14 March 2007

Your Closest Neighbor...

There is a saying that you always hate your closest neighbor the most.

But I really do not understand why the Swiss Germans dislike the Germans so much. After all, the Swiss French seem to get along fine with the French. And the Swiss Italians appear to be quite friendly to the Italians.

I had hoped that this article would throw some light on the topic. But it does not explain the level of dislike that I have heard expressed repeatedly.

Would someone please explain the animosity towards the Germans? When did it start? Why did it start? Why is it continuing?

11 comments:

Ms Mac said...

Errrr.... this may prove slightly controversial but it's been my experience that the Swiss pretty much dislike everyone.

I've especially heard Germany being referred to as the Schwarzkanton and a couple of times, from different fellow Einwohners, "Oh no, I don't like people from the South...." (They were referring to Italians)

Mind you, I live in an SVP stronghold! Lucky me.

GL's D said...

Could we have ms mac explain what is an SVP stronghold? Or anyone else for that matter.

Ms Mac said...

Oh whoops! SVP, Schweizerische Volkspartei, a right wing political party.

Here's the Wikipedia Entry for SVP

The Big Finn said...

That article really got to me...
The reason why so many foreigners come to Switzerland to work is because THERE AREN'T ENOUGH SWISS EXPERIENCED ENOUGH (work experience and education) TO FILL ALL THE JOBS,...PERIOD!!! The Swiss upper-management of Swiss companies know this, and they throw money at foreigners to get them to come. Don't blame the foreigners...look in the mirror!
If the Swiss want the foreigners to stop coming to "take their jobs", then they need to reform their education system so that they are qualified for the higher level jobs. Oh...and here's another idea: WORK HARDER!!! Go into most offices around Switzerland, and you'll most likely find that foreigners are the only ones who are there after 5:00 p.m.; the Swiss are long gone by then.

GL's D said...

I get to like this big Finn more and more!!!

Peter said...

-TBF: wait a minute. sorry, i'm very un-swiss kind of angry right now (but i'm swiss enougth to apologise for that): what you're writing is not true. which country won the most noble prizes per capita? switzerland. the most patents per capita? saying, the swiss education system is bad or not good enough is not correct. the fact is that this country with only 7 million inhabitans has an economy that grew too big for the local population. there are basically two types of foreigners working in switzerland. the ones with bad education work on low qualified jobs. have you ever seen swiss doing construction work? swiss
garbage men? cleaning personnel? there are maybe some, but not much. on the other side, there are the well educated. swiss companies simply grew so much that
there were not enough graduates from swiss universities. not to mention foreign companies who made switzerland their european hq (i.e. google) who needed staff as well. it's a simple question of offer and demand and the size of the market. remember the unemployment rate? somewhere between 2 and 3% whichever way you count it). believe me, i know what i'm saying. and by the way: i remember an american exchange teacher(!) that i had in high school some years ago.
he was astonished that swiss high school students normally learn things that are taught in the US only in college or university. are you an economist? do you know "the principles of economics" by n. gregory mankiw? (probably the best book to learn economics) that was our high school lecture. and he was as well surprised that our public high school was not falling apart (like the one he taught at back in the states) and that it had had video projectors and dvd in every room and state of the art pc's (not some with 5.25 inch disks....) one thing is true: the swiss education system needs some reforms: each canton has its own different type of basic education and that causes problems that are not necessary... but believe me, swiss universites are competitive. ever heard of ETH? (the swiss MIT) guess who developed the technology of your TFT-flatscreen you're probably looking at right now. right, the ETH. and your computer mouse? did you kwow that logitech is a spin-off of the ETH Lausanne? and did you ever wonder why so much multinational companies settle in switzerland? recent studies show it's because of the excellent educated staff they find here. where else do you find people that are capable of expressing themselves in german (or french or italian) and another national language and english. a final question (not intendet to be offensive but, let's say, swissy-critical) do YOU know german (not to mention swiss german) as good as I do English? (i'm way not perfect, that's for sure) but poor me, I unfortunately only had the
chance to learn English at bad swiss schools.....and oh yeah, i of course drop my pencil right at 5 p.m. (international study - forgot which-: the country with the most overtime worked per capita? you name it....) and why we are not fond of germans? history. the most time, germany was an opponent. first nobles against peasants, then monarchy against (somehow) democracy.....then the whole nazi-thing. we basically do not have anything against german individuals but against germany as a "national" country. simply because we "german" swiss have our own multinational country since roughly 700 years...(the 2nd oldest
republic in the word by the way - that only to close the chapter of swiss nationalism for today)

Peter said...

TBF and GL: please don't take my last post offensive. it was not intended to be one. if i'm sounding to "nationalistic" it's probably because of my lack of experience in englilsh (seriously!) i - and i hope also other fellwo swiss- really enjoy reading your blogs. but, again to what TBF said: here's the way the CIA world factbook (https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html) describes the swiss economy:

"Switzerland is a peaceful, prosperous, and stable modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita GDP larger than that of the big Western European economies."

well, ok, they also thought they knew where some WMD were....

Global Librarian said...

Peter - no offense taken. I sincerely wanted to know why this animosity existed. Who better than a Swiss to answer?

Un-Swiss Miss said...

From my observations, I wouldn't have said dislike so much as look down on, and the Germans get particularly snobbed at because they are supposed to have the same work ethic, but somehow end up in a country with a weaker economy (i.e. unemployment that's 5x higher than Switzerland's). Plus, Germans are as a whole cheap, particularly when it comes to food, which pains the quality-focused Swiss a great deal!

Yes, part of it's due to hard work. (Sorry TBF, I just don't agree with you on that point!) But many Swiss forget that it's just as much (if not more so) their business-friendly and tax-evader friendly laws which attracts capital and headquarters.

And responding to Peter: the Swiss school system is good, no doubt about it, but it's good the same way as the Japanese school system is good. But there's a critical difference: top Swiss students aren't taught to challenge or analyze quite as much as top American students. For example, Michael Porter went to ETH to give a lecture, and was extremely disappointd with the audience, because they didn't really ask questions, didn't really discuss anything, etc. So sorry, in my view ETH is no MIT or Harvard, and St Gallen isn't even as good as INSEAD, forget Harvard or Stanford Business School.

Plus, the reason Switzerland has to import labor, both skilled and unskilled, is that their birthrate is low (as it is in most developed countries, the US included). In fact, the "natural" population growth rate (without immigration) is flat, if not negative. If the economy is to grow, they have to bring in immigrants. Still, it's a good reflection on Switzerland that so many are willing to come.

Impossible Jane said...

I don't know...I've heard B.F. and his family sling insults at the French. Every time we'd cross the border into France B.F's mother would say, "You can tell we're in France by how poor it looks."

However B.F. and his family are also French (and Swiss) citizens so perhaps they feel it is their birth right.

Anonymous said...

One must acknowledge that the Germans, for a very long period of recent history -- especially from about 1864 to 1945 -- haven't exactly been ideal neighbors. Granted, they left the Swiss alone during much of that time, but very likely because their country is too hard to cross with military equipment.