Dr. Leander Diener from Zurich is a historian and a research fellow at the Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine at the University of Zurich. He just published the book ‘Das Jungfraujoch. Eine Geschichte der Hochalpinen Forschungsstation 1922-1952’ (in German, an English version is planned for 2023).
The construction of the railroad to the Jungfraujoch and its opening in 1912 was associated with the idea of being able to conduct scientific research in the high alpine region. On October 14, 1922, on the initiative of A. de Quervain, the Federal Council commissioned the “Schweizerische Naturforschende Gesellschaft” to build a research station on Jungfraujoch. The Jungfraujoch Commission founded for this purpose accepted the task under the presidency of A. de Quervain, which was then continued by W. Hess after de Quervain’s death in 1927.
In 1930, W. Hess initiated the establishment of the International Foundation for the Jungfraujoch High Altitude Research Station, which was opened in 1931. This pioneering act with a significant foreign policy dimension was also closely observed and used by the federal authorities. In the following years, Switzerland fulfilled this national research policy obligation by managing this research station and guided it into safe waters with the establishment of the Swiss National Science Foundation in the early 1950s. Notabene, A. von Muralt, the successor of W. Hess in the presidency of the International Foundation, is considered the founder of this important Swiss pioneering act.
The historian Dr. Leander Diener of the University of Zürich presents us with a book that tells the fascinating story of a scientific lighthouse project in the period 1922 to 1952. In it, we experience at first hand the tension at the time between the preservation of a national identity and the embarking on a new international research enterprise with a foreign policy dimension. All in all, this is a thoroughly memorable book in the history of Swiss science.