Germany didn’t invade Switzerland for two reasons:
-Switzerland was where the high-ranking nazis stashed their loot (stolen from the jews who were sent to the death camps)
-Switzerland was a conduit tothe outside world-Sitzerland maintaned embassies from all the warring powers, and it was usefull to communicate through them.
Also, Switzeland is ringed by mountains, and the Swiss had a very good, well-trained army. They would have fought hard to keep the nazis out. Of course, the germans could have starved them out, if they really wanted to.
Hitler hated the Swiss who he called a pimple on the face of Europe. The Germans drew up several different battle plans to invade Switzerland. They didn’t act on those plans because (take your pick):
a) they were militarily overcommitted elsewhere fighting the UK occupying France and much of Scandinavia and preparing for and invading the Baltics and the USSR, and eventually fighting the U.S.
b) they were afraid of the price they would pay (as anson says and here)
c) They found the German and Italian casualties taking the Alpine fortresses in France to be unacceptably high and surprisingly difficult. In fact, recall that the combined Italo-German offensive against the French Alpine fortresses was blunted and stalled (because it was all over so quickly I won’t say “failed” but you might not be far off if you did). Even at France’s surrender most of these passes are showing no sign of falling. The idea of taking a country of Alpine passes, which the Blitzkrieg and other German tactics and warfighting methologies didn’t match up well with, was probably intimidating.
I suggest the most logical reason is that for the reasons ralph mentioned above and some uneven combination of a,b,c above it ultimately made little military or any other kind of sense to invade Switzerland during the 1940-1942 German offensive window and after that it became too late.
Why would they have wanted to invade such a valuable henchman?
They were able to stash wealth in Switzerland.
They continued trade with the Swiss who, acting as middlemen, were a valuable source of various industrial resources.
The Swiss interned Allied personnel (e.g. escaped POWs, downed aviators) who fell into their hands, but repatriated German personnel.
The Swiss like to promote the idea that they weren’t invaded because of their fearsome militia, but downplay the rather cordial relationship they enjoyed with the Nazi regime.
Why should they have done so? Germany had all of the advantages of have a complaisant Switzerland without the bother of having to waste military resources occupying it. What else could the Swiss do but be “willing” to serve? And besides it was good business for them.
German plan to invade? Coming right up. Copyright me:
TANNENBAUM “FIR TREE” (GER 40) A contingency plan for a German invasion of Switzerland. The concept of the operation called for German troops to invade from occupied France, taking advantage of flatter geography. The Germans planned to occupy all major Swiss cities in two or three days to preclude organized Swiss units from retreating to the mountains to form the nucleus for a campaign of guerrilla warfare.
I seem to recall reading that they interned and repatriated both Axis and Allied personel. Usually what would happen is if you ended up in Switzerland, they’d intern you for a time, that at some point, work out a deal with both sides to let some of the interned personel go home.
When I was in Switzerland last year, the place I stayed had a book about Swiss defenses. There were apparently a lot of Swiss “homes” whose walls and roofs basically hid large gun turrets. I don’t know much about armaments, but I think they were anti-aircraft guns. . .large caliber stuff.
There is little doubt that the Germans could dispatch the Swiss army, if the latter decided to fight (there was a big debate in Switzerland, eventually the “preserve our independence” (fight) faction beat out the “preserve our neutrality” (surrender) faction). The Germans even had a legit casus belli, discovering joint Franco-Swiss defense plans after the fall of France.
However, the German’s rightly calculated that there was a low probablity of beating Switzerland before the latter destroyed the alpine tunnels which were the primary strategic asset of Switzerland. By coming to an agreement with the Swiss to move primarily non-military supplies through Swiss tunnels they would free up enough surplus capacity on other railroads/tunnels to handle the military/munitions transport from German to Italy and vice versa. The Germans got continuing access to the logistical capability of the tunnels and the Swiss retained their independence without overly compromising their neutrality.
Other than the tunnels there really was not much in Switzerland that was worth the cost of invading (especially once Switzerland began observing blackouts at night to avoid being a beacon for allied night bombing navigation). So Switzerland was allowed to eke out a meager existence during the war.
Switzerland was just not worth the effort. It could put up a fight, true the Germans would’ve won, but why bother when the Swiss co-operated with the Germans and they could simply go around it.
Kind of like the Swedes. It wasn’t necessary.
Plus most Swiss are Germanic. Hitler has a bit of respect for them. Not much but a bit. If they had been Slavs, well maybe that would’ve been different.
It was kind of the same for Spain. Spain wasn’t much, but Franco knew how to deal with Hitler. Franco never showed much gratitude to Germany or Italy for their help, and Hitler knew as long as Spain was “friendly” to him, why bother.
The Germans did not have the best reputation for respecting the borders of declared neutrals. The French and Swiss governments/militaries undertook discussions of how France could best aid Switzerland should Germany decide to outlank French defenses on the right by going through Switzerland. In any event, it never came up prior to the Fall of France. But documentation was found by the Germans thereafter.
I couldn’t find an on-line cite with a 2 minute google. If I hit the library tonight or tomorrow morning I will see if I can find one.
Yeah, pretty much all of the European neutrals were as pro-allied as they dared at whatever point during the war, regardless of any ideological or historical friendships. I guess the only thing worse than sleeping with an elephant is sleeping with a psychotic fascist elephant.