Dodis 1848–1945 – «Back to the Future»

Dodis is returning to its past so as to make its way into the future. The complete first series of the Diplomatic Documents of Switzerland's (DDS) print publication, covering a period from the founding of the Swiss Confederation in 1848 up to the end of World War II in 1945, has been incorporated in Dodis, indexed, and given searchable keywords. Dodis is thus growing by 93 years of Switzerland's international relations, by more than 7000 documents, and almost 8000 persons.

All in one database

The entire research carried out by DDS in over 40 years is now combined in a single database. A search in Dodis returns results covering roughly 130 continuous years of Swiss history. Apart from the most recent documents, dating from the 1970s, now features rarities dating back to the beginnings of the Confederation, when revolutionary Switzerland faced pressure from its powerful neighbours.

Rarities from 1848

One of these is the federal commissioner for cantons on the German-Swiss border Jakob Robert Steiger's, sharp reply to a representative of the Grand Duke of Baden. Steiger made it clear to the German diplomat that «Switzerland will under any circumstances maintain the right of asylum, in the broadest sense of the word, for all those persecuted on political grounds, and will not have any foreign state dictate how this right is to be applied,» in response to a request that Swiss authorities take restrictive measures against revolutionary refugees fleeing the German states for Switzerland.

Defending a liberal asylum policy

After the Sonderbund War had been won by liberal forces, Switzerland had given itself a modern democratic constitution. By contrast, the conservative regimes of neighbouring countries violently oppressed the revolutionary forces of the European «Springtime of Nations.» Refugees from Germany and Italy were among the foremost issues the newly constituted Confederation had to face. Steiger's response – from a letter to the Swiss Federal Council – shows that a liberal asylum policy was one of the areas in which the Confederation energetically defended its sovereignty.

«Resolver» and permalink

Steiger's letter was published, in 1990, as document no. 4 in volume 1 of the DDS. With the help of a «resolver,» it is possible to find the document in the database using volume and document number. It has been newly attributed a citable permalink ( and can also be accessed online using the indexing system of the Dodis database.

09. 11. 2015