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Swiss Jewish community wants government to act

Switzerland’s Jewish community has welcomed the Bergier report on the country’s refugee policy during the war, saying the Swiss government should now take measures to fight a resurgence of anti-semitism.

This content was published on December 10, 1999 - 15:47

Switzerland’s Jewish community has welcomed the Bergier report on the country’s refugee policy during the war, saying the Swiss government should now take measures to fight a resurgence of anti-semitism.

Rolf Bloch, president of the Swiss Jewish Community, praised the report as an important independent historic study, saying he hoped it would foster a dialogue about Switzerland’s war years.

Vice-President Thomas Lyssy said the Swiss government should take urgent measures to fight anti-semitism, which had seen a worrying resurgence in recent years due to international criticism of Switzerland’s dealings with Nazi Germany.

Lyssy said the government should finance educational programmes for schools and academic research to help improve public awareness about anti-semitism in Switzerland and elsewhere.

The Jewish community firmly rejected accusations by a Swiss right-wing organisation, which said the Bergier report had been compiled by “left-wing historians” who produced a “biased and self-righteous” document .

Jewish leaders said such criticism signalled an unwillingness to accept and debate the “dark sides of Swiss history.”

Referring to the Bergier report’s accusations of widespread anti-semitism during the war years, Lyssy said the Jewish community had always known that this was the case.

“The Swiss were clearly more afraid of Jewish refugees than the German army,” he said, adding that Switzerland’s attitude at the time was no better or worse than that of other countries.

In other reactions to the report:

- Swiss bishops said they hoped there would be no anti-semitic reactions to the report. The bishops said Switzerland must try to draw objective conclusions and lessons from the report.

- The Greens and refugee organisations said the past had taught Switzerland not to exclude minority groups, and the country should review its asylum policy accordingly.

- The Radical Party (represented in the government) said the report focuses too much on the negative decisions by Switzerland and contains some “unacceptable characterisations” of Swiss history.

From staff and wire reports.

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