Swiss Seek to Evict German Hermit Living in Woods

A German woman missing for 12 years and recently discovered in a Swiss forest was asked Tuesday by authorities to leave the umbrella-and-tarpaulin shelter she has made her home for the last year.

Representatives of the Bern Citizens' Community also pledged to care for the 52-year-old woman, said community clerk Andreas Kohli. They brought gingerbread to the woman, who was found in apparently healthy condition and whose name has not been disclosed.

Relatives, meanwhile, want to bring her back home to Germany, Kohli said.

The woman was reported missing in 1997 from a village outside Berlin. Bolligen's mayor had said he visited the woman last week and she said she did not want any contact with her family.

But Kohli said the woman did not entirely reject her family's offer on Tuesday.

The community that owns the woods hopes the woman will choose to leave this week. It would have to ask a judge to forcibly remove her, Kohli said.

The community is trying to arrange social support for the woman. Mayor Rudolf Burger also has offered to personally provide her with a place to sleep, Kohli added.

The woman was identified with the aid of an information system shared by the 25 member nations of the so-called Schengen accord enabling passport-free travel in Europe.

Authorities say she converses normally, but also has spoken of a mission she had to fulfill. They have declined to elaborate.

It is still unclear where the woman lived before she moved to the woods.