The Swiss and the Nazis

The Swiss and the Nazis (2006)

While surrounded by the Axis powers in World War II, Switzerland remained democratic and, unlike most of Europe, never succumbed to the siren songs and threats of the Nazi goliath. This book tells the story with emphasis on two voices rarely heard. One voice is that of scores of Swiss who lived in those dark years, told through oral history. They mobilized to defend the country, labored on the farms, and helped refugees. The other voice is that of Nazi Intelligence, those who spied on the Swiss and planned subversion and invasion. Exhaustive documents from the German military archives reveals a chilling rendition of attack plans which would be dissuaded in part by Switzerland’s armed populace and Alpine defenses. [read more]

Translations of The Swiss and the Nazis:

Target Switzerland

Target Switzerland (1998)

In 1943, Adolf Hitler proclaimed that “all the rubbish of small nations existing in Europe must be liquidated,” even if it meant he would later “be attacked as ‘the butcher of the Swiss.’” In his diaries Josef Goebbels described Switzerland as “this stinking little state.” The Gestapo prepared lists of Swiss to be executed once the Nazis overran the country. Yet, as the Nazi tide spread across Europe from the Pyrenees to the Volga, one nation stood free, albeit armed to the teeth – its flag unbowed in a sea of twisted crosses. [read more]

Translations of Target Switzerland:


“The Swiss Confederation in the Eyes of America’s Founders,” 48 Swiss American Historical Review No. 3, 32-69 (Nov. 2012).

“Operation Sunrise: America’s OSS, Swiss Intelligence, and the German Surrender 1945,” in 52 Swiss American Historical Society Review, No. 1, 11-52 (Feb. 2016).

“Citizens in Arms: The Swiss Experience,” Texas Review of Law & Politics, vol. 8, Issue 1 (Fall 2003), 142-74. Oral presentation in A Question of Balance, International Symposium on Legal, Economic, and Human Rights Implications of Civilian Firearms Ownership and Regulation, Tower of London, May 1-2, 2003 (DVD available from www.jamesswan.com).

“Girl Beats Guys: A Swiss Teen Rifle Festival; Das Zürcher Knabenschiessen,” Schiessen Schweiz, Nov. 25, 2004, 18-19. Also in Women’s Outlook, Feb. 2006, 57, 63.

“Where Kids and Guns Do Mix,” Wall Street Journal, June 10, 1999, A26. Spanish-language version: “Donde los Niños las Armas se Entremezclan.”

“An Armed Society,” American Guardian, Jan. 1998, 40-43, 57-58.