Childhood and Solferino

In one part of the display you can see a big portrayal of the scenery of a wealthy area of Geneva in the early 19th century. In another part you see dark backyards and poor housing of the lower-class society. Henry Dunant perceives the contrast and begins his engagement for the poor.

The texts and pictures represent Henry Dunant’s childhood. We find the roots of his social engagement in the fact that he grew up in a stringently Protestant family, and also in the tradition of reading and studying the Bible in groups of friends.
In stark contrast to this are Dunant’s colonial operations in North Africa, including his speculative mill projects. Henry Dunant’s projects seem to fail. In 1859 he wants to receive help from Napoleon III. and seeks an audience with the Emperor at his war camp. During the evening of June 24, 1859 he arrives in Castiglione, where the Battle of Solferino has taken place and where he sees vast numbers of wounded soldiers. Together with volunteers from Castiglione he tries to help the wounded, no matter what nationality they are. In his book “Un souvenir de Solférino” published in 1862 Dunant describes the horrible sights of this war. The book creates a world-wide sensation and leads to the realization of. Dunant’s revolutionary idea to found an “International Convention to protect the wounded of wars”. In the centre of this room you will find the leather bound book with a handwritten dedication to the president of the government of Switzerland.