Francois Vibert was born in Carouge on 13th April 1898, and became Chief of the Secret Police, and later, Mayor of Geneva. It is widely accepted that he was the principal person after whom Avenue Vibert in Geneva is named, although some say it is homage to to the many talented individuals within his family. I have been unable to find any pictures of him apart from the one below taken from a 1940 USA newspaper article, which was repeated in many of the regional USA newspapers of the period.
Below is a transcript of an article published in the Reno Evening Gazette in the USA in 1940 which I found very amusing :-
Strangers who visit the corridors of the League of Nations palace during assembly or council sessions, when they are crowded with diplomats, are almost certain to ask firstly about a portly, bespectacled man with an unusually long and unusually thick black beard.
“That “they are told, “ Is the chief of the Secret Police of the Canton and Republic of Geneva “
Francois Vibert, chief of the secret agents watching over the lives and persons of every famed diplomat who sets foot in Geneva, sees nothing strange in his beard and his job.
“Of course I am a marked man” he said ” If I want to be. If I’m around people notice me and perhaps the sight of me will change their minds about doing silly things. And when I am not here one of my agents are. They don’t all wear beards.”
In the 20 years of the Leagues existence in Geneva there has never been a single attempt made on the life of any of the delegates- and the delegates have included presidents, premiers, and foreign ministers of many of the League’s fifty two members.
Vibert has been on the force most of that time, but he has been chief for only three years. At forty one he is comparatively young for the job. During important League meetings he has scores of men at his command.
Even without his beard, Vibert would be a unique secret police chief. As becomes the brother of a famed Swiss painter Pierre-Eugene vibert , who died recently, and of a famed Swiss sculptor James Vibert, the police chief is an art lover. His office looks like a small art gallery. The entire headquarters of the secret police is beginning to look like a museum, for Vibert has been buying the works of needy Swiss artists who have no other market during the war.
War or no war, vibert, a former lawyer, jumps into his American built car and dries off with his twenty year old son and sixteen year old daughter and his wife to his country home just across the border in france every weekend.
“That is every weekend save when there are diplomats in Geneva “Vibert said. “ Then I stay in Geneva knocking on wood. “