To Switzerland in a cattle wagon

Oskar Zwicky was 10 years old when he had to flee the former Swiss colony of Shabo in what is now Ukraine because of the Second World War. The 92-year-old told us what he experienced when his family fled more than 80 years ago.

This content was published on June 23, 2022 minutes

Oskar Zwicky was born on September 23, 1930 in Shabo. For the first 10 years of his life he grew up in the former Swiss colony in what is now Ukraine. Then World War II broke out. He and his family had to leave their homeland behind.

However, as Swiss abroad without a valid passport, Oskar Zwicky, his siblings and parents could not enter Switzerland directly. "You can report when the war is over," the Swiss authorities told them. "Switzerland is full. We don't let anyone in."

So they had to wait until the war was over. And obey the Germans who pushed them back and forth during six long years. From Shabo to Glatz in Romania, then on to Semlin in former Yugoslavia. After that they were moved to Chrostau in the former Czechoslovakia, and a year later they moved to Slovenia and finally to Klagenfurt, Austria.

There the family waited for their passports for a year before they were finally allowed to enter Switzerland. "It was like coming home, although we'd never been to Switzerland before," says Oskar Zwicky today.

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