April 19, 2021

Annemarie Schwarzenbach, embodiment of anti-conformism

Caroline Dayer

A fighter, avant-garde and visionary

Rebel, Annemarie Schwarzenbach, embodies anti-conformism. Born in 1908 into an upper middle class family in Zurich, she was the third of five children. Breaking free from her background, her only thought was to escape her mother’s clutches and her golden cage of Bocken. Tensions rose high with her family, who accused her in particular of being a lesbian and reproached her for her stance against Nazism.

Antifascist, courageous and lucid, she stood her ground and remained focused in the face of Hitler’s rise to power, which her family saluted. 

Marianne Breslauer – Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Zürich, 1934. Photo: KEYSTONE/Fotostiftung Schweiz/Marianne Breslauer

As a result of her studies of literature and history in Zurich and Paris, she obtained a doctorate in 1931. She could handle words just as well as she could handle the steering wheel of a car. Her travel diaries combine introspection and detachment, landscapes and mirages, personal and existential issues, as well as individual and collective.

Traveler and adventurer, Annemarie Schwarzenbach negotiated train paths and opened up horizons. She crossed borders and explored continents. In 1939, for example, she set off on a journey by car to Kabul, via Iran, with another Swiss woman: Ella Maillart.

Annemarie Schwarzenbach is a writer, photographer and journalist who deployed a diverse body of work. She turns her travels into stories and reports. Her vibrant pen and her incisive gaze refuse to ignore the complexity, between perpetual flight and persistent paradox. She shares her images and aspires to unattainable shores.

Inspiring, brilliant, her journey off the beaten track bears witness to her thirst for discovery and freedom, for justice and solidarity.

A fighter, Annemarie Schwarzenbach is an avant-garde and visionary woman. She transgresses and thwarts gender stereotypes, crushes social distinctions, and leaves her attitude as a legacy.

Boldly, she makes her voice heard and opens up unexplored paths.

Annemarie Schwarzenbach died at the age of 34 following a bicycle accident, but left her dazzling mark. 

Caroline Dayer is a doctor and researcher, trainer and consultant. An expert in the prevention and treatment of violence and discrimination, she is also a specialist in gender studies.
She has published, among others in Editions de l'Aube (2017): "Sous les pavés, le genre. Hacker le sexisme" and "Le pouvoir de l'injure. Guide de prévention des violences et des discriminations".