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Jean-François Bergier Edit Profile


Jean-François Bergier was a Swiss historian.


Bergier was born on 5 December 1931 in Lausanne, the son and grandson of Protestant pastors.


Beginning his studies at the University of Lausanne, he went in 1950 to Paris where he studied both at the Ecole des Chartes and the Sorbonne where he was deeply influenced by the French historian Fernand Braudel and others of the Annales School. He studied at Oxford University and returned to Switzerland where he took his doctorate at the University of Geneva, writing a thesis on Geneva in the European economy of the Renaissance.


Beginning his academic career as a professor at the University of Geneva in 1963, he moved in 1969 to the prestigious History of Civilizations chair at the polytechnic in Zurich where he remained until his retirement in 1999.

In 1983 he published a book, Economic History of Switzerland. In addition to his work as a medievalist and economic historian, he was interested in the history of the Alps and help found an international association for a history of the Alps in 1995.

During the post-WWII period, Switzerland came under criticism for its war-time behavior vis-a-vis the Nazi Government in Germany. In 1996 the Swiss parliament set up the Independent Commission of Experts with wide powers to examine Switzerland's role during the war. Jean-François Bergier was asked to head the commission as its president, a role which he accepted in December 1996 and carried out until the final report was issued in 2001 and the commission was dissolved.

The Bergier report has been a key element in leading the public to re-evaluate a period of history which had previously been largely ignored. Its thorough investigation threw light on both positive and negative aspects of Swiss behaviour.


  • book

    • Naissance et croissance de la Suisse industrielle, Berne, Francke, 1974

    • Une histoire du sel, Fribourg, Office du Livre, 1982

    • Histoire économique de la Suisse, Lausanne, Payot, 1984

    • Hermès et Clio: essais d’histoire économique, Lausanne, Payot, 1984

    • Guillaume Tell, Paris, Fayard, 1988

    • Europe et les Suisses. Impertinences d’un historien, Genève, Zoé, 1996


  • International Economic History Association (general secretary 1965-74, honorary president 1986-2009)

    1965 - 1974

  • Hist. Society Hungary (honorary)

  • International Alpine Hist. Society (former president)

  • Rencontres Suisses (board directors, president 1987-96, president independent commission of experts: Switzerland Second World War, 1996-2001).

    1987 - 1996


He was married twice and had two sons from his first marriage.

Charles Bergier - pastor

Anne-Marie Bergier-Reymond

1st wife:
Maria Cristina Roulet - Argentina

2nd wife:
Francesca Lusser - Italy