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Operation Tannenbaum

Article about: Operation Tannenbaum Operation Tannenbaum (Operation Pine Tree) was the planned invasion of Switzerland by Nazi Germany during World War II. Germany started planning the invasion of Switzerl

  1. #1

    Default Operation Tannenbaum

    Operation Tannenbaum

    Operation Tannenbaum (Operation Pine Tree) was the planned invasion of Switzerland by Nazi Germany during World War II.

    Germany started planning the invasion of Switzerland on 25 June 1940, the day France surrendered. The third of these plans was called Operation Tannenbaum. The plan was submitted by 12th Army on 6 September 1940 to Army Group C.

    Operation Tannenbaum was the third of several detailed invasion plans drawn up for the German General Staff after France collapsed, but Hitler never gave the go-ahead, for reasons that are still uncertain today.

    There are several possible reasons that the Germans did not execute the plan:

    Switzerland was not seen as a threat to Germany. Hitler had his thoughts first with the Battle of Britain (Operation Sealion: where the few available German mountain divisions were allocated) and afterwards with the invasion of the Soviet Union Operation Barbarossa (already in August/September 1940 large numbers of troops were moved to the East to counter the Soviet threat to Bessarabia).
    The main window of opportunity for military action against Switzerland was the period between the Fall of France and October/November 1940. After this time, weather would not have permitted a real blitzkrieg attack due to the Swiss terrain. And after the winter 1940/41 Hitler was occupied by Operation Marita and Barbarossa.
    Italian dependence on coal imports from Germany after the Italian declaration of war meant the use of an intact Swiss rail network was necessary to meet demand
    While the Swiss military was markedly outnumbered by German forces in artillery and aircraft, to control the nation the Germans would have had to destroy a large and well-trained infantry force drawn directly from the Swiss population. The small arms of the Swiss, including the Schmidt-Rubin repeating rifle, were equal or superior to the best German small arms of the early war period, and Swiss marksmanship was well established. The example of the Winter War showed how a similar force of trained riflemen could stop a much larger, better equipped army. While revisionists have questioned the notion that Swiss rifles stopped the invasion, there can be no doubt that an invasion would have cost the Germans troops and resources needed elsewhere because of those rifles. Had there been no meaningful Swiss military force, the potential invasion would have been considerably less costly.
    The Swiss government also had a decentralised structure, so even the Federal President was a relatively powerless official with no authority to surrender the country. Indeed, Swiss citizens had been instructed to regard any surrender broadcast as enemy lies and resist to the end.

    Although the Wehrmacht feigned moves toward Switzerland in its offensives, it never attempted to invade. After D-Day, Operation Tannenbaum was put on hold and Switzerland remained neutral for the duration of the war. Actually the Germans were probably in no position to allocate the number of divisions required by Tannenbaum after the beginning of the invasion of the Soviet Union.

    Some industrialists in Switzerland contributed to the German war effort by selling goods such as ball bearings and parts to torpedo guidance systems, manufactured in facilities that could not be bombed by the Allies due to the country's neutral status. The contribution of Switzerland to the overall Nazi German war effort is believed to have been less than 0.5%.

    Some rumours suggest that Hitler had a personal sentiment toward Swiss culture and its art collections. The rumour generally suggests that Hitler feared that the panzers (and other armoured vehicles) would damage the rich history of Swiss cities, though that statement is debated.

    (Source Wikipedia)

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Operation Tannenbaum

    Target Switzerland

    Americans have been known to confuse the Swiss flag--white cross, red background--with the Red Cross banner, which is the opposite. In World War II, Swiss fighter planes, painted with the Swiss flag, attempted to intercept all foreign planes in Swiss air space and to order them to land. An American pilot, asked whether he thought about firing on the fighters which instructed him to land, responded: "I would never fire on a Red Cross plane!"

    Almost 1700 American pilots found refuge in Switzerland after their planes were damaged in bombing raids over Germany. However, the Nazis were not amused by Switzerland's armed neutrality. Hitler was livid that the Swiss used fighters bought from Germany to shoot down 11 German Luftwaffe planes; the saboteurs Hitler sent to blow up Swiss airfields were captured; they aroused suspicion because they were all dressed in the same odd outfits!

    In 1940, after the rest of central Europe collapsed before the German army, Swiss Commander in Chief Henri Guisan assembled his officers at the Rütli meadow near the Lake of Lucerne. He reminded them that, at this sacred spot, in the year 1291, the Swiss Confederation was born as an alliance against despotism. Guisan admonished that the Swiss would always stand up to any invader. One has only to recall the medieval battle of Morgarten, where 1400 Swiss peasants ambushed and defeated 20,000 Austrian knights.

    In World War II, the Swiss had defenses no other country had. Let's begin with the rifle in every home combined with the Alpine terrain. When the German Kaiser asked in 1912 what the quarter of a million Swiss militiamen would do if invaded by a half million German soldiers, a Swiss replied: shoot twice and go home. Switzerland also had a decentralized, direct democracy which could not be surrendered to a foreign enemy by a political elite. Some governments surrendered to Hitler without resistance based on the decision of a king or dictator; this was institutionally impossible in Switzerland. If an ordinary Swiss citizen was told that the Federal President--a relatively powerless official--had surrendered the country, the citizen might not even know the president's name, and would have held any "surrender" order in contempt.

    When Hitler came to power in 1933, the Swiss feared an invasion and began military preparations like no other European nation. On Hitler's 1938 "Anchluss" or annexation of Austria, the Swiss Parliament declared that the Swiss were prepared to defend themselves "to the last drop of their blood."

    When the Fuehrer attacked Poland in 1939, Swiss General Guisan ordered the citizen army to resist any attack to the last cartridge. After Denmark and Norway fell in 1940, Guisan and the Federal Council gave the order to the populace: Aggressively attack invaders; act on your own initiative; regard any surrender broadcast or announcement as enemy propaganda; resist to the end. This was published as a message to the Swiss and a warning to the Germans; surrender was impossible, even if ordered by the government, for the prior order mandated that any "surrender" be treated as an enemy lie.

    When the Germany army, the Wehrmacht, attacked Belgium and Holland, it feigned preparations for attack through Switzerland. Like actors on a giant movie set, divisions moved toward the Swiss border by day, only to sneak back again by night and repeat the ruse the next day. Both the Swiss and the French were tricked into thinking that concentrations of troops were massing to attack through Switzerland and into France. Swiss border troops nervously awaited an assault each time the clock approached the hour, for the Germans were punctual in lauching attacks on the hour.

    When France collapsed, detailed Nazi invasion plans with names like "Case Switzerland" and "Operation Tannenbaum" were prepared for the German General Staff. They only awaited the Fuehrer's nod.

    Threatened with attack from German and Italian forces from all sides, General Guisan devised the strategy of a delaying stand at the border, and a concentration of Swiss forces in the rugged and impassable Alps. This chosen place of engagement was called the Réduit national, meaning a national fort within a fort. German tanks and planes, Panzers and Luftwaffe, would be ineffective there.

    A fifth of the Swiss people, 850,000 out of the 4.2 million population, was under arms and mobilized. Most men were in the citizens army, and boys and old men with rifles constituted the Home Guard. Many women served in the civil defense and the anti-aircraft defense.

    Nazi invasion plans for 1941 were postponed to devote all forces to Operation Barbarossa, the attack on Russia. The Swiss would have their turn in due time. Hitler banned the play William Tell. He called the Swiss "the most despicable and wretched people, mortal enemies of the new Germany"; in the same breath he fumed that all Jews must be expelled from Europe. His plan to annihilate the Jews would have faced a special obstacle in Switzerland, where every Swiss Jew (like every other citizen) had a rifle in his home. In the heroic Warsaw ghetto uprising of 1943, Jews demonstrated how genocide could be resisted with only a few pistols and rifles. Hitler boasted that he would liquidate "the rubbish of small nations" and would be "the Butcher of the Swiss." But the dictator was more comfortable with liquidating unarmed peoples and was dissuaded from invading Switzerland. There was no Holocaust on Swiss soil.

    As a neutral, the Swiss represented American interests before the Axis powers, such as by inspecting German prison camps holding American POWs. When Vichy France was occupied, German soldiers with submachineguns took over the American embassy. The Swiss minister, brandishing his Swiss army knife, drove them out.

    A Nazi SS invasion plan, recommended for execution in 1944, warned the German general staff that the Swiss fighting spirit was high and shooting instruction good; German loses would be heavy, and a conquered Switzerland would require a strong occupation force. D-Day put the plan on hold, but new dangers threatened Switzerland as the Allies pushed the Nazis back. In 1944, the Wehrmacht's counter-offensive in the Ardennes, leading to the Battle of the Bulge, proved that the Nazi Beast was still strong and full of suprises. The Swiss prepared for an attack from Germans retreating from Italy. The Swiss resolve remained high, for, as the US State Dept. declared, "no people in Europe are more profoundly attached to democratic principles than the Swiss."

    Switzerland saved a half million refugees who came there in the war. Restrictive policies by government officials, often secret, were ignored by Swiss who helped refugees. Let it be remembered that Switzerland took in more Jewish refugees than the United States took in refugees of all kinds.

    America's great journalist Walter Lippmann wrote that the Swiss proved their honor by surviving the dark days of 1940-41, they proved that diverse peoples and language groups can live peacefully together, they repudiated Nazism. "It must never be forgotten," he wrote, "how the Swiss served the cause of freedom."

    In the American Revolution, a Swiss leader wrote to Benjamin Franklin calling America and Switzerland the "Sister Republics." After two centuries of mutual respect, today a media frenzy falsely depicts the Swiss as Nazi collaborators. It was the opposite. Nazi Propaganda Minister Goebbels called Switzerland "this stinking little state" and ranted that the Swiss press was "either bought or Jewish." The Swiss bashing seen in the New York Times today could use a reality check by reference to the Times issues of the war period--such as a 1939 issue with a map showing Switzerland as a possible invasion route, or a 1942 issue calling Switzerland an "Oasis of Democracy." Our new "Ugly Americanism" will never have the credibility of Winston Churchill, who observed near the end of the war: "Of all the neutrals Switzerland has the greatest right to distinction. . . . She has been a democratic State, standing for freedom in self-defence among her mountains, and in thought, in spite of race, largely on our side."

    (Source Dr. Stephen P. Halbrook at signings for his new book Target Switzerland: Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War II.)

  4. #3

    Default Re: Operation Tannenbaum

    This is a great summary of Dr. Halbrook's book. In addition it should be noted that the Swiss also were ready to defend their borders during the Franco-Prussian War and WWI. During both world wars many Swiss regimental commanders issued medals at their expense to their troops. Officially the Swiss do not have military medals but the private issue regimental border duty and other related Swiss medals are the some of the most interesting and unknown medals of the world wars.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Operation Tannenbaum

    hey friends..
    look at this link, it might be interesting for you..

    Swiss diploma / certificate of world war ii !!!

    viele Grüsse...

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