January 2, 1875
|Died||January 24, 1944(aged 69)|
|Alma mater||Military Academy of Modena|
|Notable work(s)||Enérgie et Volonté (1937)|
|Political party||National Front, Swiss Fascist Federation|
The son of a vineyard owner from Lausanne (he was born in nearby Prilly) he attended the Military Academy of Modena and pursued a successful career in the Swiss Army, achieving the highest peace time rank of brigadier general whilst commanding the 4th Infantry Brigade.
Fonjallaz took an early interest in politics, although his ideas were ill-defined as he was both a radical and an admirer of Enrico Corradini, whilst also becoming involved in an agrarian progentior of the Swiss People's Party. Leaving the party in 1932, he took up a post as principal of military sciences and war history at the École Polytechnique Féderal in Zürich Colonel Fonjallaz was, however, relieved of his duties in 1933 after it came to light that he had been a member of the governing board of the fascistic Heimatwehr as well as the National Front, both of which were noted for their virulent anti-Semitism.
The wealthy Fonjallaz then set up Helvetic Action Against Secret Societies which was particularly geared towards opposing Freemasonry. Taking advantage of the initiative process, Fonjallaz attempted to pass an amendment to the Swiss Federal Constitution banning the practice, but this was defeated in 1937.
In 1932, he had also led a group of his supporters to Italy for a meeting with Benito Mussolini and became a strong supporter of Italian fascism as a result. He soon founded the Swiss Fascist Federation, which received 2 million lira a year from Mussolini. A devoted follower of Mussolini, he spoke of the power of the rhetoric of Il Duce in glowing terms.
As Mussolini began to speak presenting the goals of fascism, we Swiss understood immediately the significance of this man and responded to the radiant power of his personality. We were all directly convinced that such a leader could do more for world peace than hundreds of politicians.
A supporter of a possible Italian annexation of the country, Fonjallaz was expelled from the Heimatwehr for this position, but continued to be a devotee of Mussolini, publishing a biography of his hero, Enérgie et Volonté (Drive and Will), in 1937. Despite this, Italian funding ended in 1936 and Fonjallaz disappeared from public life.
Colonel Fonjallaz returned to the public eye in January 1940 when border guards arrested him in Schaffhausen as he was attempting to enter Nazi Germany. In a subsequent trial, Fonjallaz was found guilty of being a spy for Adolf Hitler, spending over two years in prison as a result. Released in 1943, he died the following year.
- Claude Cantini, Le Colonel Fasciste Suisse: Arthur Fonjallaz, 1973
- A Survey of Nazi and Pro-Nazi Groups in Switzerland: 1930-1945 by Alan Morris Schom for the Simon Wiesenthal Center
- Philip Rees, Biographical Dictionary of the Extreme Right Since 1890, p. 129
- Rees, op cit
- Schom, op cit
- "Zurich's Freemasons go Public". Retrieved 2007-05-05.
- "Postscript to Schom's article featuring a number of contemporary quotes". Retrieved 2007-05-05.