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Swiss Hold Protest Against Anti-Semitism

Sun., Feb. 9, 1997

Several thousand Swiss held a silent demonstration against anti-Semitism on Saturday to launch a church-organized fund-raising campaign for Holocaust victims.

The campaign, which will run through March, is separate from a $71 million fund-raising effort announced last week by Switzerland’s three largest banks. The bank fund, which the government and others might contribute to later, also is intended to help Holocaust survivors and their heirs.

No goal or initial collection total was announced for the church fund.

Switzerland’s recent soul-searching review of its treatment of Jews and their assets during World War II has been accompanied by an increase in anti-Semitic incidents.

Although this neutral country provided refuge for 27,000 Jews who escaped from surrounding Nazi-occupied or Nazi-allied territory, it turned away another 30,000 Jews, most of whom likely died in concentration camps.

Swiss banks also provided protection for the assets of European Jews, but heirs of Jews killed by the Nazis say they have encountered great difficulty tracking down unclaimed accounts.

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