Why in WW1 or WW2 or ever nobody invaded Switzerland? All other countries was in some wars. How Switzerland do it and should we learn from them?

I hear that many people with power have money in swiss banks, is that factor or not?

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    Serving the global elite (e.g. by hosting large international banks) is presumably part of the explanation, I guess. Neutrality and a well-equipped defense force also play a role, though I would argue it's a lesser one.
    – Drux
    May 15, 2013 at 20:17
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    The phrase "I hear that ... " leads me to believe that this question is not based on any preliminary research. It is very difficult to apply historiography to "I hear that". Furthermore the FAQ discourages questions based on conspiracy theory. History shouldn't be about rumors and innuendo, it should be about scholarship, research, reasoning and analysis. (Note: this isn't an attack on @Adam, but a plea for more scholarship and research).
    – MCW
    May 16, 2013 at 10:55
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    You may find these ICE reports on this matter of interest uek.ch/en/index.htm May 16, 2013 at 15:38
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    I would think that geography was at least a contributing factor. Switzerland is a mountainous country, and therefore a lot harder to invade than Belgium.
    – user2848
    Sep 13, 2013 at 3:38
  • have you ever been to Switzerland ? I have; its wall-to-wall mountains and steep slopes. It would be very challenging indeed. Feb 13, 2018 at 10:20

2 Answers 2


Simply because Switzerland was a worse alternative plan strategically than Netherlands and Belgium.

Hitler had a plan to attack Switzerland, named Operation Tannenbaum but the Maginot line could be breached through Belgium and Netherland. So it became needless conflict with no gain.

It is a less known fact that Switzerland (German part namely) was part of the Greater Reich Hitler dreamt of. He wanted to merge all Germanic territories under his control, but for strategic reasons he simply gave up on that. I am sure the logic behind it was: if Germany wins the war, Switzerland will have no choice, but to merge into the unified German Reich. So Hitler didn't have to waste resources on Switzerland, Operation Tannenbaum was about getting access point to France, a lot better one than through Maginot line.

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    +1 since you point out that Hitler had his eyes certainly also on Switzerland (with its partly Germanic population), even if an invasion did not occur up to 1945. BTW, did not Göring have some of his collector art stored away in Switzerland (or is this maybe just an urban legend)?
    – Drux
    May 16, 2013 at 5:31
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    and don't forget that Switzerland is a rather formidable tactical problem to attack, being protected by steep mountains and large lakes that make large scale troop deployments difficult to say the least, and make for many very easy to defend chokepoints.
    – jwenting
    May 16, 2013 at 5:55
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    @Drux No, of course you are right about Germans they washed and saved their money in Switzerland. But this is more like a circumstance what they used, and they didn't cancel their Operation Tannenbaum because of banks. Otherwise just imagine they could seize the Banks and other valuables what stored in Switzerland if Tannenbaum would come to reality. Of course this is a speculation, but seems acceptable. Why would they ever leave alone those banks and their assets if they occupy Switzerland? May 16, 2013 at 7:12
  • @jwenting True, that's why I wrote it was strategic decision. In Netherlands and Belgium they encountered more soldiers altogether, but that terrain was a piece of cake for panzers. May 16, 2013 at 7:14
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    Technically, invading Belgium was not a way to "breach through" the Maginot line, but to bypass it.
    – Evargalo
    Jul 10, 2019 at 14:22

Switzerland isn't much of a "prize." It has about 16,000 square miles, and about 4.5 million people in 1940 making it twice the size of New Jersey, with about as many people. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switzerland On both counts, it is one of the smaller countries in Europe, and less worth having.

On the other hand, Switzerland maintains a policy of armed neutrality. EVERY MAN (except those blind or crippled) has served a year or two in the army, and possesses a weapon. They mobilized 850000 men in 2nd world war as preparation according to WHKMLA source. About two thirds of the country is mountainous, and it can get quite cold in the wintertime, making it good for defense.

Also, Switzerland was very convenient as a "clearing house" for (both sides), in banking, but also in espionage and prisoner exchanges.

Basically, Switzerland was worth more to the Germans neutral than what it would have cost to subjugate her.

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    I disagree with "everybody was practically a soldier", that wasn't the point, they really had high military potential but only on their level. Switzerland itself wasn't enough to stop Hitler, nothing close to it. The more worrying part was the terrain difficulties. Send tanks through Alpes? No unless it is really needed. May 15, 2013 at 21:05
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    @CsBalazsHungary: "Every man has been trained, owns a gun, and knows how to shoot is a big deterrent. Imagine being a country (like Germany) where 20% of your men are in the army, and having to fight a country where 100% of the men are are armed. I also discussed terrain in the revised answer.
    – Tom Au
    May 15, 2013 at 21:08
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    One point to add to this. The chief advantage Germany had in the Western front over the allies was their superior armored warfare doctrine. Switzerland is just not good tank country. That would have forced them to fight on far more equal terms militarily than if they went through the low countries instead.
    – T.E.D.
    May 16, 2013 at 3:49
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    @TomAu it's larger and more populous than Luxembourg, which was attacked. Similar sized to Belgium and Denmark, which were attacked. So size and population aren't the deciding factors the Germans used to determine their targets.
    – jwenting
    May 16, 2013 at 5:56
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    Well, Norway also had general conscription, every one did time in the military, and mountains. It was still not hard for Germany to invade. Conscript armies are not by default efficient and good just because there are a lot of people in them. :-) Sure, it wasn't like Denmark, where the Germans essentially just walked in, and neither would Switzerland have been. But I think the explanation is better seen as that it wasn't invaded because they didn't need to invade it, not because it was that hard. Sep 12, 2013 at 3:52

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