As research center against oblivion, the Archives of Contemporary History belongs to the international community of the Shoa archives. It secures holdings on Swiss contemporary history and functions as a business archive in the greater Zurich area.

The Documentation Center for Contemporary Jewish History sees itself as a central archival center for securing private estates and institutional archives related to Jewish life in Switzerland.

Main topics

  • History of the Swiss Jews
  • Anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism in Switzerland
  • Persecution, Holocaust and emigration to Switzerland
  • Swiss refugee policy
  • Refugee aid during and after the Second World War

Mission and delimitation

Sources on contemporary Swiss-Jewish history can also be found in numerous cantonal and municipal archives as well as the Federal Archives. Cooperation partners with other collection profiles on the topic are the ICZ Library or the Jewish Museum of Switzerland in Basel. In addition to its collection of objects, the latter also houses numerous documents on religious and cultural Jewish life.

Cooperations with foreign archives

With the support of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum Washington (USHMM), selected AfZ holdings were digitized and made accessible at the USHMM. Since important source holdings on the history of Jews are located in the United States and Israel, the Archive of Contemporary History has used microfilming projects to make it possible to view some of these sources in its reading room. These include, for example, the Saly Mayer Archive (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, JOINT, New York).

Current projects

  • AfZ Online Collections (Jewish Periodicals)
  • Project of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (ASO) for a Swiss Memorial to the Victims of National Socialism

Contact & Info

(Specialist in Contemporary Jewish History)

Photo of pupils of the Leo Adler Jewish Primary School, Basel, 1973
Lessons before the Digital Turn. Leo Adler Jewish Primary School, Basel, 1973 (BA BASJ Archive).

The Archives of Contemporary History offers a wide range of bequests and institutional holdings on general Swiss contemporary history. Its collection focus on political contemporary history covers the eras from the First World War to the interwar period to the Second World War and the Cold War to the present.

Main topics

  • Migration policy (also refugees, internees)
  • Foreign policy (bilateral relations, diplomacy, "good offices", international organizations, etc.)
  • Intellectual national defense / anti-communism
  • Culture (photography, caricature, literature)
  • National defense / military / security policy
  • Media policy
  • Parties / political organizations and actors (also frontism, communism)
  • State security
  • Environmental policy
  • Science (history, jurisprudence, etc.)

Mission and delimitation

The focus is on private bequests and corporate archives of nationwide significance. Documents with a purely regional or local reference are not collected. Such documents are the responsibility of cantonal, communal and regional archives. Documents without reference to Switzerland are also excluded.

Political contemporary history is defined relatively broadly and openly. Nevertheless, the Archives of Contemporary History does not aim at a comprehensive documentation of contemporary events. Therefore, for example, women's and gender history, health care, church and religion, art, social movements and sports do not form collection focal points. Other specialized archives such as the Swiss Social Archive or the Archive on the History of the Swiss Women's Movement (Gosteli Foundation) are suitable for this purpose.

Contact & Info

(Specialist for Political Contemporary History)

Caricature entitled «The Helvetosaurs» for the Nebelspalter, 1986
«The Helvetosaurs». Caricature for the Nebelspalter, 1986 (NL Hans U. Steger).

The Archives for Contemporary History secures and makes accessible selected holdings on Swiss economic history. It thus fulfills the tasks of a public research and documentation center for the economic region of Zurich.

Main topics

  • Economic structure of Switzerland
  • Economic and foreign trade policy
  • Financial and social policy
  • Integration policy

Mission and delimitation

At the beginning of the 1990s, the Archives of Contemporary History, together with the suburb of the Swiss Trade and Industry Association (today: economiesuisse), launched its specialized section on economics and contemporary history. The focus of the accession policy is on private archives of business umbrella organizations, and in exceptional cases on corporate archives that show research potential in the ETH context.

At the level of national and international professional associations and in cooperation with the Swiss Economic Archives in Basel, the archive is committed to business archival education and training. Its activities serve to raise the awareness of business, archives and research for the preservation and maintenance of business archives in Switzerland.

Current projects and cooperations

Contact & Info

(Specialist Economy and Contemporary History)

Photo of the Stamping shop at Landis & Gyr, 1930
«Modern Times». Stamping shop at Landis & Gyr, 1930 (IB LG-Audiovisuals).
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