Safety and trust


Safety and trust

More than any other country, Switzerland is a symbol for the values of safety and trust. The Swiss Guard is almost more well-known abroad than in Switzerland itself. The International Red Cross movement was also a Swiss initiative. Learn more:

The Swiss Guard

Hardly any other military formation enjoys a world reputation as distinguished as that of the Swiss Guard. It was founded in 1506 by Julius II for his protection during the Italian wars. The most loyal and courageous soldiers came from Switzerland, a very poor country at that time with few opportunities to make a living. In more than 500 years of history, the Guards have given constant and selfless service to the Pope. Their sternest test came during the infamous "Sacco di Roma", when, on 6th May 1527, Rome was plundered by German, Spanish and Italian soldiers. 147 guards lost their lives to the far superior numbers of plunderers. The remaining 42 men escorted the Pope to safety in the Engelsburg. Right up to the present day, the Confederate bodyguard is distinguished by its loyalty, reliability and faultless military professionalism. In addition to police and sentry work, the Swiss Guard also carries out representative duties and is synonymous worldwide for the typically Swiss values of trust and safety.

The Red Cross

The reputation of Switzerland as a country with a particularly humanitarian tradition is also rooted in the foundation of the Red Cross in Geneva. In 1859, Swiss businessman Henri Dunant witnessed a bloody battle between Austrian, Italian and French soldiers close to the little Italian village of Solferino. Dunant organized aid for the tens of thousands of wounded men and called for the establishment of national aid organizations which, in peace time, would train volunteers to care for those wounded in war. In 1863 members of the Geneva charitable association founded an international committee of aid societies for caring for the wounded. Since 1876 it has used the name by which it is still known today: the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). As an impartial, neutral and independent organization, the ICRC has been involved in countless conflicts, caring for civilian victims, war invalids and prisoners. The third largest portion of the annual budget of about 1 billion francs comes from Switzerland (source: The Federal Council). The 15 to 25 Committee members are exclusively Swiss.

A red cross on a white field (the reversed national flag of Dunant's homeland) was chosen in 1863 to be the distinctive emblem for the neutral, impartial aid for all victims of war. In 1876 the red half-moon was introduced as an equivalent emblem for Islamic countries and, since 2007, the red crystal has joined these recognized protective emblems.