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Preview: 21 August 2020 – 28 March 2021

Borderlines – Basel 1933–1945

May 2020 will mark 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 ethical, 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.

Card of the Hitler Youth Basel // between 1933 and 1945 // HMB, Inv. 2019.417.
SA-Uniform, so-called ‹Brownshirt› // between 1920 and 1945 // HMB, Inv. 2018.1028.
Diary No. 6 of Gertrud Staehelin-Kutter // between 1939 and 1945 // Staatsarchiv Basel-Stadt, Stadt, PA 182b B 1 (1) 6.
Light bulbs, candles and matchbox for wartime blackouts // between 1939 and 1945 // HMB, inv. 2009.616.1.–4. and HMB, inv. 1993.166.
Stacking chair made of aluminium, the so-called «Landi-Chair» // between 1940 and 1950 // HMB, inv. 1982.72./GM.
Handmade press for forging ration stamps // 1942 // Basel Police Museum, inv. 1083.
Meal card for the Jewish aid in Basel // Jewish Museum of Switzerland, JMS 934.
Basel Historical Museum

Tie-in publication


Basel 1933–1945

The tie-in publication (in German) to be published by the Christoph Merian Verlag 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 

Available in the second half of August 2020

Book in our online shop

Basel Historical Museum

Educational offer for schools

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

Basel Historical Museum provides specific programmes for secondary and vocational school classes.

A teachers’ information dossier will be available as of June 2020.


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
Isaac Dreyfus-Bernheim Stiftung, Basel
Fachstelle für Rassismusbekämpfung FRB
Freiwilliger Museumsverein Basel
Dr. h.c. Emile Dreyfus-Stiftung, 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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