While the Swiss are trying to keep the EU at arm’s length, there is this little matter as well:
It was supposed to be an easy, three week campaign: in June 1812 Napoleon led his Grande Armée of over a half a million men into Russia, but at the end of the year less than five per cent of that enormous force straggled back across the border.
Of the 9,000 or so Swiss who took part in the campaign – enrolled under Switzerland’s treaty obligations with France – about 400 returned to tell the tale.
It was a campaign with few pitched battles; many of those who died perished from cold, hunger and disease and in Russian guerrilla attacks.
But the three-day battle at Berezina, in modern Belarus, in which 1,300 Swiss troops helped to hold off the Russians until the retreating French army had crossed the river, is seared into Swiss consciousness. Only 300 survived.
In a speech delivered on Swiss National Day this year, Defence Minister Ueli Maurer of the Eurosceptic Swiss People’s Party, used the anniversary to warn against the European Union’s attempts “to subject us to its jurisdiction”.
It’s easy at times to think of the Swiss as being their masters, the PTB, all the illicit money, the coldness etc., which is not as I remember the place. I always found people friendly and what’s more, they detest the EU – that makes them pretty good guys in my eyes.
All right, they enjoy a good standard of living but who doesn’t want that? They employ foreign workers and then kick them out, whereas we employ them and then let more and more and more in. Different emphasis. No country is perfect. The Swiss are OK. Plus their country is topographically stunning.
Filed under: History & Culture