich City Archives. Several of these documents are printed in an article in the Tages-Anzeiger on June 6, 2020.


  • The poet of ambivalent life François Mauriac . Benziger Verlag, Einsiedeln 1938.
  • Schultheiss from Steiger. A historical drama in five acts . Sauerländer, Aarau 1943 (?).
  • The hour of the bourgeoisie . Thomas-Verlag, Zurich 1953.
  • Dagger or rapier. A kaleidoscope of our time . Zurich 1964.
  • The regimental doctor. Novel from the Engadine . Thomas-Verlag, Zurich 1965.
  • The foreign infiltration of Switzerland as I see it . Publishers of the Republicans, Zurich 1974.
  • The people behind. Thomas-Verlag, Zurich 1980 ( autobiography ).



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Who's Who in Switzerland, including the Principality of Liechtenstein. 14th Edition (1984-1985), p. 491.
  2. ^ Walter Wolf: National Front. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland . September 7, 2010 .
  3. ↑ View council member. Retrieved June 10, 2020 .
  4. Carl Holenstein. With your back to the future. 1971, p. 9
  5. Carl Doka: In Memoriam P. Richard Gutzwiller . In: Orientation. Catholic papers for ideological information. No. 11 . Zurich June 15, 1958, p. 121 -124 ( orientierung.ch [PDF]).
  6. Stefan Keller: The lust. The antichrist. In: The weekly newspaper WOZ . Zurich November 4, 1994, p. 40 .
  7. ^ Susanne Peter-Kubli: Schwarzenbach, James. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  8. a b Anna Jikhareva: Schwarzenbach's long shadow. The weekly newspaper, June 4, 2020, accessed on June 4, 2020 .
  9. ^ Walter Wolf: National Front. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland . September 7, 2010 .
  10. ^ A b Andreas Tobler: 50 years of foreign infiltration - he invented Swiss right-wing populism. In: Tages-Anzeiger . June 6, 2020, accessed June 6, 2020 . ( Archive documents (PDF) )
  11. Group presidia since 1917. In: parlament.ch. Retrieved May 23, 2020 .
  12. ^ "James was a master of demagogy, a super-populist" - a conversation with François Schwarzenbach about his uncle and his initiative that divided Switzerland. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung of June 5, 2020
  13. Cenk Akdoganbulut: From “good” and “bad” foreigners. In: strings. February 16, 2017, accessed December 23, 2018 .
  14. ^ Federal Chancellery BK: Political Rights. Retrieved December 23, 2018 .
  15. Switzerland and the "foreign infiltration". In: strings. March 20, 2017. Retrieved December 23, 2018 .
  16. Jens Renner: Fear of Switzerland. In the: WOZ . July 8, 2004.
  17. Namely in Bern, Freiburg, Lucerne, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Schwyz, Solothurn and Uri.
  18. ^ Verlag Nagel & Kimche AG Zurich .: Stormy years The Manns, the Riesers, the Schwarzenbachs . Nagel & Kimche, Zurich 2015, ISBN 978-3-312-00668-7 .
  19. 50 years ago: The Schwarzenbach Initiative. Retrieved June 6, 2020 .
  20. ^ Ar 108 Schwarzenbach, James (1911-1994). Retrieved June 6, 2020 .