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Paul Grüninger

With the ramping up of antisemitic policy in Germany in the late 1930s, the annexation of Austria and the outbreak of war, larger numbers of Jewish refugees attempted to escape into Switzerland from the Nazi regime.


Despite this ramping up of antisemitic policy in Germany, in 1938 the Swiss increased border protections, visa requirements on refugees and worked with the Germans to require a ‘J’ stamp on the passports of German Jews.

Paul Grüninger

Amongst the police who were supposed to enforce these measures was Paul Grüninger, a police captain in St. Gallen, who violated restrictions on refugees illegally entering the country. Grüninger permitted 3,600 Jews into Switzerland and falsified documents so that they would be given passports classifying them as legal immigrants. He even used his own money to pay for the winter clothes of those who had been unable to flee with their own.  

Grüninger was arrested – continuing to help refugees even after he was aware he was under investigation – and found guilty, receiving a fine. He struggled to find employment after the war given his criminal record, and would only have his actions exonerated by the Swiss government in 1995, 23 years after his death.