Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Neutral Swiss

Oh, our dear friends the Swiss. Staunchest defenders of neutrality and spinelessness.

Before I fell ill last week, I was working on a story that really got my blood boiling. I shall quote a story that I read online, but shall change it slightly for you.

The government has officially rehabilitated the reputation of the young Swiss man executed in Nazi Germany for an attempted murder charge. President Pascal Couchepin admitted on Friday that the Swiss government at the time could have done more to defend Maurice Bavaud. "With hindsight, the then Swiss authorities did too little to intervene on behalf of the condemned person... he deserves our recognition," Couchepin said.

The government announcement comes in response to a motion by parliamentarian Paul Rechtsteiner who demanded an explanation why the Swiss authorities had up until now failed to rehabilitate Bavaud. It will be 70 years on Sunday since the 22-year-old failed in his attempt to shoot a man at a rally in Munich. He was arrested and spent 30 months in solitary confinement before being executed. During his imprisonment, Bavaud was never visited by the Swiss diplomatic representative in Berlin, who called the assassination attempt a "detestable act".

Apparently a Swiss man had his reputation posthumously reinstated on the 7th of November for attempting to assassinate the most evil man in recent history.

Correct, ladies and gentlemen! Maurice Bavaud attempted to kill Adolf Hitler. By coincidence, Bavaud made his attempt just hours before Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, when Nazis destroyed synagogues and Jewish businesses across Germany and Austria.

"He seems to have anticipated the doom that Hitler would bring to the whole world," President Pascal Couchepin said in a statement posted on his official Web site. "For this he deserves our remembrance and recognition."

Bavaud, who was from the western Swiss town of Neuchatel, regarded the Nazi leader as a danger to Switzerland, Christianity and all of humanity. He was arrested several days after his failed assassination attempt and tortured into confessing his plans to the Gestapo, the secret police. Theologian Peter Spinatsch, who continues to campaignin for Bavaud's rehabilitation, says Couchepin's statement does not go far enough. "I expected them to apologize for the despicable behavior of the Swiss police, who in 1940 wrote a report for the Gestapo that further incriminated Bavaud," Spinatsch told The Associated Press.

Switzerland followed a policy of neutrality toward Germany before and during World War II and thus failed to intervene on Bavaud's behalf, and the young theology student was consequently guillotined in a Berlin prison in May 1941.

My reactions are of disgust and anger. Isn't that disgraceful? I knew that Switzerland acted in an irresponsible, spineless way during the war, but this is an absolute horror. The man tried to kill Hitler, on the eve of Kristallnacht no less, and Swiss couldn't request him to be sent home to be dealt with internally? Maurice Bavaud was nothing less than a hero, albeit a slightly mad one, and the Swiss were so cold as to refuse him a defence against the mighty German war machine. The man who should have defended him labeled him as having attempted a "detestable act." I would have put it rather differently. I understand the concept of self-preservation, but this was heartless, true callousness.

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