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These photos capture the everyday life in Switzerland in 1936

Ian Smith

This striking collection of photos was taken by the prolific Sweedish photographer Berit Wallenberg. The old photos document Switzerland in 1936.

Switzerland is one of the richest and wealthiest countries in the world. Switzerland ranks top or close to the top in several metrics of national performance, including government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic competitiveness, and human development.

 

n march to Belotte_. Probably girls from the girls' boarding school in Savarol, Champel in Geneva, where Berit Wallenberg studied French in 1920-1921

On march to Belotte_. Probably girls from the girls’ boarding school in Savarol, Champel in Geneva, where Berit Wallenberg studied French in 1920-1921

 

_Petit bois- Betty, Eje, Mapje_. In the _Petit Bois_ forest north of Geneva

_Petit bois- Betty, Eje, Mapje_. In the _Petit Bois_ forest north of Geneva

 

A group photo with girls and young women, probably students at the girls' boarding school in Savarol, Champel in Geneva, where Berit Wallenberg studied French in 1920-1921

A group photo with girls and young women, probably students at the girls’ boarding school in Savarol, Champel in Geneva, where Berit Wallenberg studied French in 1920-1921

 

Children in front of the church of St-Jean in Fribourg, at Planche-Supérieure

Children in front of the church of St-Jean in Fribourg, at Planche-Supérieure

 

Children outside the Abbey of Saint-Maurice d'Agaune in Saint-Maurice

Children outside the Abbey of Saint-Maurice d’Agaune in Saint-Maurice

Switzerland was not invaded during either of the world wars. During World War I, Switzerland was home to Vladimir Illych Ulyanov (Vladimir Lenin) and he remained there until 1917.[33] Swiss neutrality was seriously questioned by the Grimm–Hoffmann Affair in 1917, but it was short-lived. In 1920, Switzerland joined the League of Nations, which was based in Geneva, on condition that it was exempt from any military requirements.

 

Church of St-Maurice in Fribourg

Church of St-Maurice in Fribourg

 

Ems (Domat), Switzerland

Ems (Domat), Switzerland

 

Market at Place du Ring in Biel

Market at Place du Ring in Biel

 

Memorial cross in Küssnacht, at the place where Swedish-born Queen Astrid of Belgium (Princess of Sweden) died in a car accident on the 29th of August in 1935

Memorial cross in Küssnacht, at the place where Swedish-born Queen Astrid of Belgium (Princess of Sweden) died in a car accident on the 29th of August in 1935

 

Moonlight over Spiez and Lake Thun

Moonlight over Spiez and Lake Thun

During World War II, detailed invasion plans were drawn up by the Germans,but Switzerland was never attacked.Switzerland was able to remain independent through a combination of military deterrence, concessions to Germany, and good fortune as larger events during the war delayed an invasion.Under General Henri Guisan central command, a general mobilisation of the armed forces was ordered. The Swiss military strategy was changed from one of static defence at the borders to protect the economic heartland, to one of organised long-term attrition and withdrawal to strong, well-stockpiled positions high in the Alps known as the Reduit. Switzerland was an important base for espionage by both sides in the conflict and often mediated communications between the Axis and Allied powers.

Queen Astrid's chapel in Küssnacht, near the place where Swedish-born Queen Astrid of Belgium (Princess of Sweden) died in a car accident on the 29th of August in 1935

Queen Astrid’s chapel in Küssnacht, near the place where Swedish-born Queen Astrid of Belgium (Princess of Sweden) died in a car accident on the 29th of August in 1935

 

The medieval priory in Romainmôtier with the monastery church

The medieval priory in Romainmôtier with the monastery church

 

The old city gate Spalentor (Basel)

The old city gate Spalentor (Basel)

 

The old city gate Spalentor in Basel

The old city gate Spalentor in Basel

 

View of San Salvatore mountain at Lake Lugano. _Clary leaning over the railing_

View of San Salvatore mountain at Lake Lugano. 

 

View of Sion

View of Sion

 

View of the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Fribourg

View of the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Fribourg

During the war, the Swiss Air Force engaged aircraft of both sides, shooting down 11 intruding Luftwaffe planes in May and June 1940, then forcing down other intruders after a change of policy following threats from Germany. Over 100 Allied bombers and their crews were interned during the war. During 1944–45, Allied bombers mistakenly bombed a few places in Switzerland, among which were the cities of Schaffhausen, Basel and Zürich.

Photo Credit: Swedish National Heritage Board