The Swiss government knew about the Nazi program to wipe out Jews in 1942 -
earlier than previously known - documents publicized by a Swiss television
A report aired by the German-language station SRF on
Sunday, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, said the government was aware
of German leader Adolf Hitler’s extermination plan and the existence of German
concentration camps as early as 1942, the year that Germany decided on its
so-called “final solution” for the Jews.
Switzerland, which was neutral
throughout World War II, was nonetheless throwing asylum seekers out of
Switzerland that year as it tightened immigration quotas.
The TV show was
aired hours after the release of a speech by Swiss President Ueli Maurer that
described Switzerland as “a land of freedom and justice” during a “dark era,
thanks to a generation of brave men and women.”
On Monday, three Swiss
Jewish organizations condemned Maurer's words as “a simplistic and exclusively
positive” presentation that “hides the weakness and errors” of Swiss authorities
in dealing with refugees. The organizations -- CICAD, FSCI and PJLS -- noted
that the problems were documented in the 2002 final report of the Bergier
commission of inquiry.
The information revealed on Sunday was in hundreds
of letters, telegrams and detailed reports collected by Swiss diplomats and sent
to the federal cabinet during World War II. The government also received
information about the Nazi activities through photos, SRF reported.
can prove that the information about the murder of Jews was known in Bern as of
May 1942,” Sascha Zala, director of Diplomatic Documents Switzerland, told
The previously unpublished documents were received by Eduard von
Steiger, federal justice and police minister, according to the
Several thousand Jewish refugees managed to enter Switzerland
illegally during the war, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in
Jerusalem, in addition to 30,000 Jews who entered legally.