what happened with Liechtenstein during World War Two Liechtenstein is not only one of the smallest countries in Europe but it is also one of the most picturesque the tiny principality lies on the Rhine River sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria it only covers 62 square miles but within the small space it boasts dramatic mountains as well as beautiful castles though Liechtenstein lies in the very heartland of Europe it remarkably avoided most of the turmoil of the 20th century.
the country has a long history of neutrality and was not invaded in either World War avoiding a fate that befell many of their neighbors Liechtenstein is both ethnically and linguistically German which should have made it a prime candidate to be annexed as part of Greater Germany during the Second World War as a country with no military and a tiny population.
it should have been an easy victory so why did Liechtenstein emerge unscathed and what happened in Liechtenstein during World War two whilst the history of Europe is a story of ever fluctuating borders Lichtenstein’s borders have remained unchanged since 1430 for at this point the lands were under the Holy Roman Empire which covered most of Central Europe in the late 17th and early 18th.
centuries these lands were bought by the Liechtenstein family who already had extensive land holdings in Austria bohemia and moravia the family were raised to the title of prince and the lands along the rhine were named Liechtenstein during the turmoil of the Napoleonic Wars at the end of the Holy Roman Empire Liechtenstein became an independent country like many of the Germanic states of the former Holy Roman Empire.
they joins the Confederation of the Rhine ands later the German Confederation yet Liechtenstein would not become a part of the modern German state in 1868 when his army returned from the austro-prussian war Prince Johann the ii disbanded his army of 80 men and declared that Liechtenstein would maintain permanent neutrality since this date Liechtenstein has not had an army nor have they been involved.
in an armed conflict a popular story says that whilst 80 men went to war from Liechtenstein 81 returned home as the soldiers had made a friend along the way whilst Europe tore itself apart in the First World War Liechtenstein managed to avoid being involved and were able to maintain neutrality yet as the royal family of Liechtenstein had a close tie to Austria.
the country suffered under an allied economic embargo to protect Lichtenstein’s interests a treaty was signed with its neighbours Switzerland this agreement formed a customs and monetary union between the two countries and allowed for Switzerland to represent Liechtenstein diplomatically as Switzerland is renowned for its neutrality.
in all conflicts an alliance between the neighbors made sense this Agreement persists to this day in the 1930s dark clouds were growing across Europe though it was officially neutral Liechtenstein was not immune from the impact of these threats especially the threat of impending war and increasing German aggression the impact of these threats for Liechtenstein became apparent in 1938 when Prince Franz the first suddenly abdicated in favor of his great nephew Prince Franz Josef ii whilst.
the prince was elderly and has no children of his own the official reason given was that he had stepped down because of old age but it was generally believed that he had been abdicated because he did not wants to be on the throne in the case of a German invasion this was not a baseless fear Prince Franz his abdication came not long after the Angelus the annexation of Austria by Germany as Austria’s neighbor Liechtenstein must have seemed very vulnerable.
Germany’s foreign policy aims called not only for the expansion of Germany’s borders but for all the German people’s to be united into Greater Germany all Germanic people were to belong to the new German which would act as a protector of German interests this was the rationale given for the annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia Lichtenstein’s population is ethnically German and they speak a dialect of German this made them.
a direct target of Germany’s expansionist aims and there was no reason to believe that Germany would respect their neutrality – adds to Lichtenstein’s problems the country was not without German sympathizers German nationalist movement in Liechtenstein was a political party that agitated for Liechtenstein to join Germany and to were sympathetic to German war aims despite their country’s neutrality though Liechtenstein and Switzerland would not be invaded during.
the Second World War this did not mean that the Germans did not have a plan to invade the neutral countries the plan for Germany to invade Switzerland was codenamed Operation Tana bomb and would have also included the invasion of Liechtenstein the ideology of pan-germanism taught that all Germanic people in Europe should be ruled by a pan German Empire and this included the Swiss as well as Liechtenstein German textbooks of the time showed.
a greater Germany with the Netherlands Belgium Austria the Czech Republic the german-speaking parts of Switzerland Western Poland and the old lands of the Holy Roman Empire included the author of one of these textbooks was quoted as saying quite naturally we count you Swiss as offshoots of the German nation along with the Dutch the Fleming’s de Lorraine errs the Alsatians the Austrians Anne’s the Bohemians one day we will group ourselves around.
a single banner by 1940 Liechtenstein and Switzerland leh surrounded on all sides by Germany the early years of the war saw rapid German advancement across the European continent leaving these neutral countries encircled after the fall of France in 1940 the Germans began planning for the invasion of Switzerland the ensuing plan operation tanah bomb called for a joint attack on Switzerland by the German and Italian forces.
the plan kept on being delayed especially since some within the German government believes that Switzerland would acquiesce to a nonviolent anch loose as had been the case with Austria after extensive delays the plan was eventually put on hold after d-day so why didn’t the Germans attack Liechtenstein and Switzerland the desire to do so was certainly there yet the plans for military invasion never eventuated.
as neutral countries of little strategic value it would have made little sense to attack early on in the war there were other more important military targets to attack first one of these was the Soviet Union Operation Barbarossa which was launched in 1941 was at first a resounding German success however the victory was short-lived the defeats of the German armies at Stalingrad was a major blow it was a turning point for the entire war and is generally seen as the beginning of German defeat Germany was beginning to overextend itself fighting a war on three fronts losses.
in North Africa also meant Germany was experiencing extreme fuel shortages as the war dragged on implementing operation Tana bomb would have seemed a less and less attractive option Liechtenstein and Switzerland are also both Alpine countries meaning they would be difficult to attack but easy to defend meaning any military action would be drawn out and call after the fall of the Italian government.
in 1943 the Germans could no longer rely on Italian military support by the time Germany could have attacked Switzerland and Liechtenstein it was too late for it to make any military difference and it would have overtaxed and already worn out war machine another reason that the Germans did not invade Liechtenstein in Switzerland was that both countries provided banking and other financial services to German businesses during.
the war as neutral countries they provided an attractive option a newspaper article from 1943 explains that Liechtenstein has not been invaded by the Germans as it contains the headquarters for many Belen firms and operates as a tax haven after the end of the war Czechoslovakia and Poland is seized all the estates of the royal family that’s lay outside Liechtenstein citing them.
as German possessions this is still the case of an ongoing legal dispute between the countries though Liechtenstein was not invaded during the Second World War it still found itself affected by the events raging around it.
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