Marcel Pilet-Golaz, David Kelly and Anglo-Swiss Relations in 1940



Wylie N (1997) Marcel Pilet-Golaz, David Kelly and Anglo-Swiss Relations in 1940. Diplomacy and Statecraft, 8 (1), pp. 49-79.

First paragraph: Switzerland's Foreign Minister and Federal President for 1940, Marcel Pilet-Golaz, has held centre-stage in the historical record of Switzerland's wartime experience. Moving to the Swiss Federal Political Department (foreign ministry) in March 1940, Pilet stamped his character on Swiss foreign relations and successfully steered his country through the testing war years before retiring from political life five years later in December 1944. His personality and policies left him open to criticism from many different quarters, especially during the 12 months following the fall of France, when Switzerland's existence was most under threat. In many respects he personified the tensions gnawing away at Switzerland at the time. His defeatist radio broadcast to the nation on 25 June 1940, and his meeting with the Swiss fascist party on 10 September are taken as key moments in Switzerland's flirtation with Nazi Europe. At the same time, however, German documents reveal how faith in Pilet's collaborationist tendencies persuaded Berlin against forcing the pace and bringing about an enforced Gleichschaltung of Switzerland. Curiously, amongst the detailed scholarship on these events there has been no thorough analysis of how Britain viewed Switzerland's controversial Foreign Minister. This is a surprising omission. Despite the collapse of Britain's military presence on the continent, London still had an interest in the maintenance of an independent and democratic Switzerland, and indications that Pilet wished to deliver Switzerland into the hands of Britain's enemies were not allowed to pass by without comment. This article sketches the contours of a 'British view' of Pilet-Golaz in 1940, and offers an explanation as to why Pilet was able to remain persona grata in London, despite his apparently inimical activities.

Diplomacy and Statecraft: Volume 8, Issue 1

FundersUniversity of Nottingham
Publication date31/12/1997
Publication date online19/10/2007

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Professor Neville Wylie

Professor Neville Wylie

Deputy Principal