On August 30, 1965, the tongue of a glacier collapsed at the construction site of the Mattmark dam in canton Valais – destroying it and killing 88 people.
The disaster alerted the Swiss public to the working conditions at the major mountain construction site. Half a century later, the images remind us of those mainly foreign workers who sacrificed their lives for the progress and prosperity of Switzerland.
A travelling exhibition called “Mattmark 1965-2015 – Tragedy in the Mountains” marks the accident’s 50th anniversary. It includes a film, lectures, panel discussions and a catalogue. There will be a ceremony at the disaster site on August 30, part of a series of commemorative events organised by the Italy-Valais association.
Staged in Switzerland, Italy, and, in October, in the library of the European Parliament in Brussels, the travelling exhibition “responds to a duty to remember the truth,” Stéphane Marti, chief executive of the Ad Hoc Committee Mattmark, told swissinfo.ch. According to Marti, the exhibition not only pays tribute to the victims of the disaster and their families; it also informs young people about the historical, economic, political and social significance of the tragedy.
Inspired by the exhibition, swissinfo.ch has prepared this photo album.
(Text: Sonia Fenazzi; Photo editor: Rolf Amiet)