The instructive cases of Germany and Switzerland

When the West nails the Israeli coffin of the Palestinian people!

5 February by Yorgos Mitralias


First the facts: UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) supports almost 4 million Palestinian refugees, running their schools and hospitals and providing them with drinking water and food. In Gaza alone, UNRWA employs 13,000 people. Israel accuses 12 of them of involvement in the Hamas attack of October 7. UNRWA management dismissed 9 of them, and a tenth died. Immediately afterwards, 11 Western countries announce that they will stop funding UNRWA, which means the automatic end of UNRWA and perhaps of the Palestinian refugees themselves, since these 11 countries are the main backers of the UN organization that has - in fact - kept generations of Palestinian refugees alive since 1949…



Words are obviously superfluous to comment on this monstrous decision by the 11 large and medium-sized Western countries, at a time when the genocide of the Palestinian people is in full swing. The brutality of this decision becomes even more monstrous when we consider that most of these 11 countries - and the richest among them - have an incredibly “rich” genocidal past. And what’s worse, at least some of them “find it difficult”, or even refuse to acknowledge it, and even to apologize to their victims!

We won’t go back over the case of Japan, whose authorities, led by the Prime Minister, still pay tribute, once a year, to their fellow war criminals who committed what looks like a genocide of the Chinese people in the 1930s! But we’ll say a few more words about the highly instructive but equally odious cases of two other of these 11 “virtuous” countries, the much closer European countries of Switzerland and Germany. The link between the latter’s guilty past and the Gaza genocide was publicly raised at the initiative of the President of Namibia, the country that was the victim of the - chronologically speaking - first German genocidal operation.

Reacting to what he described as Germany’s “shocking” decision to stop funding UNRWA and to support Israel in its case against South Africa before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Namibian President Hage Geingob denounced “Germany’s inability to learn the lessons of its terrible history” and added: “Germany cannot morally express commitment to the United Nations Convention against genocide, including atonement for the genocide in Namibia, whilst supporting the equivalent of a holocaust and genocide in Gaza”.

And here’s what it’s all about: “Between 1904 and 1908, about 80% of the Herero people and 50% of the Nama people living in the territory of present-day Namibia were exterminated by the forces of the Second Reich, that is, about 65,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama...this crime of African colonial history is today considered the first genocide of the twentieth century.” It is perhaps no coincidence that the above quotation, like most of the other information on this “first genocide of the 20th century”, is taken from... Memorial de la SHOAH, the extraordinary Paris “museum and documentation center” dedicated to the Holocaust of the Jewish people by the Nazi Third Reich. But we continue: on October 2, 1904, the head of the German expeditionary corps, General Lothar von Trotha, signed an “extermination order” (Vernichtungsbefehl) commanding: “All Herero must leave the country. If they don’t, I’ll force them out with my big artillery guns. Any Herero found on German soil... armed or unarmed, with or without animals, will be executed. I won’t accept women or children. They must leave or die. This is my decision for the Herero people” [1].

And that’s what happened. But not only by bullets and shells, but also by hunger and thirst in the Kalahari desert, where the survivors were driven. And by confinement in forced labor and extermination camps, where they died like flies. If all this reminds you of something that happened 35-40 years later, you’re right. And not just because the first German colonial governor of the Herreros and Nama region was called Göring, and he was... the father of the future Nazi field marshal and Hitler’s second-in-command, Hermann Göring. But above all, because some of the 1904 genocidaires lived long enough to play a leading role in the Holocaust of the Jewish nation 30 years later. Like, for example, Franz Ritter von Epp, right-hand man of the abominable von Trotha and eminence of the Nazi party, who drowned Rosa Luxemburg’s Spartacus uprising in blood and exterminated the Jews and Roma of Bavaria while he was its supreme leader...

The worst thing about Germany, however, is not all that. It’s that it was only in 2021, 100 years later (!), that Germany allowed itself to recognize its crime and officially apologize! And that, despite pressure from Namibia and the descendants of the victims of its genocide, it was only in 2011 that Germany returned to them ... the skulls of their ancestors, on which the racist anthropologists of Berlin, led by the infamous Eugen Fischer, mentor and teacher of Auschwitz executioner Josef Mengele, had made their pseudo-scientific “studies”!

But let’s turn to Switzerland, whose foreign minister justified his decision to cut funding to UNRWA by saying that “Switzerland has zero tolerance for any support for terrorism and any advocacy of hatred or incitement to violence”. All would be well if his country actually did what it proclaimed. But the problem is that since the First World War, Switzerland has done and continues to do exactly the opposite: it stands out for its support of terrorists and inciters of hatred and violence. And above all to the greatest of them all, to Hitler, his regime and his war!

In fact, the Switzerland of the big bankers and arms dealers served the Nazi regime like no other country. In what way? Firstly, as a receiver for the Third Reich, by doing what even Franco’s Spain and Salazar’s Portugal refused to do: it agreed to put into its banks, and “launder”, the gold of the central banks of conquered countries, but also of private individuals - mainly Jews - which had been looted and stolen by Nazi Germany! And it did so because it became not only the Nazi regime’s true vault, but also the main financier of its war! And how? By “exchanging” the stolen gold for Swiss francs, the only convertible currency available to Germany at the time, to buy the raw materials (oil, rubber, etc.) it needed to launch and continue its war!

But let’s examine Switzerland’s culpability from the outset. It was Hitler himself who guaranteed Switzerland’s famous “neutrality” for the simple reason that a Switzerland conquered by the German army (as originally planned) could not have its own convertible currency to meet the needs of the Nazi regime. These needs were absolutely vital, since the Swiss coffers were empty in 1939 due to the astronomical cost of war preparations, which had been only partially covered by the gold of Austria, integrated into the Reich, postponing the collapse of the German economy by just one year. And it is for all these reasons that it is now commonly accepted by the most authoritative historians that, without Switzerland and its “services”, the Second World War would have ended at least two years earlier, especially as it was in fact the Swiss war industry that equipped the Wehrmacht to a considerable extent during the last two years of the war, while German factories were ruthlessly bombed and reduced to rubble. In fact, the Bührle-Oerlikon war industry owned by Mr. Bührle (Switzerland’s largest fortune) delivered its last rapid-fire weapons to the Wehrmacht just a few days before the end of the war, in April 1945!

But it’s not just that the Swiss authorities and their bankers accepted... 120 kg of gold from the gold teeth removed from deportees in the death rows of the various extermination camps. It’s also a fact that they knew very well, very early on and even “first-hand” about the unprecedented Nazi crimes, since they had sent teams of Swiss doctors and nurses to the Eastern Front to treat the wounded of the Wehrmacht, and it was these doctors who saw with their own eyes and informed their compatriots of the mass murders of tens of thousands of Soviet Jewish civilians! And they did so quite consciously, because the Swiss leaders themselves were staunch anti-Semites, as is proved by numerous official documents, such as that of the negotiations with the Nazi authorities on “traveler control”, which reveals that it was not the German Nazis but the virtuous Swiss “liberals” who invented and proposed it, in 1939, to the Germans (who accepted) the infamous stamp with the letter J (as in Jude, Jew) which “adorned” the passports of German Jews. And they did this to... distinguish them from other German travelers so they wouldn’t be accepted as political refugees in Switzerland! [2].

But, as in the case of Germany, the worst thing is that official Switzerland did everything in its power over the next half-century to cover up and conceal its guilt, slandering and even destroying those who sought the truth or were themselves eyewitnesses to it. Like, for example, the courageous Paul Grüninger, chief of police in the canton of St. Gallen, who issued false identity cards and papers to persecuted Jews, literally saving 3,600 of them. Moreover, it was because Paul Grüninger defied orders and didn’t do what official Switzerland did, i.e. deny asylum to tens of thousands of Jews or even hand over several to the Gestapo, that Paul Grüninger was tried, convicted, deprived of his pension, and died a pauper and “traitor to his country” in 1972. A telling detail: his conviction was not... “overturned” until 1995!

We’ll stop here without going into the still burning issue (in 2024!) of the thousands of Jewish deposits from the interwar period “dormant” in Swiss banks, for the restitution of which Swiss bankers often demand the presentation of the receipts (!) that the Jewish depositors should have taken with them to the gas chambers of the various extermination camps! Really, how much arrogance, hypocrisy and cynicism does it take for the Swiss Foreign Minister to dare declare that “Switzerland has zero tolerance for any support for terrorism and any advocacy of hatred or incitement to violence”? Like Germany, the Switzerland of “those from above” seems unwilling to learn the lessons of its recent history. And that’s why it turns morality on its head and makes a virtue out of sin, in order to remain firmly on the side of its capitalists and the genocidaires who do its business, simply replacing its traditional anti-Semitism with its current Islamophobia…


Footnotes

[1We recommend the following “illustrated story” by Canadian artist and journalist Danylo Hawaleshka, entitled “Israel, Gaza, Germany and the genocide in Namibia”: https://www.aljazeera.com/gallery/2024/1/23/israel-gaza-germany-and-the-genocide-in-namibia

[2For all this and more, see the documentary “L’honneur perdu de la Suisse”, first banned (1997) by the Swiss authorities, then “released” after a decision by the European Court of Human Rights, which its authors appealed: https://www.rts.ch/play/tv/histoire-vivante/video/lhonneur-perdu-de-la-suisse?urn=urn:rts:video:8036475

Yorgos Mitralias

Journalist, Giorgos Mitralias is one of the founders and leaders of the Greek Committee Against the Debt, a member of the international CADTM network.

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