Switzerland
SwitzerlandFlash 90

An enormous stone monument in a Swiss town has sparked anger and outrage after it was discovered to have been originally erected as a Nazi propaganda monument.

The 13-ton granite slab is covered in faded markings and moss. It contains names of German soldiers from World War I who died while being given medical treatment in Switzerland in the war period of 1914 to 1918.

However, the monument in the town of Chur was built in 1938. Local radio reporter, Stefanie Hablützel, speaking to BBC News about the discovery, believes that “it was built for propaganda reasons for the Nazi regime.”

The Nazi party had a strong tradition of hero worship of Germans who died fighting in wars, Swiss historian Martin Bucher has written, according to Metro. The monument is believed to have been part of an orchestrated attempt to signal the Nazi’s influence in neighboring countries, including in Switzerland.

Bucher added that the German War Graves Commission was used as propaganda by Hitler, at home and in countries with graves of German soldiers, to solidify a sense of Nazi power.

Hablützel told the BBC that her research for Swiss radio station SRF is causing people to reexamine the country’s lack of acknowledgement of a Nazi presence in officially neutral Switzerland.

“I grew up here in Chur, and I didn’t realize how many Nazi organizations were present in the 1930s, here in Chur,” she said.

"At first sight it looks like a war memorial," she added, noting that faint lettering referring to World War I and German soldiers can still be seen on it.

Local MP Jon Pult admits that there were Nazis in Switzerland during the war but he had no idea the monument existed.

‘I live maybe 500 metres from the cemetery where this stone is, and I walked past that stone probably a hundred times, and I never realized that it is of course a Nazi stone,” he told the broadcaster.