29 October 2014

Pin It

Switzerland Story of Thousands of Slave Children on Farms

Switzerland Story of Thousands of Slave Children on Farms

Historian Loretta Seglias says children were taken away for "economic reasons most of the time… up until World War Two Switzerland was not a wealthy country, and a lot of the people were poor".
Agriculture was not mechanised and so farms needed child labour.

Thousands of people in Switzerland who were forced into child labour are demanding compensation for their stolen childhoods. Since the 1850s hundreds of thousands of Swiss children were taken from their parents and sent to farms to work - a practice that continued well into the 20th Century.

The Swiss Parliament, the Bundeshaus is buzzing. The campaigner Guido Fluri has just got the 100,000 signatures for a petition that could put the question of compensation to a national referendum.
It's calling for a restitution package of about 500 million Swiss Francs (£327m) for the 10,000 contract children estimated to be alive today, as well as others wronged by the state's coercive measures.

The petition was launched in April. Fluri says its success shows how strongly the Swiss people sympathise with the contract children.

David Gogniat At the age of eight, he was in effect kidnapped and taken away to a farm. To this day he has no idea why.

David Gogniat, who left his foster family when he was 16, is now 75. He runs a successful trucking business. He arrives with his wife at the Bern archive. Since July, former contract children have had the right to access their childhood files.
For the first years of his life, he and his older brother and sisters lived alone with their mother. They were poor, but his childhood was happy until one day in 1946, when he came home from school to find his siblings had disappeared.

A year later it was his turn.

Who took them?
 Three Policemen took him to farm to work as a slave.
A legal kidnapping

"To me it feels as though there was some sort of an agreement between the farmers and child services to provide children as cheap labour," he says. But he only wants to know one thing: "Who was responsible for the fact we were taken away?"

He was taken to an old farmhouse and became the farmhand. He would wake before 06:00 and worked before and after school. His day finished after 22:00.

"The fact that my mother arranged to kidnap her own children and take them back home to Bern with her just goes to show how much she was struggling against the authorities," Gogniat says.
On his mother's death he made a shocking discovery. He found papers which showed she had been paying money to the foster families for the upkeep of her four children, who had been forcibly taken away from her and were working as indentured labourers.

Gogniat, his brother and two sisters were "contract children" or verdingkinder as they are known in Switzerland. The practice of using children as cheap labour on farms and in homes began in the 1850s and it continued into the second half of the 20th Century.

If a child became orphaned, a parent was unmarried, there was fear of neglect, or you had the misfortune to be poor, the communities would intervene.
Authorities tried to find the cheapest way to look after these children, so they took them out of their families and placed them in foster families.

Sarah (not her real name) had been in institutions from birth, but in 1972, at the age of nine, she was sent to a home in a village, where she was expected to clean the house. She did that before and after school, and at night cleaned offices in nearby villages for her foster mother. She was beaten regularly by the mother,

There was no official decision to end the use of contract children. Seglias says it just naturally started to die out in the 1960s and 70s. As farming became mechanised, the need for child labour vanished.
But Switzerland was changing too. Women got the vote in 1971 and attitudes towards poverty and single mothers moved on.

Historians estimate there were hundreds of thousands such children.
For one year alone in the 1930s, records show 30,000 children were placed in foster families across Switzerland.

Last year an official apology was made to contract children, and other victims of the state's compulsory measures - people who had been forcibly sterilised, or unlawfully detained.

Suggested Reading –

Switzerland's shame: The children used as cheap farm labour

Reality views by sm –

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tags - Switzerland Farm Slave Story


Destination Infinity October 29, 2014  

I think they can easily pay it. A fraction of all the interest accrued by the black money accumulated in their banks maybe sufficient.

Destination Infinity