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Supporters seek rehabilitation of Swiss who tried to kill Hitler

Maurice Bavaud tried to kill Hitler at a rally in Munich in 1938 Keystone Archive

The Swiss government is coming under pressure to apologise for its failure to intervene in the case of Maurice Bavaud, a young Swiss man executed in Nazi Germany following his failed attempt to kill Adolf Hitler in 1938.

This content was published on May 14, 2001 - 11:59

The Maurice Bavaud Committee issued a call for a formal Swiss apology to mark the 60th anniversary of the execution on Monday. Bavaud was guillotined in prison in Berlin on May 14 1941.

The committee accuses the then Swiss authorities of abandoning the young theology student to his fate and says the Swiss police collaborated with the Gestapo.

In a statement, the committee calls for moral and political amends, including an official admission of responsibility by the government.

Bavaud's brother, Adrien, has also called on the government to rehabilitate his brother, saying at the very least he deserves a proper memorial.

Bavaud, then a student in Neuchatel, hatched a plan to kill Hitler in 1938. After buying a small pistol, he travelled to Germany and began following the Nazi dictator from place to place.

On November 9 when Hitler was attending a rally in Munich, he drew his pistol, but was not close enough to shoot. Bavaud was arrested soon afterwards.

The 25-year-old then spent 30 months in solitary confinement before being executed. According to his brother, Bavaud was frequently tortured in jail and lived in constant fear. During that time he was never visited by the Swiss diplomatic representative in Berlin.

But despite all he had to endure, Bavaud apparently met his end bravely. In a farewell letter to his family in Switzerland, he said he had no regrets about what he had done.

In 1989 the government expressed its sympathy to the Bavaud family. That was followed nine years later by an official acknowledgement that the Swiss authorities had not done enough for him.

But the government held back from making a formal apology, saying the circumstances surrounding the case and Bavaud's motives were still unclear.

swissinfo with agencies

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