On Wednesday, the executive branch of Switzerland decided to contribute funds toward building the nation’s first national memorial in remembrance of the six million Jews and other victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution.
The memorial will be built at an unidentified “central location” in the nation’s capital, Bern, and will cost 2.5 million Swiss francs (about $2.8 million), according to the Federal Council, the executive branch’s seven-member body.
This decision was made when the number of Holocaust survivors was declining and antisemitism was increasing.
The issue of Switzerland’s ties to Nazi Germany has long been debated.
Ruth Dreifuss, the country’s first Jewish female president, urged national reflection in the 1990s.
A government assessment claimed that Switzerland had participated in more than three-fourths of all global gold transactions by Nazi Germany’s Reichsbank.
Federal and local government officials claimed that the memorial’s specifics are still being worked out and gave no completion date.
The fate of the six million Jews and all other victims of the National Socialist system, as well as the Holocaust, are things that the Federal Council believes to be of utmost importance, according to a government statement.
By making the change, Switzerland and its capital were “creating a strong symbol against genocide, antisemitism, and racism, as well as for democracy, the rule of law, freedom, and basic individual rights,” it stated.
According to federal officials and the umbrella organization Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, Switzerland has roughly 60 small, private sites dedicated to remembering the Holocaust and other atrocities committed by the Nazis.
However, the federation noted that a memorial would be built to honor them all, saying, “There is no official or national memorial for the many Swiss victims of persecution, for the thousands of refugees turned away at the borders or deported, as well as for the many brave helpers in this country.”
According to the organization, recent research has revealed that a “sizable number” of Swiss citizens were victims of the Nazi government, “persecuted because they were, for example, Jews, socialists, Sinti or Roma.” The Sinti and Roma are ethnic groups primarily found in Eastern Europe.
During World War II, thousands of people fled to Swiss borders in search of safety but were turned away — “and, in many cases, sent back to certain death,” the group cla