Bergier Report on Swiss Refugee Policy
(December 10, 1999)
A team of nine historians appointed by the Swiss
parliament, headed by Switzerland's Francois Bergier, issued a 956-page
report on Swiss refugee policy during World War II on December 10, 1999.
The report concluded that Switzerland had "declined to help people in
mortal danger" and that "by creating additional barriers for them
to overcome, Swiss officials helped the Nazi regime achieve its goals,
whether intentionally or not."
Other findings included:
In the summer and fall of 1938, Switzerland urged
Germany to stamp the passports of Jews with a blood-red J, making their
migration to other countries practically impossible. At an international
refugee conference earlier that year, many countries had registered their
reluctance to take in Jews for fear of importing anti-Semitism.
In 1941, when Germany deprived its Jews of citizenship,
Switzerland followed suit, lifting the Swiss citizenship of German Jews,
some of whom had lived in the country for a generation. In doing so, they
turned them into stateless refugees.
In the summer of 1942, when Nazi troops occupied the
southern part of Vichy France, sending Jews scrambling for refuge,
Switzerland closed its borders and declared Jews non-political refugees who
could not be admitted, despite their knowledge of the fate that awaited the
Jews. (The panel found evidence that the Swiss knew by 1942 what was
happening in concentration camps.)
The historians found no evidence to back up Swiss claims
that Germany had threatened invasion in retribution for their taking in
21,000 refugees or that refugees had been turned away because admitting
them would have caused food shortages. Switzerland, they said, could easily
have taken in more refugees. The panel found deeply-rooted anti-Semitic
attitudes dating back to the turn of the century, and the Swiss
naturalization authority's classification of Jews as "elements who are
difficult to assimilate."
Source: Jerusalem Report,
(January 3, 2000)