Gotthard stories

The Gotthard is more than a mountain pass. Various eras have carved their own histories into its rocks, giving mythical status to this Alpine massif in Central Switzerland. To this day, talking about the Gotthard acts as a cultural trope throughout Switzerland, a shared value that has a cohesive function in society. The origins of the myth can be relatively precisely identified and dated: they began with an academic debate among historians in the first two decades of the 20th century, which was subsequently popularised in a wide variety of forms. The Gotthard Massif became a symbol of Swiss national sovereignty and technical prowess thanks to its defensive military function in World War I and above all in World War II, when the Swiss armed forces command built numerous fortifications inside its rock. In the political discourse on the intellectual defence of the nation, it grew to become the physical representation of the Swiss concept of the state. The basic features of this secular consecration of the Gotthard last to this day; they have their own special manifestation in the canton of Uri, where the national mythology has been fortified with elements of the local narrative tradition – above all with the well-known tale of how the Devil’s Bridge (Teufelsbrücke) was built – and in Ticino, where the story behind the railway tunnel, which opened in 1882, enjoys popularity. These links with transport history have again come to the fore throughout Switzerland in the past three decades. The construction of the Gotthard Base Tunnel has given fresh impetus to the somewhat stale myth. Thanks to the construction project of the century, the contemporary Gotthard narrative has gained a range of superlatives, predominantly technical.


Category

Oral expressions
Performing arts


Canton


Detailed description

Publications

Giorgio Bellini: La strada cantonale del San Gottardo: storia e storie della Tremola dall'Ottocento ai giorni nostri. Claro, 1999

Kilian Elsässer, ViaStoria (Ed.): Der direkte Weg in den Süden: die Geschichte der Gotthardbahn. Zürich, 2007

Guido Calgari: San Gottardo - Sintesi nazionale in quattro tempi e tre intermezzi. Lugano, 1937

Urs Hafner: Der unsichtbare Berg. Wie der Gotthard zu seinem Mythos kam. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 14. Mai 2016, p. 47

Villi Hermann: San Gottardo. Produzione TSI. Lugano, 1977 (Film)

Elisabeth Joris, Katrin Rieder, Béatrice Ziegler (Ed.): Tiefenbohrungen. Frauen und Männer auf den grossen Tunnelbaustellen der Schweiz 1870-2005. Baden, 2006

Jon Mathieu: Gotthardverkehrswege - Nukleus der Eidgenossenschaft im Spätmittelalter? In: Schweizerische Akademie der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften (Ed.): Eine Zukunft für die historische Verkehrslandschaft Gotthard. Bern, 2014

Peter von Matt: Das Kalb vor der Gotthardpost. Zur Literatur und Politik der Schweiz. München, 2012

Orazio Martinetti: Sul ciglio del fossato - La Svizzera alla vigilia della grande guerra. Locarno, 2018

Renato Martinoni: Viaggiatori del Settecento nella Svizzera italiana. Locarno, 1989

Josef Müller: Sagen aus Uri. 3 Bände. Basel, 1926 / 1929 / 1945

Boris Previšić (Ed.): Gotthardphantasien. Eine Blütenlese aus Wissenschaft und Literatur. Baden, 2016

Remigio Ratti: L'asse ferroviario del San Gottardo: economia e geopolitica dei transiti alpini. Locarno, 2016

Judith Schueler: Materialising identity. The co-construction of the Gotthard Railway and Swiss national identity. Amsterdam, 2008

Helmut Stalder: Goethe am Gotthard. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 12. Januar 2017

Aloys Schulte: Geschichte des mittelalterlichen Handels und Verkehrs zwischen Westdeutschland und Italien mit Ausschluss von Venedig. 2 Bände. Leipzig, 1900

Gerardo Rigozzi, Luca Saltini (Ed.): Lungo i binari del tempo / Auf den Schienen der Zeit. Catalogo della mostra «Lungo i binari del tempo: vedute e stampe della collezione di Giorgio Ghiringhelli, dal Settecento alla ferrovia del Gottardo», Biblioteca cantonale di Lugano, 24 maggio - 31 ottobre 2016. Lugano, 2016

Keywords

https://www.lebendige-traditionen.ch/content/tradition/en/home/traditions/gotthard-stories.html