My parents and I were talking about Hitler one night, and I got curious, Hitler invaded France, England, and just about everywhere else he could. So why didn’t he invade Switzerland? Or did he, and have I just not heard of it?
Why should he? Switzerland was a good source of finance and had no serious supply of raw materials, crops, or industry that would have greatly enhanced his own resources. On the other hand, as a mountainous country with a standing militia (sometimes exaggerated, but real), they would have been expensive to invade.
The whole German expansion was about Lebensraum, or living space. Poland was land that once belonged to Germany (before the treaty of Versailles). Germany is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe, so they needed space to expand in to. If you’re familiar with Switzerland, there’s not a whole lot of space. The country is somewhat small, and about half of it is filled with mountains and glacier lakes. So it’s not really the plot of land that you’re looking to expand into.
A second point is that Swiss banks held a lot of Nazi assets and might have been a bit shaky if they were susceptible to attack.
And finally, Switzerland has one of the largest defense forces in the world, with all males of age (maybe 19-40+) required to participate. Together with it’s mountain terrain it’s not an attractive target like France or Poland with it’s wide, sweeping plains.
Also, it should be remembered that Germany invaded France and started bombing the United Kingdom after September 3 when the U.K. and France declared war on Germany to come to the aid of their ally, Poland. As they had failed to do for Czechoslovakia.
And, you might also ask why Germany didn’t invade Franco’s Spain…
After all, the Swiss and German governments were far closer than Hitler was with Franco, and Swiss help was fundamental to aiding the Holocaust and the Nazi war aims. If Germany had wanted Switzerland as an ally, they probably could have had her.
But having a “neutral” ally was far more useful for Hitler.
Hitler did plan on invading Switzerland…eventually. Hitler didn’t like Switzerland (which he refered to as “a pimple on the face of Europe”) and the fact that German speakers lived there gave him all the pretext he would have needed to take over. But Switzerland, like the other neutral nations of Europe, played a delicate balancing act. They cooperated just enough with Germany and maintained a strong enough defensive plan to make conquest inconvenient. If Germany had won the war, Hitler would have “tidied up” these loose ends.
Maybe eventually he would have, Little Nemo.
Hitler planned on invading Italy and replacing Mussolini with loyal German Nazis.
And Nazi experts on Eastern Asia planned in the long run to invade Japan and destroy the Japanese government and replace them with German Nazis as well.
In the long run, given half the opportunity, Hitler would have invaded and destroyed the entire rest of the world, as well as the rest of the Solar System.
However, he had bigger fish on his plate than destroying his ‘allies’ like Italy or Switzerland.
Also geography played a large role.
Switzerland is mostly very rugged, and it isn’t essential to cross it to get to somewhere else important.
Hitler kept the Swiss in line in WWII quite easily; their “neutrality” was heavily pro-Axis in fact, until the Allies got close.
He simply occupied all the areas around it and squeezed their imported food supplies when he wanted to get nasty.
If he’d won the war, it’s unlikely they would have fought a German takeover; there would be no point. Very few people fight without some prospect of victory, unless they’re going to be killed anyway if they surrender.
One of my favourite stories involves Switzerland and the Nazis.
A Swiss politician at a party is listening to a German general regale folks with stories of his mighty army. “What would you Swiss do if we invaded Switzerland?” The politician replied that Switzerland could call on an army of 1 million armed men. The German general said “What if we invaded with an army of 2 million?” After a little thought the Swiss replied “I suppose each of our men would have to fire twice.”
The most critical reason for not invading Switzerland may have been transport. Switzerland has several critical mountain passes and tunnels. These were vital trade links between Germany and Italy and southern Europe. An invasion may have resulted in destoyed tunnels and railroads, and would have squeezed Italian and German contact to the Brenner Pass and far flung routes through the South of France (vulnerable to sabotage) or the Balkans (hardly an easy area to manoever through).
One thing that kept Sweden from being invaded, aside from iron ore, was its ball bearning plants. Perhaps the Swiss also had some critical industries?
I think the Nazi expectation was that after Germany had won the war, the German Swiss would “follow their blood” choose the Reich and the Italian Swiss would choose Fascist Italy.
Actually, with widely varying numbers, the story is most often told as having been a conversation between Kaiser Wilhelm II and a Swiss enlisted man prior to WWI.
Assuming that the OP has been answered (there was no need for the nazis to invade a country more usefull as an ally) let’s continue with the less serious side.
Hitler was briefing his generals:
- “Tomorrow you wll invade Switzerland. - Any questions”
After a tense silence came a general:
- “Vhat shall vee do in the afternoon.”
or how about the Swiss trying vainly after the war to insist that “Swiss Nazi Gold” was really only a classic hits radio station?
I think what shibboleth meant was that Poland [BI]had[/BI] land that once belonged to Germany. After the Treaty of Versailles, Poland [BI]was accorded[/BI] land that once belonged to Germany, specifically, the Danzing Corridor (modern-day “Gdansk” in Polish). and East Prussia (“Ostpreussen” in German).
After Germany’s defeat at the end of WWII, these areas, and the former German province of “Westpreussen” (West Prussia), reverted to Polish control. Some parts of East Prussia became Russian – e.g., the capital city of the former German province of East Prussia, “Koenigsberg” became modern-day “Kaliningrad” when it came under Soviet/Russian control in 1945.
So today, the former German provinces of West and East Prussia no longer exist as they now constitute the northwestern corner of Poland. (Parts of West Prussia, however, were absorbed by the former DDR, or East Germany, and are now part of the current Germany).
The point is that Poland was always a sovereign country – and notwithstanding Germany’s WWII claim to the hotly contested areas mentioned above, which had German minority populations at the time – Poland never belonged to Germany.
At the end of WWII, the German population in these areas were forcibly displaced after WWII by the influx of Polish refugees from the Baltic republics.
Since 1945, Poland and Russia now have full possession and sovereignty over these former German provinces – and hopefully it’ll stay that way.
Hitler was high on methanphetamine and so were his troops. You’ve heard of marching powder.
I don’t think that Hitler invaded England , unless he did it so secrectly that we never noticed.
Not England itself, but he did invade part of the UK: the channel islands.
Yes, I was simplifying things in my post. I didn’t mean that all of Poland was once German. Thanks for expanding on that.
Actually, the Channel Islands are not part of the UK, nor of the EU.
The summer of 1940.
One Luftwaffe airman at a time…
Imported food supplies? They make Swiss chocolate in-house. What else could they possibly have needed?