The image, tweeted last week by Conservative Democratic Party (BDP) chairman Martin Landolt, shows the white cross of the Swiss flag turned into a swastika.
It criticizes the initiative of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which aims to crack down on foreigners convicted of crimes by requiring their expulsion from Switzerland.
Accompanied with the slogan “No to two classes of justice”, the poster calls on voters to reject the initiative, while making comparisons with Germany in 1933 (the year Hitler seized power) and South Africa in 1948 (a reference to apartheid).
The poster, which is funded by private individuals rather than the BDP itself, appeared on digital screens in various Swiss rail stations from Monday, including Geneva and Zurich.
But after receiving complaints from customers, SBB decided on Wednesday to pull the poster.
In a statement, SBB said the image had “deeply shocked” its clientele.
The company admitted that rail stations in Switzerland are considered public spaces, which is why it had to accept the poster in the first place.
Its withdrawal is therefore an “extremely isolated case” said SBB.
“SBB considers that the showing of a swastika in such a visible place goes beyond what is reasonably acceptable”.
“That said, SBB does not engage in any way in voting campaigns and asks the private author to publish this poster without the symbol in question”.
Voters go to the polls on February 28th to decide on the SVP initiative, which has been opposed by the federal government and both houses of parliament.
Although many politicians believe the SVP’s proposal is xenophobic and counter-productive, BDP chairman Landolt’s use of the swastika image was considered a step too far, with one party member quitting in protest.