'Keeping the Swiss sweet': Intelligence as a factor in British policy towards Switzerland during the Second World War



Wylie N (1996) 'Keeping the Swiss sweet': Intelligence as a factor in British policy towards Switzerland during the Second World War. Intelligence & National Security, 11 (3), pp. 442-467.

First paragraph: The literature on espionage activities in Switzerland during the Second World War is dominated by three issues; the Soviet 'Lucy' ring, the liaison between Switzerland's Commander-in-Chief, General Henri Guisan, his intelligence chief, Roger Masson and the Abwehr's Major-General Walter Schellenberg in the spring of 1943, and finally America's intelligence network under Allen Dulles, 'master-mind' of the German surrender in Italy in 1945, and later head of the CIA. Given Switzerland's unique geographical position, its central role in international business, finance and political affairs, the fact that espionage has played a large part in studies of Switzerland's wartime history is hardly surprising. Britain's intelligence activities have however been largely ignored. Though 'the British may have been more heavily involved than has been hitherto assumed', notes Heinz Meier, 'their work was done indeed clandestinely and has left few visible traces'. There are certainly few visible traces to be found in the British archives, and until such a time as Britain's intelligence files are released, no thorough survey of Britain's intelligence work in Switzerland is possible. Nevertheless a careful study of Anglo-Swiss diplomatic papers does allow the broad outlines of British espionage activities to emerge from obscurity. Insight can be obtained by analysing the impact of intelligence considerations on the development of British policy towards Switzerland, and the extent to which Britain's intelligence community was prepared to intervene in order to protect their Swiss based espionage facilities.

Intelligence & National Security: Volume 11, Issue 3

Publication date31/12/1996
Publication date online02/01/2008

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Professor Neville Wylie

Professor Neville Wylie

Deputy Principal