Charlotte Sauer, Hauterive, Laténium (canton de Neuchâtel), 2011, monument pour Maurice Bavaud. Foto/Photo: TES.

A Swiss Hero

A 22-year-old Swiss man tried to kill Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) in November 1938. Maurice Bavaud (1916-1941) was born in Neuchâtel. After prematurely leaving the seminary of the Congrégation du Saint-Esprit in France – he wanted to become a priest – he returned to Switzerland in 1938.

Maurice Bavaud (1916-1941). Photo: Wikipedia

Although a deeply devout Catholic in Calvinist Neuchâtel, the idea of killing Adolf Hitler, whom he considered a danger to humankind, germinated in his mind.

He bought a revolver and ammunition in Basel and then went to Munich, where on 9 November 1938, the failed coup attempt of 8 and 9 November 1923 was commemorated.

The Führer was always present as one of the coup organisers at the time. Incidentally, he escaped death during this attempt. Several coup leaders were killed in the fighting in the city.

Maurice pretended to be a fanatical supporter of the Führer and was able to take a seat on the front row of the stage.

When the Führer passed, he was surrounded by many members of his Party. The enthusiasm was so great that many outstretched right arms obstructed the field of fire. In the previous weeks, the man from Neuchâtel had tried several times to get close to the Führer to shoot him, but never close enough or at the right moment.

Discouraged, he took the train to Paris. The Gestapo arrested him on the train. At the end of 1939, the infamous People’s Court sentenced him to death. On 14 May 1941, the sentence was carried out in Berlin.

The only thing that counts for me is the immortality of the soul.

(La seule chose qui m’importe, c’est l’immortalité de l’âme).

The sentence is at the foot of the monument erected on 13 May 2011 in memory of Maurice Bavaud in the Laténium Park in Hauterive (canton of Neuchâtel).

One year later, on 8 November 1939, the courageous George Elser (1903-1945) carried out another attempt in the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich. The bomb exploded indeed, but the Führer had left the meeting earlier than expected: the foggy weather conditions made it impossible to take the aeroplane to Berlin. The Führer took the train instead and left the Bürgerbräukeller an hour earlier than scheduled.