"Guisan Insults Hitler" by Jeff Provine
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Day in Alternate History Please note that the opinions expressed in this
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July 25th 1940,
an unguarded insult from the Swiss General Henri Guisan provoked the
Fuhrer into a German invasion of Switzerland.
As war raged in Europe all around them, Switzerland began to prepare for
an expected Nazi invasion. In 1939, the Federal Assembly called for an
election of a General, a rank that had been granted to only three men
before. Henri Guisan was named to defend the country, a monumental task
for some 430,000 troops against the untold millions of Germans and
Italians. The odds only became worse as France fell in June of 1940, and
the puppets of the Vichy government were set up to aid the Axis powers.
Guisan set about preparing his "Reduit" defense with Operationsbefehl Nr.
10. In the case of invasion, the soldiers would fall back to the Alps and
conduct guerrilla combat and paramilitary resistance measures. On July 25,
he addressed the Swiss Officer Corps in a speech bolstering the Swiss
national spirit despite being surrounded on all sides. He mandated that
surrender was impossible, and if the army ran out of bullets, they would
resort to bayonets. Finally, he slipped an insult upon Hitler's character,
saying the cowardly Fuhrer should never and would never test the Swiss.
Upon hearing word of the speech, Hitler's famous temper exploded. He
ordered the immediate invasion of Switzerland under Operation Tannenbaum
(a battle plan developed the day France fell). While continuing the Battle
of Britain, Nazi armies marched into the Alps with the speed of the Blitz
into the north of Switzerland. They tried a feint of infantry into the
Jura region in an attempt to draw out the Swiss, but the defenders did not
budge. Instead, they used small artillery to slow German attack. Without a
straight fight, the Germans simply rolled into the cities and declared
anschluss as they had in Austria. Vichy France and Italy would follow suit
as per their alliances, divvying up the nation along its language-borders
of German, French, and Italian.
The Swiss would prove an incurable pain in the sides of the Axis.
Bombings, ambushes, and assassinations would take place nearly
continuously. While some of the Swiss would give to Nazi dependency, the
majority of the nation would remain secretly (or publicly, in the
mountains) at war. The French would lose much of their mobile army in an
attempt to quell their region around Lake Geneva; Italy suffered enormous
economic setbacks as Swiss destroyed shipment capabilities for their coal
supply, virtually shutting down Italian industry; and Germany would
dedicate hundreds of thousands of troops in attempts to pacify the Alps.
Despite the hangups in Switzerland and the failure of the Battle of
Britain, Hitler continued his conquest of Europe with Operation Barbarossa
invading the Soviet Union. While the Germans made great gains in 1941, the
lack of available troops would cause the tide of war to turn against them.
The Soviets would begin a counter-invasion, which would in turn speed the
Allies' amphibious invasion of France in 1942 with Operation Sledgehammer.
When Hitler was defeated in early 1944, Soviet domination of Eastern
Europe would even include north of Switzerland as "occupation".
Guisan refused to allow another invader to seize Swiss territory. The
insurgency continued, and Stalin continually argued with Churchill and
FDR, who demanded the pullout of Russians in Switzerland. Stalin did not
blink, and war erupted as the Allies began to push Soviet troops eastward.
Devastation again flowed over Europe, but the Swiss were soon liberated by
British and American troops. Allies invited Swiss troops to continue, but
Guisan and his soldiers refused. Their war was done, and they returned to
rebuild their country and continue their tradition of independence on
Meanwhile, the Soviet War would continue until 1946, when American A-bombs
would destroy whatever was left of the Soviet infrastructure. Stalin would
surrender, and Communism would fall.
says in reality, Guisan did not bait Hitler with insult. His greatest
scheme of defense was deterrence, showing that Switzerland would not be
worth the devastation on his armies, and assuring Germany that the Swiss
would not be a threat. Hitler would never invade Switzerland, sparing the
Swiss of the carnage of the war, which would be seen so gravely on the
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