New publication on Reformed participation in the history of children’s homes and labor

The history of children in homes and forced labor is a dark chapter in Swiss history. A large number of children and adolescents suffered from exploitation and abuse. The book Heim- und Verdingkinder: Die Rolle der reformierten Kirchen im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, recently published by TVZ, is a significant step toward coming to terms with the Reformed part in this dark history, and learning from the past. 30 October 2017
© TVZ Verlag

The book Heim- und Verdingkinder: Die Rolle der reformierten Kirchen im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert was published by Esther Gaillard, a member of the Council of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FSPC) and theologian Dr. Simon Hofstetter. The articles in the volume demonstrate, as Hofsetter explains, “a surprisingly close connection between representatives of the Reformed Church and state authorities. The authorities often lacked the interest, resources, or ability to deal appropriately with the children in homes and forced labor. A number of church representatives (and other organizations) jumped in to fill the gap.” It is remarkable that there was a lack of supervision or scrutiny in many places – in particular as a reflection of the close link between church and state authorities. Abuses were therefore rarely uncovered.

The book resulted from a conference at which experts from the political, administrative, church, and academic worlds discussed how strongly Reformed church representatives were involved in the practice of these forceful measures against those who were to be cared for. The book, moreover, speaks to the lessons we should derive from the past.

Representatives of the Reformed Church participated in these practices in a number of different ways. Protestant organizations ran their own homes or found places for children in others, and Reformed local pastors provided information or facilitated children being placed in homes in their areas.

The book is available (in German) in shops or from the publisher directly.