File No. 763.72/7862

The Chargé in Switzerland ( Wilson ) to the Secretary of State


2089. Since break of Italian line, feeling in Switzerland has become daily more nervous and the realization of the possibility of a sudden attack by Germany is daily more widespread. As previously reported, people in the Basel district are apparently convinced that Switzerland will shortly be dragged into the war. Consular agent at Lausanne reports that in his district people are terrified at the prospect. The consular agent learned from an officer in one of the higher training schools which has just been disbanded that it was drummed into the students that Switzerland would be in the war within a month. Added to this is the uneasiness caused by the riots in Zürich, which I have reported, and possibility of similar outbursts in Geneva. There seems to be some grounds for belief that these riots are provoked by German agents. I have previously reported that the President spoke to me with an air of utter discouragement and I now find that this atmosphere pervades the Foreign Office. I have been urged both at the British Legation and by the French Ambassador that no unbearable demands should be made on Switzerland at the present time in view of the prevailing uneasiness.

In a discussion of the general situation, the French military attaché stated that since the Italian defeat he regarded intervention from Germany as daily more probable although he believed that a certain time must elapse before the attempt was made but that there is an extreme probability that the attempt will be made before America can be an effective factor in land forces. He believes that the blow will come with lightning rapidity with no warning and with a force of at least half a million men mobilized 100 to 150 miles back of the frontier. He states that France has foreseen and laid plans against this eventuality and that every precaution had been taken. What causes particular uneasiness at present are the facts that five German divisions cannot be located at present and are supposed to be in the Trentino, that a demonstration is being made in upper Alsace which would give an excuse for mobilization near the Swiss border and that it would appear strategically advantageous to endeavor to smash the Italian line in the Trentino coupled with a simultaneous dash for the St. Gotthard Pass in order [Page 1180] to push two columns of troops into the Lombardy plain behind the Allied line on the Piave or Adige. He feels, and his belief is backed by the best information at my disposal, that the Swiss would make a loyal effort to repel the Germans …

Please see my 1969, November 1, 5 p.m.1

I do not believe that any time could be more opportune for a declaration by President Wilson in the sense indicated by Mr. Ador.