VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > C. Europe, 1919–1945 > 10. Switzerland
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See March 11)
10. Switzerland
1914, Aug. 1
The Swiss Confederation mobilized its forces in view of the international crisis and remained on a war footing throughout the conflict. On Aug. 4 the government announced its neutrality, and its readiness to defend it no doubt had something to do with respect for Swiss territory on both sides. The war resulted in ever-increasing authority of the federal as against the cantonal governments (the federal council was given exceptional powers on Aug. 3, 1914). Switzerland suffered much from food shortages and was obliged to establish highly centralized control of economic activity. The demands of the combatants and the need for food resulted in a striking development of Swiss industry, with a corresponding growth of industrial labor and a spread of socialist and radical thought.  1
The all-Swiss Metalworkers' Association merged with the Watchmakers' Association. By 1919 membership in the Swiss Metalworkers' and Watchmakers' Association (SMUV) was over 84,000.  2
1918, Nov. 11
A general strike began in Zurich. The causes resembled those in most of Europe at this time: demobilized workers faced unemployment, food prices and rents had doubled during the war, and workers' wages had only slightly increased. The strikers capitulated after three days of demonstrations. Of the nine demands put forth by the strikers, one became law by 1919: proportional voting was introduced in the election of the Nationalrat.  3
Dec. 8
Switzerland broke off relations with Soviet Russia, which was suspected of subversive propaganda.  4
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.