• Switzerland's news in English

Swiss hailed for saving Jews from Holocaust

AFP · 22 Aug 2014, 21:02

Published: 22 Aug 2014 21:02 GMT+02:00

"Paul Grüninger should be an example to us all," said Fredy Fässler, police and justice chief in the canton of Saint Gallen at a commemoration for the late officer.

Grüninger's 92-year-old daughter Ruth Roduner unveiled a plaque in his honour at Saint Gallen police headquarters.
Between 1919 and 1939 Grüninger was the police commander in the Saint Gallen canton, which borders Austria.
After the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, thousands of Jews and political refugees began to flee abroad, including to Austria, which was in turn taken over by its northern neighbour in 1938.
Grüninger issued Swiss entry documents to between 2,000 and 3,000 Jews who entered illegally from Austria between 1937 and 1939.
Neutral Switzerland, which already had a tough immigration policy, beefed up its rules in 1939.
The government decided only to admit refugees who were deemed to be victims of political persecution, rather than those targeted on grounds of race or religion, thereby excluding Jews.
But Grüninger ignored the order and forged the dates on their entry documents to make it appear they had arrived earlier, and also helped them find housing.
After being found out, he was tried in 1940 and dishonourably discharged from the police.
His public humiliation left him unable to get regular work, and he eked out a meagre living without his police pension.
He died in 1972 at the age of 81, a year after Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial authority declared him one of the "righteous among the nations", a title bestowed on those who saved Jews.
"Grüninger paid a high price for the choice he made. In the struggle between his sense of duty as a police officer, and dedication to the concepts of humanity, the latter triumphed," Yad Vashem says in its website entry on his case.
Grüninger's name was cleared by a St Gallen court in the 1990s, but his memory had not previously been honoured officially by the cantonal police.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

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