Culture & History
Life in Wiler
If one looks for information about the history of the village of Wiler in the literature of the 20th century, the red blessing Sunday 1900 will probably not be missing in any report - no matter how short it may be. On Sunday, June 17, 1900, the village of Wiler was hit by a terrible village fire, in which all houses were burned down. Thus, during the procession in Kippel, believers noticed that black smoke was rising in Wiler. After only 4 ½ hours, the last of the 400 firstets of the village of Wiler fell. The beautiful village was only a smoking pile of rubble!
The poor people stood around the fire site with the saved belongings, mourning and crying. The total damage was estimated at an unbelievable 450,000.- for that time. From a telegram to the State Council it could be seen that the total of 268 homeless people were distributed among the communities of Ferden (9), Kippel (201), Ried (17), Weissried (3) and Blatten (5).
If one tries to imagine this event today, 113 years later, one might be tempted to regard this village fire as the greatest catastrophe in the history of the village of Wiler. But this is not the case. The village of Wiler had already experienced such horrors several times in the past. The available documents show that the village of Wiler experienced several catastrophes before 1900, some of them just as bad. Thus, the deportation of Lötschers to Gressoney, the warlike invasion of the bishop Tavelli, the invasion of the Oberwalliser, wars and raids and not to forget the plague belong to the eventful history of the village Wiler and the Lötschental.
On the occasion of the 100th year commemoration, on behalf of the community of Wiler, Mr. Ignaz Bellwald wrote a book, which illustrates the circumstances, the deeds and victims of the fire catastrophe in an impressive way. Even today, 100 years after the fire, the eyewitness accounts read like a thriller.
"The biggest scars are now healed and Wiler can be proud again of the "new" Wiler in the center of the valley (quote: teacher Stefan Henzen). 100 years have passed, what Wiler experienced and built up in poverty has today been transformed into a growing village, which has become the tourist engine of the valley.
The book "Der Rote Segensonntag 1900" - The village fire of Wiler (Ignaz Bellwald) can be obtained from the municipal administration. More information about the book can be found here.