In December 1999, a report commissioned by the Swiss government, known as the Bergier Report, addressed Switzerland’s refugee policy before and during World War II. The report is named for Professor Jean-François Bergier, the chairman of the commission of experts assembled by Switzerland in the 1990s to examine various aspects of the nation’s actions before, during and after the war.
The Bergier Report criticizes two decisions by Switzerland that had a devastating impact on Jews attempting to find refuge there. The first, in 1938, was the country’s request of Germany to stamp all passports of Jews with a "J," enabling Switzerland to prevent large numbers of Jews from entering. The second, in 1942, was the sealing of Switzerland’s borders. By the time Switzerland changed its border policy in 1944, after no longer being able to ignore the extermination of Jews by the Nazis, it was too late for many thousands who had tried to cross. For those Jewish refugees who were able to enter Switzerland, conditions were often difficult. Many were imprisoned, sent to work camps, and separated from their families.
A Swiss government list of 6,300 refugees expelled from or denied entry into Switzerland was posted on the Claims Conference Website. Several survivors who have received payments told the Claims Conference that they applied for compensation after they found their names on the list. The Claims Conference also worked with its network of 350 partner agencies in local Jewish communities worldwide to provide information and assistance to survivors on an individual basis.
The Claims Conference has paid or approved for payment 3,858 Holocaust survivors in 24 countries a total of $10.6 million under this program.