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Why is Switzerland Regarded as a Neutral Country?

Remaining neutral is the best way for Switzerland to maintain its national security.
The Swiss flag with the Matterhorn in the background.
Some Swiss banks are believed to have assisted the Nazis in World War II.
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Due to its geographical location, the ethnic composition of its population, and its relatively minute territory, Switzerland has had to obtain neutral status in order to maintain its internal cohesion. The Swiss Alps serves to link Germany and France through the Italian peninsula, and throughout the country's history, its national territory has been coveted by surrounding powers. Declaring neutrality and being ready to enforce it was and continues to be the best means by which Switzerland can maintain national security.

The Swiss population is composed of French, German, Italian, and Romansh speakers. These are the four official languages of the country, and they represent the diversity that existed within its borders for much of its history. In fact, in the late 18th and early 19th century, the nation was reduced to a vassal state due to internal disorder. It was Napoleon Bonaparte who, in 1803, restored order.

With Napoleon’s defeat, however, the Swiss were determined never to suffer an invasion again. In 1815, the Congress of Vienna, consisting of major European powers who had convened to discuss international relations in the post-Napoleonic era, deemed Switzerland to be a neutral country. This neutrality was reaffirmed in 1920 by numerous countries. Once it joined the League of Nations, during the 1920s and 1930s, it was willing to take on the duties of member nations, thereby making its neutral status void. In the 1930s, however, the country regained its neutral status once it was relieved of these duties.

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During World War II, the country adhered to its neutral status by never officially becoming involved in the war. Its status was also a result of its small geographical territory, which measures a total of 15,940 square miles (41,285 square kilometers). While the Swiss army was fully mobilized in case of a German invasion, it was understood that the nation would be likely to fall.

Neutrality was not fully implemented by the Swiss. There is cause to believe that Swiss national and private banks helped Nazi officials to launder goods stolen during the Holocaust. War material manufacturers are also known to have aided the Axis powers. Recent findings, recorded in a report known as the Eizenstat report of 1997, however, indicate that such activities cannot be proved. Furthermore, Switzerland also allowed the Allies to gather intelligence information concerning the activities of Axis powers.

Today, Switzerland officially remains a neutral nation for the same reasons it has always done so, despite involvement with multilateral institutions. It joined the United Nations in 2002, but, as of 2013, it is not part of the European Union.

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anon249783
Post 7

Switzerland remains neutral even though it is suspected of helping the Allies in World War II. People often believe that Swiss banks are safe because other European countries honor their neutrality.

anon135723
Post 4

Look at a map of Europe. Then look where the axis where, where the allies where. We had both on either side. And the axis were much stronger in the beginning, so we had to give in to their demands (deposit gold), or be crushed by invasions from Nazi Germany and fascist Italy.

And we are trying quite hard not to join the EU, and anybody who thinks we're trying to should look at the results of the votes.

anon132498
Post 3

Switzerland is absolutely not attempting to join the EU. The people voted against EEE in 1992 and since everything is pending, and even frozen. Switzerland also wants to keep their currency, as of dec 2010.

h2opolo16
Post 2

It seems to me that Switzerland has managed to maintain a mask of neutrality to stay out of trouble. Since reporters and historians have started questioning Switzerland's true neutrality, their officials have said "yes we are neutral" to the cameras pointed at them, while others cough and snicker in the background.

Historians have tried to follow the money and prove Switzerland's involvement in WWII and other international conflicts, but have never been able to pin down enough evidence that the Swiss government couldn't argue their way out of. Covering their tracks and explaining away suspicious behavior seems to be the true skill of the Swiss.

anon81220
Post 1

You clearly have no understanding of the banking system. Switzerland is home to the bank of international settlements (the central holding bank of all the central banks in the western world).

Wars in the past century have only been possible because of war loans they got from their central banks (which are all connected and who orchestrated the wars funding both sides) and no one invaded Switzerland because they were ordered not to.

Financial power is headquartered in Switzerland and they dictate monetary policy to the EU which is why they remain neutral to the socialist EU.

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