Büren an der Aare, Switzerland 7/13
Saying our last good-byes in Wiesendangen, we headed southwest towards Geneva and France. Though we were making good time on the freeway, we decided to veer off onto a country road where we came upon a very nice little town on the river Aare called Büren. It was July 30 and the town was already dressed up for the August 1 celebrations. There were three huge stacks of wood for the bond fires ready on floats in the river just below the old wooden covered bridge and the town was decorated with many flags.
Büren was an important trading center all through the middle ages. The toll bridge was first mentioned in 1284 and shortly after, the town was granted the right to hold markets. Only in the 19th century, it saw a decline as there was no major railroad being built nearby and water transportation had faded.
In the years 1940 to 1946, Büren an der Aare became the largest military holding station (6,000 people) in Switzerland for the Polish division of the 45th French army corps which had been pushed into Switzerland by the Germans. (Many towns and villages were hosting Polish soldier refugees even though food was rationed and supplies were limited.) They stayed in Büren until 1942. The center was then used for Jewish refugees, Italian military deserters and in the end, escaped Soviet forced laborers.
Monika remembers her mother talking about a young Polish man her family hosted after 1942. The nearby poly-tech university of Burgdorf was deserted because all the young Swiss were on the front and so these Polish soldiers were allowed to complete their studies while detained in Switzerland until the end of the war which saved their lives! It is not something the Swiss talk about even when they got all the flack about the Jewish gold in their banks.
After a short walk around town and a cup of coffee, we moved on.