"Greater Germany" as typically depicted in Nazi propaganda in 1935. Most of Switzerland was to be absorbed into the Third Reich with smaller portions being swallowed up by Italy and France. (Adapted from Rings, Schweiz im Krieg)
To see an enlargement of the map of Greater Germany,click here
The Nazis now were proclaiming that they intended to "expand Germany's boundaries to the farthest limits of the old Holy Empire, and even beyond.1163 None other than Professor Ewald Banse, responding to Swiss criticism of his geographical textbook expounding German claims to Switzerland, stated:
Quite naturally we count you Swiss as offshoots of the German nation (along with the Dutch, the Flemings, the Lorrainers, the Alsatians, the Austrians and the Bohemians) . . . .Patience: one day we will group ourselves around a single banner, and whosoever shall wish to separate us, we will exterminate!
Sentiment in Switzerland held that "the moment that Austria succumbs to the Nazi boa constrictor, Switzerland is marked as the next victim to be strangled in the coils.
In contrast with the beginning of the Great War, when many Swiss were divided along ethnic lines-French and Italian speakers leaning toward the Entente and German speakers sympathizing with the Central Powers-the Swiss were remarkably united from 1933 on in their distaste for the racist and anti-democratic bent of the Nazis. Switzerland proved that French-, German-, and Italian-speaking citi-zens could live together harmoniously. Almost alone among the European nations, Switzerland remained immune to what Johnson termed "the infective virus of Pan-This and Pan-That." Zurich's leading newspaper, the Neue Ziircher Zeitung, admonished its readers that the National Socialist revolution in Germany demonstrated the need for "the spiritual defense of our country."
At this time, the views of Nazi sympathizers could also be heard, if only from a tiny number of Swiss. Theodor Fischer, who headed the pro-German League of National Socialist Confederates, stigmatized Switzerland as a "vassal state of France under Jewish control. " That group called for abolition of the Swiss Parliament and cantons and a centralization of all power in the hands of the President.
Jean Marie Musy, Swiss Minister of Finance, warned in a May 10, 1934 speech in Geneva that "Switzerland will either remain a democracy or cease to be Switzerland! ... The racial ideal can never be the basis of Swiss nationality!"Two days later, the Federal Council banned the wearing of uniforms by all political parties.
As Hitler's rule continued, the Swiss became increasingly repelled not only by National Socialism's rhetoric but by its actions. "The Night of the Long Knives," on June 30, 1934, during which one Nazi paramilitary organization, the SS, assassinated the leadership of another, the SA, further revealed the regime's criminality. Hitler was consolidating his personal power through murder. The democratic Swiss, always wary of German strength, particularly abhorred what the swastika had come to represent. German-speaking Swiss, perhaps because they could more easily understand exactly what the Nazis were saying, became more vehemently anti-Nazi than the French Swiss, and a war of words took place in Swiss and German newspapers. While the Swiss press criticized the Nazis and their domestic actions in Germany, the Nazi press attacked the Swiss, who, they claimed, were too inferior or self-absorbed to appreciate the benefits of the New Order.
On July 25, 1934, Austrian Nazis murdered Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, leader of the clerical-fascist government. Supplied with arms and explosives from Germany, Nazis terrorized Austria and blew up buildings. After the murder of Dollfuss, Italian troops moved into the northern Italian Alps near the Swiss border. Switzerland served notice that she would not tolerate violations of her neutrality.
On July 26, at the Fribourg marksmanship competition, Federal President Marcel Pilet-Golaz reaffirmed that Switzerland was determined to defend her frontiers and that "the capacity of defense is the first condition of our security." Defense Minister Minger told the competitors:
Events abroad have reawoken Switzerland's old defiance and the feelings for justice and liberty have been renewed. The Swiss people will never allow themselves to be robbed of the right to freedom of expression and will never bow to a dictatorship, from whichever side it may come. In target shooting outside military service all marksmen strive towards the same aim: the promotion of our defense in the interests of all the Swiss people ....
It was reported on July 27 that the annual maneuvers of the First Division of the Swiss Army would be advanced due to the recent seizure of explosives being smuggled from Germany to Austria on Lake Constance.
In mid-November 1934, four Swiss Nazis, members of the National Socialist Confederates, stood trial in Bern for promoting racial hatred. They had circulated the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," a notoriously anti-Semitic document originally produced by Tsarist Russian intelligence, which the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, suing as a complainant in the action, noted was a complete fake and was subject to confiscation. The trial strained relations between Switzerland and Germany. The testimony at trial and the trial court's decision confirmed the fraudulent character of the "Protocols."
The largest German-speaking Nazi group in Switzerland was the National Front, which approved of Hitter's liquidating Socialist and Communist groups but distrusted what it believed to be the Third Reich's aggressive designs. To oppose Nazism, Swiss socialists and left liberals organized a "Kampfbund" ("Fighting Group"). More broadly, in response to the influence of fascist ideas throughout Europe, a public debate was proceeding about whether federal power should be curtailed. Some Swiss believed the power of the executive, the Federal Council, should be extended; others wanted more influence vested in the voters' legislative meetings on the local level, like the centuries-old Landsgemeinden.
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