8th stage of the “Grand Tour of Switzerland in Hungary”: Pannonhalma

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Press release, 07.05.2016

Commemoration of the two Swiss “Righteous among the Nations” Eduard Brunschweiler and Friedrich Born in Pannonhalma

Father Albin, Jean-François Paroz, Patrick Gueissaz, György Habsburg and Getachew Ta’a at the commemoration

On the occasion of the International World Red Cross Day a commemoration of the two “Swiss Righteous among the Nations”, Eduard Benedikt Brunschweiler and Friedrich Born with a following concert of the Bernese University Choir and the Medikuszenekar took place in Pannonhalma on 7 May.

As a further stage of the “Grand Tour” Pannonhalma has lots of connections with Switzerland: Just recently the town twinning between Pannonhalma and Muri (AG) has been decided, both towns have a Benedictine order in the monastery of Muri and the St. Martin Archabbey in Pannonhalma as well as the common roots with the Habsburgs.        

Another close link comes along, thanks to the two „Swiss Righteous among the Nations” Friedrich Born and Eduard Brunschweiler, who made Pannonhalma an island in the middle of the storm of World War II. The Swiss ICRC delegate Friedrich Born, had already successfully set up hospitals, children’s home and orphanages as well as public kitchens for the Hungarian Jews in Budapest and placed them under the protection of the Red Cross. In October 1944, he succeeded in bringing the Benedictine monastery under the wings of the Red Cross, although Pannonhalma was in the middle of the military defense line. Around 3000 people, mostly children, found refuge there till the end of the war. He charged Eduard Brunschweiler, a Swiss Business man with the operation of the monastery. Together with the charismatic abbot Kelemen Kriszosztom, as well as the members of the order he had done everything within his power that the monastery could function in protecting lives and preserving values so that the refugees would lack nothing.

In honor of the two Swiss “Righteous among the Nations”, two memorial plaques with their names were fixed at the entrance of the abbey. During the commemoration ceremony, which stood under the patronage of the archabbot Asztrik Várszegi, the Swiss Ambassador as well as the representatives of the ICRC, IFRC and the Hungarian Red Cross reminded the guests of Friedrich Born and Eduard Brunschweiler, who stand representatively for all those, who risk their lives for humanitarian actions nowadays, and those, who showed the willingness and the benevolence to help in the darkest moments of mankind.

Bernese University Choir in Pannonhalma ©Embassy of Switzerland