Dr. Theodor Brogle (1893-1959) - a visionary for the Sample Fair

Dr. Theodor Brogle, the fair's third director, who took over the office from Dr. Wilhelm Meile in 1938, was a visionary, who established the Sample Fair's financial independence. His era was marked by endeavours to open the fair up for foreign exhibitors and to stage specialist fairs.

MCH Group  Wilhelm Meile Theodor Brogle
Brogle (r.) with his predecessor Wilhelm Meile.

As a professor of business economics, Brogle made sure that the issue of internationalising the fair was placed on the agenda of the Sample Fair's board of directors as early as November 1943. He wanted the cooperative to take on a form in which it would also be possible for foreign businesses to exhibit their products at the sample fair. Theodor Brogle certainly wanted the event to maintain its Swiss character, but was convinced that it would demonstrate and maintain its strength by facing up to competition. Brogle argued in the words of Franklin Roosevelt, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself".

His vehement drive for internationalisation did not, however, succeed at that point in time, since the decisive bodies and interest groups wanted to keep the fair as a platform with a cooperative constitution, where Swiss producers would have the opportunity of making presentations undisturbed by foreign competitors. Looking back on Brogle's time as director of the Sample Fair, he is to be praised as a visionary and a good loser, who admittedly failed in pushing through the internationalisation of the fair, but did manage to lay the foundation for international specialist fairs, which were held for the first time shortly after his period in office (from 1957 onwards).

An important milestone in the Brogle era was that, from 1947 onwards, the sample fair managed its routine business without subsidies from the Swiss confederation and the canton, which up until then had contributed some CHF 200 000 every year. The Swiss Sample Fair Cooperative was now producing surpluses and paying dividends on its participating certificates. It should also be remembered that the planning for the Rundhofhalle occurred during Theodor Brogle's time as director and that is when construction work started as well. The building was completed and ready for its ceremonial opening only one year later, in 1954, and remained the architectural feature that symbolised the Sample Fair until way into the 1990s.

In 1954, serious illness led Theodor Brogle to resign as director of the fair. His successor was a macroeconomist, Dr. Hermann Hauswirth (1905-1989).

Photo: Staatsarchiv Basel Stadt/Privatarchiv MCH Group