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Swiss Parliament in Stormy Session over Non-admission of Jews

The “Ludwig Report,” an analysis of Swiss policy toward refugees between 1933 and 1945 which damns the Swiss Government for following a policy that condemned thousands of Jews fleeing from Nazism to return to Germany and their eventual death, was the subject today of a stormy session of the Swiss Federal Council.

The report, ordered by the Federal Council, charged that through a complicated web of “no entry” laws and collusion between Nazi and Swiss police officials between 10,000 and 12,000 Jews were kept out of Switzerland during the Nazi regime.

Mathias Eggenberger, chairman of the Federal Council committee responsible for the report, told his fellow deputies that while Switzerland contributed materially to alleviating conditions of the refugees during and after the war, the actual refugee policy from 1933 to 1945 “casts a dismal light on the Swiss right of asylum. When the refugees were running for their lives we passed them by,” he charged.

“Certainly tens of thousands of hunted people could have been saved without putting our country into difficulty if we had conducted a general liberal policy,” Eggenberger said. “If we admit that individual refugees have no juridical right to claim asylum, we must stress that the best Swiss traditions and Christian charity would have made a generous attitude mandatory.”

He took the army high command to task for its “restrictive” refugee policy, hit the majority of cantonal authorities because they “did not play a heroic role, ” and noted that even the Swiss population played a “safer” role. He asserted that there was no unequivocal answer to the question: did the Swiss authorities concur in the creation of German “passports for Jews” as the Ludwig Report suggested.

But Eggenberger refused to accept any excuse that Switzerland could not physically handle the Jews she refused to admit. He pointed out that at the end of the war Denmark accepted 250,000 refugees, Finland 500,000 and that by the end of the war Switzerland had 115,000 in the country. “It seems strange,” he concluded, “that at a critical moment Switzerland denied her capabilities of accepting 10,000 to 12,000 racial refugees.”

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