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 Why didn't Hitler invade Switzerland?
Mantis  [Member]
10/8/2007 5:16:29 PM EST
I've been watching "The War" on PBS for the past couple of weeks. It's a very interesting series so far. They showed a map of all of the countries Hilter occupied in Europe during the war and Switzerland was like a free island in a sea of German occupation. I heard the reason was that every Swiss had a rifle at home & knew how to use it, and Hitler didn't want to put up with the aggravation of dealing with the Swiss who he knew would fight back. Does anyone know if this is 100% true?
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Melvinator2k0  [Team Member]
10/8/2007 5:17:51 PM EST
That and some people think they were Hitlers bank. But again, why didnt he just seize Switzerland, why did he need them to be free?
tozar  [Team Member]
10/8/2007 5:42:19 PM EST
As already mentioned and aside from the logistics of getting an army bogged down in the Alps, the Swiss were Hitler's bank. The Nazis laundered the Jews gold, money, paintings, and assorted valuables through Switzerland.

There are still Swiss bank accounts today that Israel is trying to seize.
trwoprod  [Team Member]
10/8/2007 5:44:46 PM EST
Hitler hated the Swiss but it looked like a huge amount of trouble for no immediate gain. He assumed that later he could starve them out.
crossedsabres  [Team Member]
10/8/2007 6:59:54 PM EST

Originally Posted By thedoctors308:
There is no one reason why Hitler didn't invade.
Here are a few

1) Swiss not a strategic location - though when you want to conquer Europe, does that really matter?

2) The Swiss was a mountanous nation - not the best place to invade unless you really want to get bogged down.

3) The Swiss would fight like hell if the Germans were to invade - they would not roll over.

4) The Swiss did a lot of banking/buisness with the Nazis.

So, in short, Hitler had not much to gain and a lot to lose.
I'm sure in his mind he figured the Swiss were good Aryan stock, and would eventually come around to joining the 3rd Reich after he had achieved victory over the Bolsheveiks and their democratic allies.


Exactly right, what could he have gained? The Swiss cooperated, if not collaborated with The Nazi's. Hitler invaded Belgium's neutrality, just as the Kaiser had done in WWI, because he needed it to get into France. The Swiss were also Hitler's link to the outside world, the Germans could use them to get messages out and info in from "undiplomatic" sources. Just as we use the Swiss Embassy as our link to the government of Iran. The Swiss' absolute neutrality is a benefit to every nation. So when people do criticize them for doing business with the Nazis, they also do business with us, the dictators of Africa, even Cuba and Castro, anyone. They don't value things like we do, they aren't on anyone's side, they are neutral. Sorry for the rant, and my final statement, is that the Swiss by not standing up against Hitler, they stood up with him, hell, France lost a lot of men during the battle of France trying to stop the Nazis.
Angelshare1  [Member]
10/8/2007 7:03:44 PM EST
The Swiss are smooshed right between strong countries that want to make war. They need to be good diplomats to perserve their nation state. You do what you gotta do in a hostile world. They did a hellofva better job at being in the middle of the action then Poles did.

Towely  [Team Member]
10/8/2007 7:05:24 PM EST
For those of you saying that every swiss being armed wasn't a reason because the Soviet Union was the same way I would argue this:

Sure the USSR was very similar but the terrain in Switzerland would cause the German Army's tanks and the Luftwaffe to be all but useless. It would be infantry on infantry which would have been one hell of a bloody fight.
ArimoDave  [Team Member]
10/8/2007 7:48:04 PM EST
There is another story that I heard---don't know how true it is, however.

A German Officer was reviewing the Swiss troops at one point and asked one of the soldiers pulled out of the ranks at random this question. "If you were out-numbered two to one by an opposing army, what would you do?" To which the soldier replied without hesitation. "In that case, sir, we would each have to shoot twice."

crossedsabres  [Team Member]
10/8/2007 7:50:39 PM EST

Originally Posted By swingset:

Originally Posted By crossedsabres:

Originally Posted By swingset:
The Swiss under Guisan had arranged that entire country like a huge killbox, it would have cost Hitler VASTLY more than he could afford to give to take it, if at all.

If you haven't read up much on the Swiss defense system, do so it's utterly fascinating.

And, make no mistake Hitler DID want Switzerland.

Good point, but we know that fixed fortifications were no task for the Panzers. I guess though, the mountains would have really renedered the tanks very weak, plus the ability to build mountain bunkers that we really can barely touch today. Was that part of the Swiss arsenal? Take out the tanks and the Luftwaffe, and there is no Blitzgreig.

From a defensive stand point, having Swiss neutral, though a thorn in the side, at least secured the lower left flank, and General Clark would have never made it through Italy, and surely not the Alps, hence the whole lower flank is closed. Keeping the Swiss at least closed to the other side(ie neutral) gave the Allies only two routes to attack towards Germany, right into the Seigfried Line. Not bad strategy, just applied by a raving psycopath Corporal who thought he was a Marshall.


Fixed fortifications were only a part of their defense network...but unlike France the Swiss had theirs arranged much more wisely. They isolated passes into the interior and had their bridge network on a nationwide detonation system. They could, quite quickly, cut off every interior road leading to the heart of that country before the first Panzer hit the streets. Blow bridges, pick off whatever tries to get up the hills from high ground with effective arty fire, harass with their air force, retreat underground to avoid bombing, repeat/rinse.

Here's some interesting stuff from "Target Switzerland":


Thanks for the read, very well thought out indeed, they undoubtedly were expecting, not just planning for, an invasion. It appears that somehow smarter heads prevailed in no attacking the Swiss. It would have been a Verdun for Hitler and bled his army white. I just can never make up my mind about the Swiss, who trains and equips that hard and doesn't fight? Yet, I see their point that such training and weapon distribution makes them an unrich target. Very complex people those Chocloate making mountaineers.
DragoMuseveni  [Member]
10/8/2007 7:56:01 PM EST
I was watching the thing on the History Channel about "The Last Stand of the 300" When describing why Thermopylae was such a good place for the Spartians they said the reason why Switzerland has never been invaded is because they have similar mountian passes and 1 man with a rifle could hold off hundreds if not thousands. Provided he had enough ammo of course.
killswitch1982  [Team Member]
10/8/2007 7:56:09 PM EST
Hitler was teh ghey and he LOVED himself some CHOCOLATE sir!
Dave_A  [Team Member]
10/8/2007 8:00:19 PM EST

Originally Posted By Mantis:
I've been watching "The War" on PBS for the past couple of weeks. It's a very interesting series so far. They showed a map of all of the countries Hilter occupied in Europe during the war and Switzerland was like a free island in a sea of German occupation. I heard the reason was that every Swiss had a rifle at home & knew how to use it, and Hitler didn't want to put up with the aggravation of dealing with the Swiss who he knew would fight back. Does anyone know if this is 100% true?


No valuable resources, more useful 'neutral' as a place to stash cash...

Riflemen & static fortresses didn't deter Germany anywhere else...
Mattl  [Member]
10/8/2007 8:02:26 PM EST
To those more familiar with the Swiss than I, do any of you think the Swiss could have done to the Germans what the Finns did to the Russians?
yipykyah_mf  [Team Member]
10/8/2007 8:04:22 PM EST

Originally Posted By Mantis:
I've been watching "The War" on PBS for the past couple of weeks. It's a very interesting series so far. They showed a map of all of the countries Hilter occupied in Europe during the war and Switzerland was like a free island in a sea of German occupation. I heard the reason was that every Swiss had a rifle at home & knew how to use it, and Hitler didn't want to put up with the aggravation of dealing with the Swiss who he knew would fight back. Does anyone know if this is 100% true?


I spent quite a bit of time in Schweiss. I can personally tell you that the people of that country were/are Nazis. An all out battle would not have ensued, but there definately would have been 'terrorist' type hits like what are going on in Iraq, today.
BLY  [Member]
10/8/2007 8:06:16 PM EST

Originally Posted By crossedsabres:

who trains and equips that hard and doesn't fight?


People who prefer life?
crossedsabres  [Team Member]
10/8/2007 8:17:21 PM EST

Originally Posted By BLY:

Originally Posted By crossedsabres:

who trains and equips that hard and doesn't fight?


People who prefer life?

If that was only true all the time, just not in this instance. Its so strange to study WWI maps and see the trenches run from the English Channel though Belgium and France and then stop at the Swiss border. It makes the map look like someone's leg after knee replacement surgery. Every man or army wants a test to "prove" themselves, God knows we did it in the Span-Am war, just like Britain did with the Boers, and the Russians against the Japanese. Sometimes you come to the wrong answer in those conflicts, yet the Swiss have never awakened to wet the sword.
swingset  [Team Member]
10/8/2007 8:37:59 PM EST

Originally Posted By Dave_A:

Riflemen & static fortresses didn't deter Germany anywhere else...


Doesn't matter, because it DID deter them in Switzerland. And, like I said above their defensive system was more than just emplacements and riflemen. It was a very complex "hedgehog" system of increasingly steep defenses, from natural and man made impediments to slow down or completely stop rapidly advancing armies. Their terrain is NOTHING like anything the Germans faced, anywhere. Panzers don't climb mountains, and single column lines of armor stacked up on a roads of blown bridges or huge rock piles make for ripe targets from 2,000 feet above. Your soldiers can't climb it, your armor can't go "around" a mountain ridge, and the Swiss had all the ability to erase every opening INTO the country. But, let's say they cracked that somehow, you have to face an enemy that can fight in strength as they retreat, until they get to the fortified center of the country....having had to extinguish autonomous legions of militia all along the way. They are not an offensive army, so they laid out their munitions, reinforcements, and armament to slowly and effectively grind an approaching army down as they fought into the country. They trained to hit and redeploy backwards, or to allow pockets to collapse to lull armor into pincher movements in the mountains.
Bohr_Adam  [Life Member]
10/8/2007 8:44:31 PM EST

Originally Posted By Mister44:


...

Too bad they thought the Russians would just roll over, or maybe they wouldnt have invaded Russia (the reason they lost).


You almost sound upset that the Germans lost.
thedoctors308  [Team Member]
10/8/2007 8:45:36 PM EST

Originally Posted By crossedsabres:
yet the Swiss have never awakened to wet the sword.


Au contraire - the Swiss have never fought a modern war, but they did more than their fair share in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, mostly as mercenaries, since Switzerland, then as now, had a large, well trained armed population.
That plus mountains, equals somebody you don't feel like bothering if you don't have to.
And when the Swiss are more than happy to do business with everyone and their brother, no matter how dirty they are, any incentive to attack melts away.

Swiss neutrality is historically unique since it stems from being in a position of strength.
Sure, the Germans probably could have eventually conquered them...but maybe not...and even if they did, at what cost?
The Swiss model is an admirable one - neutrality through strength.
Tannim  [Team Member]
10/8/2007 8:45:41 PM EST

Originally Posted By Melvinator2k0:
That and some people think they were Hitlers bank. But again, why didnt he just seize Switzerland, why did he need them to be free?


In case he lost and had to run.

The swiss have been an insurance policy for more than one dictator.
PA22-400  [Member]
10/8/2007 8:46:39 PM EST

Originally Posted By Mattl:
To those more familiar with the Swiss than I, do any of you think the Swiss could have done to the Germans what the Finns did to the Russians?


Do understand that my survey sample is quite small. But I'd say the Swiss family that lived next door would have "shot dur nazi 'till dur nazi died"

They had some straight pull bolt rifles I'll bet a fella could just 'bout bump fire.

Sorta like this

Originally Posted By ArimoDave:
There is another story that I heard---don't know how true it is, however.

A German Officer was reviewing the Swiss troops at one point and asked one of the soldiers pulled out of the ranks at random this question. "If you were out-numbered two to one by an opposing army, what would you do?" To which the soldier replied without hesitation. "In that case, sir, we would each have to shoot twice."

PUBBOY  [Member]
10/8/2007 8:49:19 PM EST


Originally Posted By Mattl:
To those more familiar with the Swiss than I, do any of you think the Swiss could have done to the Germans what the Finns did to the Russians?


DING! A winner!

All bridges in Switzerland were wired to blow, and the Nazis would've been fighting a sniper literally in every bush.

I've read that German spies reported that "every village has a 300 meter target range that gets frequent use, and every house would be a snipers nest..."

The Swiss also boasted in the ability to move 250,000 troops anywhere on it's map within a 24 hour period.

Shooting is (was ) the national sport. It would have been suicide.

If they thought Stalingrad was bad...
thedoctors308  [Team Member]
10/8/2007 8:51:34 PM EST

Originally Posted By PA22-400:
Do understand that my survey sample is quite small. But I'd say the Swiss family that lived next door would have "shot de nazi 'till dur nazi died"

They had some straight pull bolt rifles I'll bet a fella could just 'bout bump fire.


Ah, the elegant K31.
Incidentally, the official service round GP11, is loaded to match specifications.

A country surrounded by mountains, whose national past time is riflery, made up of an armed population equpped with a match grade service rifle whose ammunition is also match grade.
I'd pass.
nf9648  [Member]
10/8/2007 8:53:29 PM EST
Hitler didnt invade Switzerland because the Swiss had K31s and the ability to hit what they shoot at.
Mantis  [Member]
10/9/2007 7:49:21 AM EST
Thanks for the replies.

I've fired K31's with the GP11 ammo. They are amazing rifles with great triggers and are very accurate. Hitting man sized targets at 300 meters with iron sights is not a challenge with that rifle.
Bob1984  [Team Member]
10/9/2007 7:50:52 AM EST
The Swiss were helpful to the Germans, and it wouldn't have made tactical sense to invade them. Many German weapons were based on Swiss designs, like the MG34.
Torf  [Member]
10/9/2007 7:51:57 AM EST

Originally Posted By SirSqueeboo:
They banked for him...they served their purpose.


Yup, and they could easily be bypassed, not worth the trouble, etc.
Mateba  [Team Member]
10/9/2007 8:27:39 AM EST

Originally Posted By nf9648:
Hitler didnt invade Switzerland because the Swiss had K31s and the ability to hit what they shoot at.


There we go.
thedoctors308  [Team Member]
10/9/2007 8:32:35 AM EST

Originally Posted By jrzy:

Originally Posted By Mister44:
Having everyone armed was a good deterent.


Stopped the japanese from planning a land invasion of the USA


Yea, well that and the fact that the Japanese realized it was logistically impossible for them to do so.
macman37  [Team Member]
10/9/2007 8:35:12 AM EST

Originally Posted By Mateba:

Originally Posted By nf9648:
Hitler didnt invade Switzerland because the Swiss had K31s and the ability to hit what they shoot at.


There we go.


Plus a couple other things (the nation only covers what, like 100 square miles?), but this is right on.

/half Schweizer, Grandpa was in the Swiss military but didn't like it... He moved here before WWII.
monkeyman  [Member]
10/9/2007 8:35:50 AM EST
The Swiss Army had really cool knives!
Quarterbore  [Life Member]
10/9/2007 8:40:56 AM EST

Originally Posted By Bohr_Adam:

Originally Posted By Mister44:

...

Too bad they thought the Russians would just roll over, or maybe they wouldnt have invaded Russia (the reason they lost).


You almost sound upset that the Germans lost.


+1

Had germany finished off Europe and just went after the UK as opposed to Russia, darn would we have had a tougher time then we did have. The Russians paid a heavy price but if the Germans were not fighting with Russia, I would really hate to think how much worse things could have got.

Perhaps an European Union 60-years before it's time
Swindle1984  [Team Member]
10/9/2007 8:41:40 AM EST
Invading Switzerland would be more trouble than it was worth. They were neutral- they banked for both sides in the war. They also had excellent weaponry (the K-31 rifle is probably the best military bolt-action ever made.), a large majority of their population was armed and trained, they had a terrain advantage, etc.

More trouble than it's worth. Try to invade them and you're going to lose a LOT of men. If you succeed then, then maybe it was worth it. If you fail, not only did you just lose a lot of men, but now they're not doing business with you. Not worth it.
00_buckshot  [Member]
10/9/2007 9:03:32 AM EST
It's quite simple. He didn't have to. There was no need. He had them completely surrounded from his other conquests. Armed citizens didn't play into any part of the decision not to invade. Feel free to continue to kid yourself about it though if you wish.
AzSteven  [Team Member]
10/9/2007 9:04:42 AM EST
The German conquest of Switzerland would have given new meaning to the term "Pyrrhic Victory". Germany would have won, but gained only a tiny mountainous country with little industry, few natural resources, and a civil populace with the means and intent to continue resistance, in exchange for several corps worth of dead or wounded troops. The troops left to occupy the land would have been constantly harassed and attacked, and Switzerland would be for Hitler what Spain became for Napoleon - a constant open wound.
Jrock82  [Member]
10/9/2007 9:04:43 AM EST
Because the Swiss are the nice Germans.
357mag  [Member]
10/9/2007 9:12:19 AM EST

Originally Posted By Dave_A:

Riflemen & static fortresses didn't deter Germany anywhere else...


Yeah, but the Swiss Alps are just a little more formidable than the Maginot line don't you think?
NoStockBikes  [Member]
10/9/2007 9:21:53 AM EST
Ok, the guy posting in this thread who is in Cohen's class, fess up so I know your screen name.

(A guy just asked the professor this VERY question)

PeaceDevil  [Member]
10/9/2007 9:29:19 AM EST
Why Hitler didn't invade?
Because my gramps stood on the border!



No seriously, as mentioned just not worth the hassle.

And for the guys saying Switzerland was Hitlers bitch:
Switzerland isn't a selfsustaining country and has to deal with other countries for food and goods. And if you look on map of WW2, Switzerland was entirely surrounded by assholes nazis.
What could we do, other then dealing with the nazis?
DriftPunch  [Member]
10/9/2007 9:48:21 AM EST
Cool, this photo shows that the safety is applied on that K31. He's ready to play, no ammunition restrictions here...
swingset  [Team Member]
10/9/2007 10:05:29 AM EST

Originally Posted By 00_buckshot:
It's quite simple. He didn't have to. There was no need. He had them completely surrounded from his other conquests. Armed citizens didn't play into any part of the decision not to invade. Feel free to continue to kid yourself about it though if you wish.


This keeps getting brought up in this thread, that Hitler didn't have to invade, had no interest, blah blah blah.

Well, simply, that's historically wrong.

Hitler WANTED Switzerland, and asked his generals several times to draw up invasion plans.

If he didn't want their country, he wouldn't have persisted in asking for invasion plans. He couldn't get it done for a whole slew of reasons, but it's just fantasy to believe that he didn't have desire to occupy that country or that it wasn't on the menu.

Some historians believe (I think rightly so) that his generals failed to deliver a cohesive plan on Switzerland precisely because they believed Hitler would act on them, something they knew full well was a quagmire waiting to happen.

The Swiss defense system was daunting, and the Germans were not stupid. They WERE intimidated by the terrain, the lack of mobility the mountains presented, and the armed citizenry. If they weren't Germany would have taken them.
petagunner  [Team Member]
10/9/2007 10:09:42 AM EST

Originally Posted By swingset:

Originally Posted By 00_buckshot:
It's quite simple. He didn't have to. There was no need. He had them completely surrounded from his other conquests. Armed citizens didn't play into any part of the decision not to invade. Feel free to continue to kid yourself about it though if you wish.


This keeps getting brought up in this thread, that Hitler didn't have to invade, had no interest, blah blah blah.

Well, simply, that's historically wrong.

Hitler WANTED Switzerland, and asked his generals several times to draw up invasion plans.

If he didn't want their country, he wouldn't have persisted in asking for invasion plans. He couldn't get it done for a whole slew of reasons, but it's just fantasy to believe that he didn't have desire to occupy that country or that it wasn't on the menu.

Some historians believe (I think rightly so) that his generals failed to deliver a cohesive plan on Switzerland precisely because they believed Hitler would act on them, something they knew full well was a quagmire waiting to happen.

The Swiss defense system was daunting, and the Germans were not stupid. They WERE intimidated by the terrain, the lack of mobility the mountains presented, and the armed citizenry. If they weren't Germany would have taken them.


Couldnt have been better said
macman37  [Team Member]
10/9/2007 10:16:33 AM EST

Originally Posted By PeaceDevil:
Why Hitler didn't invade?
Because my gramps stood on the border!
i151.photobucket.com/albums/s142/PeaceDev/GFrei.jpg


No seriously, as mentioned just not worth the hassle.

And for the guys saying Switzerland was Hitlers bitch:
Switzerland isn't a selfsustaining country and has to deal with other countries for food and goods. And if you look on map of WW2, Switzerland was entirely surrounded by assholes nazis.
What could we do, other then dealing with the nazis?


According to these guys? Don't be surprised if you hear "die" as part of the answer.
Bama-Shooter  [Team Member]
10/9/2007 10:17:36 AM EST
Money laundering.
AcidGambit  [Member]
10/9/2007 10:20:46 AM EST
-No reason to.
-Use it as a bank and to obtain things.
-All the Swiss males were armed, the places is all mountains, the costs would have been outragous.
Meadowmuffin  [Member]
10/9/2007 10:38:26 AM EST
Supposedly Hitler did express interest in invading Switzerland. He was informed that it would require a minimum of 50 divisions, which he did not have available at that time. There were also a number of nazi sympathizers there as well. Because of such sympathy he could get banking credits there that he could not get anywhere else to bankroll his war effort. Not to mention that he could not get collatoral for his stolen loot from all over europe anywhere else in the world. Switzerland was neutral, but they were not saints and they hated communists.
Bandit117  [Member]
10/9/2007 2:49:19 PM EST
Ive also heard the swiss threated to dynamite their alpine tunnels so the nazis would have to go over the mountains rather then thrugh the tunnels
Blackmagic94  [Member]
10/9/2007 3:05:25 PM EST
The Swiss rifleman with his K31 was what kept the Nazis at bay.





Sniperized K31s are 1000 meter killing machines with GP11 ammo. I love my K31, i only wish CAI had SIG55xs to import at those prices lol.
Austrian  [Member]
10/9/2007 5:16:02 PM EST
This is, of course, a topic near and dear to my heart.

Students of European military history often overlook some of the key points related to the Swiss-German relationship from 1930 - 1945. Much is made of the Swiss propensity to willingly perform financial services for the Nazis. This view, while factually correct, is quite incomplete and ignores the rather significant (and often lifesaving) difference Switzerland made for any number of Europeans before during and after the war.

Most people don't realize that banking secrecy in Switzerland originated centuries before World War II. The war is often (and incorrectly) cited as the primary motivation. Banking secrecy was enforced as a civil matter going back to 1713. (This meant that banks and bankers could be held financially liable for disclosures). The origins of this kind of secrecy probably have to do with the fact that most bankers in what is now Geneva were French Protestants who fled persecution in France after 1685 but elected to serve as bankers to the French Monarchy (including most of the French Kings) since they were good debtors. Of course, it was hard to be the head of the very Catholic French state and admit that you were borrowing from Protestants. Hence such matters were kept very quiet.

The resulting banking secrecy meant that all manner of Europeans fleeing persecution (much as the original Geneva bankers had) found financial refuge in Geneva, and later the wider Confederation Helvetica. The European mainland was awash with revolution and strife (most religious but some political, as from the French Revolution) after 1789. Before Elizabeth, English protestants (then Catholics after Elizabeth's rise) partook of Swiss financial services with something approaching enthusiastic abandon. As the 19th century approached any checklist for forming a government in exile (and there were many during the period) necessarily had retaining a Swiss banker at the top of the list.

What is ABSOLUTELY key and often missed about this tradition is that it was built on a foundation of LIBERAL POLITICAL beliefs within Switzerland, reinforced by hundreds of years of immigration by persecuted and hunted individuals. And here I mean, of course, "liberal" in the classically liberal sense. The belief that the state ought to interfere as little as possible with the affairs of its citizens and, without questions, should have little to say about their political, social, religious or idealogical beliefs.

It is both easy and common to overlook this basic underpinning of what are essentially libertarian tenants in early Swiss culture and business practice. At a time when religion, political affiliation or citizenship was enough on its own to condemn one to death, Switzerland was among the only refuge in Europe where such distinctions had effectively no impact on one's ability to conduct business, live and make a living. Elsewhere, the concept of the "private affairs of citizens," simply did not exist. Citizens existed to serve the state, or the monarch. Period.

In 1932 the French socialist government (which could fairly be termed "radical" by today's standards) discovered that over 2,000 members of high society in France (including any number of government officials) had deposited substantial holdings in Switzerland. Many of the names were published and the French put rather intense pressure on the Swiss to turn over all their French clients to French authorities.

Of course, in 1931 the Weimar republic slapped German citizens with exchange controls and attempted to lock down the German economy. To enforce the restrictions, German agents began to conduct espionage in earnest against Swiss banks and bankers. In the early 1930s, being caught with a foreign account meant that the German authorities would extort all the money from the Swiss client and immediately seize it. By June 1933 Germany had passed laws that required a full declaration of all assets foreign or domestic by any German under PENALTY OF DEATH. Three Germans were executed in 1934 pursuant to this policy and in 1935 Gestapo agents kidnapped Berthold Jacob, a German Jew who had taken refuge in Switzerland. (He was later released owing to pressure from the Swiss).

It was fairly common practice for a plainly dressed Gestapo agent to walk into a number of Swiss banks and ask to deposit a sum into the account of Mr. X. If the deposit was accepted, the Gestapo knew Mr. X had an account. (This led to the invention of numbered accounts where even the tellers had no idea who the account holder was).

By 1934 banking secrecy was enforced criminally with additional legislation in 1937 to bolster the strength of the provisions. Again, the goal was to prevent the meddling of nation states in the private affairs of Swiss citizens. People forget this. They focus on the business done with the Nazis (on the same terms as for the allies, and refugees). This is not to be an apologist, mind you, as at some point one must refuse to do business with mass murderers.

Germany was pretty pissed with Switzerland by 1939. The German ambassador to Switzerland thrice in that year delivered daunting and threatening correspondence to any number of Swiss officials- at least one of which was an open threat of military violence. (Interestingly, the weakness of the Swiss federal government meant that many of the officials lacked the ability to make any international concessions to the German even if they desired it).

Now if you understand banking secrecy as essentially a libertarian ideal, you then see that resisting the interference of large and powerful states in the affairs of your citizens requires a VERY robust military presence. The Swiss lacked this in the modern sense (that being large conscripted armies and lots of armor) but the geography of the country more than made up the difference.

It is true that marksmanship was far more inculcated in the Swiss than in German society. (More Swiss shot more rounds longer distances and more often than about any other adult population).

Swiss defense doctrine was one of the earlier "layered defense" or "defense in depth" plans applied to a country-wide area. It relied on absorbing lead elements of an attack, trapping them and cutting them off from supply and reducing them methodically with asymmetric and hit and run tactics. This tactic was replicated in micro scale. Every ridge, bridge, tunnel, bottleneck and pass was designed to cut off lead elements and reduce isolated pockets.

The Swiss excelled at constructing not merely fortifications, but concealed positions designed to apply direct and indirect fire on trapped elements. Early Panzer divisions, which most of the Swiss provisions were designed for, typically fielded 300-350 armored and support vehicles. When perhaps 25% of the force had passed a critical bottleneck (and had discovered and disarmed the decoy charges) the actual charges would be set off along with charges in front of the now isolated lead elements trapping them in a pocket. Pre-targeted, indirect fire from, for example, the other side of a far ridge or two, was directed by spotter onto the main force, which was encouraged to tactically withdraw from whence they came, where upon another charge would split the main force. This took about 2/3 of the fighting force (heavily concentrated in the front half of the force) and isolated them in two groups, with the supply elements caught far behind. At this point just enough attention was given to the fighting forces to keep them occupied while the (much more lightly defended) supply and headquarters elements were given much more serious attention. The rationale was simple- German doctrine relied on speed and overwhelming force. But this required absolutely pristine supply lines and poor force protection doctrine. (Notice, it was supply issues that made Barbarossa a serious problem- the Nazis never expected to need long or prolonged supply arrangements).

Of course, the Swiss would happily seize the German supplies once the rear elements had been sufficiently weakened and steal away back into the mountains.

This is but one of the tactics the Swiss expected to employ if confronted. Combined with the propensity of Swiss citizens to take their personal liberties rather seriously, the Germans could expect to have to fight a "dirty war" for every kilometer they tried to take.

When they formed their state, Israel adopted essentially the same model of citizen solider than the Swiss had been fielding for years.
JaxxKat  [Team Member]
10/9/2007 5:19:24 PM EST

Originally Posted By santanatwo:
Switzerland = guns, lots of guns


The swiss are Ammo Whores too?
Bostonterrier97  [Member]
10/9/2007 6:59:28 PM EST

Originally Posted By Mantis:
I've been watching "The War" on PBS for the past couple of weeks. It's a very interesting series so far. They showed a map of all of the countries Hilter occupied in Europe during the war and Switzerland was like a free island in a sea of German occupation. I heard the reason was that every Swiss had a rifle at home & knew how to use it, and Hitler didn't want to put up with the aggravation of dealing with the Swiss who he knew would fight back. Does anyone know if this is 100% true?


Logistical Nightmare (lots of mountain passes, tunnels, and bridges) coupled with a fully armed population would make sustaining an occupation incredibly difficult.

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