Title page for ETD etd-11162005-210229

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Schandler, Matthew
Author's Email Address mschan1@lsu.edu
URN etd-11162005-210229
Title The Economics of Neutrality: Switzerland and the United States in World War II
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
David Lindenfeld Committee Chair
Benjamin Martin Committee Member
David Culbert Committee Member
  • World War II
  • economic warfare
  • economic neutrality
  • Swiss-American relations
Date of Defense 2005-10-28
Availability unrestricted
The following study addresses the contentious issue of Swiss economic policy during the Second World War. In particular, it concentrates on the deterioration of Swiss-American relations that resulted from Switzerland’s economic ties to Nazi Germany. It is argued that Switzerland’s survival as a neutral and democratic country depended less on the defense preparations of the Swiss Army and more on the difficult trade negotiations with both the Axis and Allies. Varied sources that include American and Swiss governmental reports, diplomatic documents, and contemporary accounts of the war, support the argument that although moral considerations played a secondary role to economic necessities, Switzerland’s trade with Nazi Germany did not prolong the Second World War nor were such ties immoral in nature. Instead, the inability or unwillingness of Allied countries like the United States and Great Britain to provide Switzerland with much-needed raw materials and food imports led the neutral country to forge closer ties with the Axis. The emphasis of the study is to assess accurately Switzerland’s wartime economic conduct and is not meant to provide an apologetic rationalization of its relationship with Nazi Germany.

After first considering the historical origins of Switzerland’s neutrality and its economic and political institutions, the study proceeds to examine the immediate effects of its foreign trade policy and the longer-term consequences of the damaged relations with the United States in the Cold War. The study closes by addressing the problems stemming from the poly-ethnic and multi-cultural composition of the Swiss Confederation that can provide excellent insight into the current dilemmas experienced by European countries as they strive for political and economic integration.

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