The unbelievable story of “neutral” Switzerland versus the Jews. And now versus Israel as well

21/04/09 (“Yom Ha-Shoah”)


The Swiss have always been very talented in self-justification, in rolling eyes to the heavens, and in finding legal arguments.  Their “neutrality” means simply benefiting from all worlds. The way they took an active part in the extermination apparatus of European Jews, the way they refused to grant political asylum to Jews during the Holocaust, claiming that they are persecuted for “religious and racist reasons” rather than political ones; and the way they violated the world-wide boycott of Iran. Not a great deal has changed in this “neutral” country, that hosted  Holocaust denier Ahmadinejad with honor.    



The unbelievable story of “neutral” Switzerland versus the Jews. And now versus  Israel as well


Dr. Guy Bechor,



We are a neutral country”, said the Swiss president yesterday in response to anger in Israel over the fact that he had met with the Holocaust denying President Mahmud Ahmadinejad of Iran  who denies the Holocaust over a friendly diner. We are a neutral country”,  said the leaders of Switzerland during the second World War , claiming that they do not accept Jewish refugees during the Holocaust, “The struggle between national socialism and the refugees should not take place on Swiss soil”, they said at the time, as if reference were to a battle between two nations, in which a neutral side should not take sides. The same hypocrisy, then and now.


Despite the fact that Switzerland could have saved many Jews, because it is land locked by many European countries, precisely during the Holocaust it closed the Swiss borders for Jewish refugees, who had only one option left: Mass extermination. Eager to please their German neighbors in the North, it was decided that the traditional privilege of political asylum granted by Switzerland does not apply to Jews , because they are not persecuted for “political” reasons, but for reasons of “religion and race” (!) With the aid of private humanitarian organizations several thousands of Jewish refugees (about three thousand) succeeded in spending the war years in Swiss detention camps.  But thousands who escaped the Gestapo net and succeeded to reach  Switzerland illegally were caught, and shunted back to Germany, straight into the hands of the Gestapo.


Others were transferred to the French police and that of Vichy, who later on extradited them to Germany.

How many were extradited by the “neutral” Swiss government? The official number is 10,000 Zurückzuweisungen, that is to say people actually turned back by the police between 1942 and 1945, but there were many more.


The author James Joyce, who during the First World War lived in neutral Switzerland, was arrested when he wanted to return during the Second World War, because they thought he was a Jew.  Only when the creator of Leopold Bloom could prove that he was not a Jew heaven forbid, Je ne suis pas juif de Judée mais aryen d’Erin”, as he stated, only then did he receive an entry ticket that granted him asylum in Switzerland.


The dominant position had been finalized by the Swiss Patriotic Federation by Dr. Eugen Bircher, an influential  member of the Swiss Parliament, and who developed the “Bircher Müsli” cereal: “These refugees will spread their venom among us… these people will bring us political lice which will we will not be able to overcome”.


Who exactly invented that cereal with grains and fruit, “Bircher Müsli”?


Frederick Grünfeld writes in his book “Prophets without honour” (Hebrew Tran. Am Oved, P. 148) that it was the anti-Semite Eugen Bircher, or, according to other sources a relative of his, a Swiss physician, an adherent of physical health, Maximilian Bircher-Benner.  It is not really important, but this cereal was “a cereal of physical health and purity of the soul”.  In such health, there is, as is well known, no room for lice.


Also public opinion in Switzerland was hostile to Jews and individual refugees who came, for Nazi propaganda convinced many Swiss that “the Jews themselves are guilty of the anti-Semitism they are treated with”. The head of the Swiss police, Heinrich Rothmundt, had such excellent work relations with the German Gestapo, that upon his advicethe German police introduced a large red “J”, which was stamped in the passports and identity cards of the Jewish refugees, so that the Swiss border police could easily differentiate between desirable and undesirable Germans.  Rothmundt assured the Gestapo that Switzerland was interested in these Jews exactly like Germany (Grünfeld, p. 146-147).


You would think that the intellectuals in Switzerland would come out against these horrible actions? Absolutely not.  The Swiss Writers Federation protested that if the German-Jewish philosophers and writers were accepted in Switzerland, the latter might “compete with local writers”, and hence any publication of a Jewish refugee in those years in Switzerland needed the approval of the Federation, and such an approval was usually not forthcoming.  Thus also the livelihood of many Jews was hurt, they could no longer earn a living by writing.  When the famous Jewish writer-poet Else Lasker-Schüler, who had found asylum in Switzerland before being forced to leave for Palestine (she was assaulted in the street by a mob), requested to stage her play “Arthur Aronymus”, which deals with Jewish-Christian brotherhood she was refused, claiming that this was “tendentious anti-Nazi propaganda, which should not be tolerated in a neutral country”.


Is there still room for a Jewish existence on the sick European continent?  A letter to the Jews of the European continent


In addition to everything, Switzerland methodically and wickedly robbed the money of the Jews, who in their naivety thought that they were depositing their money in the land of orderly and neutral banks.  During and after the war, when the depositors failed to claim their money, a large part of these banks simply plundred it. The jewelry  deposited in the safety boxes, the gold, the accounts.  They did not search for the depositors, did not keep the accounts, did not locate the heirs.  Simply took the money that was not theirs, in the largest malicious embezzlement in the world. When the Swiss bankers were asked later on, why they looted the safety boxes that were put in their safekeeping, they  said about the wretched Jewish depositors who were exterminated in the Holocaust: The depositors did not come to take their property…..

According to the books of Ithamar Levin and other studies, Jewish money to the amount of over a billion and a half dollars lies in Swiss banks so far.  Because of the growing pressure in the matter, banks in Switzerland have agreed in recent years to establish a fund for aid to survivors; A very small bit of the money they robbed, being a “neutral” country.


This neutrality did of course not hinder the Swiss banks, to keep also the money of the Nazis or the sums the Nazis themselves had looted.  The same Swiss neutrality did not hinder it, of course,  to sign in 2008 a large gas transaction with Iran, despite the protests of Israel and the Western world. 


With her head covered according to Islam rules, the Foreign Minister of Switzerland , Micheline Calmy-Rey met in March 2008 in Tehran with President  Ahmadinejad. She signed an agreement with the Iranian Foreign Minister, to the effect that a Swiss company will annually transfer 5.5 billion cu.m. gas to Iran, beginning 2011, and to hell with the sanctions, the threats of extermination, the atom.  “Today we witness the signature of a gas sales agreement  between two countries”, said Iranian Foreign Minister Mutaki.  The Swiss minister said: “I am happy with the signature of the gas sales.  The deal is within the framework of international law and the UN resolutions”. The law? Denial of the Holocaust is a crime in Switzerland. And where is this law? Where has it gone now that it is needed?


Indeed , in self-justification, in rolling eyes to the heavens, and in finding legal arguments the Swiss have always been very talented.  “Their neutrality” means: simply benefiting from all worlds.                                        


Such a lot of sadness, that grows from year to year, and links up with our actualities.  One of the composers I love is Schubert, and only Schubert composed the most beautiful and plaintive sections. One of them is his string quintet (C major, Op. 163 D. 956). This is surely one of the most beautiful sections ever composed, and yet one of the saddest, so that I set myself a rule, because I am by nature an optimist: The quintet and the adagio it contains one should hear only once a year, otherwise it might cause melancholy, and this time is today.


(Translation from Hebrew: Michal Elata)