Actual 45 mm size by Eduard Zimmermann, Ennetburgen
The despondent man from Nidwalden, garbed in the traditional rustic tunic of the countryside, casts an anguished expression eastward, his fisted arm raised across his chest, and his other hand still grasping onto the barrel bands of his faithful musket.
A matronly dame in deepest sorrow, fervently tries to awaken the subject of her attention, that of a fallen lifeless fellow. Her actions portray her despair and sadness, and her forlorn expression over the departed gentleman clearly show her devotion and love.
And in the distance yonder stands a traditional farmhouse of the lands as well as the renowned parish chapel of St Jakob, a stop for the pilgrims on their journey to Santiago. In the background, the glorious Swiss Cross emanates rays of independence and liberty, the cherished values of the Confederacy.
IM KAMPF FÜR'S VATERLAND 9. SEPT. 1798. – Fighting for the Fatherland 9thSeptember 1798
The blazon emblem of the arms of Nidwalden, showcasing the double key upon an ornately designed shield, decorated with flora native to the canton.
On April 12, 1798, 12 cantons in Aarau constituted the Helvetic Republic under pressure from a possible invasion by France. Not represented were the Cantons Uri, Schwyz, Nidwalden, Glarus and Zug. They wanted to hold on to the cantonal sovereignty at all costs and interfered with the liberal order of the new constitution, especially with regards to religious freedom; on the other hand, the Helvetic Constitution provided that the services would be under police supervision and that the sermons would be censored if necessary.
In view of the military superiority of the French, the rural communities of central Switzerland decided to adopt the constitution of the Helvetic Republic. As a punishment for the resistance, the Central Swiss cantons were merged to form the new Swiss canton Waldstätte and did not remain as independent cantons as originally planned. The most important consequence of this measure was that the weight of the vote in conservative central Switzerland in the Senate, the second chamber of the Helvetic Republic, was drastically reduced.
On 29 August, however, the rural community of Nidwalden refused to be incorporated into the new canton of Waldstätte. The Directorate of the Helvetic Republic decided to seek help from France and to intervene militarily in Nidwalden to prevent the rebellion from spreading to the rest of the Helvetic Republic.
On September 9, around 10’000 Frenchmen under General Henri Antoine of Schauenburg attacked Nidwalden from all directions. From a military point of view, resistance was meaningless. About 1’600 Nidwaldner fought against the French troops and the desperate resistance made a great impression on General Henri Antoine. He reported on the incredible obstinacy of these people, who were willing to fight aggressively against such odds.
The bitter resistance of the Nidwaldner made the French troops respond contrary to the instructions of their leader, with attacks on the civilian population. Large parts of Nidwalden were looted. The towns of Ennetmoos, Stansstad and Buochs were devastated, and the capital of Stans was partly destroyed
The battle and the subsequent massacre killed about 400 victims from Nidwalden, including over one hundred women and 26 children. The French are said to have lost in this battle, according to legend, about 2’000 men. Numerous villages and hamlets of Nidwalden were devastated, 600 houses and many churches burned down, the people robbed. The misery of the survivors was so great that even the opponents under the war-hardened hardened General Henri Antoine were overcome by pity and distributed food among the population, financed by the victory fee of the General of 60'000 francs. The board of directors in Paris made a voluntary "love tax", and the solidarity in the other cantons was great.
The uprising in Nidwalden, renowned at that time by the reporting on the suffering of the Nidwalden people went far beyond the borders of Switzerland; their fighters were celebrated as heroes in countries hostile to France.
In commemoration of the 100thyear anniversary of the Nidwalden uprising, and in recognition of the brave confederates who valiantly sacrificed themselves in their fight for their independence and civil liberties.