On this day…28 November

On 28 November 1940 the Joyce received permission to enter Switzerland.

Since August 1940 Joyce and his family had been trying to obtain permission to leave unoccupied France for Switzerland. Various obstacles and delays meant that permission to enter Switzerland was not granted until 28 November, and the Joyces didn’t leave France until mid-December.

From February 1940 the Joyces had been living in and around St-Gérand-le-Puy, a short distance from Vichy in the unoccupied part of France. After the invasion of Holland and Belgium in May, German troops had entered Paris in mid-June. The Joyces then decided to leave for Switzerland and applied to the Swiss authorities in Vichy for entry permits. Joyce managed to secure an exit permit for his daughter Lucia, who was in the asylum at Pornichet in the German-occupied zone, and he began making arrangements for her care in Switzerland.

On 30 September the Joyces’ application for entry to Switzerland was rejected. The application had been made to the canton of Zurich and Joyce now heard that it might be better to apply to another canton such as Vaud in western Switzerland. This would mean starting the application process again, and any delay with the entry permits might make it more difficult to obtain their exit permits from the French authorities.

Carola Giedion-Welcker visited the Aliens’ Police in Zurich and discovered that the authorities thought Joyce was a Jew. More documentation had to be added and the application resubmitted. By this time, the French authorities had issued the family’s exit permits, but this increased Joyce’s anxiety. By the beginning of November the police had called twice making a census of British citizens, and they expressed surprise that the Joyces hadn’t made use of the exit permits and were still in France.

By 22 November Joyce was hopeful that he had finally satisfied all the requirements of the Swiss authorities but he was uncertain about arrangements for Lucia. On 28 November the Zurich Aliens’ Police issued a recommendation that the Joyces be allowed entry to Switzerland. Edmund Brauchbar wired Joyce that afternoon with the news, and the following day the Swiss embassy in Vichy issued the visas.

By then, Lucia’s permission to exit the German-occupied zone, issued three months before, had been revoked. Joyce and the rest of his family didn’t leave for Switzerland until mid-December.


Sources & Further Reading:

Ellmann, Richard: James Joyce – new and revised edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Joyce, James: Letters of James Joyce, vol. I edited by Stuart Gilbert, vol. III edited by Richard Ellmann, London: Faber & Faber, 1957, 1966.

Norburn, Roger: A James Joyce Chronology, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.