Monday, September 20, 2010

Operation Tannenbaum

One of the proposed plans of attack (source: automaticballpoint.com)

This weekend I went just across the border to visit relatives in Germany. House prices are much lower over there, and the government is less patronizing.

Speaking of Germany, this map shows one of the plans for Operation Tannenbaum (Operation Christmas Tree). This was the planned invasion of the neutral state of Switzerland by Nazi Germany during World War II.

Germany started planning the invasion of Switzerland on 25 June 1940, the day France surrendered. After this, Switzerland and Liechtenstein were completely surrounded by the Axis Powers. Hitler never gave the go-ahead, for reasons that are still uncertain today. After D-Day, the operation was put on hold and Switzerland remained neutral for the duration of the war.

8 comments:

  1. Do you have any theories as to why Operation Tannenbaum was never given the go-ahead?

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  2. I believe the Swiss have some kind of militia system. In case of an invasion all able man would be equipped with a rifle and withdraw into the mountains to keep fighting. Also their government is decentralized in 26 separate cantons; the federal government did notify the Swiss people that in case of a German invasion, any claim that there had been a Swiss surrender should be disregarded as Nazi propaganda. And there are only a few ways into the country which could be defended very well. But the Nazi maps showed that the Third Reich would eventually include Switzerland, just as it would include all portions of Europe with German-speaking people. So if Hitler would have conquered Russia I guess he would have given it a try anyway.

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  3. Yeah, the cost/benefit just wasn't there for a Swiss invasion. The German invasion plans called for five times the number of units that invaded Norway. I'm sure the cost was considered just too high for the time being.

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  4. No need to invade Switzerland - the Swiss served as a useful source of imports and exports, plus diplomatic uses and was no military threat. Its time would have come given a German victory, but during the main war there was just no need.

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  5. In WWII there was the "SW-factor".
    SWitzerland and SWeden: in some moments coward, in other moments blinking an eye to swastika, and they remained safe and sound in the middle of a continent in flames.
    After the war, SW & SW had in their own hands the goods of the Hebrews and the goods of the Nazis and continued along their path, blinking an eye to the USSR in the mornings and blinking an eye to the USA in the evenings...

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    Replies
    1. ah, the 'SW' factor, interesting!

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    2. In 1940, anticipating an invasion by the Wehrmacht, General Guisan called all Swiss senior officers to the Grutli, the place where Switzerland was founded, and informed them that Switzerland would fight the Germans, that there would be no surrender, and that bypassed units were to fight as guerrillas. The Swiss air force shot down Luftwaffe planes. 13 Swiss soldiers were executed by the Swiss Army for spying for the Germans. To the best of my knowledge, no Swiss soldier was executed for spying for the Allies. Every able bodied male between 19 and 60 was mobilized into a local unit and every Swiss male took home his rifle and a basic load of ammunition. In 1943, when the Allies were driving up the Italian boot, the Germans demanded that Switzerland allow its military trains to go through Switzerland; Switzerland only allowed German hospital trains to go through it.

      The problem that the Swiss had was feeding its population, a population that had greatly increased with the several hundred thousand refugees to whom it had granted asylum. Switzerland, a highly industrialized country, did not then (nor does it now)have sufficient indigenous food supplies for its population. In the last one hundred and fifty years it has had to rely on exporting industrial products in order to purchase food. The Axis powers, which wwith the collapse of the Vichy government from 1942 onwards surrounded Switzerland,threatened to cut off Switzerland's food supply line if the Swiss did not sell industrial goods to the Axis governments. To put it in perspective, the U.S. would have had to admit 14 million refugees during World War II to match the percentage (based on population) of refugees admitted by Switzerland.

      There were any number of Nazi sympathizers in Switzerland, just as there were in the U.S. and Britain. Some, particularly the bankers, acted dishonorably. However, U.S. industrialists in 1939 and 1940 also sold goods to the Germans.

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    3. Thank you for the information. I'm impressed by the war efforts of the Swiss and their willingness to resist. It wouldn't be as easy to occupy it as it seems at first sight. And bankers acting dishonorably, nothing new there, that happens everywhere.

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