January 04, 2004

Don't they say Swiss are cheap?

Doesn't cost them a thing, makes them feel good and looking noble!
New Swiss Law Pardons Those Who Aided Jews
Published: January 2, 2004
GENEVA, Jan. 1 (Agence France-Presse)
- A new law took effect on Thursday pardoning Swiss citizens who were penalized - even jailed - for helping Jews escape from Nazi Germany, nearly six decades after the fact and too late for many who died with the burden of misplaced shame.

Their crime was considered a violation of the neutrality of this land-locked, mountainous country bordering Germany - a stance that disclosures over the last decade have shown was not so sacrosanct as once thought.

The new law acknowledges that these so-called offenders "acted out of altruism" and many "fell into total misery after their condemnation," according to comments by the Swiss Federal Council, or government.

As of Thursday, those sentenced for having helped victims of the Nazi government can now ask to have the judgment annulled, the Swiss Justice Ministry said.

They or their surviving relatives have five years to do so, for any judgment involving the period from 1933 - when Hitler took power in Germany - until the end of World War II in 1945.

Though the aggrieved parties' court records will be cleared, they will have no claim to any financial compensation, the ministry said.

According to historians, several hundred Swiss citizens lost their jobs and were fined and some were sent to prison for helping victims of Nazi oppression flee Germany or for offering them shelter in Switzerland.

During World War II, Switzerland officially took in about 300,000 refugees but it turned away at least 20,000 others, most of them Jewish.

Switzerland's president apologized for the country's wartime refugee policy in 1994, before the extent of its impact was fully acknowledged.

A subsequent five-year inquiry into concessions that Switzerland made to survive as a neighbor of Nazi Germany showed that the government preached a form of neutrality that it did not always practice.

The 600-page report, released in March, revealed that Switzerland's political and economic establishment contributed to the Holocaust and the Nazi war machine.

"The refugee policy of our authorities contributed to the most atrocious of Nazi objectives - the Holocaust," said a Swiss historian, Jean-Francois Bergier, who led the inquiry.
And thanks to Smadar for the hint!