Until 1981, teenagers and adults who didn’t conform to the usual social structures were separated from their families and locked up in prisons or psychiatric institutions. People detained without trial often worked for free, doing low-skilled and repetitive work. Children taken away from parents who were deemed unsuitable, went to live with other families, and were often mistreated or used as child labour.
It took a long time for Switzerland to acknowledge this dark chapter and today victims are still fighting to get compensation. An independent commission of experts has been set up by the Federal Council to investigate the detentions: a book and a travelling exhibition have been put together and the final results will be published in September.