The image of Switzerland today is fundamentally connected to the Second World War. Anyone who did not experience the war as an adult will find it hard to take a political stand. Whenever someone is asked his age during a political debate, this is the reason why.
The war reinforced our sense of ourselves. The fact that we were spared, so to speak, proves everything we wanted to see proved: our army’s might, our probity, the strength of our state, our democracy, the favor God shows to our homeland.
We Swiss are anti-communists. The experience of the war confirmed us in our anti-communism. That the war was fought against the fascists no longer matters.
We are convinced it is to our merit that we were spared—to the merit of General Guisan and to the merit of us all. Both the conduct of our army and the beauty of our country must have deeply impressed God himself.
During the war, Switzerland was a paradise. It was a magic word, a promised land for the persecuted. In the eyes of the suffering, even our landscape took on a divine glow. For them, the Swiss state and the Swiss landscape formed a unity—the same unity we ourselves are convinced of.
Since for us, “beautiful Switzerland—good Switzerland—progressive Switzerland—humane Switzerland” are inseparable, we take any criticism of individual aspects as criticism of the whole. This means that all criticism is obliged to begin with a tedious proclamation of our allegiance to the whole.
Naturally, then, people continue to interpret the general strike, and the socialism at the beginning of the century, not as criticisms of isolated aspects of the state, but as hostility to the state itself. Even now, when the socialist party has expanded and grown docile, no one who thinks “Swiss” will think “socialist.” Not quite housebroken—that is all one can say of the opposition offered by the socialists.
We are a bourgeois country.
We can also say this positively: a country of burghers, that is, citizens. . .
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