From 1926 to 1973 the Swiss child welfare foundation Pro Juventute (founded in 1912 and still functioning) promoted and carried out, with the active co-operation of the federal, cantonal, and local authorities, the mass kidnapping of what they called the Kinder der Landstraße (children of the highways).
These Roma (or Gypsy) children were initially placed in orphanages and then some at least were fostered or adopted. The purpose was to destroy the Swiss Roma as a people: "If you want to stop nomadism you must scatter the community of the traveling people. As harsh as this may sound, there is no other way than to terminate their family structures" (Andre Siegried, initiator of the policy).
Estimates of the number of children stolen from their families range from 600 to 3,000+.
The Swiss government has apologized to the Roma and paid SFr 11,000,000 compensation, but still refuses to allow them access to the records which would enable the families to be reunited. A side effect of this policy was that a number of Roma families fled across the border into Germany, fell into the clutches of the Nazis, and were exterminated in the Shoah.
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