• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Swiss knew of Shoah in 1942, documents show

Malcolm Curtis · 28 Jan 2013, 10:43

Published: 28 Jan 2013 10:43 GMT+01:00

A report aired by SRF on its Sunday evening newscast said the government was aware of German leader Adolf Hitler’s extermination plan and the existence of German concentration camps as early as 1942, based on documentary evidence.

At the time, however, Switzerland was throwing asylum seekers out of Switzerland, even though that was placing them in danger.

The information is in the hundreds of letters, telegrams and detailed reports collected by Swiss diplomats and sent to the federal cabinet during the Second World War.

The government also received information about the Nazi activities through photos, SRF reported on Sunday, which also marked Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The day commemorates the millions of Jewish victims of Nazi crimes during the war.

On January 27th 1945 Soviet troops liberated prisoners in the Auschwitz concentration camp, one of the most notorious death camps run by the Nazis.

 “We 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 (DDS), told SRF.

The previously unpublished documents were received by Eduard von Steiger, federal justice and police minister.

Despite the concerns of Swiss diplomats, a federal decree was issued in August 1942 that tightened immigration.

“In future, increased mass rejections of foreign civilian refugees must take place, even if the affected residents may face serious difficulties,” the decree said.

Switzerland’s refugee policy changed as the international situation of the time worsened, said Zala, a political historian.

The policy, initially tied to arguments about economic migrants, turned into a discourse about aliens “with clearly racist elements,” he said.

SRF said some of the diplomatic documents relating to the “Shoah,”are now published on the internet “as a witness to the darkest chapters of world history”.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

2013-01-28 16:18:58 by smeghead
I think everyone knew about this at the time (all countries) I remember my father telling me, but no one belived it.
Today's headlines
Swiss refuse to ban controversial weedkiller
File photo: Phillippe Huguen/AFP

Swiss farmers can continue to use the weedkiller glyphosate after the lower house of parliament decided on Friday not to ban it.

People in Switzerland ‘fly too much’ says environment body
File photo: Swiss International Air Lines

People in Switzerland travel by plane twice as much as their neighbours, a WWF spokesperson has said.

Bern: shared parental leave ‘too expensive’
Switzerland has no statutory paternity leave. File photo: Robert Valencia

Parliament rejects a bill which would have granted fathers some paternity leave.

UN: Fear of ageing 'shortens your life'
The number of people over 60 worldwide is set to double by 2025. Photo: Hernan Pinera

New data from the World Health Organization highlights the widespread prevalence of ageist attitudes worldwide.

Swiss helicopter crash: technical fault ruled out
Two pilots died in the crash on the Gotthard pass. Photo: Michael Buholzer/AFP

Technical failure was not to blame for the crash involving a Swiss army helicopter on the Gotthard pass on Thursday.

Turkey angry after Swiss tout ‘kebab ban’
Is banning the burqa as 'foolish' as banning the kebab? Photo: Jason Ramos

Turkish kebab chefs are up in arms after they misunderstood a spoof campaign to ban the kebab in Switzerland.

Study: Swiss ski resorts are losing their snow
Snow was thin on the ground in Gstaad last December. Photo: The Local

Could spring skiing soon be a thing of the past?

UBS fined $15m for misselling investments
File photo: Martin Abegglen

The Swiss private banking giant is accused of selling risky derivative investments to inexperienced investors in the US.

Two dead in Swiss army helicopter crash
The crash happened near the hospice on the Gotthard pass. File photo: swiss-image.ch/Heinz Schwab

Two people died and one other was injured when a helicopter crashed on the Gotthard pass in the Swiss alps on Wednesday.

Bern wants Swiss women to work longer
File photo: Candida Performa

The lower house of parliament has voted to extend women's retirement age by one year to 65.

Sponsored Article
7 tips for learning Swiss French
Photo: Lara de Salis
Features
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Lifestyle
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Politics
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
Lifestyle
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Politics
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Health
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
Lifestyle
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
National
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
National
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Politics
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Education
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
Photo: AFP
Society
Swiss ‘slave children’ to finally get compensation
Photo: Jan Geerk/Swiss-image.ch
Lifestyle
Zurich named ‘greenest’ city on the planet
Photo: Swiss
National
Brawl over seats forces Swiss to abort flight
Photo: Daniel Stockhammer
Culture
Research shows typical Swiss chalets ‘not actually Swiss’
Photo: AFP
National
Switzerland to get nationwide disaster alert system
Photo: S3
National
Swiss space firm boss left badly injured in violent attack
Photo: ETH Zurich
Education
ETH Zurich crowned best uni in continental Europe – again
File photo: Martin Abegglen
National
Report: Swiss citizenship rules leave some stateless
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
National
Fatal crash: pilot told to fly below safe altitude
Photo: Peter Linke
Business & Money
Elderly Italian on benefits stashed €1m in Swiss bank
Photo: Stuart Richards
Society
Court sides with chickens in dispute over noisy henhouse
4,381
jobs available