Reacting to the Bergier report, the Swiss government on Friday renewed its 1995 apology over political shortcomings during World War II, saying Switzerland did not do as much for the refugees as it could have done.This content was published on December 10, 1999 - 17:08
Reacting to the Bergier report, the Swiss government on Friday renewed its 1995 apology over political shortcomings during World War II, saying Switzerland did not do as much for the refugees as it could have done.
The government thanked those historians, researchers and experts who had compiled the Bergier report, which it described as an important contribution towards a better understanding of Switzerland’s refugee policy during the Third Reich era.
The government emphasised that a majority of Swiss rejected Nazi Germany’s racist ideologies and that Switzerland, despite finding itself in a difficult situation, managed to remain a haven of freedom and democracy.
But referring to the thousands of Jews turned back at the Swiss border, the government also admitted that the government at the time did not fully live up to its humanitarian obligations and did not do as much as it could have done to save the lives.
“There is no compensation for the wrongs committed at the time. All we can do is bow our heads to those who suffered indescribable pain and were exposed to deportation and possibly death after they were turned back at the Swiss border,” the government said.
The Swiss further said it was fully aware that no report on that subject could have been really comprehensive. But the government also said that it would have liked to see “more attention paid to the international political context within which Switzerland found itself at the time.”
The government said the fact that so many refugees knocked on Switzerland’s borders during the war years was because the international community failed in to implement a humanitarian asylum policy – a fact which allowed the Nazis to move ahead with their persecution of Jews.
The Swiss government made its first-ever apology over its refugee policy during World War II in 1995, when the cabinet admitted that Switzerland fell short of its moral obligations to take in more refugees at the time.
From staff and wire reports.
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