How the heck....Switzerland?

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by preacherbob50, Dec 29, 2014.

  1. preacherbob50

    preacherbob50 Active Member

    Okay WWII buffs, I have a good one for you. It's only good because I don't know and ya'll might.

    I was listening to a Korean WWII history buff the other day and he said that Korean citizens had no real knowledge there was even a war going on until the Japanese started conscripting Korean males for warfare. They didn't have any clue that they had been taken over.

    Now, I know that the Euopean side of the war was a lot different than the above action but it still makes me wonder How the Heck did Switzerland stay neutral?
    Poland didn't want any part of being taken over but Hitler did it anyway. I am sure that other countries would have liked to opt out but Hitler was determined that they would be included in his bucket list. With Switzerland rubbing elbows with Germany how did the Swiss keep it's neutrality?

    My war was Vietnam so claiming ignorace about some aspects of WWII should be forgiven. I haven't read anything yet that totally satisfies my question but maybe you guys have a good answer.
  2. GearZ

    GearZ Member

    There was a plan to invade Switzerland called Unternehmen GrĂ¼n. It would have likely involved a joint invasion by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. However, it was scraped after the Axis got bogged down on other fronts. Some introductory material, including links to several other articles, can be seen here.
  3. aghart

    aghart Former Tank Commander Moderator

    Switzerland was not in Germany's way when it came to Hitler's plans to dominate Europe. He did not need to invade them and would be able exert influence over them once he was master of Europe and indeed then attack them if they refused to play ball. He knew he did not have to, and indeed knew he could not invade and occupy every country in Europe one after the other, he simply did not have enough troops to do that. Swiss and indeed Swedish neutrality provided him with some secure borders (they were not going to attack him) and the routes of diplomatic activity that were still needed. Sweden was a major supplier of minerals and ore to Germany and made it clear it would continue to trade with Germany, with that guarantee why attack them? Once he was master of Europe i'm sure he would have invaded anyone who did not put themselves under German protection!
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2014
  4. Interrogator#6

    Interrogator#6 Active Member

    Switzerland served a useful purpose to both the Axis powers and the Allies by being neutral.

    The Germans were able to use Swiss as agents to purchase certain strategic materials, such as tungsten. They also were able to use the Swiss to act as straw-men for certan technological purchases, such as American oil refining and IBM machines.

    The Allies used Switzerland for such things as postings for intelligence agents into occupied Europe or Axis territory. I once met a former OSS sergent who traveled to southern Swizerland with Erica Fermi (Manhattan Project) when Fermi covertly visited someone in northern Italy. Then there was the stationing of Allen Dulles in Switzerland. It was an open 'secret' late in the war that he was the man (OSS) with whom to deal if you (such as SS Gen Kurt Wolfe, or Fremde Herre Ost's commander Reinhart Gehlen) wanted a sweetheart deal before the final surrender.

    As far as Sweden is concerned: the reason why I am American is because my father's father was so worried about Germany he took his family out of their Stockholm home, across the Baltic, across Russia, across the Pacific, and across America (to NYC) in 1941, leaving Vladivostok one week before the start of Operation Barbarosa (June 41).

    I also read the story of a medical doctor who treated Himmler. He traveled to Sweden frequently during the war. I understand he was able to purchase some "medical supplies" (opiates?) for Germany. He was also able to spirit so Jews out of Germany.
  5. Diptangshu

    Diptangshu Active Member

    It had been very very fruitful for Nazi Germany by keeping the Them neutral. Swiss bankes had been flooded by truckfull of Gold bricks, and you know The material been obtained from the 'camps'. Swiss ball-bearings kept OKW moving till the end of War and I've heard this for several times f rom the MES (Military Engg Services) personnels. So the Swiss proved their neutrality by returning more than 30 000 poor J refugees for crossing Swiss borders and hiked taxes for anther some 20 000 Js, those who were able to pay such!
  6. preacherbob50

    preacherbob50 Active Member

    Okay guys, I understand part of this. Switzerland isn't called a commerce giant for nothing.
    But, if Germany had taken Switzerland it would have controled a large part of all the fresh water for Europe. About 6 or 7 %. France, Lichtenstein, and Italy would have had to pay dearly for the stuff, therefore putting more money into Hitler's coffers.
    And, if Switzerland was indeed neutral, why weren't our downed pilots and crews allowed to return to the French lines instead of being "interred?"
  7. helpingcollier4

    helpingcollier4 New Member

    I have wondered why Hitler didn't invade Switzerland, myself. I realize that the Swiss posed no threat to his war plans, but if he had utilized blitzkrieg effectively, he could have appropriated enough money from Swiss banks to finance anything he wanted. The German economy was destroyed by the Nazi war machine. I can't help thinking that a few of those Swiss francs might have been really helpful.
  8. GearZ

    GearZ Member

    Taking Switzerland would have been no easy task, even in the early war period. The mountainous terrain and a tenacious foe would have provided, at a minimum, a pretty bloody nose in the taking. That is not to say that Hitler didn't have plans to do just that. It was simply planned for a time when most of continental Europe was under occupation, an ally of Germany, or a puppet state.
  9. preacherbob50

    preacherbob50 Active Member

    Back again! I just posted something interesting down the street in the WWI section, but I wil give ya'll the jist here also because it will fit in as you will see.
    It seems that around 1914, Switzerland, France, Germany, and G. Britain had an agreement regarding heavily injured or sick POW's. The chosen ones were shipped to Switzerland for treatment then were repatriated back to their original countries.

    Now, back to why American pilots and crews were interred in Switzerland. I still do not know. There are a couple of books out there that were mentioned but since I do not have an extra $35.00 to buy one just to find the answer to one question I would rather ask here.

    Switzerland was neutral. Check. It was not supposed to help or hurt the war effort of either side. Check. It held Allied pilots and crews in interrment camps. Triple check. Those held in the camps are now recognized as POW's. Home Run.

    Now the question again. Did not the agreement made in WWI grandfather into WWII? Obviously not because.....Why then did Switzerland not allow interred pilots and crews to go back to their individual countries, or at least cross over into France?
  10. aghart

    aghart Former Tank Commander Moderator

    As a neutral country it had to obey the rules, German as well as allied personell were interned. The Republic of Ireland was neutral and interenment was the price Allied and Axis servicemen had to pay. Although as the Irish allowed interned servicemen to roam around at will unguarded, the allied troops simply had to make there way to Northen Ireland.
  11. Athame

    Athame New Member

    Perhaps you could ask how Sweden stayed neutral at the same time? That it served their purpose has been made clear by earlier answers, but what if a neutral Switzerland had blocked Germany's path like Belgium did in 1914? It would almost certainly have been ignored like Belgium's neutrality was. Neutrality merely means a refusal to take sides, or at least form alliances, not be exempt from war, they do after all have armed forces.

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