1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the Swiss ambassador to Cuba, Emil A. Stadelhofer, persuaded Cuban leader Fidel Castro that US night-time reconnaissance flights over Cuba were not being carried out to prepare bombing missions.

In 1962, a US reconnaissance flight discovered that Soviet missiles were stationed in Cuba. US President John F. Kennedy decided to mount a sea blockade and demanded the removal of the missiles.

US officials asked the Swiss ambassador in Washington, August R. Lindt, to convey an urgent message to Fidel Castro via the Swiss ambassador in Havana, Emil A. Stadelhofer. The content of the message was that the United States planned to undertake further reconnaissance flights over Cuba to verify whether the Soviet missiles had been withdrawn from the island. This required the use of flares that could easily be mistaken for bombs.

Ambassador Emil A. Stadelhofer had to explain to Fidel Castro that the United States was not planning to attack Cuba and that he should not shoot down the American reconnaissance aircraft.

Repatriation under the Swiss flag

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Switzerland assisted the United States in another matter. It worked to secure the repatriation of the remains of an American pilot, Major Rudolph Anderson Jr., whose aircraft had been shot down over Cuba five days after Switzerland’s mediation.

A coffin containing Major Anderson’s remains was transported from Havana to Miami on a Pan Am flight under the Swiss flag. On 8 November 1962, US Secretary of State Dean Rusk sent a letter to Ambassador Lindt thanking him “for the many extra hours you personally have devoted representing United States interests with the Cubans.“

Diplomatic Documents of Switzerland:

dodis.ch/19007 (de)

Last update 03.05.2023

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