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Swiss press reacts positively to Bergier reports

New studies into Switzerland's wartime role, published in Bern on Thursday by the Independent Commission of Experts (ICE), received a generally positive reaction in the Swiss press on Friday.

The French-speaking paper, “Tribune de Genève”, said in its front page editorial it was “thanks to the historians on the commission that the Swiss people have been able to face up to the fact that Swiss industry collaborated closely with the Reich during the Second World War”.

The eight reports show how economic, financial and trade agreements struck with Germany and Italy in 1934 and 1935 helped the Axis powers to fund their war efforts. The studies also revealed that Swiss industry cooperated with the Nazi regime, particularly through its subsidiaries in Germany.

The mass-circulation German-speaking paper, “Blick”, said the reports “explain to us in more than 3,000 pages just how close the links were between the Swiss economy and Nazi Germany.

The “Tages Anzeiger” commented in its editorial that collaboration with Nazi Germany had been “carried out in a typically Swiss way”.

“Switzerland seems to have been forever indecisive…depending on the success of the Nazis, but never forgetting the good allies,” the paper said.

The Geneva-based paper, “Le Temps”, chose instead to focus on the way in which the reports were received by the public.

“What is extraordinary is not so much what is contained in these studies …but the way in which they were received so calmly,” a front page editorial read.

Few international headlines

The ICE reports failed to make headlines outside Switzerland, however, with little reaction to the findings being reported in the United States or the rest of Europe.

Harold James, a historian and member of the Bergier commission, told swissinfo the lack of international media attention was because the “two most problematic aspects that our commission investigated – namely transactions in gold with Nazi Germany…and the Swiss policy towards refugees, especially Jewish refugees – created a substantial amount of discussion.”

“But the latest reports are much more localised in their concern so I’m not surprised there has not been an equivalent amount of international discussion,” James added.

The new studies are the first instalment of a final report by the ICE, set up by the Swiss government nearly five years ago to probe Switzerland’s role as a neutral country during the Second World War. The investigation was launched at the height of the debate over Holocaust-era assets in Swiss banks.


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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR