Hans Balsiger (12th September 1937 – 19th January 2021)

Hans Balsiger, Photo: Erwin Flückiger

Photo: Erwin Flückiger

With great dismay did we hear that our former President and Honorary President, Hans Balsiger, passed away on January 19, 2021 after a long period of increasing physical complaints.

In 2004, the Swiss Academy of Sciences SCNAT appointed Prof. Hans Balsiger as successor of Prof. Andreas Tammann as President of the International Foundation High Altitude Research Stations Jungfraujoch and Gornergrat HFSJG. He had the best qualifications for this position. On the one hand, as an internationally recognized space scientist and as a member of various space organisations, he had the necessary personal network of relationships and contacts. On the other hand, as the former director of the Physics Institute of the University of Bern, which itself was involved in research projects at Jungfraujoch and Gornergrat and where the HFSJG management and administration has been based for decades, he was very familiar with the Foundation.

Hans Balsiger stood up for the concerns of the International Foundation HFSJG with a great and tireless commitment and shaped the Foundation with his foresight, diplomacy, negotiating skills and perseverance in his work. He thus rendered invaluable services to the Foundation HFSJG. He initialized and led the transfer of the University of Bern’s long-standing supporting role into a formal, supporting membership of the University in the Foundation. Especially the reconfiguration of the astronomic site Gornergrat for a broad public, and particularly for the youth, lay close to his heart. As Honorary President he enthusiastically continued to support the Stellarium Gornergrat as a common project of the Burgergemeinde Zermatt, the Universities of Bern and Geneva, as well as the Foundation HFSJG. With great dedication did he leadingly contribute to the increased visibility of the High Altitude Research Stations Jungfraujoch and Gornergrat. The brochure for the 75th anniversary of the Foundation and the redesign of the tourist information about the research at Jungfraujoch are examples of ideas, which he supported with great pleasure.

With the passing away of Hans Balsiger we not only lose a great promoter of the International Foundation HFSJG, but also a good friend. For the Board of the Foundation, the researchers and all of the HFSJG-team it was not only a unique privilege to work together with Hans, but also a great pleasure and honour. He was interested in science as well as in human beings, and the well-being of the colleagues was very important to him. He was always there when needed. With his friendly, distinct character, his human warmth and especially his fine humour, Hans was a central figure within the HFSJG-family. He will be sorely missed. We also feel with his wife Trudi, his daughter Barbara with family and his son Christoph with family and express them our sincerest condolences.
Hans Balsiger will live on in our hearts and we will keep an honourable memory of him and his legacy within the International Foundation HFSJG.  

Hans Balsiger had the following functions within the Foundation HFSJG:

  • President HFSJG 2004-2009
  • Honorary President HFSJG since 2010


By Erwin Flückiger, Claudine Frieden, Rolf Bütikofer