Switzerland to build first ever state memorial to remember victims of Nazism

Switzerland to build first ever state memorial to remember victims of Nazism

The Swiss government has confirmed that it will be constructing a new monument in Bern dedicated to remembering the victims of National Socialism (Nazism). It will be Switzerland's first-ever state memorial designed to commemorate the victims of Nazi terror.

Switzerland to build Holocaust memorial in Bern

In a statement, the Federal Council confirmed that it would be allocating 2,5 million francs towards building the new monument. While the exact location and date of completion are set to be agreed with the local council (Gemeinde) in the summer, authorities promised a “central location” in the de-facto capital.

“The Federal Council considers it an important task to keep alive the memory of the consequences of National Socialism, namely the Holocaust and the fate of the 6 million Jews who were killed and all other victims of the National Socialist regime,” the council wrote in the statement. They added that this goal is especially important given that few survivors remain from the era, amid a time when ideas like “anti-Semitism and relativisation of the Holocaust are on the rise again.”

“With the realisation of a place of remembrance, the federal government, together with the city of Bern, is taking a stand against genocide, anti-Semitism and racism, and for democracy, the rule of law, freedom and individual fundamental rights”, they added.

Switzerland's role in World War II heavily condemned

In past decades, studies into Switzerland’s complex role during the Second World War have revealed how embedded the country, and particularly its banks and financial institutions, were with Nazi Germany and the rest of the Axis powers. While the neutral nation is often praised for its role in maintaining lines of communication between the warring powers and assisting the Allies whenever it could, many have accused the country of not doing enough to oppose Nazi atrocities. 

Specifically, the country has been condemned for its acceptance of gold stolen by the Nazis - the matter was only resolved by a claims tribunal set up between 1997 and 2012 that saw UBS and Credit Suisse pay out 780 million US dollars to Holocaust victims and their relatives. Finally, while estimates do vary, the Bergier Commission set up by the government in the 1990s found that up to 24.500 people who fled to Switzerland during the war were returned to Nazi Germany, most of whom were Jewish.

“It’s necessary that this terrible time remains in collective memory, and that a memorial is created for this purpose,” noted Social Democratic National Councillor and main backer of the new memorial Daniel Jositsch. “The memorial should also commemorate those men, women and children who were wrongly denied rescue by the Swiss authorities.”

For more information about the memorial, please see the official press release (in German).

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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