I’ve heard of a number of different reasons as to why Hitler didn’t get around to invading Switzerland even though he hated the mere existence of the country (from what I’ve read.) So why didn’t they take the opportunity to do so when the country was completely surrounded?
Because the Swiss territory is hard to conquer (mountains everywhere) and the Swiss army has a militia system that makes the whole country to an army in case of war.
Besides that, Switzerland’s neutral position was more useful than conquering the country. Swiss industries and ressources were integrated to the german arms industry without having the risk of them being bombed by the Allies.
Because the Swiss had General Guisan, who fortified the country. The ‘Swiss Redoubt’ is still a lynchpin of Swiss defensive theory.
Hitler knew that he would lose an army taking the country, and then another army trying to garrison it.
You know what happened to the americans in Vietnam? Well it would be like that but with more snow and yodeling.
Not sure if Switzerland would have withstood mass Nazi bombing but actually the Swiss willingness to act as Nazi bankers and money launderors is infamous.
After the war the served as ex-Nazi bankers and offered very little if any help in bringing ex-Nazis to justice.
It took massive American pressure to get some Holocaust money back.
Interestingly the story broke because a Swiss watchman decided to do the right thing and save the holocaust documents from the shredder.
I’d find it very interesting to hear the TimeGhost Army’s take on the Situation of Switzerland. Maybe, I’d phrase the question differently: Why did Switzerland not turn fascist as as its neighbours Germany, Austria and Italy (and France, to some extent)?
With regards to why Hitler didn’t invade Switzerland. There is probably some truth about the “Swiss redoubt”, but the role of the army was overhyped in the decades after the war for political reasons.
It’s also true that in the case of an invasion, transport lines between Germany and Italy would have been blocked, probably for quite a long time. But the detour through Austria wouldn’t have been that bad.
Certainly, the services of the Swiss banks were helpful to Nazi Germany. And don’t forget the considerable arms supplies that the Swiss industry delivered to Germany.
One factor that is commonly overlook today is the common anti-fascist sentiment among the Swiss population, especially the lower classes. My grandparents still tell tales how they sabotaged German railway carriages passing through Switzerland and that they knew exactly who in their village secretly admired the Nazis - and that these people would not have survived the first day of a German invasion.
Hi! Swiss citizen here, and I would like to spread some light on the reason why Switzerland was not invaded by Germany.
Some people here said that Switzerland would have put up such a fight that Germany simply wouldn’t have consider invading Switzerland worth it.
That is UTTER NONSENSE.
While it is true that Switzerland built a very intricate system of bunkers, had various bridges and tunnels ready to blow up in the case of an invasion and is sitting on top of the alps, that wouldn’t have stopped the German army from rapidly conquering the country.
If you take a quick look at the border between Germany and Switzerland, you can see that the “formidable alps” are on the southern part of Switzerland, while the northern border (the German one) was relatively plain. And guess what, the vast majority of the Swiss population, togheter with the majority of the industries were right there, in the central / northern part of Switzerland.
In the case of an invasion, it is very likely if not 100% sure that the Germans would have conquered whatever it was worth capturing fairly easy.
At that point the Swiss leaderahip could have put up some kind of guerrilla warfare in the alps, but then it is very likely that the Germans would have put in place their “draconian techniques” to pacify their conquered territories. (10 - 100 civilians for every German soldier killed), depending on their mood.
So the question remains: why didn’t Germany invaded Switzerland? The answer is very simple.
Switzerland was economically supporting Germany. With elaborate processess that I can only dream to explain accurately, Switzerland took the gold the Germans were looting from the conquered territories in exchange of Swiss francs and other currencies that the Germans could use to bypass the economic restrictions that were put in place against them.
It is not a far stretch to say that without the support of Switzerland, the war in Europe would have lasted considerably less.
And while we are here, let’s takle the concept of “Swiss neutrality”. While it is true that the Swiss were neutral during the war, there are many “incidents” that show how Switzerland was way less neutral that it would like to admit.
During the war many Jews were trying to escape the German terror and hide in Switzerland. When caught by the Swiss army / police, they would sometimes beat them up and send them back, knowing what would have happened to them.
After Italy surrended in 1943, Switzerland allowed a number of trains loaded with Italians to pass trough Switzerland to be sent in Germany as labour force.
There are many other examples, I highly recommend to look them up.
Switzerland, in a way, could be considered an ally of Germany during WW2.
I watched a video on the history channel, Knowledgia. From what I remember there were more than a couple of reasons. First and foremost, Switzerland is an alpine country, meaning it’s easy to defend and difficult to invade. Of course, some parts of Switzerland aren’t sickly alpine, however the Swiss planned to abandon the flat terrain in the event of an invasion. They also had a complex defense system integrated into the mountains, anti-air defenses appearing and shooting down their targets then disappearing again. There’s also the fact that the Swiss has a history of strict neutrality, meaning they wouldn’t necessarily favor or help the allies unless Germany invaded. And how would they? Strategically Switzerland was surrounded by Axis counties with no coastline. This neutrality also means that trade continued, and there were even many banks in Switzerland that supported German businesses. This means there was still money coming in from Switzerland, money that would no doubt stop coming in once Germany invades. I should also mention that Hitler did indeed have plans to invade Switzerland, but there was never an “ideal opportunity”. Switzerland isn’t strategically important, so it would make more sense to strike statically important targets, such as France and the Soviet Union, which Hitler did. With the manpower demand of the invasion of the Soviet Union it wouldn’t make sense to invade Switzerland. The manpower required to conquer and police it would take away manpower that could be used elsewhere. Germany has always had manpower issues, some even argue that’s why Germany lost WW1. In any case I personally think Hitler didn’t want to repeat Germany’s mistake of WW1 when the Allies broke through the Hindenburg line in 1918 and most of the German troops were policing places like Russia and Romania. In the end manpower can be given as the reason why a lot of neutral counties weren’t invaded. Counties like Sweden, Spain or even Vichy France (it was stated in one of the weekly episodes that Hitler had plans for an invasion of Vichy France just in case), maybe even Turkey (invading Turkey would allow Germany to invade the caucuses in the Soviet Union and secure the oil, but Germany had a huge corundum trade with Turkey at the time.)
I hope this helps make a few points clear, but there is a special episode on the WW2 channel about Swiss neutrality if I’m not mistaken.
Swiss banks provided a famously discrete and international service for illegally obtained monies. This had long made Switzerland the darling of dictators, corrupt officials and tax dodgers the world over, and was a significant friend to the Nazi hierarchy and their plunder of Europe.
The Swiss also have effectively fortified their mountains and have 100% adult male national service and universal conscription in times of war. They are a very militaristic society, despite being neutral and still export mercenaries to international conflicts today.
The Swiss had also indicated their willingness to go along with the Nazis new European system in the post war era in the eventuality of a Nazi victory.
Switzerland also shot down or impounded many combatant aircraft from both sides crossing their airspace, later using the captured Messerschmits to maintain their airspace. After the invasion of Italy by the Allies more allied planes began to drift into Swiss Airspace while on bombing runs against German targets. This increased the level of tension between the Swiss and primarily the USA. Ultimately the Swiss cities of Schaffhausen, Stein am Rhein, Basel and Zurich were bombed by the USA “by accident” and the USA ultimately paid reparations for these incidents in the post war period.