Switzerland's elaborate Cold War defenses

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by alib, Jun 20, 2012.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. On Kotke.org Switzerland's elaborate Cold War defenses.
    The Swiss do love to dig a hole.

    I recall a mate arguing with a Swiss reservist about this. The guy explained the plan for the Russian invasion was basically for the all the men to get their assault rifles and go to the impregnable mountain bunkers. My mate pointed out that the Russians will just start shooting your women and kids until you come out. The Swiss was outraged and pointed out that was really not allowed.
  2. Surely a better tactic would be threatening to open the Banking records up. "Mein Gott shoot der frau und kinder by all means but don't tell the welt where die Gelt comes from." :)
  3. I can't comment on the evacuation plans, but I live about 500m from one of the former batteries which form a network which would have shelled the hordes coming down the Thun valley. The bunker complex is subterranean with the canon and 20mm AA gun emplacements concealed as farm buildings. It was designed to hold 40 men working in 10 man shifts for 6 months in complete isolation. There are hundreds of these scattered around.
  4. But yes, the Ruskis would have had a field day with the women and thought... 'easy! a the men locked away already!'.
  5. Between me and the Buendnerland the sides of the valleys are filled with the remains of cold war forts. One of my bosses was even CO of the big one overlooking Sargans for several years. He reckoned they could just about land a shell on Italy... (doubt it, but it's a good tale...)
  6. Not a topic that I'd imagine interests too many on here. Let's just say, it was complicated. The Bergier Report is the essential read if you are really interested in the topic of Switzerland's role in WW2. Not from a military but an economic standpoint (the two are obviously closely related). In order to appreciate the position the Swiss were in, I recommend the following read as essential:

    Bergier commission - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    It looks at the role the Swiss played in terms or trade, humanitarian relief and treatment of foreign assets after 1945. I am sure I have a copy or tow lying around at home. 619 pages, available here (in German):
    Buch: Die Schweiz, der Nationalsozialismus und der Zweite Weltkrieg - Die Schweiz, der Nationalsozialismus und der Zweite Weltkrieg von Bergier, Jean-François (Hrsg.) | books.ch - Orell Füssli
  7. So what was the plan for non-combatants should the red hordes have come?
  8. I could tell you but then...

    SFA - General Guisan, the Second World War and the reduit

    The guy the OP spoke to was half right, the idea was indeed to retreat into the alpine defensive positions but to sacrifice large parts of the civilian population if it came to that while activating a previously armed and trained paramilitary resistance whose members did not know each other and were organized in small cells completely independent from the regular armed forces and each other. I am not sure if all of this info is entirely de-classified but it is widely known.

    I quote from one of the pdfs under the link above:

    "General Guisan enjoyed enormous popularity both among soldiers as well as the general population long after theend of the Second World War. His portrait hung in innumerable Swiss offices and private households. In 1939,Henri Guisan was appointed General and thus Supreme Commander of the Swiss Army by the United FederalAssembly. The Rütli report from 1940 become the paradigm of the resistance in Switzerland and Guisan was itsfront. The General announced the Reduit strategy which meant that in case of invasion, Switzerland would con-centrate on the high Alpine regions only. Critical research has long proved that risky secret agreements betweenthe General and the French side were in place and that the reduit strategy was even during the war-time periodsubject to criticism. As Switzerland has only ever known the office of General in times of war, Guisan stepped down the day after thecease-fire on 8th May 1945.
    Whether and when the German Wehrmacht really intended on invading Switzerland and why it didn't do it is still amatter for debate among experts. Corresponding plans existed and the Swiss Army assumed a serious threat inmaking its defence plans, basing its decisions on information secured by the military secret service."
  9. The German plans for invading Switzerland were titled "Operation Tannenbaum" .
    Viceroy, have you been up to the fort at Vallorbe? From this series of linked underground bunkers, defenders could have landed shells just on the French border post. As with other redoubts, a battalion could be self-cintained inside the fort for up to six months - they say!
  10. Stoatman, we have the Vallorbe redoubt just up the road from us. Good idea for a Swarrse "battlefield" tour.

    edited to add: I know that Viceroy lives a very short distance from one of the "Toblerone" lines running from the Jura down to Lac Leman: we're only 15mins or so from there.
  11. Not been to the one at Vallorbe but plenty others in central Switzerland. I am afraid the only battlefield tours you can make in this country is all the battles that didn't take place!
    If it is followed by some range time and a piss up, sign me up.
  12. Agreed, that's why I put "battlefield" in inverted commas. It's still very interesting, though, seeing the plans and infrastructure provisions the Swiss had made for WW2 and which they continued into the Cold War.
  13. This is the one down my road.


    Speaking of battlefields, just outside Bern is a rare Swiss war memorial, but it relates to the Napolionic invasion of CH.
  14. msr

    msr LE

    And the ability to put 800,000 men into the field the event of WW3....