Establishment and consolidation of the Morgarten Foundation
The Stiftung der schweizerischen Schuljugend zur Erhaltung des Schlachtfeldes am Morgarten (Foundation of Swiss schoolchildren for the preservation of the Morgarten battlefield) came about in response to the very real danger that the historical battlefield and its surroundings could be the target of property speculation. Only by acquiring the land could the threatened development be thwarted and the area preserved in its natural state.
- In 1961 an East German company was in the process of acquiring land at Morgarten for the construction of apartments for some 350 holidaymakers.
- In response, Schwyz District and Canton Schwyz bought and thus secured a 2285 m² plot within the core part of the battlefield (today a rest area) for CHF 45,700.
- On the occasion of the celebrations marking the 650th anniversary of the Battle of Morgarten, the decision was made to acquire the whole of the battlefield area and preserve it for the future on behalf of Switzerland's schoolchildren.
- The initiators first had to find out what the schoolchildren thought of the idea, so a nationwide ballot was held in the schools, asking the question: "Should the battlefield at Morgarten be turned over to (for purchase by) our young people?" The result of the ballot was positive and announced at the Young People's Assembly held on 21 October 1965 at Morgarten.
- One of the high points in the history of the Morgarten Foundation was undoubtedly this 21 October 1965, the day the memorable Young People's Assembly was held on the battlefield; that night the delegates went hiking under the stars. Present at the historic venue were 4500 schoolchildren from throughout Switzerland, namely 15 from each of the cantons, 200 from Canton Zug, and secondary school pupils from Canton Schwyz. The cantonal delegations delivered their positive ballot results. As a result, the delegates voted unanimously to acquire the battlefield on behalf of Switzerland's schoolchildren. This signalled the point at which classes could start collecting funds to provide the Foundation with the means to buy the historic land.
- That was also the memorable day that Cantons Schwyz and Zug, Schwyz District and the municipality of Sattel established the Morgarten Foundation and had it notarially executed. The purpose of the Foundation is set out in the deed of foundation.
- The schoolchildren managed to raise the princely sum of CHF 220,000, the result of more than 1900 contributions from individual schoolchildren, school classes and private individuals.
- The objective had now been reached: transferral of the ownership of the Morgarten battlefield – a historic memorial – to Switzerland's schoolchildren, like the Rütli Meadow and Hohle Gasse (Hollow Way) before it. The sum raised allowed a purchase agreement to be concluded with the owner of the land between the Morgarten Chapel and the Letzi Tower, the farmer Johann Fässler, on 28 February 1966. The 14,620 m² plot of land under the name "Letzi", complete with cowshed, was purchased for CHF 175,000 (CHF 12/m²). Lack of money meant that another plot of 10,450 m², which would have allowed the memorial land to be extended, could not be bought at the same time. The Foundation was, however, able to conclude a right of first refusal for it.
- With the Foundation established, Schwyz District and Canton Schwyz transferred ownership to it of a 2285 m² plot they owned free of charge.
- On 13 May 1966 the schoolchildren of Sattel, representing Switzerland's entire community of schoolchildren, gathered at the Morgarten Chapel to present the outcome of the assembly to the general public and to symbolically assume ownership of the land. The President of the Foundation's newly elected board of trustees took this opportunity to give an account of the resolutions adopted. The plan was to use what was left of the funds (around CHF 46,000) to build two walking trails leading to the battlefield, as well as a rest area, the idea being that the site should, like the Rütli, become a popular destination for school trips. A car park was built near the rest area and a stone of remembrance installed, along with a wayfinding and information board. Public conveniences were installed by the Morgartenhaus farmhouse, along with a ticket dispenser. Also worth mentioning is the Foundation's production of an audio-visual presentation.
- On 2 September 1968 the Foundation concluded lengthy negotiations and finally acquired the Morgartenhaus farmhouse next to the Morgarten Chapel for CHF 100,000, and the outstanding 10,000 m² plot of land. These transactions called for extra funding from the public sector, banks, private sector, not-for-profit institutions and private individuals. The Foundation now owned the entire battlefield area between the Letzi Tower and Morgartenhaus.
- Today the Foundation is the proud possessor in Morgarten of 30,324 m² of land, the ancient Morgartenhaus farmhouse and a cowshed.
- It has spent considerable amounts over the years upkeeping and maintaining its assets and creating access paths. It also had to dispose of a small amount of land for the installation of two bus stops. The largest single outgoing to date was spent on a thoroughgoing refurbishment of the Morgartenhaus in 1994/95. This is the most visible sign of the Foundation's resolve to preserve its assets at Morgarten for future generations.