Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Four Times Switzerland Accidentally Invaded Lichtenstein

Image result for lichtenstein country
Vaduz Castle

Switzerland is known for being a neutral country-- for staying out of it, and being a safe haven from the rest of the world's warfare. You may think that the Swiss are just nice, like the Canadians of Europe, but after reading about the four times that this inoffensive nation has invaded its tiny neighbor Lichtenstein, I'm beginning to think that the Swiss are neutral because their army is remarkably incompetent.

And yes, you read that correctly. Switzerland has invaded Lichtenstein, not once, not twice, not three times, but FOUR times. Now, admittedly, the Swiss-Lichtenstein border is undefended and largely unmonitored, but crossing into another country is a big deal, especially if you're an army.


To start off the international incidents, in 1968 the Swiss army accidentally attacked a ski resort at Malburn with grenades. Thankfully, no one was hurt.


December 5, 1985 the Swiss were doing some routine missile exercises. It was a dark and stormy night, and their missiles were of poor quality, so they had some pretty good excuses when one of their missiles accidentally landed in Lichtenstein's Bannwald Forest. The missile caused a forest fire, sparking tension with the heavily forested principality. This was the only time with the Lichtenstein Government got a bit testy. The Swiss had to shell out several million Swiss Francs.


In 1992 five soldiers were sent on a training mission to erect a tower in the remote and mountainous town of Triesenberg. The idea was that they would be able to observe planes flying over the Rhine valley from this location. Unfortunately, someone higher up forgot that Triesenberg isn't part of Switzerland. So imagine the surprise of the Swiss when the next door neighbors of the house they had commandeered as a command center came over to politely inquire what the hell they thought they were doing. Embarrassed, the Swiss quickly went back to where they came from.  No damage was done to the property, so the Lichtenstein government wasn't too upset when they got the news.


March 1, 2007 the Swiss army was doing a night training exercise near the Swiss-Lichtenstein border. Now, this border is unguarded, and things can get a bit confusing when mountains are concerned, so is it really surprising that 170 Swiss soldiers accidentally wandered into the small principality in the dark? They were about a mile in before realized they were in the wrong country, and high-tailed it back to Switzerland. The Swiss government informed Lichtenstein the next day, and offered an apology.

An apology Lichtenstein took very well. The Lichtenstein government is quoted as having said "It's not like they invaded with attack helicopters." and "These things happen."

So far, Lichtenstein has been remarkably gracious about the Swiss repeatedly blundering over their borders, though that may be because Lichtenstein has no standing army of its own, and relies on Switzerland for protection. However, in Switzerland these incidents are routinely held up as examples of why Switzerland should disband its army.


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