Few of those visiting Switzerland know that the country is still a military fortress where every male not only has to serve in the armed forces but keeps his assault rifle together with a soldered up can of ammunition in his wardrobe. Somehow this is a tradition for in the Middle Ages Swiss soldiers were known for their crossbows, their halberds, and their bravery. On many occasions they had fought and won battles against the Kaiser and the Habsburgs. As a result the Eidgenossen (confederates) eventually gained independence from the Holy Roman Empire in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Swiss soldiers were coveted by European powers and were fighting on all fronts. In many a battle Swiss stood against Swiss and frequently the country paid a high death toll. Nowadays the only Swiss soldiers serving outside Switzerland are those of the Swiss Guard protecting the Pope.
|Defending the Swiss border in 1914 (© DLM)|
|Even the historical wooden bridge crossing the Rhine at Bad Säckingen |
had explosive chambers filled with TNT (©dpa)
Only recently Switzerland had emptied all
|Explosive chamber in the |
Bad Säckingen bridge (©Lipp/Der Sonntag)