The Foundation

In the post-war period, with a view to reconciliation through culture, the Lausanne patron and entrepreneur Charles Veillon creates three international literary prizes. These prizes are awarded to novels in the three European languages spoken in Switzerland, namely French, Italian and German. After his death, the Charles Veillon Foundation is created to continue the promotion of cultural creation and scientific research. In 1975, the Foundation established the European Essay Prize in order to support authors “to help them, through their writings, to create links, an essential condition for tolerance in the relative freedom of our time” (Charles Veillon’s speech at the award ceremony in German, 1953).

The Foundation endeavours to create spaces for fruitful dialogue by promoting interdisciplinarity and placing the person at the centre of cultural and societal orientations.

Its principles

“In the choice of themes and the people we support, we remember the words of Camus: “Dialogue is only possible between people who remain who they are and who speak the truth.” We are convinced that, in these conditions, a broader confrontation of people and disciplines is useful. But areas where this confrontation is possible are sparse. We are working to multiply them.” (Excerpt from the founders’ text written in Lausanne in November 1972)

Text of the founders

To create places for dialogue where opinions and experiences can be compared in order to promote a liveable human community based on understanding of others.

These places of dialogue are diverse: conferences, exchanges of correspondence, prizes, collaboration with other organizations. Dialogue will always be served by ad hoc publications. They should be at the level of specialists, so that the work done is usable and transmissible, and at the level of outreach, so that what is said in small groups becomes a widely disseminated message.

These intentions are subject to two principles: interdisciplinarity and openness to experience. Openness to experience alludes to the philosophy of Ferdinand Gonseth, who was a member of the Board of the Foundation. This philosophy requires the mind to accept a continual questioning (on the model of science). In this way, one takes from the outset the opposite side of the dogmatisms that so often block the dialogue between mankind. In the same vein, interdisciplinarity must put the Foundation’s activities in a position of fighting against the isolation between subjects or specializations, because isolation is also an obstacle to understanding between people.

Finally, two observations guide our activities.

The Foundation is European. Not because it wants to exclude any non-European participation, quite the opposite, but in that it defends the inalienable factors of Western culture and the demands that Christianity has placed on it.

The Foundation is Swiss. That is why it seeks to promote federalism as a principle of living together, even if the application of federalism in Switzerland is by no means perfect.

In choosing the themes and the people we help, we are reminded of the words of Camus: “Dialogue is only possible between people who remain who they are and who speak the truth.”

We are convinced that, in these conditions, a broader confrontation of people and disciplines is useful. But areas where this confrontation is possible are sparse. We are working to multiply them.

Monsieur Edmond Bertholet
Monsieur François Bondy
Professeur Fernand Cardis
Monsieur Denis de Rougemont
Professeur Ferdinand Gonseth
Professeur Alain Schaerlig
Professeur Jean Vallat
Monsieur André Veillon
Monsieur Jean-Claude Veillon
Monsieur Pascal Veillon

“In Lausanne, the Charles Veillon Foundation commemorates a great patron. […] Charles Veillon embodied philanthropy in all senses of the word. […] He was passionate about the lives of people who engaged with their responsibilities, whether in scientific discovery, artistic and cultural creation, or social engagement […]”

Colette Muret

“The mail order business created by Charles Veillon is only one facet of his work. His role as a businessman was coupled with a strong awareness of his responsibility within an affluent society that had been favoured by circumstances. He sidestepped the traps of rebellion or guilt and instead focused on sharing and the reconciliation of people and ideas.
This is what inspired Charles Veillon’s work and his personal engagement – through donations and large loans – in social issues, favouring in particular medicine, science, and culture. He launched three literary prizes that held his name and interested himself in several initiatives that promoted Europe. He lived from 1900 to 1971.
Today, the Charles Veillon Foundation pursues this engagement and seeks to promote the spirit that guided its creation.”

François Jequier
Charles Veillon: Essai sur l’émergence d’une éthique patronale
Edition: Société d’études en matière d’histoire économique, Zürich, 1985

Council Members of the Foundation

  • Lucie Kaennel, theologian and professor at the University of Zürich
  • Francesco Panese, vice-president of the Foundation, sociologist and professor at the University of Lausanne
  • Cyril Veillon, President of the Foundation
  • Jacques Zwahlen, lawyer

Executive Director : Élise David

Former members

Madame Christiane Asté, théologienne, Lausanne (1999-2010), secrétaire de 2004 à 2007
Monsieur Andris Barblan, historien, Carouge (secrétaire de 1973 à 2004)
Monsieur Ahmed Benani, politologue
Monsieur Edmond Bertholet, notaire, (vice-président de 1972-1993), † en 1993
Professeur Jean-Charles Biaudet, historien, (1981-1998) † en 2000
Monsieur François Bondy, rédacteur, (1972-1991) † en 2003
Monsieur Bernard Böschenstein, professeur, (1999-2018), † en 2018
Professeur Iso Camartin, écrivain, Zürich (1991-1994)
Professeur Fernand Cardis, médecin, (1972-1986), † en 1991
Madame Stéphanie Cudré-Mauroux, conservatrice,
Professeur Pierre du Bois, historien, Pully (1998-2001) † en 2007
Professeur Jacques Freymond, historien, (1986-1993), † en 1998
Monsieur Claude Frochaux, éditeur, Lausanne (1994-2010)
Madame Ghislaine Glasson-Deschaumes, journaliste, Paris (1995-1998)
Professeur Ferdinand Gonseth, philosophe, (1972-1975), † en 1975
Professeur Henri Isliker, médecin, Lausanne (1980-2000), † en 2007
Professeur Georg Kohler, philosophe, Zürich (1998-2007)
Monsieur Hugo Loetscher, écrivain, Zürich (1986-1997) † en 2009
Monsieur Pierre Magistretti, médecin et neurobiologiste, Lausanne (2013)
Monsieur Martin Meyer, rédacteur, Zürich (1995-2000)
Madame Alison de Puymege, historienne, Londres (1986-1993)
Monsieur Jean-Pierre Rageth, théologien, Genève (1997-2010)
Professeur Jean Rossel, physicien, Neuchâtel (1976-1997) † en 2006
Monsieur Denis de Rougemont, écrivain, (1972-1985), † en 1985
Professeur Alain Schaerlig, mathématicien et économiste, Bernex (1972-1975, 1981-2002)
Professeur Jean Starobinski, écrivain, Genève (1978-1980)† en 2019
Professeur Jean Vallat, économiste, Martigny (1972-1994)
Monsieur Pascal Veillon, pasteur, Lausanne (président de 1972 à 2014)
Monsieur André Veillon, ingénieur, Lausanne (1972-2006)† en 2019
Monsieur Jean-Claude Veillon, industriel, Lausanne (1972-2007), † en 2018

The Veillon Fund for research on malignant lymphomas

The Veillon Fund for research into malignant lymphomas was created by Charles Veillon and Professor Fernand Cardis in 1957. Placed under the auspices of the University of Lausanne, it is managed by the University’s Faculty of Biology and Medicine.

It covers a wide range of issues, in particular thanks to the guidance of the ISREC Foundation for cancer research.