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65 items of SCI Switzerland pocket calendars, 1953- 2017

by Heinz Gabathuler (Sep 23, 2016)

The first Wednesday in September every year is the moment when volunteers gather at the SCI Switzerland office in Bern for packing the freshly printed small booklets called 'Agenda' (pocket calendars, or diaries, or planners, indeed) which are then mailed to all members of the Swiss branch as well as to some subscribers who live abroad. And later in spring, Swiss delegates carry dozens of these booklets to international meetings in order to sell them to other branches.




Ever since I personally use the 'agenda' (since 1997), each year, the colour has changed, and every five years or so the design has slightly changed as well. What never changed in these twenty years is its size, and its excellent physical quality. And somewhere on the second last page one is informed that it is edited since 1953. And of course, one item is always reserved for SCI’s International Archives which presumably holds the only full collection of all sixty-four 'agendas', soon to be amended by the sixty-fifth for 2017.

Going further back than the last twenty years of my own history as an SCI activist, however, there are some changes, in design as well as in content. It is rather self-evident that the very first one for 1953 does not inform that it is the first one. Only the cover (shovel, broken sword, PAX in the logo!) and the first four pages were produced by SCI whereas the rest has been taken from a standard format of a pocket calendar in our two main national languages, German and French, and reflecting the spirit of the time (asking for the owner's hat number rather than his / her email address).The SCI edited pages contain an editorial by International President Hélène Monastier (in French), an additional quote from Pierre Ceresole (in German), the names of the Swiss and International Committee members, and the addresses of all branches (12 in total).

The fifteenth calendar (for the year of my birth, 1967) enriches its readers with a lengthy Ceresole text in four languages (French, English, Italian, German), addresses of not only 18 branches and goups but also of not less than 19 local groups of SCI France and 17 local groups of SCI Germany. No more opportunity nor necessity to document the owner's hat number, but still a comprehensive list of Swiss postal tariffs, and of all Jewish holidays of the following year (which had not been included in the 1953 issue). The thirty-third issue (for the year of my first workcamp, 1985) still uses a standard format for the calendar part but in three instead of two national languages (but not in English), asking the owner for his / her theft insurance number and at the same time still informing on all Jewish holidays – this time of the current year. The intro pages edited by SCI highlight the 65 years anniversary of the movement (text by Ralph Hegnauer), the number of branches and groups has grown to 22, even though some that had existed earlier had disappeared in the meantime, and in addition, some more addresses of NGOs in Switzerland are listed, demonstrating that SCI has become part of a wider alternative movement rooted in civil society.

And in 2017? The cover shows a picture, whereas the PAX in the logo has disappeared. The intro is written by an ordinary Swiss long term volunteer who served in El Salvador, and it is still in the same four languages. The calendar section is produced by SCI as well, and extended to four languages as well. There is advertisement, some for NGOs, some for commercial companies – our forefathers would certainly call this a deadly sin. The number of branches and groups has doubled since 1985 and their postal addresses had been replaced by email addresses. What has always been the same is the small and at the same time very convenient size of the booklets, fitting into the modest and pragmatic approach of our movement. I am confident that despite the emergence of smartphones which by the way are larger and heavier in weight than their competitors on paper, the 'agenda' will be edited for many more years to come ...


Heinz Gabathuler, International Archives Coordinator


The first ever pocket calendar (for 1953) is stored under 11102.31 in the SCI International Archives. All the others have their places and numbers as well, but the latest one (for 2017) is still waiting for to be filed ..



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