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3 unsolved mysteries in Switzerland

3 unsolved mysteries in Switzerland

Halloween is here, and while Switzerland is usually a safe and cosy country, it certainly has some secrets and mysteries of its own. Many of the world’s creepiest mysteries are already well-known and covered a lot in popular culture - think Area 51, Jack the Ripper, Dyatlov Pass and DB Cooper - but here are some unsolved Swiss mysteries that will lead you down an endless rabbit hole.

Bear in mind, that some of these stories detail gruesome events, so viewer discretion is advised.

1. The 1566 celestial phenomenon over Basel

Many, many years ago, a truly mysterious event is said to have taken place in Basel, with unusual sunsets and sunrises occurring for several days. The events took place on July 27 and 28 in 1566, before occurring again on August 7 of that same year. 

According to documents, flyers and newspapers that were published at the time, residents of Basel described seeing numerous red and black balls in the sky before the rising sun. Similar strange weather and celestial phenomena were actually reported in other cities around this time, such as the 1561 celestial phenomenon over Nuremberg.

Many leaflets released around the 15th and 16th centuries talked of phenomena in the sky, often noting religious iconography like crosses, or patterns that could be seen as part of the spectacle. 

It is still unknown precisely what caused the people of Basel to see the 1566 celestial phenomenon, but claims range from a solar eclipse to a religious sign. See what you think, by taking a look at this leaflet published about the event at the time. 

Basel celestial phenomenon

Image: Flugblatt of Basel 1566, by Samuel Apiarius and Samuel Coccius / Public domain

2. Seewen murder case

The Seewen murders are undoubtedly Switzerland’s most grizzly unsolved crime. The case involved several murder victims and no suspects have ever been charged with the crime. At the Waldeggi house, located in a forest in Canton Solothurn, the horror started to unfold when 13 shots rang out on the Pentecost weekend of 1976.

The murder victims were Elsa Clara Siegrist-Säckinger (63) and her husband Eugen (63), along with Eugen’s sister Anna Westhäuser-Siegrist (80) and her two adult children Emanuel Westhäuser (52) and Max Westhäuser (49). Their bodies were discovered by a walker on June 6.

Four bodies were found in the house, with a fifth wrapped in a carpet and left on the terrace. Police say it is likely that the killer was surprised after assuming only Elsa and Eugen would be at home and ended up killing the entire family to cover up their mistake.

The investigation focused on finding those who were known to possess Winchester rifles, the kind thought to have been used in the killings. Eventually, in 1996, the murder weapon was found in the walls of a house belonging to the Doser family. The landowner's son, Carl Doser, then became a key person of interest in the case, after disappearing just one year after the murders. Many people in Switzerland still think Doser is responsible. 

Nevertheless, there are still many other theories, upon which numerous books have been written. Unfortunately for the family, the crime is unlikely to ever be officially solved, since the statute of limitations expired in 1996 and therefore even if the perpetrator were to come forth and confess, they could never be convicted. The biggest question that remains is: why? Why were five people murdered so brutally in this idyllic part of Switzerland, and by who?

3. The great Swiss post robbery of 1997

In 1997, five robbers held up the Fraumünster post office in Zurich. According to Swissinfo, the thieves, armed with handguns, took five cases of money from terrified employees, before loading the money into a car and driving away. 

The thieves had managed to make off with 53 million Swiss francs, and to make matters worse, the police had a difficult time starting the investigation since CCTV tapes were missing and initial investigations were focused on the wrong model of car. 

At the time, the public mocked the thieves for being incompetent and leaving two boxes with 17 million francs behind. According to Swissinfo, the great train robber Ronnie Biggs said that he would have found a bigger car, while an advertiser took advantage of the hype to market a new car with the line: “Dear post robbers, you could have fit 70 million Swiss francs into the Mazda E 2000”.

After 10 days, the police had managed to seize 20 million Swiss francs of the stolen money and made 18 arrests, including three of the robbers, accomplices and even an employee of the post office that passed on insider tips. Now there were just two robbers remaining. 

Though many of the robbers were Swiss citizens, they were all multi-national and therefore had connections across the world. The fourth robber was caught driving around Berlin dressed as what police described as “a native American woman”, while the fifth robber fled to Miami via Venezuela, but ended up getting caught when he missed his Swiss girlfriend too much and had to call her - the police then raided his apartment and arrested him. 

Finally, all the perpetrators of this great crime were captured and sentenced, but there is still one great mystery that remains: where is the money? The 27 million Swiss francs left undiscovered is no small pocket change…

Emily Proctor

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Emily Proctor

Emily studied International Relations and Chinese, and is now undertaking Master's degree in International Security. She enjoys writing, cooking, and playing piano.

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