"In the future it will be impossible to authoritatively discuss Switzerland during the dark years without having read Halbrook."--Dr. Jurg Stussi-Lauterburg, author of Federalism and Freedom
In 1943, Adolf Hitler proclaimed that "all the rubbish of small nations still existing in Europe must be liquidated." In his diaries, Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels described Switzerland as "this stinking little state." And as the Nazis readied to invade, the Gestapo prepared lists of Swiss to be executed once the Germans overran the country. Yet as the Nazi tide swept across continental Europe from the Pyrenees to the Volga, one nation still stood free, its flag unbowed in a sea of swastikas.
Although countless books have been written on the military history of World War II, there is astonishingly little information on the one country that stared the Nazis down during the reign of the Third Reich. Target Switzerland is the first book in English to provide an objective, year-by-year account of Switzerland's military role in World War II, including the Swiss policy of resistance, Nazi plans for invasion, and Switzerland's secret links to the Allies.
With the strong reputation of the Swiss as valiant fighters and freedom-loving people in the spirit of William Tell, for centuries the powers of Europe knew better than to contest her citizens in their own mountainous terrain. In a country where marksmanship is the national sport, the Swiss could call on highly trained soldiers (a higher percentage per capita than that of any other nation in Europe), all fully prepared to use their alpine terrain to best advantage. Thus Switzerland became isolated--but not intimidated--as surrounding countries fell.
Here is the story of one small nation's heroic resistance to Nazism, leading the reader to wonder how history might had been different had all of Europe been equally well-equipped to resist Nazi terror.
"A fascinating and enlightening explanation of the dilemma Switzerland found itself in during the 1930s and 1940s."--Publishers Weekly
The recent focus on Swiss accommodations to the Third Reich has obscured the facts surrounding Switzerland's success in deterring Nazi invasion, argues Halbrook in this narrative of Switzerland's preparations for armed resistance during WWII. Concessions on commercial or refugee issues, Halbrook contends, were not enough by themselves to fend off one of history's most ruthless dictatorships. What was decisive, he finds, was Swiss determination to defend itself by an armed force based on armed citizens. In contrast to Holland, Denmark or Norway, Switzerland during WWII successfully maintained its neutrality. It did so, argues Halbrook, by convincing Nazi Germany and its own citizens that any invader would pay in blood for every foot of ground, and in the end would find only devastation. Halbrook, a practicing attorney rather than an academic scholar, relies primarily on journalistic sources to make the points that Switzerland was prepared to abandon most of the country and fight to the last man from an Alpine redoubt. Among other questionable premises he accepts uncritically, he takes as given that militiamen armed primarily with bolt-action rifles and 50 rounds of ammunition constituted an effective fighting force in an age of mechanized war. His account, while written from a limited vantage point, nevertheless establishes a series of elements in danger of being submerged by the recent furor over bank accounts and trade figures. 16 pages of photos not seen by PW.