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21 August 2020 – 30 May 2021

Borderlines – Basel 1933–1945

May 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. On this occasion, Basel Historical Museum is to stage a special exhibition about Basel during the era of National Socialism.

The Nazi regime in Germany and the Second World War had a significant impact on life in Basel and the whole border region between 1933 and 1945. The exhibition will inquire into cross-border relationships and ask where the people of Basel, the Swiss authorities and local businesses and institutions stood in relation to National Socialism and the Nazi state.

Refugees and refugee policies, the political climate, economic ties, the challenges faced by Basel’s Jewish population, the campaign to defend Switzerland’s cultural identity and everyday life during the war will be among the themes presented. The show will recount the fortunes of individuals as well as exploring borderline cases of all kinds, whether geographical, personal, legal or moral, providing plenty of food for thought on how we handle the past.

The exhibition will be trilingual (German, French, English) and will provide wheelchair access and be accessible via eGuide.

Download exhibition flyer

Basel Historical Museum

Tie-in publication


Basel 1933–1945

The tie-in publication to be published by the Christoph Merian Verlag in German is aimed at a broad readership. Where the people of Basel, the Swiss authorities and local businesses stood in relation to National Socialism and Nazi Germany has long been a subject of in-depth research and discourse and remains a topic of debate to this day. This lavishly illustrated book brings together essays by fourteen authors and provides a compact introduction to what is currently known about Basel’s situation during the Nazi period.

Printed with the kind support of
Berta Hess-Cohn Stiftung, Basel 

Book in our online shop

Basel Historical Museum

Educational offer for schools

Essay on the St. Jakob Quincentennial by Rosette Graf // 1944 // HMB, Inv. 2017.18.

Basel Historical Museum offers an exhibition visit with workshop as well as classical guided tours. The offers are aimed at school classes of the secondary levels I and II as well as vocational school classes.

An information dossier in German is available for teachers to prepare and follow up on their visit to the exhibition. It can be downloaded here: Download

Exhibition visit with workshop
The visit to the exhibition lasts 90 minutes and, after a short tour, offers the pupils the opportunity to deal with a specific topic independently and in depth. In small groups they discuss a particular exhibit using various materials and then share the knowledge they have acquired with the class. For this purpose, posters are created on site, in which the respective exhibit is embedded in its historical context and its meaning is made understandable.

Guided tours
A guided tour for school classes lasts 60 minutes and offers the pupils an overview of the various themes of the exhibition. The various facets of this period are discussed: the flight to Switzerland, the Jewish population in Basel, the intellectual national defence, Basel's economic and ideological links with Germany and everyday life in Basel during the war.

On request, we also offer special tours with a particular focus.

Basel-City schools and schools from the tariff association of north-western Switzerland: free Schools from other cantons and countries: flat-rate CHF 180 plus admission fee of CHF 5 per person (max. CHF 90)

Registration +41 61 205 86 00 / historisches.museum(at)bs.ch


Accompanying programme

Barbed wire used for the border fence between Germany and Switzerland // between 1942 and 1947 // Dreiländermuseum Lörrach, Inv. E1048.

A diverse programme accompanies the exhibition: guided tours in German, English and French, Wednesday matinees, workshop discussions and events with our cooperation partners. Due to the planning uncertainty caused by the coronavirus, the dates of the guided tours and events will only be published online.


ex/ex theater: Theatre walk «Fast täglich kamen Flüchtlinge» (in German), from June 2020. www.exex.ch

Jewish Museum of Switzerland: Exhibition «Passports, Profiteers, Police. A Swiss War Secret» (in English or German), until 31.12.2020. www.juedisches-museum.ch

Dreiländermuseum Lörrach: Exhibitions «Kunst und Nationalsozialismus» (in German or French) and «Gefeiert und gefürchtet. NS-Diktatur in Brombach, Haagen und Hauingen» (in German), both 08.08.2020–30.05.2021. www.dreilaendermuseum.eu

Historische und Antiquarische Gesellschaft zu Basel: Lecture by Dr. Gregor Spuhler in der Barfüsserkirche (in German), 19.10.2020. www.hag-basel.ch

Volkshochschule beider Basel: Lecture series on «Basel und der Nationalsozialismus» (in German), 07.01.2021–11.02.2021. www.vhsbb.ch

Gare du Nord and Jewish Museum of Switzerland: Readings. www.garedunord.ch and www.juedisches-museum.ch

Children and teenagers from the Regional Music School Liestal and the Music School Arlesheim play together with the Bait Jaffe Klezmer Orchestra from the band's songbook. Concert in the Barfüsserkirche, 21.03.2021.

Details of our partners‘ programmes can be found on their websites.


Project Patrons

Rudolf Kappenberger’s jersey for the Swiss national team // ca. 1942 // Private property.

The exhibition is supported by

Stiftung für das Historische Museum Basel
Programme INTERREG Oberrhein
Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne
Freiwillige Akademische Gesellschaft Basel
Sulger-Stiftung, Basel (via Stiftung HMB)
Dr. h.c. Emile Dreyfus-Stiftung, Basel
Isaac Dreyfus-Bernheim Stiftung, Basel
Service for Combating Racism (SCRA)
Freiwilliger Museumsverein Basel
Ruth und Paul Wallach Stiftung, Basel
Dr. Georg und Josi Guggenheim-Stiftung, Zurich

and other patrons who do not wish to be named.






Patrons and Advisory Committee


Ruth Dreifuss
Former member of the Swiss Federal Council

Brigitte Klinkert
President of the Conseil Départemental du Haut-Rhin, France

Bärbel Schäfer
District Commissioner of the District of Freiburg, Germany

Monica Gschwind
Member of the Executive Council of Canton Basel-Landschaft and Head of Education, Culture and Sport

Dr. Conradin Cramer
Member of the Executive Council of Canton Basel-Stadt and Head of the Education Dept.

Martine Brunschwig Graf
President of the Federal Commission Against Racism (EKR)

Prof. Dr. med. Manuel Battegay
Former President of the Israelitische Gemeinde Basel

Prof. Dr. Thomas Maissen
Director of the Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris

Prof. Dr. Georg Kreis
History Professor Emeritus, University of Basel

Historical Advisory Committee

Christine Althaus
Lecturer at the FHNW School of Education

Sabine Bitter
Editor, Radio SRF 2 Kultur

Dr. Naomi Lubrich
Director of the Jewish Museum of Switzerland

Markus Moehring
Director of the Dreiländermuseum Lörrach

Prof. Dr. Erik Petry
Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Basel

Dr. Gregor Spuhler
Director of the Archives of Contemporary History, ETH Zurich

Dr. Daniel Wildmann FRHistS
Director of the Leo Baeck Institute London

Special exhibition in the Barfüsserkirche

Opening times

Admission to the exhibition: CHF 5.– plus standard admission


Basel Historical Museum
Management & administration
Steinenberg 4
PO box
CH – 4001 Basel

Reception: +41 61 205 86 00
Message: +41 61 205 86 02

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