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Old 08.08.2013, 15:30
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'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

"Between 1800 and the 1950s, Swiss authorities forcefully placed over a hundred thousand orphans, illegitimate children and kids from broken homes as labourers on farms."

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Officially coined as a measure to battle child poverty, this practice eventually instituted a modern form of slavery. Protagonist of the (fictional) story of "Der Verdingbub" is 12-year-old orphan Max, who is sold by the local minister for a basket of food to the Bösiger family, who own a mountain farm. Max' initial hope of finally finding a loving home is brutally shattered: The farmer and his wife treat Max like livestock, and their son Jacob humiliates and abuses him. Only the local teacher notices the child suffering on the farm. By fostering his musical talent, she tries to encourage Max and teach him self-respect. When Berteli, a 15-year-old girl, is also placed on the farm, her budding friendship with Max leads to a catastrophe.
http://www.cineuropa.org/f.aspx?t=fi...umentID=212280

Here is a trailer to the film. Although a fictional story, it is based on the lives of some of the orphan children. It shows that even Switzerland has its dark past. I found this quite shocking in a country that presents an image of organisation and best practice.

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Old 26.04.2014, 21:09
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

I got round to watching this today. It's a very evocative story of plain rural brutality towards children who were so unlucky to have been put into the State's stewardship because there parents were judged inadequate (be it socially unacceptable (prostitutes), widows unable to provide for their children, children of divorced people, insane or otherwise disturbed by local norms, etc). The local administration and the priesthood was fully complicit in placing children in farms where no one ever checked how the children where treated properly, or subject to any kind of abuse imaginable. The life in orphanages was pretty Dickensian and up till the late 70s this was deemed by the Cantonal Protection of Youth services to be totally adequate. In the past 10 years notably the Vaud and the Federal governments have recognized and apologized for the mistreatment of over 100'000 children (probably many, many more as there no statistics to cover the 1800 to 1950 period). This is incredibly shameful, but some of the Cantonal governments have opened their archives, notably Vaud and Neuchatel. Thus the orphans and others have been able to discover their past, but not everywhere. The Cantonal Conference of Youth Protection Services in the late 70s deemed that it was more important to leave each orphan becoming adult with a clean slate than respecting the right to knowing their past, and Geneva, Valais and Fribourg notably continued or started to delete any trace of the children's passage through the System.

I'm thoroughly disgusted by this very sombre side of Switzerland, and the amount of hate laden on children who had no say on their becoming. This film is worth seeing if you can catch it.

I can't temporize for the habitual failure of verification that local authorities weren't abusing the situation, as this happened in so many more times during WW2 notably, with children being sent as far as Australia from the UK to avoid bombardment/invasion, where they were used as slaves. It casts doubt for me on so many institutions...

For more info in French search "enfance volée" on http://www.rst.ch. I guess the German side has plenty of info too, this film was the highest grossing Swiss film since 2007 when released. The survivors have setup an association to obtain more information and rights for themselves... Imagine the class action suit this would be in the US!
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Old 26.04.2014, 22:31
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

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The survivors have setup an association to obtain more information and rights for themselves... Imagine the class action suit this would be in the US!
http://www.wbur.org/2013/02/20/foster-boy-goethe

"Switzerland’s approach to its difficult social and economic problems was no aberration. Between 1854 to 1929, New York and other East Coast cities shipped tens of thousands of orphaned and poor children west on “Orphan Trains,” to live and work on farms in rural America. From 1869 until the late 1960s, a British child migration program known as Home Children sent over 100,000 children from the United Kingdom to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. Still, the Swiss practice is shocking and is a far cry from the Switzerland of the beloved “Heidi” children’s books."
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Old 26.04.2014, 22:39
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

It wasn't an aberration, but seeing the strength of the Heimat belief, and the community vs single women or teenagers rights felt generally... Remember, progress comes from the City, not the rural.
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Old 26.04.2014, 22:44
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

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http://www.wbur.org/2013/02/20/foster-boy-goethe

"Switzerland’s approach to its difficult social and economic problems was no aberration. Between 1854 to 1929, New York and other East Coast cities shipped tens of thousands of orphaned and poor children west on “Orphan Trains,” to live and work on farms in rural America. From 1869 until the late 1960s, a British child migration program known as Home Children sent over 100,000 children from the United Kingdom to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. Still, the Swiss practice is shocking and is a far cry from the Switzerland of the beloved “Heidi” children’s books."
A lot of what happened is a real scandal, true. BUT imagine a boy of Algerian-Swiss descent born in Zürich, taken to Oran/Algeria, having become witness of the murder of his father and most of that family by the foreign legion, repatriated by his uncle in Geneva to Lyon and transferred to the Hospital of Schaffhausen, and then finally adopted by the husband of his mother. Is that also bad ? Yes, the boy of then only much later found out about his original name and everything step by step. But would you prefer people dying due to realities
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Old 26.04.2014, 22:53
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

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A lot of what happened is a real scandal, true. BUT imagine a boy of Algerian-Swiss decent born in Zürich, taken to Oran/Algeria, having become with witness of the murder of his father and most of that family by the foreign legion, repatriated by his uncle in Geneva to Lyon and transferred to the Hospital of Schaffhausen, and then finally adopted by the husband of his mother. Is that also bad ? Yes, the boy of then only much later found out about his original name and everything step by step. But would you prefer people dying due to realities
You're not really sticking to the subject. I posted the case of it happening elsewhere in Europe to not single this out, but this does in NO CASE excuse the behaviour of your peers back then Wolli. Please refrain from justification. Nothing, nothing gives a local authority the right to treat orphans as slave labour.
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Old 26.04.2014, 23:02
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

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You're not really sticking to the subject. I posted the case of it happening elsewhere in Europe to not single this out, but this does in NO CASE excuse the behaviour of your peers back then Wolli. Please refrain from justification. Nothing, nothing gives a local authority the right to treat orphans as slave labour.
I had no desire to justify those local authorities and I do not have any desire to justify treating orphans as defacto-slaves, However even those evildoers tried in many cases to solve local problems and there WERE profiteers of the situation, as always and as still now
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Old 26.04.2014, 23:03
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

we have a family friend who grew up in valais and was sent to the farms/camps by her father. speaking to her about it you can see it still haunts her- but she talked for hours without stopping about all of the abuse of every kind and the plain cruelty people had towards the children. it was the first i'd heard of it then, people don't seem to say anything about it otherwise.
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Old 26.04.2014, 23:08
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

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we have a family friend who grew up in valais and was sent to the farms/camps by her father. speaking to her about it you can see it still haunts her- but she talked for hours without stopping about all of the abuse of every kind and the plain cruelty people had towards the children. it was the first i'd heard of it then, people don't seem to say anything about it otherwise.
Isn't this understandable ? Such former children try their very best to suppress their memories. Many are only brought back to the ugly past by coincidence
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Old 26.04.2014, 23:33
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

What the "clean slate" policy really meant was whitewashing what really happened, how those who placed the children failed to care for what happened in the families, failed to protect the basic humanity of those children, and closed their eyes on what was really going on. It's revolting how entire communities placed these children into neglect and got rid of those who might whistle blow. Rural Switzerland needs to face up to this, it's disgusting.
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Old 26.04.2014, 23:38
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

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we have a family friend who grew up in valais and was sent to the farms/camps by her father. speaking to her about it you can see it still haunts her- but she talked for hours without stopping about all of the abuse of every kind and the plain cruelty people had towards the children. it was the first i'd heard of it then, people dontot't seem to say anything about it otherwise.
My father's ex-girlfriend was one of those girls placed to a farm in Lucerne. Her spine is a complete mess from having had to carry too many heavy charges at age 13.

I have a close friend who's mother has a "secret family" in another canton. Luckily she grew up when things where changing and escaped total servitude, but it was ... does this really happen here?
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Old 27.04.2014, 07:25
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

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What the "clean slate" policy really meant was whitewashing what really happened, how those who placed the children failed to care for what happened in the families, failed to protect the basic humanity of those children, and closed their eyes on what was really going on. It's revolting how entire communities placed these children into neglect and got rid of those who might whistle blow. Rural Switzerland needs to face up to this, it's disgusting.
failed to care ? in times when old people without regular income or caring relatives were depostited in "Armenhäuser" (houses for the poor), when criminals and members of "outer-cantonal religions/denominations often got executed, when children whose parents were not deemed able to care for them were "placed" elsewhere, and when men who were notorious for complaining and mischief were *encouraged" to emigrate overseas, such "work" was normal and nothing better was expected by state and society

Last edited by Wollishofener; 27.04.2014 at 08:03.
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Old 27.04.2014, 16:58
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

I'm sure that Switzerland wasn't the only country to carry out such practices in the past.

Nothing can change the past. Deleting records of the past will make no difference to those affected. Acknowledging the past is in no way condoning it. Hopefully, awareness and enlightenment will ensure that such practices don't happen in the future
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Old 27.04.2014, 17:44
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

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I'm sure that Switzerland wasn't the only country to carry out such practices in the past.
Indeed.

In fact, please name one that didn't.

The past is the past, all that matters is the current situation.

Tom
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Old 27.04.2014, 18:00
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

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"the Swiss practice is shocking and is a far cry from the Switzerland of the beloved “Heidi” children’s books."
The person who wrote that clearly is NOT familiar with the 'Heidi' story.

Tom
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Old 27.04.2014, 18:02
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

Indeed- but 2 (or many more) wrong does not make a right. However- it also has to be said that not all were mistreated- I know several people to whom this happened- and although they had to work hard- no harder than the rest of the family, and were treated well and some even with love and affection. There is also an ex childrens' home very close to us- now a sort of Youth Hostel used by all sorts of groups- and last year there was the 100th anniversary of its opening- and a big Fête- many ex residents came, in their 70s and 80s- and shared with us many fond memories- I was very surprised... yes, it was strict, they said, but fair- but a lot of friendship and love too.

Of course it was wrong, and in no way am I trying to condone or excuse this - but not all children were treated badly- and some are still today very grateful for the care and education they received.

Last edited by Odile; 27.04.2014 at 18:26.
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Old 27.04.2014, 19:26
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

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I'm sure that Switzerland wasn't the only country to carry out such practices in the past.

Nothing can change the past. Deleting records of the past will make no difference to those affected. Acknowledging the past is in no way condoning it. Hopefully, awareness and enlightenment will ensure that such practices don't happen in the future
Realities of the pre-1930 Switzerland are nicely shown in the famous novel "Matto regiert" of Friedrich Glauser

http://www.krimi-couch.de/krimis/fri...o-regiert.html

Look at

http://www.projuventute.ch/fileadmin..._Antworten.pdf

which reflected the relevant Zeitgeist . A lot of the things around Kinder der Landstrasse were kept away from the public even in the 1960ies . The matter then blew up later, and ProJuventute had a difficult time to make clear that things in their organisation had profoundly changed.
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Old 28.04.2014, 10:06
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

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You're not really sticking to the subject. I posted the case of it happening elsewhere in Europe to not single this out, but this does in NO CASE excuse the behaviour of your peers back then Wolli. Please refrain from justification. Nothing, nothing gives a local authority the right to treat orphans as slave labour.

This practice started already in the middle Ages in Zürich.
In 1392 - 140 children were taken from their parents and forcible baptized, never to return to their families.
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Old 28.04.2014, 10:39
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Re: 'The Foster Boy' - A film about Swiss orphans and illegitimate children

Dreadful- same to Aboriginies and Indian (both American Indians and in India) and Gipsies all over the world.
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