Duttweiler: The man who revolutionised the Swiss retail industry

Switzerland has produced some amazing personalities over the past 100 years, their achievements ranging from business to ballooning, from science to the ski-slopes. One of those eminent persons was Gottlieb Duttweiler.

This content was published on December 30, 1999 - 14:36

Switzerland has produced some amazing personalities over the past 100 years, their achievements ranging from business to ballooning, from science to the ski-slopes. One of those eminent persons was Gottlieb Duttweiler.

It was the late actor Orson Welles who, in the film "The Third Man," said the Swiss had had 500 years of peace and democracy, and had only produced the cuckoo clock to show for it.

The past century alone has proved this notion wrong. Listed below are some of the leading personalities who either as Swiss or living in Switzerland have helped shape the world.

* Gottlieb Duttweiler (1888-1962). Founder of the Migros food retail chain. In the early years, Duttweiler struggled to break cartels and high prices, and faced legal battles. During his career he was even branded "Public enemy number one." His chain of food stores is now omnipresent in Switzerland and it is estimated that 90 percent of Swiss people visit a Migros store at least once a week.

*The Piccard family. Among the world's greatest adventurers. In 1931, Auguste Piccard and his assistant reached a record altitude of 51, 775 feet in their balloon. His twin brother and sister-in-law topped that three years later. Auguste Piccard and his son Jacques turned their interest from the skies to the seas. Jacques Piccard set a new underwater depth record in 1960, descending 35,800 feet beneath the Pacific. In 1999, Auguste's grandson, Bertrand Piccard, became the first man to circumnavigate the globe non-stop in a balloon.

* Le Corbusier (1887-1965). Charles Edouard Jeanneret -- later to be known as Le Corbusier -- left behind entire cities, such as Chandigargh in northern India, or parts of cities which he had planned and designed, as well as dozens of private and public buildings, literally thousands of pictures and sketches and some 50 books.

* General Henri Guisan (1874-1960). Effectively Switzerland's paramount leader during World War II. His fading portrait still adorns many a Swiss home at the end of the 1990s. General Guisan, head of the Swiss army, encapsulated the hopes and fears of the Swiss during the war, as the country struggled to preserve its neutrality.

*Friedrich Dürrenmatt. (1921-1990) Probably the most influential Swiss author of the century. A writer of plays, short stories and detective novels, as well as a painter, Dürrenmatt established his reputation in the mid-1950s. The son of a Bernese priest, Dürrenmatt's strength lay in his unconventional and highly critical thinking, his ability to surprise.

* Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) Born in canton Thurgau, he studied at the Burghölzli psychiatric clinic in Zurich at the turn of the century, and formed a close and at times tempestuous relationship with the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. The two eventually went their separate ways. Jung continued working at his home in Küsnacht on the shores of lake Zurich until his death. His institute still exists in the same town.

* Albert Einstein (1874-1955). German by origin, Albert Einstein came to Switzerland as a student in 1895 when he was 16 and he assumed Swiss nationality in 1901. His professors thought he was a pretty mediocre student, advised him not to go to university, and so he joined the federal patents office in Berne. It was while working in the patents office during the first decade of the 20th century that Einstein developed his theory of relativity, which earned him a lasting place in history and the Nobel prize for physics in 1921. He left Europe after the rise of Hitler.

These are just some of the Swiss names who have made history this century. From current women's tennis number one Martina Hingis to the inventor of the hallucinogen Albert Hofmann, from actress Ursula Andress to author Max Frisch, from artist Alberto Giacometti to theologian Hans Küng, there have been hundreds of Swiss who have helped write the history of the 20th century.

From staff member Ron Popper.

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