Switzerland

The Skeletons in Switzerland’s Closet

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about Switzerland as I prepare myself for the move, reading expats’ blogs mostly. A lot of them write about the culture shock they experienced when they first moved to Switzerland. I guess that’s a bridge I’ll cross when I come to it but, in my search, I have also discovered a bit about Switzerland’s dark past.

When I watched Korkoro on Netflix the other night (a movie about a Roma family moving through France during the Nazi era) one of the characters mentioned having a Roma mother and a Jenisch (also Yeniche) father. Not knowing who the Jenisch were, I consulted my good friend Google and found this gem , if you will:

Ethnic Jenisch fight for transit sites.

The Swiss gypsy people, known as the Jenisch, were once subject to ethnic cleansing. For almost fifty years, the Swiss government advocated and funded the wholesale kidnapping of Jenisch children in an effort to wipe out their culture. About 3000 of them still head out on the road each summer, working as antique dealers or crafts people. But most of them have nowhere to stop for the winter months. (SF archive 2007)

That’s not all. In response to my email about this, F sent me a link to an article detailing the forcible relocation of poor Swiss children living in urban areas to rural areas, all for the sake of forced labor – and up until the 1950s.

They didn’t teach me that in my history classes.

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