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Friday, 22 March, 2002, 13:28 GMT
Switzerland 'helped Nazi Germany'
Nazi gold coins
Switzerland traded gold for the Swiss franc
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By Emma Jane Kirby
BBC Geneva correspondent
line

An independent investigation into Switzerland's wartime past has published a report which concludes that the country largely ignored moral and ethical issues.

The Bergier Commission, which was set up in 1996 by the Swiss parliament to examine Swiss relations with the Axis powers, claims that the Swiss authorities had secret dealings with Nazi Germany which helped to prolong the second world war.


The Swiss Government and the army leadership knew exactly what would happen to the men women and children they turned down at the Swiss borders

Professor Jean Ziegler
The study also says the Swiss refused to allow refuge to thousands of Jews in spite of the fact they already knew of the existence of concentration camps.

The nine members of the commission who come from Switzerland, Britain, the United States and Israel have spent five years on their research.

They say Swiss authorities of having contributed to the expansion of the Nazi economy, by striking trade and financial agreements with Germany which helped to fund the Nazi regime.

Complicity

They add that the provision of interest free credits to the Axis powers by the Swiss banks, and their willingness to trade gold for the valuable Swiss franc, allowed the Nazis to buy machinery and even war materiel from Switzerland.

But the commission says its most disturbing finding was learning of the effect of the "excessively restrictive" Swiss policy towards refugees.

According to the commissioners, and to Swiss sociologist, Professor Jean Ziegler, the Swiss authorities knowingly sent refugees to their deaths.

"The Swiss Government and the army leadership knew exactly what would happen to the men women and children they turned down at the Swiss borders," he said.

"The Bergier report says there were 110,000 Jewish people turned back. And I think that`s a complicity in genocide, that`s a complicity in genocide."

The report has been contested by right-wing groups who claim the commission was biased and did not carry out sufficient research.

See also:

07 Aug 00 | Europe
Swiss bank exploited Nazi slaves
26 Jul 00 | Europe
Swiss Nazi row ends in US court
21 Jan 00 | Europe
Auschwitz survivor loses case
15 Dec 99 | Europe
Swiss Holocaust report challenged
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