Book by Barbara Schmutz on the attack in Zug in 2001

new release

Book on the assassination in Zug from 2001: Touching about a terrible act

On September 27, 2001, a man shot dead 14 politicians in the government building in Zug before he killed himself. The Steinhauser author Barbara Schmutz has survivors tell in a book how they tried to come to terms with the event.

The sympathy of the population in the days and weeks after the assassination was huge.

Image: Christof Borner
(September 29, 2001)

On that day, 14 people were killed in the government building in Zug within two minutes and 34 seconds: one member of the government, two members of the government, two members of the canton, nine members of the canton. Then the assassin directed himself. Since then, countless newspaper articles have appeared, the investigation report is known, and there are two documentary films on Swiss television. The Steinhauserin Barbara dirt has now with “The Zug assassination. 20 years later » wrote the first book about it.

Once you start reading, you won’t want to put the book down. The 13 portraits of those involved are deeply touching. Today’s Oberäger National Councilor Gerhard Pfister, who currently leads the party Die Mitte, said in an interview around ten years ago that he was bothered by the way certain people had commented on the Zug attack before all the victims were buried:

“In retrospect, I have to say that my anger was an immature reaction. Everyone should react the way they want.”

Afterwards, he reflected on a lot of what he had written and suddenly realized: “There was no social media back then.” The Zug National Council then praised the photographer Christof Borner-Keller. He took the picture showing injured people on the steps of the government building and it went around the world. Pfister: “It’s a good picture because it shows the tragedy without being sensationalist.”

Photographer Christof Borner-Keller describes his photo of the five people on the stairs to the government building, taken immediately after the assassination, as “coherent”. Even today, the latter word does not come easily from his lips. But this does not change the statement of the picture: “It contains enough information. You see the building where the assassination happened, you see emotions, pain, shock and helplessness.”

To this day he doesn’t know why he didn’t help

The picture also shows the Baar Canton Councilor Karl Betschart. He was unharmed and said afterwards: “I had a guardian angel.” With relentless openness, Betschart also let the author Barbara Schmutz know: “The worst thing was: you couldn’t help, wasn’t able to help!

I saw the dead in the hall, heard the injured and still just walked out without looking left or right.”

The then SVP cantonal council praised his council colleague Manuela Weichelt (Alternative-Die Grünen). She has “provided great help, a lot and everywhere”. To this day, Betschart does not know why he did not help.

Author Barbara Dirt.

Author Barbara Dirt.

Image: Maria Schmid (Zug, September 13, 2021)

Even with a distance of 20 years, Manuela Weichelt thinks it is appropriate to continue talking about the 2001 attack. This event should not be forgotten. The assassination showed that “we should treat our fellow human beings with care and we cannot rely on nothing happening to us here”.

Supported by the commitment of the people of Zug

A formative part of the new book about the Zug assassination is the recorded story of the then clerk Tino Jorio and his wife Ruth Jorio. From 4 p.m. on the day of the assassination, the clerk was already thinking about the future. He is a member of a task force that decides on things that cannot be delayed. In addition, Jorio forms a care team with his wife and civil servant Paul Langenegger, which takes care of the concerns of the relatives.

Trio has been on the road on this matter for ten years. Tino Jorio, who himself repeatedly had dealings with the later assassin, can be quoted in the book as saying that he previously advised such angry citizens to write a complaint in order to legalize their resentment. Today, Tino Jorio is pursuing a modified approach: he has learned to listen in order to recognize the nuances. The best thing of all, according to Tino Jorio in the book about the assassination, was how their commitment was supported by the population.

All 13 portraits are touching in their own way. It is also helpful that facts worth knowing about the assassination were outsourced in the book and kept very short. It is worth reading from start to finish. The reading also shows that even 20 years since the tragic event, there is still much gratitude and humility. Even those who do not know the portrayed recognize how the author calmly presents what is said to her without appearing moralizing. Barbara Schmutz: “I was impressed by how openly the interviewees talked about the impact the assassination had on their lives.” Her next project is one about love. Barbara Schmutz says about her vocation: “I really enjoy writing books because it gives me time to delve into topics.”

Barbara dirt: The Zug assassination. 20 years later. Per Libro, 182 pages, CHF 34.–.