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Resisting GenocideThe Multiple Forms of Rescue$
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Jacques Semelin, Claire Andrieu, and Sarah Gensburger

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199333493

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199333493.001.0001

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The Swiss Reaction to the Nazi Genocide

The Swiss Reaction to the Nazi Genocide


(p.231) 14 The Swiss Reaction to the Nazi Genocide
Resisting Genocide

Ruth Fivaz-Silbermann

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on Switzerland's response to Nazi Germany's genocide of the Jews during World War II. In August 1942, Switzerland closed its borders, a decision that was followed by a restrictive refugee policy to which the rescue networks had to adapt. The networks were able to continue to smuggle a few thousand Jews, in part by falsifying the identities of refugees to meet the criteria of authorised family immigration. In the course of the war, about 15,000 Jews were able to enter Switzerland, while roughly 3,000 were rejected. This chapter argues that Switzerland took the stance of bystander rather than eyewitness. It shows that the Swiss practice of asylum was characterised by a passive tolerance and a refusal of assistance. More specifically, it considers the factors underlying Switzerland's neutrality and adaptation, including its xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

Keywords:   genocide, Jews, Switzerland, Nazi Germany, World War II, rescue, refugees, asylum, xenophobia, anti-Semitism

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