To talk about difficult and traumatising experiences takes courage. Many of those affected have suppressed their past. Society too has ignored the fates of the people affected by coercive welfare measures or care placements for a long time. The reassessment of the injustice that is now underway is painful – for those affected and for society.

© Our Faces – Our Stories, 2022

The End of Silence

Already early on welfare measures under duress or confiscation of children were criticised. But the response was modest and the changes too.

Social measures and placements in care were part of Swiss social and family policy. They were based on a broad range of legal provisions and followed a social need for security. That these boundaries of the norm had been set very narrowly and individual needs were disregarded for a long time is difficult to understand from today’s perspective. ...

Late Socio-Political Reassessment

After several setbacks, the debate on coercive social measures and placements in Switzerland has now been present in the media for several years and is addressed by policy, society, culture and science. Key thereby were and are the voices of those affected. Attempts to reassess the injustice of the past have been made earlier in other countries, for instance in Canada, Australia, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Norway or Belgium.

And Everybody Played Along – Really Everybody?

Coercive welfare measures could persist for so long because they were supported by society and decision makers. But there were also always critical voices. One of them was Carl Albert Loosli.

Carl Albert Loosli in an early, undated photograph wearing a tie.

Carl Albert Loosli in an undated photograph. Photographer: unknown.

An early and vehement critic of administrative welfare measures under duress and discrimination was the Bümpliz poet and writer Carl Albert Loosli. With a sharp pen he wrote against such discrimination and the “administrative justice”.

We Talk in this Film