Switzerland Exonerates Nazi-Era Refugee Helpers to Close Chapter

Switzerland exonerated 137 people convicted of smuggling refugees from Nazi Germany into the country, ending seven years of historical research to redress what it now considers a “serious injustice.”

Those involved had their convictions canceled and were formally rehabilitated, the government’s Rehabilitation Commission said today in an e-mailed statement. The commission, founded in 2004, will be wound up at the end of this year, it said in the statement.

Switzerland responded to a growing stream of Jewish refugees from Germany fleeing the Holocaust by imposing a visa requirement for people described as “German non-Aryans” in 1938. A year later, all foreign nationals had to apply for visas to enter the country. Most border crossings were closed at the outbreak of World War II.

“The commission’s work brought to light an important part of the history of our country,” it said in the statement. That’s “important to those involved and their relatives.”

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