Holiday Greetings from… Schweiningen?

Have you ever been to Präsanz? Or in Süs? Or has anyone perhaps received a postcard from a place called Schweiningen? Anyone who has actually been to Präsanz or Süs, is – excuse my directness – already of a certain age. After all, Präsanz and Süs were renamed in 1943. Süs in the Lower Engadin became Susch, Präsanz became Parsonz in the Surses. A total of 49 municipalities were renamed in Graubünden at that time – with the approval of the Federal Council.

But why were they renamed? The reasons go back a long way: in 1851 the cantonal territory of Graubünden was reorganised into 14 districts, 39 municipal Kreise and 227 municipalities. All of Graubünden’s town and village names were listed in German. The national postal service Swiss Post then opened new branch offices – and adopted the standardised German names. Later on, the railway followed suit. From then on, trains stopped in Bergün, for instance, and no longer in Bravuogn, as the village in the Albula Valley is called in Romansh. The Rhaeto-Romansh language was thus marginalised. However, it then experienced a revival – or a "reanimaziun". In 1938 Romansh was officially made the fourth national language, a few years later the 49 villages were either renamed or returned to their previous names.

And Schweiningen? It is a special case. The German name with its “swine” connotation disappeared as early as 1890. Schweiningen, which the local population referred to as Suagnign in any case, became what is now Savognin.

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