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Gozdziak and Dianna J. Shandy, eds. Heiniger, M.

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In: Regional Studies. Previous publications. Online volunteering as a means to overcome unequal participation? The profiles of online and offline volunteers compared. European University Institute. Sara R. The Rise of Femonationalism. Who Ought to Stay? Asylum Policy and Protest Culture in Switzerland. Cham : Springer.

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Evidence from a quasi-experiment. Regional citizenship in a system of plural memberships and multilevel rights. Handbook of Territorial Politics. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Raus aus der Komfortzone. Stiftung Mercator Schweiz. When right-wing actors take sides with deportees. A typology of anti-deportation protests.

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As early as the 19 th century, Switzerland, together with Belgium , France and Great Britain, was one of the most important asylum countries for political refugees. In scholarly literature, one can find the unconfirmed number of 30, political migrants in Switzerland during the war. However, the Swiss Federal Council did not formally recognise foreign deserters as political refugees, but usually only granted them a provisional permit of residence. Furthermore, an undefined number of civilian refugees, including families with children and elderly people, from Belgium, Serbia , Romania , Italy and Armenia found refuge in Switzerland during the First World War.

In total, 4, Belgian refugees arrived in the country. Once admitted into Switzerland, these people usually required public assistance and deportation was difficult.


In contrast to civilian refugees, who often travelled in family groups and only had minimal means at their disposal, political emigrants mostly travelled alone. In addition, they were often reasonably wealthy or had contacts and resources at their disposal.


Foreigners who stayed in Switzerland during the First World War and who could be counted as "refugees" were therefore above all deserters and draft-dodgers as well as political emigrants. The German and Austro-Hungarian declarations of war took many people living in exile or abroad by surprise.

To escape internment, many of them — including Vladimir Lenin — fled to Switzerland. In the spring of , the latter helped his French pacifist friend Henri Guilbeaux also to come to Switzerland. From exile in Switzerland, Eastern European groups furthermore demanded the right to national self-determination or statehood. Between and four "conferences of nationalities" were held in Lausanne and Bern. Prominent socialists from twelve different countries attended the conference, including well-known Swiss-based exiles such as Lenin and Karl Radek One year later, the Kiental conference followed.

In the magazines and newspapers , Swiss scholars and politicians stood together with political emigrants. During or after the end of the First World War, most of these emigrants returned to their home countries. Under the federal constitution of , authority in Switzerland was shared between the Confederation central state , the cantons and half-cantons federal states and the smaller local municipalities, with each canton having its own constitution and laws.

At the beginning of the war there were therefore no consistent guidelines concerning border control in Switzerland and every canton had its own system. From , Switzerland was surrounded by belligerent states whose governments had introduced strict border and passport controls. The Swiss Federal Government and the cantonal governments therefore feared the influx of a large number of destitute foreigners, who could have been a "burden" on the state and the cantons.

Therefore, the federal authorities introduced stricter border controls in autumn In this context, the requirement to hold a valid identity document passport obligation when crossing the Swiss border, which had already been fixed in , was given a legal basis.

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As a result of the new decree, foreigners furthermore had to provide an excerpt from their criminal record, evidence of a "good" purpose for their stay in Switzerland and confirmation that sufficient resources were at their disposal. In May , the Federal Department of Justice and Police also ordered the general limitation of all residence and settlement permits. Instead, they issued so-called "control cards", which the foreigners concerned had to present every time they came into contact with the immigration authorities, the local authorities and at police controls. The sovereignty of the cantons concerning migration and asylum policy was therefore severely restricted — a process that continued even after the war. Until the founding of the Federal Immigration Authority in November , the "political police" of the Federal Prosecutor's Office was the only pan-Swiss organisation controlling the political activity of foreigners.