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The BBC's Claire Doole
"The government accepted the country's asylum policy had been marred by errors"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 15 December, 1999, 20:11 GMT
Swiss Holocaust report challenged

Swiss asylum policy prevented many Jews from fleeing Nazi persecution


Veteran Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld has controversially challenged an authoritative report on Switzerland's policy towards Jewish refugees during World War II.

Mr Klarsfeld, who helped track down the war criminal Klaus Barbie, said the Bergier Report, commissioned by the Swiss Government, vastly over-estimated the number of Jews barred from the country.

The report, published last Friday, was produced by a panel of historians and based on unprecedented access to official Swiss wartime archives.



I think the figure in the Bergier Report is too high
Serge Klarsfeld
It concluded that border guards turned back at least 24,000 refugees, most of them Jews, who faced certain death in Nazi concentration camps.

The report resulted in an immediate apology from the Swiss Government for its treatment of Jewish refugees during the war.

Key documents

But Mr Klarsfeld, citing his own research, believes the number of Jews denied sanctuary in Switzerland was less than 5,000. The French lawyer said he thought the authors of the Bergier Report had not seen several key documents

"I did not come across evidence of thousands of Jews coming to camps or prisons in France because they were turned away from Switzerland," he said.

He suggests that the number might have been inflated by the many French trying to reach the French free zone via Switzerland who were prevented from doing so by Swiss border guards.

Mr Klarsfeld said most of the Jews and other refugees refused entry into Switzerland were sent to the Rivesaltes camp in France where research showed "very few Jews came from the Swiss border".

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See also:
10 Dec 99 |  Europe
Swiss apology to Jewish refugees
09 Dec 99 |  UK
Charities probed over alleged neo-Nazi links
08 Dec 99 |  Europe
Germany firm on Nazi slave offer
06 Dec 99 |  Europe
Swiss banks to unveil Holocaust assets
30 Nov 99 |  Europe
Swedish press warns of Nazi threat

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