Switzerland commemorates the victims of the Holocaust

On 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, the world commemorates the victims of the Holocaust. For Switzerland, too, the international day of remembrance is an occasion to remember the horrors of the Holocaust and to increase awareness of the consequences of racism and discrimination. As a member of the intergovernmental organisation the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), Switzerland is committed to promoting education and teaching about the Holocaust to younger generations.

A Holocaust Survivor is looking at memorial stones of victims.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is intended to keep the memory alive and prevent similar atrocities from ever occurring again. © Keystone

Erection of a memorial to the victims of National Socialism in Bern

A memorial to the victims of National Socialism is to be built in Bern. The Federal Council took this decision on 26 April 2023, considering it of great importance to keep alive the memory of the consequences of National Socialism, namely the Holocaust and the fate of the six million Jews and all other victims of the National Socialist regime.

The FDFA signed a cooperation agreement with the City of Bern on 16 February 2024 to prepare for the erection of the memorial. "We have an individual and collective responsibility to stand up against antisemitism and all forms of racism, hatred and violence," said Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis. The head of the FDFA thanked the City of Bern and the mayor of Bern, Alec von Graffenried, who had signed the agreement in advance. "I look forward to continuing to work with the City of Bern on this project which is important for the whole of Switzerland." 

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis signs the cooperation agreement with the City of Bern. © FDFA 

The cooperation agreement sets out the next steps leading to the erection of a memorial in Bern: first, consultations will be held and clarifications undertaken in order to define the parameters of a public call for tender. Project proposals for the memorial may then be submitted, from which the winning project will be selected. The process will be managed by a political and a technical committee.

In erecting this memorial, the Confederation, together with the city of Bern, is creating a strong symbol against genocide, antisemitism and racism, and for democracy, the rule of law, freedom and basic individual rights. The memorial is also intended to promote discussion and debate and to have an impact beyond the country's borders.

In addition, consideration will be given to how best to support a national network of memorial sites relating to the victims of National Socialism, based on a project for a cross-border mediation and networking site by the Canton of St Gallen.

Federal Council press release of 26.04.2023

Six million European Jews, along with many Roma, Sinti and other minorities were killed by the National Socialist regime during the Second World War. Commemorating 27 January raises awareness of this tragedy and reminds us to remain vigilant, for even today racism, discrimination and anti-Semitism are an all too common reality.

Memorial ceremony in Auschwitz

In Auschwitz, the site of the largest Nazi death camp, a memorial ceremony for the victims is held every year on 27 January. This day also commemorates the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and death camp by the Red Army in 1945.

Viola Amherd, President of the Swiss Confederation, spoke on 27 January 2024 in a message on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Message from the President of the Swiss Confederation to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Saturday, 27 January 2024

Switzerland is a member of the IHRA

The IHRA was founded in 1998 to promote and advance Holocaust education, research and remembrance worldwide. Its 34 member countries work together to combat genocide, racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

Switzerland has been a member of the IHRA since 2004 and assumed its chairmanship in 2017.

Last update 16.02.2024

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