a number of renowned personalities from home and abroad, from politics, culture, science and the media since its founding in 1944 as a guest in the Western Swiss cultural institution. Particularly in the post-war newspaper, the debating club participated in the intellectual life of the watch metropolis and the whole of French Switzerland, a multilingual.
La Chaux-de-Fonds without a Club 44 – unthinkable. “This place is an institution of the public health, because it is good for the metabolism of a society,” says Marie-Thérèse Bonadonna, Director of the conference centre, the news Agency Keystone-SDA.
The Club 44 is also a historical testimony of the Golden age of the city in the neuchâtel Jura, in the revival of a return of prosperity after the Second world war, and in the patronage of the watch industry.
it was Founded 75 years ago from a private Initiative by the Industrialist and patron of the arts, Georges Braunschweig, Germany as a place of intellectual debate. To be invited by the Club of a speech, is considered to be an honor.
“With the founding of the club at the end of the war, Georges Braunschweig, Germany wanted to strengthen the freedom of expression. The intellectual exchange should allow for a return of the humanity”, explains the Director Bonadonna.
the goal was also to retain skilled workers and cultural institutions such as the music room, the Italian theatre and conference club in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Also the founder, owner of the watch company Portescap wanted to prevent the “Ford of the society”. He wanted “the reality of different people will be heard,” says the Director.
Since the beginning of the visitors were involved. “You didn’t want a passive audience, but one that gets as much talk time as the avant-garde speaker,” says Bonadonna.
The Director, but also points out to the fact that the Club was not admitted until 1971 for women.
Brunswick accepted, finally, an Opening of the center for women under the condition that “the level of debate drops”. “Even if it is it is now disgusting, it corresponded to the then Zeitgeist,” says Bonadonna.
at that Time, the Club was reserved for its members, but since the mid-80s, it is possible that the conferences against payment of the ticket price to follow. The club had in the 70s to a peak of 1700 members, today there are about 500.
A special feature of the Clubs 44 its atypical architecture. Since 1957 the Association has its headquarters in the Rue de la Serre 64 in the watch metropolis by the Italian architect Angelo Mangiarotti designed the building. The locality also allows for the presentation of an every three months renewed photo exhibition, whose opening is connected with the theme of the conference day.
Each year, the Club offers a 40 to 50 conferences. Since 1957, they recorded questions from the public included – and since 2014 filmed. The sound archive of the Association is a valuable treasure trove of 2100 conferencing, which is available online free of charge.
Some of the speakers were to the true favorites of the Institution, such as the French literary critic and historian Henri Guillemin, which held 17 conferences-loving. Also, the SP-politician and a sociologist, Jean Ziegler was a frequent speaker in the Club 44 . In the last years of the French Journalist and militant animal rights activists Aymeric Caron was invited three times.
Some speakers, such as the canadian nuclear -, and Astro-physicist Hubert Reeves and the children’s heart surgeon René Prêtre, attracted such a large audience, the number of visitors had to be limited for security reasons. Other well-known Swiss speakers the photographer Ella Maillart, Migros-founder Gottlieb Duttweiler, environmentalist, Franz Weber, as well as the architect Mario Botta.
on the Occasion of his 75-year existence, the Club published 44 on 23. A book written under other Federal councillor, Alain Berset a contribution.