An exhibit featuring the last Swiss Holocaust survivors went on display at the plenary session of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in Geneva in late June, with the support of Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.
The Last Swiss Holocaust Survivors was produced by Gamaraal Foundation, an organization that supports needy Holocaust survivors in Switzerland, with an additional emphasis is placed on projects in Holocaust education. The exhibit was shown for the first time at the Swiss Embassy in Berlin during the official hand-over ceremony as Switzerland took over the presidency of the IHRA 2017 this year.
Anita Winter, the founder and president of the Gamaraal Foundation, introduced the exhibit at the IHRA with a personal message about her father, a Holocaust survivor who fled Germany and took refuge in Switzerland during the war.
“If Hitler’s regime would have been completely successful, I would not be standing here today,” Winter said.
“Not many were so lucky like my parents and had the chance to start a new life in Switzerland and for that I am very thankful, more than I can tell you in words. Based on my family history, the memory of the Holocaust,
the transfer of knowledge and the discussion of it are therefore very dear to my heart. This was my personal motivation to create the exhibition “The last Swiss Holocaust Survivors,”” Winter said.
Esther Hörnlimann, the project manager of the exhibition, said that “its primary aim is to reach young people who will soon not have the chance to meet survivors in person.”
“They need to grapple with the Holocaust in order to become aware of their own responsibility as human beings, so that they will take a stand against any similar horrible crimes being committed again anywhere in the world, against religious, ethnic or other minorities,” Hörnlimann said.
“With the last survivors of the Holocaust we also lose the last witnesses. In this sense it was the last possible moment in which to realize such an exhibition at all.”
Most of the Holocaust survivors in Switzerland were not native born: some fled to Switzerland during the war, others came after the liberation for recuperation, and yet others arrived later as refugees from communism during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 or the Prague Spring of 1968, inter alia.