Swiss American Historical Society Review

Swiss American Historical Society Review


Brian Champion


Operation, Intelligence, Power


When, exactly, Switzerland became a hub for intelligence gathering

and covert operations has been lost to the mists of time. Despite centuries

of implicit and declared transnational neutrality, Switzerland, by the

cruel ironies of geographic fate, couldn't help being at the confluence of

the intelligence realpolitik in Europe and, later, in the world. This article

seeks to illustrate through selected examples--from the early nineteenth

to the twentieth centuries--facets of the history of the foreign use of

Switzerland and the Swiss neutrality ideal in the tectonic power politics

of international intrigue. Spying and associated covert operations

in Switzerland-then as now-are illegal, of course, as they are in all

countries. But the Swiss history of clandestine or subrepitious actions

is rich and seldom acknowledged, and this article intends to illumine

selected clandestine cases which illustrate how Switzerland accommodates

covert enterprise.