Emmental nahe Lueg. Foto/Photo: TES

Monuments and the Schweizer Volksmusikzentrum

Switzerland was neutral in World War I (1914-1918). Yet there are monuments across the country to commemorate soldiers who died from 1914 to 1918. About 3 000 soldiers died from the Spanish Flu or unnatural causes during this period.

The Spanish Flu caused about 2 000 casualties in 1918/1919. In addition, there were about 1 000 fatal accidents in traffic, with aircraft, military exercises, or other incidents.

One of the most famous monuments is on Mount Lueg, 887 m (canton of Bern) in the Emmental, near the village of Affoltern i/E (im Emmental). The verb Luege in Swiss German means ‘to look intently’. Lueg, in this context, means ‘view’.

Nomen est omen because the panorama is impressive, even if the Alps cannot be seen clearly in foggy weather. Twenty soldiers from a cavalry regiment from Bern are commemorated at this spot.

Moreover, thousands of Swiss fought for either side in the conflict because of dual passports or personal involvement. Several thousand did not survive.

A monument at the Col des Roches in Le Locle commemorates about 2 000 Swiss who died on the battlefield for France. No one commemorates the losers. No monuments exist for the Swiss killed in action for the German or Austrian Kaiser.

Some other monuments, such as in Clarens (canton of Vaud) or in the Kannenfeld Park in Basel, commemorate interned soldiers who died in Switzerland. Thousands of soldiers from both sides crossed the Swiss border and remained interned until 1918. Sometimes, they died of their wounds, and the Spanish Flu also claimed many victims.


Another category is the works of art or decorations made on location by Swiss soldiers in 1914-1918. The designations of cantons, towns, military units and the officers depicted in sculpture near Grellingen (canton Basel-Landschaft) are well-known examples.

The village of Wynigen, 15 kilometres from Lueg, lies on the border of the Emmental and Oberaargau. This village has many monumental houses, inns, and farms for its modest size. There are also many large farmhouses in the Emmental.

Zum Wilden Mann. Foto: Gemeinde Wyningen

The private railway company ‘Schweizerische Centralbahn’ built the line Herzogenbuchsee to Bern (Wylerfeld) in 1857 and halted in Wyningen. In 1902, the SBB took over the company.

From 1925, this train also ran electrically. Switzerland started building its railway network relatively late (from 1850 onwards), but by 1875 it was the leader in Europe. Electricity replaced coal as the source of power for trains after 1918.

Wyningen 1925, and the electric SBB railway

However, it is rewarding to make the trip to Lueg not by train but on foot. The scenery, large farms, and views of the Alps are rewarding. The poet Jeremias Gotthelf, a pseudonym of Albert Bitzius (1797-1854), put it as follows:

Eng begrenzt ist sein Horizont von waldigen Hügeln, an deren Fuss sich unzählige Täler ziehen, von rauschenden Bächen bewässert, die in stillem Murmeln ihre Geschiebe wälzen, bis sie den Schoss der Emme finden.

The largest nearby town is Burgdorf, with its medieval castle and town centre, remarkable church, and cultural institutions.

From Lueg, it’s another two hours on foot. After a break at the Landgasthof Lueg, the musical centre of the Emmental, these hours also keep flying.

The Spanish Flu has given way to the temporary Covid-19, but nature is still there as the earth turns for another billion years, with, or perhaps better for, nature, without humankind.

The Swiss Alpine Club (SAC)

The Swiss Alpine Club (Schweizer Alpen Club, SAC/Club Alpin Suisse, CAS) organises ski tours, mountaineering, hiking trips and other sports.