1945 - 1957

The 'Golden era’ of Swiss banking begins, with Switzerland becoming the world’s third most important banking center after New York and London

Swiss Bank Corporation (SBC)
Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS)

Switzerland and the world


Union Bank moves its headquarters from Winterthur and Sankt Gallen to Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse 45.

Basler Handelsbank

Head office of Basler Handelsbank

Basler Handelsbank is absorbed by SBC, Eidgenössische Bank (Federal Bank) by Union Bank. Both banks had become insolvent after World War II.

Total assets of SBC at the end of 1945 are 1.8 billion CHF, while Union Bank assets amount to 1 billion CHF.

Hiroshima City

The first atomic bomb detonates at the White Sands Missile Range in the U.S. State of New Mexico on 16 July. In August of the same year, atomic bombs are dropped onto the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

World War II ends.

Zurich starts rise to position of economic hub of Switzerland.

Foundation of the UN

The United Nations Organization (UN) is founded in San Francisco in October, with the ratification of the United Nations Charter.

Philippine independence.


Merchant bank S.G. Warburg is established in London, with roots stretching back to 1934.

Union Bank's balance sheet total represents 20.5 per cent of the aggregate of all the major Swiss banks. This rises to nearly 27 per cent by 1961.

Paine, Webber, Jackson & Curtis opens an office in Los Angeles.

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill delivers his famous speeches at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri ('iron curtain') in March and at the University of Zurich (proposing 'a kind of United States of Europe') in September.

Mother Theresa

Mother Theresa begins her charitable work in India.


Card Punch Data Center Geneva, 1958

Union Bank and SBC introduce the punch card data processing system.

GATT conference

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is signed in Geneva.

Switzerland AHV pension system

In Switzerland, the Federal Social Security Law (AHV - Alters- und Hinterbliebenen-versicherung) is ratified following a nationwide referendum.

Independence of India

Independence of India and Pakistan.


Opening Airport Zurich-Kloten

The International Airport at Zurich-Kloten is completed.

Western Germany introduces its new currency, the Deutschmark.

The Marshall Plan

The U.S. establishes its European Recovery Program (ERP), known also as the Marshall Plan.

France opening OEEC

The Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC, later to become the OECD) is established in Paris.


Four major banks, including Union Bank, introduce an organized bank giro system.

Geneva Conventions

Four Conventions banning acts of barbarity in war are ratified in Geneva. By 2011, these Geneva conventions had been signed by 194 nations.

Foundation NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is founded.

The Federal Republic of Germany is founded, comprising the three Western occupation zones.

Mao Zedong

Following two and a half years of civil war, Mao Zedong proclaims the People's Republic of China. His opponent, Chiang Kai-shek, flees to Taiwan.

Indonesian independence.


SBC has 31 branch offices in Switzerland and three abroad.

Union Bank has 35 branch offices in Switzerland and one abroad.

The Schuman Declaration on the creation of a new form of organization of states in Europe is made on 9 May.

The Korean War

The Korean War erupts as North Korean troops march into South Korea. The war ends in 1953 with the signing of an Armistice Agreement by the United Nations, China and North Korea.


SBC opens a representative office in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay become the first mountaineers to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

Swiss national TV

First broadcast of Swiss national TV.

Calvin Fuller

Calvin Fuller invents the solar cell.


The miracle of Bern

"The miracle of Bern": West Germany defeats the largely favoured Hungarian team in the final of the FIFA World Cup in Switzerland.

The first nuclear power plant to generate electricity for a power grid begins operations at Obninskaja, 110 km SW of Moscow.


Union Bank in Zurich operates the first electronic calculating machine, the UNIVAC I, made by U.S. company Remington Rand.

With the death of Morris F. LaCroix, William Paine's son-in-law, and chairman of Paine, Webber, Jackson & Curtis's management committee, the influence of the Paine clan upon the firm ends.

Montgomery Bus Boycott

Martin Luther King initiates the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Martin Luther King


Many Swiss banks including SBC and Union Bank issue foreign bonds to support Germany's economic miracle.

SBC building

Zurich Paradeplatz with new SBC building (left)

SBC commences construction of its new building in Zurich on Paradeplatz.

The Hungarian uprising against Soviet rule takes place.

Conflict Suez Canal

Suez crisis brings military conflict to the Middle East.


S.G. Warburg gains a place on the City of London's Accepting Houses Committee, after having purchased Seligman Brothers.

The Rome treaties on the European Economic Community (EEC), antecedent of the European Union (EU), are signed and take effect in 1958.

Sputnik 1

The Soviet Union launches the first man-made satellite, Sputnik 1.

Ernesto 'Che' Guevara

Ernesto 'Che' Guevara becomes a major figurehead of the Cuban Revolution.