Protection of cultural property in Switzerland
The protection of cultural property in Switzerland defines measures to protect cultural property from damage, destruction, theft and loss. To this end, legal bases have been created at national level and international agreements have been entered into which oblige Switzerland to protect, respect and support not only the protection of cultural property on its territory, but also that on the territory of other contracting states.
In 2016, around 75,000 architectural monuments were under protection in Switzerland, around 10% of which were sacred buildings . In addition, almost 39,000 archaeological sites were recorded and more than 9,800 archaeological protection zones, which made up around 1% of the country's area. Around 4% of the protected architectural monuments are of national importance (A objects).
The history of the protection of cultural property in its present form begins with the massive destruction of cultural property in the Second World War . In the course of the founding of the UN in 1945, UNESCO was created as one of the seventeen specialized agencies of the United Nations, which deals with issues relating to education, science and culture. Today it is still regarded as the “parent organization” of the protection of cultural property on an international level. UNESCO was also in charge when, in 1954, the protection of cultural property was placed on an international legal basis with the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflicts (HAK). Switzerland joined the HAK in 1962 and in 2004 ratified the “Second Protocol to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property of 1954” (Second Protocol), which the HAK has supplemented since 1999.
According to Art. 1 of the HAK of May 14, 1954 , cultural assets are defined as follows:
a) movable or immovable property that is of great importance for the cultural heritage of peoples,
- such as B. architectural, artistic or historical monuments of a church or secular nature, archaeological sites, groups of buildings that are of historical or artistic interest as a whole, works of art, manuscripts, books and other objects of artistic, historical or archaeological interest as well as scientific collections and important collections of books, archival materials or reproductions of the cultural property described above;
b) Buildings which mainly and actually serve the maintenance or exhibition of the movable property described under a,
- such as B. Museums, large libraries, archives and salvage locations, in which the movable cultural property described under a is to be brought to safety in the event of armed conflict;
c) monument centers,
- that is, places that have a considerable amount of cultural property within the meaning of sub-paragraphs a and b.
The interests of the protection of cultural assets are represented at federal, cantonal and communal levels . In addition, numerous cultural institutions and associations as well as private individuals are committed to the preservation and protection of cultural assets in Switzerland. At the federal level, the responsibility for the protection of cultural property lies in the Federal Office for Civil Protection ( Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sport, DDPS) - it serves as a contact point for all questions in connection with the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflicts of 1954 (HAK) . Its main tasks include supporting and promoting the cantons in carrying out the prescribed measures, issuing department ordinances, directives and guidelines, training the top KGS cadre in civil protection and the staff of cultural institutions, and providing technical support in preparing seizure documentation , the purchase and storage of microfilms and photographic backups, the granting of contributions for the construction of cultural property protection rooms and the information and exchange with Swiss and international institutions. The Federal Commission for the Protection of Cultural Property (formerly: the Swiss Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property) is at the side of the DDPS and the Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP) as an advisory body . Members of this extra-parliamentary commission come from the departments of the federal administration, from cantonal departments ( monument preservation and archeology ) and from cultural institutions ( archives , museums and libraries ). The members of the commission are appointed by the Federal Council. In the cantons, those responsible for the protection of cultural property are the contact persons for questions relating to the protection of cultural property. These are either part of the cantonal cultural department - usually the preservation of monuments - or the civil protection department. As specialist bodies, the preservation authorities bring their know-how in handling the objects into the cooperation, while the civil protection department ensures the human resources for deployment at local and regional level.
In addition to these authorities, there are numerous other partners and institutions in Switzerland that make their contribution to the preservation of the cultural heritage: the cultural institutions (archives, museums, libraries), the partner organizations in civil protection (especially fire brigade and police ) or private individuals such as the Swiss Society for the Protection of Cultural Property. At the international level, in addition to UNESCO, the signatory states of the Hague Agreement and the Second Protocol are particularly important. Numerous non-governmental organizations such as ICOM (International Council of Museums), ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) and ICA (International Council on Archives) also play an important role. Another important partner in the area of international law is the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which also takes cultural property protection into account as part of its humanitarian work.
The dangers to cultural property can be divided into three main categories: permanent dangers, events in peacetime and events in the event of an armed conflict. Constant dangers include, above all, theft , vandalism , air pollution , pest or fungus infestation, decay of old age, ignorance or indifference. An example of this category of danger is the fire on Lucerne's Chapel Bridge in August 1993. It is believed that the fire was triggered by a cigarette that was carelessly disposed of. The main dangers in peacetime are technical damage such as water damage and natural events such as earthquakes, storms or avalanches. As an example of this, reference can be made to the flood events in summer 2005. In various places in Switzerland, cultural property was affected; for example in the collection center of the Verkehrshaus in Lucerne or in the Benedictine convent of St. Andreas in Sarnen. The warlike destruction, forcible appropriation and deportation of cultural assets go back to the beginnings of human history. During war operations, the use of weapons and explosives in particular can have a negative impact on cultural goods. In more recent military conflicts - for example during the wars in the Balkans - there have been more and more targeted acts of destruction against cultural property, which contributed to the creation of the Second Protocol. In recent times, cultural goods have also become more and more interesting for terrorism and its financing via illegal trade. The demolition and subsequent looting of the ancient oasis city of Palmyra in Syria by members of the terrorist organization "Islamic State" (IS) in May 2015 can be cited as an example. In Switzerland, which has been largely spared from armed conflicts in its recent past, the protection of cultural property is currently mainly focused on measures against technical hazards, natural events and vandalism.
- The current “ Swiss inventory of cultural goods of national and regional importance ” was approved by the Federal Council in the third version in 2009 (previous editions: 1988, 1995). The objects of national importance contained therein (A objects) from the areas of individual buildings, archeology and collections (holdings from museums, archives and libraries) were checked and rated according to uniform criteria. It also contains objects of regional importance (B objects). The inventory can be viewed both as a printed publication and as a geographical information system (GIS) on the Internet. The KGS inventory is currently being revised and should come into force in 2021.
- In addition, there are various inventories in accordance with Article 5 of the Federal Act on Nature Conservation and Heritage Protection (NHG), which should be listed here as cross-references to the protection of cultural property: The inventory of places worthy of protection in Switzerland (ISOS), the inventory of historical traffic routes in Switzerland (IVS ) as well as the federal inventory of landscape and natural monuments of national importance (BLN).
- Most of the protected objects are architectural monuments , with the additional monuments of local importance (C objects) in Switzerland totaling 75,084 monuments (as of 2016).
b) Securing documentation
- According to Article 5 of the “Federal Act on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflicts, Disasters and Emergency Situations” of 2014 (KGSG), the cantons are responsible for creating seizure documentation of immovable cultural property that is particularly worthy of protection and backup copies of movable cultural property that is particularly worthy of protection. In the event of damage to or destruction of a cultural asset, restorations and reconstructions can be made possible on the basis of this documentation . When creating a seizure documentation, the most extensive possible documents (photographic and photogrammetric recordings, construction plans, restoration reports, archaeological documentation, historical sources, literature as well as inventories and detail sheets) are collected on objects and then microfilmed.
- In the field of long-term archiving, microfilm is currently the most reliable storage medium because it can be kept for several hundred years if stored correctly. The rapid change in information technology is taken into account insofar as it has been possible for some time to produce microfilms from digital data. Important documents from archives and libraries, but also backup documentation, are microfilmed and the films are stored in a safe place. According to the “Ordinance on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflicts, Disasters and Emergencies” (KGSV), the federal government is responsible for storing backup copies from the cantons in a “safe place” - in the federal microfilm archive in Heimiswil ( Canton of Bern ) .
d) cultural property protection rooms
- In Switzerland there are currently over 300 cultural property protection rooms with a total volume of over 85,000 m 2 and 227,000 m 3 . They are used to store movable cultural property in the event of damage or can already be used as storage space for cultural property. In the recent past, existing civil defense systems have been increasingly converted into cultural property shelters - also due to falling funds.
e) Recovery place
- With Article 12 of the “Federal Act on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, Disaster and Emergency (KGSG)”, Switzerland has created the possibility of salvage locations for movable cultural property from other countries under the auspices of UNESCO. Temporary fiduciary storage is offered for cultural goods that are acutely endangered in your country. The details are regulated in international agreements. This “Safe Havens” offer is in line with Switzerland's humanitarian tradition. Switzerland was the first country in the world to provide such a rescue site. Switzerland is also planning to set up a rescue facility for digital cultural assets. This is to take account of the change in processes and working methods that digitization brings with it.
- In the Federal Act on Civil Protection and Civil Protection (BZG, Article 3 letter e), the protection of cultural property is listed as one of the tasks of civil protection. Accordingly, the training of cultural property protection personnel also takes place within the framework of civil protection. Around 3,000 members of the civil defense are currently deployed to protect cultural property across Switzerland.
- The cantons are responsible for training KGS specialists, while the federal government is responsible for training the top management in cultural property protection, the KGS bosses, and provides the cantons with the training materials for specialist courses. He is responsible for the uniformity of the technical training of the staff for the protection of cultural property by launching a series of KGS leaflets for the attention of KGS employees in cooperation with proven experts. In addition, the federal government is responsible for providing information on the protection of cultural property as part of other training courses run by the Federal Office for Civil Protection. This is the case, for example, with courses for commanders of civil defense organizations and advanced training courses for chiefs of the situation. In the military context, future adjutants are trained at battalion or department level. In addition, a sequence on the protection of cultural property is also integrated into the training of prospective defense attachés in order to raise awareness of the international legal aspects of the protection of cultural property.
- As a result of the revision of the Cultural Property Protection Act (KGSG), the federal government was given the opportunity from 2015 to train staff from cultural institutions in the field of cultural property protection.
- Another protective measure is the marking of cultural property in armed conflict with the so-called cultural property protection shield (KGS shield). The KGS shield is a protected symbol (like the Red Cross or the Red Crescent of the ICRC) and obliges the attacking party to refrain from all military activities within a radius of 500 meters around such a marked cultural asset. This did not work in the wars in the former Yugoslavia in particular: buildings marked with the KGS sign were, on the contrary, often the first to be attacked and destroyed as particularly valuable identification symbols (e.g. pointed arch bridge in Mostar from the 16th century. , the old town of Dubrovnik as a World Heritage Site etc.).
- Up until now, the signs in Switzerland could only be affixed to buildings by order of the Federal Council in the run-up to an armed conflict. Since the revised Cultural Property Protection Act (KGSG) came into force in 2015 , the cantons have been able to label their cultural property in peacetime according to uniform guidelines.
- International as well as national legal bases require that the states, the representatives of the authorities and the general public are informed about the protection of cultural property. In the past, cultural assets were often destroyed because people were not or too little aware of their importance. In this area, the protection of cultural property at the federal level is particularly active and tries to take this task into account by developing various publications (see under literature). In addition, the federal government is driving research projects which are intended to bring added value to the protection of cultural property internationally.
- With the adoption of the Population and Civil Protection Act in January 2004, a network system was put into effect in Switzerland, which serves to master natural and civilization-related disasters and damage events quickly, inexpensively and with the involvement of all relevant forces in a modular manner. The main goal is to minimize damage to life and limb as well as to cultural property. The most important partner for the protection of cultural property is - besides civil defense and the police - the fire brigade. The cooperation has been intensified since 2004. Together with representatives of the Swiss Fire Brigade Inspectors' Conference (SFIK), processes, documents and procedures have been defined that enable the protection of cultural property and the fire brigade to work together optimally. The cultural property rescue system (“Curesys”) integrates cultural property in the event of damage in the fire service in order to ensure that cultural property is saved as gently as possible.
- The military can also become an important partner for the protection of cultural property because, for example, troops can be called up for subsidiary missions in the event of natural disasters. In cooperation with the military, ten basic rules for the protection of cultural assets were laid down for members of the army.
International cooperation is primarily coordinated by UNESCO. The Second Protocol, Art. 24, stipulates that an international committee for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict should be constituted. This meets annually and is supported by the UNESCO Secretariat (Second Protocol, Art. 28). Every four years the signatory states submit a report to the committee on the implementation of the Second Protocol. In 2015, with the revision of the Law on the Protection of Cultural Property, the provisions of the Second Protocol, which Switzerland ratified in 2004, will be implemented in Swiss legislation. At the bilateral level, Switzerland has already worked with various countries, the Czech Republic, Germany and Norway can be named as examples. In March 2019, the Federal Council adopted a strategy that defines Switzerland's positioning and fields of action in the area of protecting endangered cultural heritage. The strategy aims to promote synergies within the federal administration and to present the international partners with an offer of expertise and support in the areas of responsibility of Switzerland.
- Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (HAK) of May 14, 1954
- Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of March 26, 1999
Federal Act on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, Disaster and Emergencies (KGSG) of June 20, 2014
- Ordinance on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflicts, Disasters and Emergencies (KGSV) of October 29, 2014
- Ordinance of the DDPS on security documentation and photographic backup copies (VSFS) of April 5, 2016
- Ordinance of the DDPS on the labeling of cultural property and personnel responsible for the protection of cultural property (VKKP) of November 14, 2017
- Federal Act on Civil Protection and Civil Protection (BZG) of October 4, 2002
- Swiss Army Regulations 51.007.05 d: The ten basic rules for the protection of cultural property
- Federal Act on the International Transfer of Cultural Property (KGTG) of June 20, 2003
- Federal Act on Nature Conservation and Heritage Protection (NHG) of July 1, 1966
- Federal Office for Civil Protection: KGS Forum. (Journal, No. 1-34). Bern 2001ff.
- Federal Office for Civil Protection: Guidelines. (No. 1-5). Bern 2003ff.
- Federal Office for Civil Protection : Protection of cultural property affects us all. (International Conference on the Protection of Cultural Property in Switzerland, September 23-25, 2002). Bern 2003.
- Federal Office for Civil Protection: Challenges in the Protection of Cultural Property. (International Conference on the Protection of Cultural Property, Switzerland, September 30 - October 2, 2012). Bern 2014.
- Federal Office for Civil Protection: Preserve, Secure, Respect. The protection of cultural property in Switzerland. (Publication on the 50th anniversary of the “Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict”). Bern 2004.
- Federal Office for Civil Protection: Expert report: “Earthquakes and cultural assets”. (Earthquake and Cultural Property Working Group of the Swiss Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property). Bern 2004.
- Federal Office for Civil Protection : Protection of cultural property in the event of flooding. Recommendations at federal and cantonal level. Bern 2010.
- Federal Office for Civil Protection : Microclimate in cultural property protection areas. Bern 2011. ( Electronic publication .)
- Federal Office for Civil Protection: Guidelines for creating an emergency plan. Together with the University of Basel, Planning and Development. Basel / Bern 2012. ( Electronic publication .)
- Federal Office for Civil Protection : Construction of cultural property protection areas and conversion of surplus protection systems as cultural property protection areas With the cooperation of Dr. Thomas Wenk and Andrea Giovannini. Bern 2020. ( Electronic publication .)
- Mylène Devaux: Seismic vulnerability of cultural heritage buildings in Switzerland. Doctoral thesis from EPF Lausanne. Lausanne 2008. ( Electronic publication .)
- Andrea Giovannini: "De Tutela Librorum": La conservation des livres et des documents d'archives / The preservation of books and archive materials. 4th revised and significantly expanded edition Baden 2010.
- Kerstin Odendahl : Protection of cultural property. Development, structure and dogmatics of a cross-level system of standards. Tübingen 2005.
- Jiří Toman: Les biens culturels en temps de guerre: Quel progrès en faveur de leur protection? Commentaire article-par-article du Deuxième Protocole de 1999 relatif à la Convention de la Haye de 1954 pour la protection des biens culturels en cas de conflit armé. Paris 2015.
- Department of Cultural Property Protection KGS of the Federal Office for Civil Protection (BABS) , ( VBS )
- KGS inventory: Swiss inventory of cultural assets of national and regional importance as a geographic information system (GIS)
- Monuments in Switzerland: first results. Monument statistics 2016 and statistics of cultural behavior. Federal Office for statistics. Corrected version of December 20, 2018
- Swiss Society for the Protection of Cultural Property SGKGS
- Curesys: Rescue system for cultural property , system for cooperation with the fire brigade, including operational documentation
- Swiss Monument Statistics 2016. Over 75,000 protected architectural monuments in Switzerland. Media release by the Federal Statistical Office, December 18, 2018
- Members of the Federal Commission for the Protection of Cultural Property on admin.ch
- Monuments in Switzerland: first results. Monument statistics 2016 and statistics of cultural behavior. Federal Office for statistics. Corrected version of December 20, 2018
- Federal Chancellery : Ordinance of the DDPS on the labeling of cultural goods and personnel responsible for the protection of cultural goods (VKKP). SR 520.312. In: Systematic Legal Collection SR . Swiss Federal Council , November 14, 2017, accessed on January 5, 2018 (as of January 1, 2018).
- Hans Schüpbach: The new KGS law is in force. (PDF, 5 MB) Permanent labeling of cultural assets is possible. In: FORUM NO. 24/2015. Federal Office for Civil Protection FOCP, Department of Cultural Property Protection KGS, 2015, p. 68; Pages 35–39 , accessed April 29, 2019 .
- Hans Schüpbach: Curse or Blessing? (PDF, 9.4 MB) Recommendations for signage and labeling of cultural assets. In: Diploma thesis Hans Schüpbach. MAS Monument Preservation and Conversion, Bern University of Applied Sciences for Architecture, Wood and Construction, 2015, p. 170 , accessed on April 29, 2019 .