Target Switzerland

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Paladin
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Target Switzerland

#1

Post by Paladin » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:59 pm

Target Switzerland: Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War 2 by Stephen Halbrook is thought provoking.

From a review by Dave Kopel:
...although the Germans several times massed troops on the Swiss border for an invasion, the invasion never went forward. With so many reasons to invade Switzerland, why did the Nazis desist?

The Nazis could have eventually have conquered Switzerland, but at a fearful price. The Wehrmacht expected 200,000 German casualties; it would have taken a very long time to remove the Swiss military from the Alpine “Reduit” to which they planned to make a stand. And by the time the Swiss were defeated, every bridge and train track and everything else of value to the conquerors would have been destroyed.

The reason that Switzerland was too difficult to invade—in contrast to all the other nations which Hitler conquered in a matter of weeks—was the Swiss militia system. Unlike all the other nations of Europe, which relied on a standing army, Switzerland was (and still is) defended by a universal militia. Every man was trained in war, had his rifle at home, was encouraged to practice frequently, and could be mobilized almost instantly. The Swiss militiaman was under orders to fight to the last bullet, and after that, with his bayonet, and after that, with his bare hands. Rather than having to defeat an army, Hitler would have had to defeat a whole people.
It's an interesting piece of history you don't hear much about. The book can be a little dry & repetitive at times, but other times it is fascinating.

Mr. Halbrook wrote a second book on the subject: The Swiss & the Nazis: How the Alpine Republic Survived in the Shadow of the Third Reich. Haven't had the chance to read it yet.
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Re: Target Switzerland

#2

Post by Paladin » Wed Mar 07, 2018 4:17 pm

We can only wonder what would have happened if the Nazi's had invaded Switzerland. My guess is that it might have been similar to the Winter War in Finland, where the Soviets invaded with some success, but at tremendous cost:
Khrushchev wrote, "Even in these most favorable conditions it was only after great difficulty and enormous losses that we were finally able to win. A victory at such a cost was actually a moral defeat." According to Khrushchev, 1.5 million men were sent to Finland and one million of them were killed. 1000 aircraft, 2300 tanks and armored cars and an enormous amount of other war materials were lost...

...All this was at the hands of an army of less than 250,000 (mostly light infantry, home guard units) with hardly any anti-tank weapons (except Molotov cocktails) and 41 operational fighter aircraft. In the words of my father-in-law, Antti Olavi Pönkänen, who fought in this war: "Our lakes are full of dead Russians."
- The Finnish Winter War
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der Teufel
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Re: Target Switzerland

#3

Post by der Teufel » Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:28 pm

Switzerland didn't lead to anywhere the Germans needed to go, and they didn't consider it worth the price. Also, the Swiss acted as bankers (money launderers) for the Nazi regime and the Germans didn't want to end that.
A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition. — Rudyard Kipling
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Re: Target Switzerland

#4

Post by Paladin » Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:50 pm

der Teufel wrote:Switzerland didn't lead to anywhere the Germans needed to go, and they didn't consider it worth the price. Also, the Swiss acted as bankers (money launderers) for the Nazi regime and the Germans didn't want to end that.
While you bring up some good points, the Swiss actually had routes thru the alps that were important to the Germans and Italians and they did plan to invade... but the invasions were called off.
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Re: Target Switzerland

#5

Post by Paladin » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:37 pm

The Swiss militia system enables a complete use of all those fit for military service with relatively low expense. It invariably results that the warrior spirit arises in the Swiss people and allows the installation in the small country of a very strong and expedient organization, resulting in the quick readiness of the army for war... the Swiss soldier, is characterized by love of home, toughness and tenacity. His shooting performance is good. He dedicates himself to the great care of arms, equipment, uniforms...
- September 1942 German intelligence assessment quoted in Target Switzerland
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Re: Target Switzerland

#6

Post by MaduroBU » Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:49 pm

It is noteworthy that Japan never seriously considered an invasion of the CONUS for exactly the same reason.

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Re: Target Switzerland

#7

Post by Paladin » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:03 pm

MaduroBU wrote:It is noteworthy that Japan never seriously considered an invasion of the CONUS for exactly the same reason.
Image

There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass. :thumbs2:
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Re: Target Switzerland

#8

Post by Pawpaw » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:57 pm

Paladin wrote:
MaduroBU wrote:It is noteworthy that Japan never seriously considered an invasion of the CONUS for exactly the same reason.
Image

There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass. :thumbs2:
There is no evidence that Yamamoto ever said that. However, as a graduate of the US War College, he almost certainly would have agreed with that truth, even if he never uttered the words.
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. - John Adams

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Re: Target Switzerland

#9

Post by Paladin » Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:22 pm

Pawpaw wrote:
Paladin wrote:
MaduroBU wrote:It is noteworthy that Japan never seriously considered an invasion of the CONUS for exactly the same reason.
Image

There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass. :thumbs2:
There is no evidence that Yamamoto ever said that. However, as a graduate of the US War College, he almost certainly would have agreed with that truth, even if he never uttered the words.
Yep, the Japanese:
...assumed they had little chance of winning a protracted war with the United States but hoped they could force the Americans into a murderous, island-by-island slog across the Central and Southwestern Pacific that would eventually exhaust American will to fight on to total victory.
-Japan's Decision for War in 1941
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Re: Target Switzerland

#10

Post by Paladin » Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:17 pm

It is interesting that the story of William Tell, hero of the Swiss, was banned by the Nazi's. Just the story of William Tell was dangerous to the Nazi's. -article
...something very important did happen in the mountains of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden... around the beginning of the 14th century. There, in a remarkable break with the past, was established the principle that a people could revolt against a great power and constitute themselves as a self-governing entity. And the Swiss federation founded at Rütli, or someplace like Rütli, in 1291 (or 1307) is still going strong after 700 years.

...It was enough to shake the world: a handful of rustic louts putting to rout one of the great powers of Europe.
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Re: Target Switzerland

#11

Post by PriestTheRunner » Mon Apr 23, 2018 5:34 pm

Read it the last few weeks. Now on the last chapter.

Repetitive at a few select points but a really, really good read on a 'real' militia and how far back the militia's effectiveness really goes.

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Re: Target Switzerland

#12

Post by Paladin » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:39 pm

PriestTheRunner wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 5:34 pm
Read it the last few weeks. Now on the last chapter.

Repetitive at a few select points but a really, really good read on a 'real' militia and how far back the militia's effectiveness really goes.
Glad you liked it! I love history in general and military history in particular and it was all new to me.
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