The schoolgirls of Rorschach - a small town in the Sangallo Canton along the border with Germany - are the authors of the brave letter of protest sent to the Swiss Federal Councilors on September 7, 1942, concerning the refusal of entry at the borders of the Jewish refugees.
It was a simple and disruptive human denunciation against a condition of closure imposed by the Swiss government that, concerned to put at risk its own image of neutrality, stopped at the borders those "wretched and shivering beings" - as the fourteen years old schoolgirls defined the rejected Jews in their letter.
The twenty-two petitioners begged the government to welcome the Jewish refugees, inviting it to be guided by the will of God before that of men. The lack of help was the result of a misunderstood "neutrality of thought", behind which not only Switzerland but also other European countries hid, in a questionable self-defense strategy.
The girls of Rorschach were neither unaware nor indifferent, they declared themselves profoundly indignant for the betrayal of the last hope that those human beings had to save themselves. It was not acceptable for them that Switzerland put itself and its relations with Germany before the right to life of thousands of innocent people who were sent to certain death. So these schoolgirls launched a protest that, even stronger because written by teenagers, remained a milestone in the opposition to the persecution, representing the moral redemption of an entire nation.
The letter did not go unnoticed but was considered very negatively by the Swiss government, which reacted harshly: the teacher, repeatedly questioned, was accused of having been the creator of the letter (later denied) and in response was drafted by the Councilors a long missive in defense of their work. However, after a series of revisions, the government decided not to make it public and not to proceed against the schoolgirls, fearing a boomerang effect, since their protest appealed to the spirit of the nation.
Reported by the writer Silvana Calvo for Monte Stella - Ceremony 2018.
Gardens that honour The schoolgirls of Rorschach
You can find a tree in the Virtual Garden Monte Stella's Stories.