The municipalities and honorary citizenship

Earlier this week it was reported how Joachim Henggeler, a GP in the municipality of Oberägeri with over 40 years’ service and still working two days a week, had been appointed an honorary citizen. What does one actually have to do to become one?
Alois Rogenmoser, the chairman of the Citizens’ Council of the municipality which awarded it, pointed out the doctor’s many years’ service to the community. “Whether day or night, in the holidays or not, Dr Henggeler was always there when his patients needed him,” he said. “We had the opportunity to confer this honour on him and we duly did. And Dr Henggeler was most pleased to receive it; that is the main thing. Conferring such as honour is not a common occurrence. Dr Henggeler is only the second recipient.”
All municipalities in the canton may confer such honours if deemed appropriate, mostly for someone making a contribution to the public wellbeing in some special way. However, there are some slight variations.
In Baar, for example, there are more honorary citizens than in Oberägeri. The president of the Citizens’ Council there, Oskar Müller, admitted he would have to consult the Citizens’ Book to see who was listed. He cited the case of Annemarie and Eugen Hotz, who had been made honorary citizens for the contribution they had made to cultural life in the municipality. He mentioned how they went to the Burgbachkeller in Zug in support of greater celebrations in Baar at the time of Fasnacht. “What is more, it was Eugen Hotz who designed the current coat-of- arms of the municipality,” he said. “Not that anyone who does something special is honoured in this way,” he added. “It has to have been something sustainable.”
In Cham, too, the honour is restricted to someone who has done something really special for public benefit. As Thomas Gretener, the secretary to the Citizen’s Council there, said, the list of honorary citizens between the period 1894 and 1999 amounted to 15.
This compares with 11 in Menzingen, where the honour was conferred for the first time in 1943 and on the last occasion in the year 2000. For example, Alois Staub-Wobmann of Edlibach was made an honorary citizen in 1994 after years of teaching, playing the organ and writing books. Sister Theresia Nägeli, a mother superior at the Menzingen Institute, had the same honour conferred on her, also in 1943. As the secretary to the Citizens’ Council there, Barbara Tiefenauer, explained, the honour did not come with any special privileges.
And this is the same in the city of Zug. Seven people have been honoured in this way there, on the last occasion in 1982, when it was conferred upon federal councillor Hans Hürlimann.
When asked about Neuheim, the secretary to the Citizens’ Council there, Pia Isele, mentioned Anton Demarmels (1922-2000), who for decades had taught at the village school, sat on the church council and been organist and choirmaster. Then there was Hans Schlumpf, a former councillor and mayor, the author of the book “Neuheim - Past and Present”.
In Walchwil, honorary citizenship is conferred only on those who have made a major contribution to the municipality, in the field of sport, too. However, the chairman of the Citizens’ Council there, Peter Rust, said there were no active honorary citizens at present. “If there were any,” he said, “I know they would have to be greeted in a special way at functions.”
Over in Risch, the secretary to the Citizens’ Council there, Patrizia Schwerzmann, said there were two honorary citizens, without going into detail.
In Hünenberg, locals themselves can nominate whom they want to be honorary citizens if they so wish. And in all the municipalities, they must have done something special. The last person made an honorary citizen there was Klaus Meyer in 2015. He was a teacher and closely examined the history of the community. The names of seven others can also be found on the homepage of the Citizens’ Council there.  

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