Style in Swiss Newsreels 1940-45

Peter Gerdes


There exists an unique word in the German language, particularly as it is spoken and written in Switzerland: «Heimatstil», «Heimat style». The word «Heimat» is not translatable. It means something akin to «fatherland» or «motherland» but implies much more and is full of emotional overtones, if not outright sentimentalism. It implies mountains, the rustic life, the back-to-earth syndrome. «Heimatstil» indicates a style stemming from the basic and morally solid pleasures in life: carved furniture made from native fir -trees, highly decorated traditional costumes, the classical chalet and yodelling. «Heimat» and anything that goes with it is particular! y called upon - and popular- during moments of crisis. It helps to mentally strengthen the readiness for national resistance, Switzerland likes to promote the reflection on «Heimat» which, according to Paul Nizon, «expresses itself with preference in any form of 'Heimatstil '»1 • It is worthwhile noting that Germany and Austria know of the «Heimatstil» as well but not so France or Italy.

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