The Rütli meadow

The RütlischwurOn the western shore of the Urnersee, and visible from Brunnen, is a flapping Swiss flag planted in the Rütli meadow, a sloping patch of grass above the shoreline that holds unique, almost mystical, significance for the Swiss. Legend and national pride says that it was here on August 1, 1291, that representatives from the three forest cantons around the lake – Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden – met amidst continuing Habsburg repression to sign a pact of eternal mutual defence, thereby laying the foundation of the Swiss Confederation as it stands today. Nowadays, 1291 is taken as the birthdate of the nation, and August 1 is the official Swiss national holiday. Rütli gained contemporary significance when on July 25, 1940, under threat of a Nazi invasion, the Swiss commander in chief, General Guisan, conducted a ceremony at this most resonant spot at which the entire Swiss officer corps – several hundred men – reaffirmed their allegiance to the Confederation and to Swiss neutrality.

In the summer of 1939, Switzerland mobilized between ten and twenty percent of its entire population in preparation for war. Germany had already invaded Austria in 1938 under the pretext of “union” (Anschluss), and by June 1940, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and France had all succumbed to the Nazi tanks. Mussolini’s fascist Italy lay to the south. Switzerland was surrounded. An invasion by the Axis powers seemed imminent, and on July 25, 1940, following an extremely controversial speech hinting at advantages to be gained by collusion with Berlin, the Swiss commander in chief General Guisan, along with the entire Swiss officer corps, took ship in Luzern for the Rütli meadow, semi-mythical scene of the founding of the Confederation in 1291. There, at this most resonant spot, Guisan reaffirmed the Swiss commitment to resistance and neutrality, and conducted a ceremony at which all officers did the same. Rumblings of discontent among junior officers at the hints of collaboration in the upper echelons of command were quelled.

And yet it is now clear that collaboration continued apace. Unlike in the previous war, this time the flouting of Swiss neutrality was usefully concealed beneath a glow of national pride and unity, fuelled by the Rütli declaration. The role of Switzerland in World War II is still extremely controversial today, but historians now accept that the country escaped Nazi invasion not simply through the doggedness and tenacity of its troops. Both the Allied and the Axis powers were very well served by having an ostensibly neutral, stable Switzerland at the heart of war-torn Europe. The country’s role as a banking and financial centre was pivotal: both sides needed to buy war materiel and resources, and the only truly convertible currency accepted for payment worldwide for the duration of the war was the Swiss franc. Basel’s Bank of International Settlements – a bank of national banks, with board members drawn from the US, Britain, France, Germany and elsewhere – kept the wheels of international capitalism turning throughout the war, and was the only place where high-level meetings continued in extreme secrecy between Allied and Axis officials, meetings that were treasonous by the standards of both. Right up until the fall of Berlin in 1945, the Swiss National Bank accepted gold from Germany in exchange for Swiss francs, in the full and certain knowledge that Berlin would then use the money to keep the Axis war machine supplied, and that the ingots being shipped into Switzerland by the ton had been looted from the banks of invaded countries and/or melted down from the possessions and even the teeth of dead Jews. Hitler also needed to keep the Alpine passes that linked Germany and Italy open, and benefited from Swiss industry, which continued to supply the Third Reich with guns, ammunition and heavy artillery, in exchange for essential raw materials and food.

After the Rütli gathering – at the height of the threat of invasion – General Guisan ordered Swiss frontier defence positions to withdraw from the national borders in order to fortify positions within the high Alpine chain. The réduit national (“Fortress Switzerland”) took shape: at almost any point after 1940, Hitler could have crossed the frontier and taken the entire populated lowlands – Basel, Zürich, Bern, Geneva and the countryside – without a fight, and reduced independent Switzerland to a scattering of snowbound bunkers in the high Alps. But such an invasion would have impoverished the Reich and, in reality, Switzerland was safe: the military kudos to be gained by Hitler’s having a subdued, occupied Switzerland subject to Allied bombing was vastly outweighed by the material benefit of his nurturing a nominally neutral, independent Switzerland that remained enthusiastically open for business.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.



Ready Made společnost

Virtuální sídlo Praha
Virtuální kancelář Praha
sídlo firmy praha
ready made Praha
virtualní sídlo
ready made společnosti
(c) Firmy Praha s.r.o.

Virtuální sídlo Praha
Firmy Praha s.r.o.
Ready Made společnosti
Ready Made společnosti Praha » Ready-made PRAHA
Sídlo firmy Praha
Virtuální kancelář Praha
Virtuální sídlo


Sídlo firmy » Sídla firem
Expats Prague
Prague Expats
Ready Made Společnosti
Ready Made spoločnosti
Sídla firem Praha
Sídla spolecností Praha
Sídlo Praha » sídla v Praze
Sídlo společnosti Praha
Založení s.r.o. společnosti


.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.