During the Second World War in Western Europe, beginning in the late 1930s, many individuals and families fled from other European nations to find safety in neutral Switzerland. Some were natives of other countries, but many who came back to Switzerland were also Swiss citizens.
The Swiss Archives have put together a database of some 25,604 individuals who did cross the border on the French side to enter Switzerland during those war years, approximately 1938 to 1945. Each person crossing had to complete a registration, so quite a bit of information was gathered at the time they entered Switzerland at Geneva. This registration applied to Swiss and non-Swiss people. The refugees entering were all types of people, civilians as well as military personnel.
The type of data provided includes surnames and given names. However, many of the refugees used aliases when entering or various forms or spellings for a name. Where other names are known, they are on the list also. There could be variations in spellings based on national languages such as Italian or Swiss German. For example, a William could be Wilhelm or Guillaume.
Also listed was the date of birth for persons entering. It was written in the form of the day, the month and then year. Those crossing the border included families; so many names are those of very young children, born 1942 to 1945. An important element on the registration was the addition of a person’s nationality.
When viewing the website, it is in the French language. However, most Internet providers have an option to translate and convert the entire site page into another language. So you can have it translated into English.
Each PDF file is a separate surname letter. Those names will also be in French or Swiss German and can be translated also using the Adobe Reader. You might just be able to identify each name as it is and the dates are simply as well as the nationalities. For example ‘Spanien’ is Spanish, ‘Italien’ is Italian or ‘Polen‘ is Polish.
So if you had an ancestor in Europe who may have fled into Switzerland during the Second World War, this site is worth reviewing.