Switzerland is famously–and infamously–neutral. During WWII they happily made money of the Axis and Allied countries.
Plenty of people didn’t like Switzerland taking Nazi gold, but they held fast to their neutrality.
This doesn’t mean they trusted their German neighbors during WWII. They were very concerned about the German forces, and you’ll find Toblerones scattered all over the border. These kinds of Toblerones:
Althought the latter are scattered throughout grocery stores and tourist shops. These cement barriers are designed to flip tanks.
But Germany wanted to protect its Swiss treasures and mostly stayed away and Switzerland stayed neutral.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, I assumed that Switzerland would maintain its neutral stance. But on the day of the invasion, my local city, Basel, projected the Ukrainian Flag on the town hall and then hung a Ukrainian flag. Organizations, individuals, and schools jumped to start gathering supplies for refugees.
Some crabby people complained about Basel flying the Ukrainian flag. They wanted Switzerland to maintain their neutrality and war against Ukraine was not reason enough to lose that neutrality.
Now, to be clear, neutrality is not something that I believe in. Sure, neutrality over unimportant things is fine–I don’t care about a lot of things. And there are some things I don’t know enough about to have an opinion, but that’s not the same as neutrality. But, a lot of Swiss people have it embedded in their culture and upbringing that they are neutral, neural, and neutral.
Switzerland will forgo its commitment to neutrality & impose sanctions on Russia, Swiss Federal President Ignazio Cassis says, calling Russia’s actions an “attack on freedom, an attack on democracy, an attack on the civil population & an attack on institutions of a free country.”
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) February 28, 2022
And I was so very pleased. Because the reality is, there is no neutrality in situations like this. Choosing neutrality is supporting the aggressor.
Is this the beginning of a new era of non-neutral Switzerland? I don’t know. But, I’m awfully glad that my adopted homeland picked the right side.