Uncovering Switzerland’s Neutrality

A few days ago, I was studying history and I was focusing on World War One. A question that really struck  me was:
“What was Switzerland doing this whole time and how were they not involved?”
So I did some research and found out that Switzerland is in Central Europe and is home to several lakes, villages and the high peaks of the Alps. There happen to be four languages spoken in Switzerland aside from English. There is German, French, Italian and Romansh.
Now the real question is, how is Switzerland keeping away from wars?
It turns out that Switzerland is a ‘neutral country’ which is one of the central principles of Switzerland’s foreign policy. This policy indicates that Switzerland is ‘not to be involved in armed conflicts between other states’ This policy is known to be self-imposed and permanent and was created to guarantee external protection and favor peace. Switzerland has not participated in the foreign war as this policy was declared and established in the Treaty of Paris in 1815, post the Battle of Waterloo. The Battle of Waterloo was also the last war the Swiss participated in.
Despite their system of neutrality, Switzerland had military customs. In the 1500s, Swiss soldiers were most feared and sought after in Europe. The last country Switzerland had invaded was France in 1815, two weeks after the Battle of Waterloo! The last time the Swiss army fought was in 1847 during the Sonderbund (a brief civil war). Ever since the Swiss troops had mobilized twice again potential invasion when she was threatened in 1856-57 by Prussia during the Franco-Prussian War.
The reason as to why the Swiss refused to further participate in military events after the Battle of Waterloo is that during the several wars Switzerland engaged in, this region was used as a haven for refugees leading to overpopulation. Similarly, it was used to aid countries by providing military supplies. A reason why Switzerland was so sought after was that of their military tactics. The Swiss had found alternate and easy ways to carry equipment to their forts in the Alps. This constant use by other countries for their war purposes was a reason for Switzerland to wish for a neutral status.
At the start of the First World War, from a population of about 3.5 million the Swiss had some 220,000 front-line troops available, in addition to well over 200,000 reserves: a grand total of some 450,000 men. The main army comprised eight divisions, defending a country that was 180 by 300 kilometers (110 by 190 miles).
The remaining Swizz soldiers had become recruits after the Battle of Waterloo. Several of the men between the ages of 20-48 were recruits. Their training lasted for fifty days and the majority of the troops did 12 to 18 days of “refresher” training every alternate year. After 12 years of serving in the “Active Army” men served an additional 12 years in the Landwehr reserves. All men between seventeen and fifty were trained for service in the Landsturm militia. Every man was to keep his rifle at home to accelerate the process of mobilization. This is still done today. Officers had to first serve in the ranks which later allowed them to work as mercenaries.
Switzerland maintained its impartial position through World War I, when it mobilized its army and accepted refugees but also refused to take sides militarily. In 1920, meanwhile, the newly formed League of Nations officially recognized Swiss neutrality and established its headquarters in Geneva. A more significant challenge to Swiss neutrality came during World War II, when the country found itself encircled by the Axis powers. While Switzerland maintained its independence by promising retaliation in the event of an invasion, it continued to trade with Nazi Germany, a decision that later proved controversial after the war ended.
 Since World War II, Switzerland has taken a more active role in international affairs. It has never joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the European Union, and only joined the United Nations in 2002. Despite its neutrality, the country still maintains an army for defense purposes and requires part-time military service from all males between the ages of 18 and 34.
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