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IPFS News Link • WAR: About that War

How the Swiss Opted Out of War


Switzerland has not been in a foreign war of any kind since 1815. This would be astounding, even miraculous, for any nation. But Switzerland borders Germany. And France. And Italy. And Austria. And Liechtenstein. Now the Vaduz regime has rarely lashed out in blitzkrieg in a desperate bid to reign über alles, but all of Switzerland’s other neighbors have spent their histories invading other countries.

In addition to the encircling foreign marauders, Switzerland itself is composed of four different language groups (German, French, Italian, and Romansh) that get along as well as, well, Germans and French.

The Swiss finalized their no-wars policy of armed neutrality in 1815. Their decentralized citizen army was good enough to keep them out of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, World War I, and other European gang fights. In 1934, they addressed the looming threat of aerial bombing by starting a massive civil-defense effort. They maintained their citizen army and kept out of World War II, even while provoking Hitler by letting Jews hide their assets in secret Swiss bank accounts. Many Jews only escaped the Holocaust because they had their money where Nazi tax authorities couldn’t get it.