Switzerland during the war years (1914–1945)

Original photo of a poster showing the end of the Second World War
The end of the Second World War is publicly announced © Ringier

In the first half of the 20th century, Switzerland lived through not only two world wars but also an interwar period that saw a dramatic economic downturn and major political unrest. Although Switzerland was spared the direct impact of both wars, the country’s development was heavily influenced by political events abroad.

The wars exposed the Swiss economy’s dependency on imports and exports. The global economic crisis of 1929 plunged the country into a depression that would last many years.

Domestic politics was marked by tensions between the centre-right parties and the Left. Relations between the two sides became particularly strained following the General Strike of 1918. This tense climate prevailed until the 1930s, when the political forces closed ranks in order to head off external threats. National solidarity was sealed with the election of the Social Democrat Ernst Nobs to the Federal Council in 1943.

Switzerland during the war years (1914-1945) (PDF, Number of pages 6, 200.8 kB, English)