Swiss party wants to revive Nazi policy

Swiss party wants to revive Nazi policy


Sippenhaft is an old Nazi policy under which family members of criminals were held equally responsible and punished. Now a Swiss political party is using a racist and xenophobic poster to revive the practice.

The poster shows three white sheep booting out a black sheep, with a caption that translates to “for more security.” It’s part of an effort to drum up support for a deportation policy in which entire immigrant families would be kicked out of Switzerland if their children committed a violent crime, a drug offense, or benefits fraud.

It’s not some fringe, extremist, right-wing political party that’s trying to collect 100,000 signatures for a referendum on the policy. Rather, it’s the country’s largest party—the Swiss People’s Party. Back in 2004, this party used the image of black hands reaching into a pot of Swiss passports to successfully campaign for stricter immigration laws. More recently, it proposed banning the construction of minarets.

It all seems part of a larger general trend of racism and anti-Semitism brewing in the region. Uniformed Austrian soldiers recently put a Nazi video on YouTube. Last month, eight men from India were chased down and beaten up by a mob of 50 Germans yelling “Foreigners out!” In eastern Germany, where far-right heckling is a “fact of life” at soccer matches, neo-Nazis took things to a new low in May by targeting a youth match and calling a 14-year-old goalkeeper a “Jewish pig.” And last year when Germany hosted the World Cup, a former government spokesman warned dark-skinned visitors to avoid “no-go” areas where racism is a problem. The examples go on …

Obviously, not all Germans, Swiss, and Austrians are cold-hearted extremists, but history is replete with examples of populations that have been radicalized quite fast. This German-speaking part of the world should be kept on our radar screens.