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New criticism of Bergier report on Switzerland’s World War Two role

A report on Switzerland's role during World War Two is facing renewed criticism. Prominent personalities have called on the government to take a more critical view of the study by a group of experts, led by the historian, Jean-Francois Bergier.

A spokesman for the group, Sigmund Widmer, said on Thursday the generation which lived through the war years felt misunderstood. Widmer said the report had presented a biased picture of Switzerland’s policy during the war years.

He accused the Bergier commission of distorting the truth by making unsubstantiated allegations and leaving out crucial elements in their research. He said the panel failed to include witness accounts from the war years.

Widmer also criticised the make-up of the commission, indicating it did not represent a full spectrum of views.

The group on Wednesday handed in a petition to the federal authorities, calling on the government to take a clear stance on the Bergier report and to set the record straight in a new report. Otherwise, it said, Switzerland could not regain its confidence.

The group says it represents 20,000 people and 19 organisations from across the country. It includes former senior army officers and government officials as well as politicians.

When the Bergier report was published in December, the government was critical of the report for not paying enough attention to the wartime fear of Swiss people towards the Nazi threat and the necessity to maintain foreign trade for national survival. But it renewed an apology
to Holocaust victims, issued in 1995.

The Bergier commission report said the government did not do enough to save Jewish refugees from Nazi persecution. It also said Swiss banks accepted nearly 120 kilogrammes of gold taken from Holocaust vicitms in death camps. The panel was set up in 1996 and is due to publish its final report next year.

swissinfo and agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR