Luc van Dongen: Historian exposes secret wartime refugees





Some 500 Nazis, Italian fascists and supporters of the French Vichy regime found shelter in Switzerland at the end of the Second World War, says a Swiss historian.
swissinfo talked to Luc van Dongen who has opened the Pandora's box of the 1943-1954 period, throwing light on Swiss asylum policy and uncovering the traces of numerous highly controversial political and economic refugees.

The university professor's recently published book, "Un purgatoire très discret" (A very discreet purgatory), is based on ten years' work going through archives in Bern, Berlin, London, Paris and Washington.

Among the more well-known figures he exposes in his book are Mussolini's daughter, Edda Ciano, "Italian Goebbels" Dino Alfieri, Gestapo chief Rudolf Diels, SS officer Franz Sommer, as well as numerous Vichy regime ministers, industrialists, intellectuals, scientists and collaborators.

Until now much attention has focused on Switzerland's fiercely controversial wartime actions in denying entry to refugees, and little is known about sensitive refugee cases who were officially – but secretly - let into the country....


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