These Common History Myths Are Still Being Taught Today
These Common History Myths Are Still Being Taught Today

These Common History Myths Are Still Being Taught Today

Khalid Elhassan - November 6, 2022

These Common History Myths Are Still Being Taught Today
Swiss soldiers in WWII. War History Online

A German Conquest of Switzerland in WWII Was Quite Feasible

A common myth about Switzerland in WWII is that the Nazis feared a massive guerrilla war up in the Alps if they invaded. However, there is little reason to assume that such a war would have been waged. Bad as Nazi rule was in Western Europe, the Germans did not treat Western European – unless they were Jews – as atrociously as they did the Eastern European Slavs. Western Europeans thus never felt that their backs were to the wall and that they had nothing to lose. Not to the same extent as did, say, the Soviets or Yugoslavs, who responded with a fierce and widespread partisan resistance that had no equivalent in Western Europe. Despite Hitler’s dislike of the Swiss, he and the Nazis nonetheless saw them as Germans, to be incorporated into the Reich as fellow citizens.

The Swiss were thus unlikely to have been treated with the wanton cruelty that triggered widespread resistance in the East. Instead, the Nazis would probably have treated them better than they did other Western Europeans: they were ethnic Germans, after all. Fortunately, the order to execute Operation Tannenbaum was never given. While it would have emotionally gratified Hitler to invade, there was no need to do so. The Swiss had no aggressive designs, and surrounded on all sides by Axis territory, there was no security threat of occupation by the Allies to use it as a base for attacking Germany. Switzerland had no resources that were not readily available to the Germans via trade. Also, Swiss banks, combined with Swiss neutrality, made the country a convenient center for currency exchange and other international financial transactions that were useful to the Germans.

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Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Alston, David – Slaves and Highlanders: Silenced Histories of Scotland and the Caribbean (2021)

Automatic Ballpoint – Operation Tannenbaum

Boleslaw, Mastai – The Stars and the Stripes: The American Flag as Art and as History from the Birth of the Republic to the Present (1973)

Cannato, Vincent J. – American Passage: The History of Ellis Island (2009)

Christofferson, Thomas Randy and Michael Scott – France During World War II: From Defeat to Liberation (2006)

Clark, Alan – Barbarossa: The Russian-German Conflict, 1941-1945 (1985)

Cracked – 11 Myths We Were Taught About the United States

Devine, Tom M. – Recovering Scotland’s Slavery Past: The Caribbean Connection (2015)

Dunninger, Joseph – Inside the Medium’s Cabinet (1935)

Furlong, William Rea – So Proudly We Hail: The History of the United States Flag (1981)

German Studies Review, 22.1, February, 1999 – German Plans and Policies Regarding Neutral Nations in World War II With Special Reference to Switzerland

Guardian, The, December 11th, 2003 – Keely’s Trickster Engine

Guardian, The, October 20th, 2013 – The Psychology of Spiritualism: Science and Seances

Hayes, Joseph, Atlas Obscura – The Victorian Belief That a Train Ride Could Cause Instant Insanity

History Collection – 16 Truths About the Rise of the Religious Right in America

History Network – Did Betsy Ross Really Make the First American Flag?

Journal of Victorian Culture, Volume 21, Issue 1, 1 March 2016 – Shattered Minds: Madmen on the Railways, 1860-80

JSTOR Daily – Pssst, Crop Circles Were a Hoax

Lock Haven University – The Keely Motor Hoax

Mann, Walter – The Follies and Frauds of Spiritualism (1919)

Murphy, David E. – What Stalin Knew: The Enigma of Barbarossa (2005)

Museum of Hoaxes – Keely Motor Company

New York Public Library – Why Your Family Name Was Not Changed at Ellis Island (and One that Was)

New York Times, March 17th, 2017 – Debunking a Myth: The Irish Were Not Slaves, Too

Roberts, Walter R. – Tito, Mihailovic, and the Allies 1941-1945 ­(1987)

Sceptical Scot – The Myth of Scottish Slaves

Smithsonian Magazine, December 15th, 2009 – Crop Circles: The Art of the Hoax

Smithsonian Magazine, November 22nd, 2011 – The True Story Behind Plymouth Rock

Southern Poverty Law Center – How the Myth of Irish Slaves Became a Favorite Meme of Racists Online

Urner, Klaus – Let’s Swallow Switzerland: Hitler’s Plans Against the Swiss Confederation

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