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Old 07.08.2008, 12:26
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Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

Hello..

I would like to know if America took in proportionally lesser Jews than Switzerland during the second world war.

Had a discussion with a local who said that Switzerland took in far more Jews than America and I just want to get another view or figures if possible.. I have googled but have not come up with much...hence this thread...

Any input would be extremely helpful.. and I would like to stress that this is not about any moral comparison.. only figures/facts...

Thanks
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Old 07.08.2008, 13:04
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

Does America mean USA? Is it correct to limit the time to the war itself? I think many Jews had already fled to America and Switzerland before the war started.
Is this any good to you? Info Jews WW2
The numbers might depend on who wrote the article though. I think this was written by the Swiss.
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Old 07.08.2008, 13:48
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

I am sorry..but Yes by America I did mean the US...well it is related to the second world war....thanks for the link..of course it depends on who writes the article..
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Old 07.08.2008, 14:11
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

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I am sorry..but Yes by America I did mean the US...well it is related to the second world war....thanks for the link..of course it depends on who writes the article..

The following link contains a number of charts comparing Jewish population by country in 1900 (though I realise this was earlier than the time you requested) to 1995.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histori...on_comparisons
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Old 07.08.2008, 14:34
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

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Had a discussion with a local who said that Switzerland took in far more Jews than America and I just want to get another view or figures if possible.. I have googled but have not come up with much...hence this thread...
I think this may have been retrospective wishful thinking.... The Swiss came under enormous pressure from Germany to turn Jews back, facilitated by the insertion of a "J" (for "Jude") in Jew's passports.

Some Swiss, however, did act in line with their conscience and suffered as a consequence like Paul Grüninger. As Captain of the St. Gallen Police he allowed several hundred refugees in to Switzerland in 1938 and 1939 (Jews and others). He was fired in 1940 and convicted of crimes such as failure to carry out public duties and forgery. He lived in poverty until his death in 1972. From 1993 onwards, various political instances worked towards rehabilitating Paul Grüninger and in 1998 his heirs were compensated for his unjust dismissal, backpay and pension.

In 1999 the Bergier Commission (created as a result of the dormant bank accounts scandal) stated that during the second world war Switzerland accepted some 51'000 civilian refugees, of which 21'000 were Jews. Just over 24'500 were turned back. However, the latter number is contested by several historians who believe that the number was closer to 5'000.

Not firm numbers, but more footnotes and reasons why Iwould find it hard to believe that Switzerland took in more Jews (even in proportion to the size of its population) than the US did.

Last edited by Snoopy; 07.08.2008 at 14:45. Reason: Statistics added (last paragraph)
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Old 07.08.2008, 14:40
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

Interesting to find out. I also wonder whether the response was different in different parts of Switzerland.

I can only tell you apochryphal stories from my family - my maternal grandfather's uncles and aunts were turned away at the border coming from Germany, but his wife, my grandmother, and her parents and some siblings successfully crossed the mountains from Milan to Lugano. No one remained there long after the war, they left for London or back to Milan.

Most of what I've heard from family and friends over the years in London is that the Swiss turned Jews away as much as possible. My Swiss-born grandfather, his parents and siblings had left Switzerland for London before the war, partly due to the anti-Semitic feeling they perceived in Zurich.
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Old 20.08.2008, 11:49
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

The number of Jewish refugees/emigres to the U.S. in the period from 1924-44 is generally estimated to be 100,000 (then another 250,000 from 1945 to 1960). On the other hand, the U.S. does not collect immigrant statistics by faith, so these are no more than estimates.

A little history. The U.S. Immigration Act of 1924 limited the number of immigrants who could be admitted from any country to 2% of the number of people from that country who were already living in the U.S. in 1890. That quota law was meant to restrict southern and eastern European immigration, as well as of Asians. The result, by 1933 when Hitler came to power, was that refugees from a country where the quota was already used up (say, from Germany) would try to enter the U.S. from a country where the quota wasn't used up (say, Cuba).

As for comparisons, it may be more appropriate to compare how many people came in to a country relative to its population; 50,000 coming to a country with a population under 10 million vs. 100,000 coming to a country with over 100 million (I'd have to look up the exact pop. figures for 1930 for each country).

J.
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Old 21.08.2008, 17:48
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

Die Zeit, 14. August, has an article by a historian (Stefan Keller) who has written a book about Paul Grüninger. In it, he writes that by March of 1938, about 3-4,000 refugees had come into Switzerland legally, and perhaps another 1,000 illegally by mid-August. In July, a meeting FDR had called together in Evian to discuss refugees ended without notable alterations: most countries re-asserted their desire to tighten their borders even more. In August, the directors of the cantonal police in essence agreed (with a few notable exceptions like Paul Grüninger, St. Gallen). By the end of 1938, the police in charge of aliens [Fremdenpolizei] registered a total of 10,000 refugees in the country - not all of them Jews.

Until neighboring France and Italy started tightening their own border controls, Switzerland wanted the refugees to use the country as much as possible as a way station to somewhere else; that means that even if there were the same number of refugees that were registered at the end of 1939, it could be completely different people (hence, increase the total number you could count as having been admitted).

In August of 1942, Stefan Keller writes, the Swiss federal executive decided on a complete immigration ban for Jewish refugees. "At least 20,000 people," Keller concludes, "were turned away at the Swiss border during the war, or were returned into Nazi hands - chased back to a certain death."

J.
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Old 21.08.2008, 18:02
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

I cannot give facts or numbers. But it would be hard from the US aspect to say exactly how many refuges were taken in. This is because, until the US officially joined WWII, they were just being counted as immigrants.

I'm not sure where I read this, at the Red Cross museum, or some other museum here in CH. But I do know that post war CH was in hot water due to not only banking for the Nazis, but turning away refuges.

According to this, I highly doubt they took in anywhere near the number that the US, Canada, and other countries did.

Small quote:
Switzerland had "declined to help people in mortal danger" and that "by creating additional barriers for them to overcome, Swiss officials helped the Nazi regime achieve its goals, whether intentionally or not."

and "Switzerland closed its borders and declared Jews non-political refugees who could not be admitted" That was 1942

Odd side story. On the way to Munich to visit a friend, we stopped and toured Dachau. Upon telling said German friend this she said, "What is with you Americans and that place? It's so stupid. Just for American tourists." Needless to say, I was mortified by the comment.
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Old 21.08.2008, 18:15
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

Switzerland and WW2 comes up all the time when I am back in Scotland. "Oh, the country that took all the nazi gold" etc etc. Incredibly nationalistic, right wing etc etc

I find things like this on the web
http://www.spiritone.com/~gdy52150/goldp8.html

But all my Swiss friends in Switzerland are proud of the fact that they were neutral, some claim it was the Swiss army that deterred Hitler, claim they don't really know what went on with the nazi gold, and deny the country is right wing or nationalistic.

As it happens, I think the WW2 practices of CH were not so great, but their neutral state was a great help to many, whether CH actively tried to help non-nazis or not.

Also as it happens, and this is a leftleaning Glaswegian talking, CH is such a fantastic country to live in, many of us, including me, end up just accepting history as history, and get on with enjoying this wonderful place
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Old 23.08.2008, 19:15
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

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Odd side story. On the way to Munich to visit a friend, we stopped and toured Dachau. Upon telling said German friend this she said, "What is with you Americans and that place? It's so stupid. Just for American tourists." Needless to say, I was mortified by the comment.
I don't know....I probably will never go to any of the camps, although my great-aunt and her 7 children dissappeared into one or more of them. It's unspeakably horrific to think of it, but it feels as though I'm being a voyeur to someone else's pain. Are people really moved by this to behave differently - do they really learn anything at all?
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Old 23.08.2008, 19:26
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

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I cannot give facts or numbers. But it would be hard from the US aspect to say exactly how many refuges were taken in. This is because, until the US officially joined WWII, they were just being counted as immigrants.

I'm not sure where I read this, at the Red Cross museum, or some other museum here in CH. But I do know that post war CH was in hot water due to not only banking for the Nazis, but turning away refuges.

According to this, I highly doubt they took in anywhere near the number that the US, Canada, and other countries did.

Small quote:
Switzerland had "declined to help people in mortal danger" and that "by creating additional barriers for them to overcome, Swiss officials helped the Nazi regime achieve its goals, whether intentionally or not."

and "Switzerland closed its borders and declared Jews non-political refugees who could not be admitted" That was 1942

Odd side story. On the way to Munich to visit a friend, we stopped and toured Dachau. Upon telling said German friend this she said, "What is with you Americans and that place? It's so stupid. Just for American tourists." Needless to say, I was mortified by the comment.

Dachau is not one of the high points of German culture. I would not
be proud of it either. My wife is German, and she doesn't like war
movies, history about Nazi Germany, and is generally a sore subject.

Her grandfather also served time in a concentration camp for opposing
Hitler.
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Old 11.01.2009, 00:15
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

I have been doing some historical research on the Oerlikon 20mm gun recently and I found this interesting article http://www.uek.ch/en/schlussbericht/...11ruestung.htm

The article does point to pressure from Germany to remove Jewish industrialists from Swiss companies that wished to export vital war goods to the Axis nations.

Reading between the lines, Switzerland wasn't really neutral during WWII. While the Allied bombers were destroying German factories the Nazis were contracting out manufacturing to Switzerland. The sale of Swiss Oerlikon guns and ammunition alone contributed to a significant number of Allied aircraft losses. If Switzerland truely had remained neutral or had been occupied by the Nazis, an early end to the production of these weapons and fuses for 88mm shells would have certainly shortened the duration of the war.
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Old 11.01.2009, 19:07
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

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The article does point to pressure from Germany to remove Jewish industrialists from Swiss companies that wished to export vital war goods to the Axis nations.
The article states that one company succeeded to do business with Germany after removing Jews from the board members. It doesn't mention German pressure in this regard nor use the plural.


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Reading between the lines, Switzerland wasn't really neutral during WWII. While the Allied bombers were destroying German factories the Nazis were contracting out manufacturing to Switzerland. The sale of Swiss Oerlikon guns and ammunition alone contributed to a significant number of Allied aircraft losses. If Switzerland truely had remained neutral or had been occupied by the Nazis, an early end to the production of these weapons and fuses for 88mm shells would have certainly shortened the duration of the war.
I think the second last paragraph is incompatible with your interpretation.

And if Switzerland had been occupied by the Nazis, 100% of the exports instead of the 84% from 1940-44 would've been sent to Germany, like it happened in the Netherlands.
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Old 11.01.2009, 20:46
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

It's certainely true that the gold trade and the refusal to let Jewish refugies enter Swiss territory are majors blots in Switzerland's history. In fact It was only after the issue with the dormant bank accounts arrose that the Swiss made a serious effort to look into their wartime dealings. Before that it was all about the mighty Swiss army detering the Nazis from envading Switzerland. Still one should also point out that the Nazi ideology never really caught on in Switzerland despite being mainly a German speaking country. A small Nazi party called the Frontbewegung existed but it never got more then 2 or 3 %.
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Old 11.01.2009, 21:26
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

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And if Switzerland had been occupied by the Nazis, 100% of the exports instead of the 84% from 1940-44 would've been sent to Germany, like it happened in the Netherlands.
Depends on how much the workforce wanted to collaborate. Looking at the examples set by many other occupied nations, their output was considerably slowed by acts of sabotage, often by the workers themselves. Mind you, wasn't it the sale of bomb sights to the Germans that resulted in one of the 'accidental' raids on Switzerland by the Allies?
But then on the other hand, it was a member of staff from Oerlikon that quietly gave the radar frequencies and specifications of the Fledermaus radar-guided AA gun to the RAF before the raid on Port Stanley, increasing the Vulcan crew's chances of survival.
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Old 11.01.2009, 22:18
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

If Switzerland had been invaded and occupied by the Germans instead of being perceived as neutral, Swiss factories would have been bombed in daylight by the Americans, and at night by the British. The Swiss railway network would have been bombed regularly and this would also have reduced Germany's ability to trade with Italy in the early years of the war. It would have also affected the ability of the axis forces to fight in North Africa. German supply trains were permitted to travel to and from Italy via Switzerland.

I am sorry about the 'plural' references to the article. I have been doing some research using multiple resources, online, in books and at exhibitions. This is not the only material I have read, but I cannot remember the other sources in order to quote them. After all, I'm researching the history of a Swiss gun.

I was at an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London a few days ago that had many handwritten letters and postcards. Some were from Jews that were being turned away by Swiss border officers. Some were replies from their relatives that were already living in Switzerland. My German reading skills are poor, but I left that exhibition with an uneasy feeling about Switzerland's wartime neutrality that I didn't have before.

For me, selling a neighbour a weapon that I know will be used to attack another neighbour with is not being neutral, it's taking a side. I appreciate that claiming neutrality was the only thing the Swiss could realistically do to prevent a war with a superior military power and a subsequent occupation. I just don't believe the neutrality propaganda anymore.
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Old 15.06.2010, 16:42
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

i too have heard of Jews been turned away from swiss border during the hitlers wars. I am not a jew but i love the Jews no matter what!!!
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Old 15.06.2010, 17:05
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II



Back from the dead...

Just to speed things up... the people who did this are no better than the Nazis, murderers etc. etc.
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Old 15.06.2010, 17:10
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Re: Jewish Refugees in Switzerland during World War II

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i too have heard of Jews been turned away from swiss border during the hitlers wars. I am not a jew but i love the Jews no matter what!!!
You have heard right! now back to the world cup
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