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Old February 1st, 2012, 03:30 PM   #1

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Why didn't Germany attack Switzerland?

On a map of occupied Europe during World War II, the "neutral" country of Switzerland sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb. Why didn't Hitler feel the need to take it like he had the rest of Continental Europe? Was it the terrain, the Swiss military or some other reason?
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Old February 1st, 2012, 03:50 PM   #2

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The Swiss have an advantage of hostile terrain, narrow roads totally controlled from high ground by the defenders and a small but well armed military. They also make a point of arming and training every single citizen so that if theyre invaded they will put up a good fight.
Theyve build defensive points everywhere, made plans for blowing up their bridges and in every way possible making the invader pay a high price. The Germans knew this and it at least restrained them initially.

Later having Switzerland independent became useful. Germany and the conquered territories became effectively blockaded, Switzerland wasnt blockaded but it was at the mercy of Germany being surrounded by German forces or allies on every side who could control their trade.

The Swiss therefore became Germanies back door to to international trade and international banking, a neutral state where negotiations could take place with the allies and international organisations and a safehaven where they could hide their loot from the conquered territories.

Roughly, they were too tough to take out militarily and too useful to kill.
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Old February 1st, 2012, 04:10 PM   #3

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Did the fact that they were so similar to Germans make a difference? For example Hitler didn't hate the British as a rule and would rather not have fought them.

Maybe his thinking was like this "they are not hostile, not slavic, not Jewish, but are white, speak German and have similar customs as us, therefore we don't need to invade them for decades, maybe they will see our success and join with us peacefully in time".

That sounds like something Hitler might think (based on what I know of him).

Add to this the usefulness mentioned above.
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Old February 1st, 2012, 04:28 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Nemowork View Post
...roughly, they were too tough to take out militarily and too useful to kill.
Pretty much it.

Germany could have beaten Switzerland but not without a high cost.

Why bother?

Had Germany beaten the USSR and dominated Europe, land locked Switzerland would've succumbed to Hitler's will sooner or later.
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Old February 1st, 2012, 05:17 PM   #5

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Certainly Swiss people did fear invasion prior to and during WWII as my former girl friend Shona's mother, a Swiss-German working as an aupair in Cambridge in 1939, decided to stay in England and settle here after the war. However her Swiss-German cousins do not like the Germans very much even though they read their magazines.
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Old February 1st, 2012, 06:31 PM   #6
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It's WWI but....Shortly before World War I, the German Kaiser was the guest of the Swiss government to observe military maneuvers. The Kaiser asked a Swiss militiaman: "You are 500,000 and you shoot well, but if we attack with 1,000,000 men what will you do?" The soldier replied: "We will shoot twice and go home."
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Old February 1st, 2012, 06:33 PM   #7

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More trouble than it was worth.
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Old February 1st, 2012, 06:35 PM   #8
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When the Fascist government collapsed and the liberation of southern Italy began, Germany occupied northern Italy – which greatly increased the risk to Switzerland. Germany wanted the Swiss Alpine routes to ship soldiers and weapons, and the Swiss refused. But Switzerland provided sanctuary to Italian and French partisans and refugees.

A Nazi invasion of Switzerland during any of the above periods would have faced the following: The Swiss border forces would have fought to the death and would have been eliminated. But the bridges and roads were charged with explosives and would be destroyed, as would the Gotthard and Simplon tunnels on the Alpine routes to Italy.

The Swiss forces were concentrated in the Alpine Réduit. Panzers and the Luftwaffe could not operate in these steep mountains. Wehrmacht infantry would have been subjected to murderous fire from artillery hidden in mountain sides. Swiss forces could hold out indefinitely in the Alps.

Any German occupation of parts of Switzerland would have had extreme costs in blood. Unlike any country Germany occupied, every Swiss man had a rifle at home. The Swiss government and military ordered that no surrender would take place, and any report of a surrender was to be regarded as enemy propaganda. The Swiss would have waged a partisan war unequaled in European history. While many Swiss would have been killed, the invaders would have faced a Swiss sniper behind every tree and every rock.

An Interview With Stephen P. Halbrook by Carlo Stagnaro
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Old February 1st, 2012, 07:52 PM   #9
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Its also worth to notice that since the begining of war Switzerland was a place where were unofficially meeting and negotiating the agents of both German and Allied goverments. Its impossible to say to how big extent Hitler knew about it because Canaris was playing his own games.

And Swiss banks made extremly good deal on this war, starting from getting Nazi deposits to finish on stealing money of Jews who were murdered during holocaust.
It was discovered that many golden Swiss coins were made of gold coming from tooth implants.

This is quite funny:

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAVwXEvOztQ&feature=related"]Swiss banks holding Jewish gold sketch - YouTube[/ame]

Last edited by Mosquito; February 1st, 2012 at 08:02 PM.
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Old February 1st, 2012, 08:11 PM   #10

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Switzerland was irrelevent to the National Socialist plan. Hitler wasn't a looney toon attacking countries just because he could or for the fun of it. He had plans and a goal he wanted to achieve.

Austria, Czechslovakia and the Rhineland were about uniting the rest of the German people. Poland and the USSR was about living space for future expansion. Norway was about mineral resources. They only got involved in Greece and North Africa because of the Italians.

The Western countries didn't figure into the Nazi goals.
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