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The current time is: 12/15/2017 11:07:48 AM
 General Military History    
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BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3533

Internees in Switzerland in the Second World War
Posted on: 7/1/2017 3:18:10 AM
 This bit used to be on the web, I found it again using Wayback Machine. Some may find it interesting. From Swiss federal archives.


Military internees in Switzerland

Background


Between 1940 and 1945 Switzerland was home to approx. 12,000 Polish soldiers, who had served in the French army and been forced towards Switzerland by the German troops.
Switzerland was bound by its neutrality to intern military units that entered its territory. The Polish refugees were housed in camps and required to work in the
agricultural sector. Switzerland was a haven not only for Polish soldiers but also for German deserters, Allied soldiers who had been prisoners of war in Germany and
Italians keen to evade conscription by the Reppublica sociale italiana. These latter group were likewise regarded as military refugees and were also housed in camps.


Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5719

Re: Internees in Switzerland in the Second World War
Posted on: 7/1/2017 7:24:31 AM
I have to wonder how the Swiss avoided a German invasion. I realize that they had declared neutrality but BW's story indicates that they could have been accused of support for enemies of Germany.

We have likely all heard the tales of Swiss defence systems and the fear that the Germans had of engaging the unknown in Switzerland.

But I have also heard rumours of collaboration between the Swiss and the Germans, economically.

And I believe that the Swiss rejected Jewish refugees.

Whether that was attributable to internal anti-Semitism or to an agreement with Nazi Germany, I really do not know.

So how was it that the Swiss were allowed to harbour former combatants and POW without retaliation from Germany?


Cheers,

George

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2964

Re: Internees in Switzerland in the Second World War
Posted on: 7/1/2017 8:10:04 AM
Hi BW, and George,

I too, always wondered how Switzerland could be truly nuetral?

And could be accepted as neutral by powerful neighbor Germany.

Does any one actually have any proof that they weren't neutral? And any proof that they were aiding Germany?

Thanks,
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

wazza
Sydney , Australia
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 353

Re: Internees in Switzerland in the Second World War
Posted on: 7/1/2017 5:34:33 PM
A fair number of Swiss joined the Wehrmacht/Waffen-SS to fight Bolshevism. All part of the European crusade.
Did they make a lot of money out of WWII. The Germans certainly banked/hid a lot of money there.

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Moderator


Posts: 1457

Re: Internees in Switzerland in the Second World War
Posted on: 7/1/2017 9:34:48 PM
Wazza, you're dead right. So did a fair number of Dutch and Belgians, for the same or related reasons. So did a number of Norwegians and Swedes. And Spain sent the Blue Division to the Eastern Front to support the Nazis.

Switzerland was a "professional" Neutral, of course. But Holland and Belgium began the war as Neutrals. So did Norway, Sweden, Eire, Spain and a host of other countries. Hell, even Italy was a neutral: when WW2 broke out, there were only four belligerents: Germany; Poland; France; Britain. It was an absurdly off-kilter, mis-balanced war surrounded by rings of spectators! My point? a Neutral maintained its status by having understandings and agreements with both warring parties. Swedes would shoot at a/c flying over their country, but would provide safe haven to any airmen who ended up in Sweden.

IMHO, many nations were trapped in their own declared neutrality. Sweden was certainly one, and I think Switzerland was another. Other nations milked their neutrality, and of course Spain comes to mind here. Franco showed much more guile than I first thought he had in his balance between support for and national commitment to his long-time fascist allies: Germany and Italy.

The Swiss made money through banking. The Swedes undoubtedly made money through shipments of ore. The Irish too may have gained something, but not through trade. Ireland was a fine base for communications to U-boat fleets, and I would expect that the Germans were willing to pay.

Lots of stuff surrounding topics of this sort.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2964

Re: Internees in Switzerland in the Second World War
Posted on: 7/2/2017 9:45:50 AM
Hi Brian,

I buy most of what your saying, but I find it hard to believe that the Irish could be bought by the Nazis? But then the US had a whole political group support Germany, the Boon,so anything is possible but do you have proof?

Thanks,
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

kaii
Edinburgh, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1947

Re: Internees in Switzerland in the Second World War
Posted on: 7/2/2017 12:39:20 PM
I can recommend Target Switzerland by Stephen Halbrook for a good discussion of Switzerlands role in WW2.

In short, the reasons they stayed neutral were partly because it would have cost the Germans a lot to capture it (the entire country was essentially a fortress and the Germans could not divert enough forces to ensure quick win) but more importantly it suited both sides well to have Switzerland as a neutral political go between and safe haven for values

K
---------------
You can be a Dictator or you can design ladies undergarments. You can't do both (Bertie Wooster)

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Moderator


Posts: 1457

Re: Internees in Switzerland in the Second World War
Posted on: 7/2/2017 9:08:03 PM
Dave, why not the Irish? For many of them, it wasn't a question of being bought by the Germans, but of being sold down the tube by England. For staunch Irish republicans, England was the enemy. Period. Even the teeniest bit of Irish history explains that reality. On both sides of the issue, the Irish or the English are foreign beings, and their beliefs and behaviours are threatening at least. Its been that way since the War of the Roses, through the British Commonwealth and Cromwell, and certainly through King Billy and the whole House of Orange.

Sure, many Irish folk served in British regiments, and the list of "Royal" Irish regiments (or the like) is pretty lengthy. But certainly during WW1, and IIUC also in WW2, many Irish republicans were prepared to assist any enemy of England's. U-boats could get good shiping information from the Irish Republic, from Cork to Antrim.

I doubt the Irish Republic would have welcomed or accepted German invasion, occupation or control: that would have been inviting one oppressor to replace another. We all know the expression, don't we? "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."?

No, Dave, I don't have proof. I have a long history from which to draw probabilities. Maybe one of our Northern Irish members could sort me out and give you better answers.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3533

Re: Internees in Switzerland in the Second World War
Posted on: 7/12/2017 9:37:29 AM
Images: French colonial cavalry (Spahis) enter Switzerland in 1940 to evade capture by German forces.





Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

OpanaPointer
St. Louis, MO, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 520

Re: Internees in Switzerland in the Second World War
Posted on: 7/13/2017 1:25:57 PM
What was the Swiss position on war loot entering their country? (Ala "Kelly's Heroes")

jahenders
Colorado Springs, CO, USA
top 50
E-4 Specialist
Posts: 72

Re: Internees in Switzerland in the Second World War
Posted on: 8/14/2017 1:10:49 PM
You might consider looking at "Masters of the Air" by Donald L. Miller. It's focus is on allied strategic bombing. However, it has a few chapters on the treatment of bomber crews captured/interred in (neutral) Switzerland and Sweden. In general, it says the Swedish internees were basically put in resorts. However, the internees in Switzerland were not treated as well and some reportedly received horrible treatment. In some cases, the Swiss guards were advised by German officers. They also noted that the Swiss flew German aircraft, had German-like uniforms, etc. Overall, it seemed to the aircrews that the Swiss were only 'sort of' neutral.

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