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  #21  
Old 05.06.2009, 10:21
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

The following link gives us a good overview about Switzerland's history:
http://history-switzerland.geschicht....ch/index.html
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  #22  
Old 05.06.2009, 10:23
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

From here we can see down the Flumser valley to Sargans, Liechtenstein and Austria and one day my future FIl told me about the area during WW2. Sargans was crowded with detention camps with escaped prisoners from all nationalities, he said it was a really cosmpolitan place.

He lived on a farm further up the valley towards Chur and one day he was collecting hay in a field close to the Rhine when a few allied bombers, obvioulsy lost, crossed into Swiss air space and started dropping bombs, some of which landed in and around the fiedls he was in. He jumped onto a wagon as the horse started running back to the barn. He remembers the horse swerving left and right, almost as if he knew where the bombs were heading.

Obvioulsy he got back to shelter safely and then watched as the Swiss air force came after the bombers and shot a couple down. They crashed into the hills above Mels. I guess if you had time and went up with a metal detector you'd still find bits of them today.
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  #23  
Old 05.06.2009, 10:35
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

My grandfather was part of the special troops in the army during WWII, equipped with bicycles. He was stationed in Ticino and in small groups of not more than 5 was tasked with surveying the border to Italy. Back then a lot of professional smuggling was going on, and because the smugglers were very well equipped with modern rifles, while they only had old WWI rifles, they used to hide behind rocks to not get detected and shot at by smugglers. Best army in the world indeed!
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  #24  
Old 05.06.2009, 10:42
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

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"Knecht" is german for " farm labourer", and "Ritter" is german for "knight".
I know that. But that's what English "knight" used to mean too: a boy or a servant. It only began to mean "hard guy in armor" during the Hundred Years' War.

That's what I love about this language... I can easily forgive "das Handy" when I stop to remember that "rauchen" is just "reek" (as in, long may yer lum) and the "Bach" is just the beck and the "Herd" is the hearth.
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  #25  
Old 05.06.2009, 10:44
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

Does anyone know if Swiss air space was a no-fly zone at that time? Or did the Germans fly over at will during the war..? I often go to the attic room to read/ sleep and once in a while, hear the distance drone of a heavy aircraft late at night and wonder how it must of been during the war: listening constantly to the hum of war plans flying overhead. Switzerland must of been a noisy place during those years.. especially north of the country.
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  #26  
Old 05.06.2009, 11:13
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

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Does anyone know if Swiss air space was a no-fly zone at that time? Or did the Germans fly over at will during the war..? I often go to the attic room to read/ sleep and once in a while, hear the distance drone of a heavy aircraft late at night and wonder how it must of been during the war: listening constantly to the hum of war plans flying overhead. Switzerland must of been a noisy place during those years.. especially north of the country.
The Swiss Air Force attacked German and Allied aircraft entering Swiss airspace during World War II.
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  #27  
Old 05.06.2009, 11:18
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

Well, theoretically Switzerland was a no-fly zone during both WW, but since we had no way of enforcing it, the country was crossed daily by countless German and Allied planes...
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  #28  
Old 05.06.2009, 11:27
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

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Well, theoretically Switzerland was a no-fly zone during both WW, but since we had no way of enforcing it, the country was crossed daily by countless German and Allied planes...
That's what I thought would have happened..
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  #29  
Old 05.06.2009, 11:38
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

If you want to see what the restaurants were like in the 70's just go to Fluelen now
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  #30  
Old 05.06.2009, 11:50
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

"That's what I thought would have happened.. "

Well, the hilarious part is that even though they couldn't do anything about it, they carefully recorded ALL the planes flying over the country... Guess that's so 'us', Swiss people: always thorough...
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  #31  
Old 05.06.2009, 12:01
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

On a slightly less hilarious note, it is a commonly taught myth that Schaffhausen was bombed by the Americans because Americans are all idiots, and the pilots were completely lost. Ask any Swiss person if Switzerland got bombed in WWII and this is probably what they'll come out with.

Truth is they kept finding German tanks equipped with a full set of top quality Swiss ball-bearings.

Cheers

Jim
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  #32  
Old 05.06.2009, 12:02
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

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Well, theoretically Switzerland was a no-fly zone during both WW, but since we had no way of enforcing it, the country was crossed daily by countless German and Allied planes...
Actually, shots were fired between the Swiss and the Germans. In the air. The Swiss won.
After the Swiss shot down a few German planes in June 1940, Luftwaffe bombers deliberately flew into Swiss territory with an escort of Messerschmitt Me-110s on June 8, meaning to punish the Swiss, only to get the worst of the ensuing engagement from determined Swiss pilots flying German-built Messerschmitt Me-109Es.
Then as now, swiss pilots were very, very good pilots since they they learned flying in a difficult mountain environment.
When the Allied air forces went over to the offensive in 1942, scores of their bombers also went down in Switzerland, although in most instances these were crippled aircraft that were unable to make it home. Their crews saw internment in Switzerland as a preferable alternative to going down in Axis territory and ending up in German prisoner of war camps, or to crashing in the Alps.

Rather than shoot them down, intercepting Swiss fighters guided the stricken aircraft to Swiss airfields. For some 1,700 airmen of the U.S. Army Air Forces, Switzerland became a welcome refuge in a Europe that was largely under Nazi occupation.
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  #33  
Old 05.06.2009, 12:03
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

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If you want to see what the restaurants were like in the 70's just go to Fluelen now
Don't you just love the molded, mustard coloured plastic, the brown tiles and the 'funky' round porthole windows?

Cheers

Jim
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  #34  
Old 05.06.2009, 12:11
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

- Were those nuclear bunkers ever used?

Most of the bunkers were actually built during WWII - Switzerland's only hope to win against the Germans, should they invade, was to move large parts of the Army into those bunkers and lead some sort of Guerilla war from there. Some of the bunkers were later converted to fall-out shelters for either the general population or the military. However, the bunker strategy was abandoned between the 60s and the 80s and most bunkers are now de-funct.

- Was Switzerland always much more expensive than other W. European countries?

no - before the service sector (and with it the banks) started becoming the Swiss economy's motor, Switzerland was a somewhat poor and largely agricultural country. The banks had their hay-day in the 70s when Switzerland financial system was considered the most solid in the world. Much of the Swiss banking system's good reputation stems from that decade.

- How was the expat community composed before the influx from Germany (me incl.)

Up until the late 60s, most immigrants came from Italy. When the economy worsened in the late 60s, close to all immigrant work permits were revoked and tens of thousands of people were sent back. Apart from the "Saisonniers" (people, often from former Yugoslav countries that came here to work in the agricultural sector and the hotel and restaurant industry), the number of immigrants was extremely low. There were (and still are) quite a few people from Hungary that came after the revolution in 1956 that had refugee status and weren't sent home in the late 60s.

- What were the restaurants like in the seventies?

The same as today but cheaper :-)

- Anecdotes?

well, this goes back further than the 70s but anywho: my grandmother (who lived on the Swiss side of Lake Constance) told me that during the second world war, they were constantly afraid the Germans would invade Switzerland. One night, the rumor spread that the Germans were amassing troups in Constance. So everybody thought that now they'd come. What they did was dig little holes in the back-yards to hide their preserves - so that if they got killed, the Germans at least didn't get their provisions. Needless to say - the Germans never came and the food was spoiled. But it shows the way the people thought back then.

On a darker note - there was a clinic for mentally challenged people on the island of Reichenau where the Germans conducted experiments on the inmates. I was told that when the wind came from the North, you could hear the screams of the people who were tortured and killed across Lake Constance on the Swiss side.

Peter
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  #35  
Old 05.06.2009, 12:12
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

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Actually, shots were fired between the Swiss and the Germans. In the air. The Swiss won.
The Swiss also downed some US planes - Swiss was neutral territory and in the first years of the war, the Swiss fired on anything that was intruding into their territory.
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  #36  
Old 05.06.2009, 12:42
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

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Well, theoretically Switzerland was a no-fly zone during both WW, but since we had no way of enforcing it, the country was crossed daily by countless German and Allied planes...
Huh? You might want to hit your history books or check Google.

Switzerland had an air force at the onset of WW2, albeit not a very strong one. Last minute they ordered some German fighter planes and AFAIK they also built French aircraft under license.

Various German and U.S. aircraft were shot down by Swiss planes (B-17 in the Greifensee comes to mind), forced to land or escorted out.
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  #37  
Old 05.06.2009, 16:17
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

How about cultural references? Any child of the eighties in England will remember Blue Peter, Jackanory, Play School (Humpty etc).

I also remember seventies England, when there were seemingly only 3 types of ice cream (fake Vanila, fake Strawberry, fake Chocolate). It was considered sophisticated to buy all three flavours in one tub, so much so they called it Neopolitan.

Rivella is still beloved here. Are there also obsolete cultural references I should know about?
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  #38  
Old 05.06.2009, 17:36
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

There were more Italian restaurants around and less international variety. People either wore Swiss mechanic watches or Japanese quartz watches and the Swiss watch industry suffered until the Swatch initiated the turnaround in the early eighties. Supermarkets only had bread on the shelves until early afternoon and people actually had to go to the bakery if they wanted to buy it later.

Regarding WWII and air combat you can find some information here and here. (The Wochenzeitung article is worth a Google translation.)

Historic data about migration and foreigners in Switzerland can be found here in a German/French PDF. The modern migration begun in 1948 with a contract with Italy. Italians followed by Spaniards, Portuguese and Yugoslavians were the earliest migrants. In 1950 only 6.1% of the resident population were foreigners. Twenty years later it was 17.2% already (it's about 22.1% now). In the early 1960s and early 1970 up to 200'000 people came to Switzerland with a season worker permit.
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  #39  
Old 05.06.2009, 17:57
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

I lived in Switzerland from 78-88. A quiet and prosperous period. Swissair was making tons of money. Banks were healthy. We witnessed the rebirth of the Swiss watch industry in the wake of the success of Swatch. The cities were immaculate. I had never seen graffiti until I moved to NYC in 88. I had never heard of Christoph Blocher. You could go anywhere at anytime and be safe. There were no drug addicts behind the Zurich train station.
In terms of immigration, There was a large Italian and Spanish community working in construction, hotels etc... Some Yougoslavian's also. Few foreigners were managers then. A high level position in the Swiss military almost certainly guaranteed you a similar position in the industry end especially in banking.
The biggest national drama was the so called 'dying forests' due to acid rain (mostly coming from eastern Europe). To allegedly fight this the government did lower the speed limits on the highways which was not popular in Suisse Romande (80/120km/h down from 100/130km/h).
Europeans were not environmentally conscious. Swiss lakes were disgusting then because of phosphate in detergents. Gas was leaded and catalytic converters only came around 1985. Switzerland was the first European country to make them mandatory.
We had an amazing winter in 1985. There was more than 3 feet of snow in Geneva and Lausanne. I remember taking the train during that winter and it couldn't get into the Geneva train station. We had to evacuate and walk ˝ mile along the rails.
The Chernobyl nuclear disaster affected somehow Switzerland. We were advised to remove and wipe our shoes before entering buildings and farmers had to throw away some of their crops.
In the military, we would fight the "reds". The military training became really very hard for us city dwellers at the end of the 70s (you foreigners are not supposed to smile ) and there was a growing disconnect between the youth and the military as an institution. That was under the leadership of Roger Mabillard, some sort of semi fascist in charge of military training. http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Mabillard
Our military fatigue made us look like WW2 German soldiers at the time. My understanding is that the military has changed a lot since.
Regarding the media, there were only 6 TV channels available. 3 Swiss and 3 French state networks. Private owned TV or radio was strictly forbidden. TV and radio media were a carefully controlled state affair. Period.
After 1981, the French socialist government allowed private radios (but not TV) so a bunch of those started broadcasting from France just for the Swiss public.
I have very good memories of the summers on the beautiful Vaud Riviera and also some great hikes in remote valleys in Valais like the Anniviers valley that were and hopefully are still unspoilt.
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  #40  
Old 05.06.2009, 18:20
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Re: Switzerland in the olden days

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I lived in Switzerland from 78-88. A quiet and prosperous period. Swissair was making tons of money. Banks were healthy. We witnessed the rebirth of the Swiss watch industry in the wake of the success of Swatch. The cities were immaculate. I had never seen graffiti until I moved to NYC in 88. I had never heard of Christoph Blocher. You could go anywhere at anytime and be safe. There were no drug addicts behind the Zurich train station....
Actually, Needle Park existed in the mid 80s (began around 86, I believe). Before then, the drug scene was still there, just hidden like it is now.
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