Berne had deported several local Anabaptists in the 17th and 18th centuries. This was often preceded by extensive escape movements by Bernese Anabaptists: in the 16th century mainly to Moravia (now the Czech Republic), in the 17th century to the Alsace, Kraichgau, and Palatinate regions and to the Netherlands. From the 18th and well into the 19th century, especially to the Jura part of Switzerland and to North America. In this way thousands of Bernese Anabaptists left their homes.

Only after the French Revolution did growing tolerance allow the few remaining Anabaptists to keep a home in Switzerland.

And only in the later 20th century did “steps of reconciliation” take place between political and ecclesiastical authorities and the Anabaptist churches. Thus, the opposites increasingly became a togetherness.

From Against to With One Another

Past injustice acknowledged as being unjust, address existing differences, and ask for forgiveness

Past injustice cannot be undone. The punishment of perpetrators often does little to change the situation of those who have suffered unjustly. What, then, does the acknowledgment of guilt and forgiveness accomplish?

Today, three Bernese churches symbolize the processes of reconciliation between the Reformed Church and the Anabaptists: the Nydegg Church, the Bern Minster and the Peace Church. Worship services have been celebrated in all three over the past few years, concluding a common reconciliation process. One of these processes was that both sides had an opportunity to tell the other their views concerning the conflict-laden story. And they asked each other for forgiveness where they had been guilty of harming the other. In discussions, it was explored which beliefs are held in common today, where one can be well underway together despite differing views, and where the differences in the views indicate the need for further discussion. A result of such a process has been recorded in the document ""Christ is our peace" (in German).It expresses the fact that the reconciled churches are underway together.

The story of the Anabaptists in the canton of Bern, though, is also a political story. At this level, in November 2017, the speech (in German) of the Bernese governing council member and church director Christoph Neuhaus opened new doors by requesting: "And so, this evening, I ask you in all simplicity for forgiveness for all that our canton was done to cause Anabaptists to suffer."

Forgiveness does not undo past injustice. But it obliges those who seek reconciliation to look for new ways in the future and to be careful not to repeat old mistakes. For the Anabaptists today, this means that the state is committed to following the laws for the protection of minorities and dissenters as found today in the European Convention on Human Rights .