Prelude 16. June until 26. June 1940

Hitler's preoccupation with the Swiss situation reached a first high in mid June 1940 after some initial diplomatic and military pressure following the air incidents over Swiss territory of the early days in June 1940:

16. June - Guderian advances to the Swiss border

Guderian's Panzer Group was advancing in direction of the Swiss border on 16. June 1940 to "close the bag" on the French troops still occupying the Maginot line. This advance led to the internment of the French XLV army corps on 20. June. 16'000 French and 12'000 Polish troops crossed the border to Switzerland to evade capture by the Germans.

In the evening of 16. June the 29. ID (mot) received the order to "reach Swiss border today. Immediate reporting important due to political importance." Early in the morning of 17. June recce elements of the division reached the Swiss border near Les Verrieres. The rest of Guderian's group turned North to attack the French troops in the cauldron.

19. June - Hitler orders Panzergruppe Kleist to close the gap

Even after Guderian's troops reached the Jura mountains and the Swiss border, a big gap under French control was still open South of the Lake of Geneva. Since negotations on the terms of a truce with the French were opened on 17. June, the gap would remain open. Through this gap Switzerland would be linked to the ports in Southern France through railway lines which evaded German control.

Hitler wanted to change this and ordered Kleist's Panzers to attack in the direction of Lyons and then to turn on Annecy and Grenoble. Two days later the Italians attacked French positions and wanted to join the German troops near Grenoble. This movements would have cut off Switzerland from the supply lines running through Southern France and would thus have increased the vulnerability to German political pressure.

26. June - The Armistice is in Place - The French Alpine troops resist the Germans and the Italians

A week later the armistice was signed and took effect on 26. June. The Italian attack had faltered already on 21. June. The German attack was stopped on 21. June at the French Fort de l'Ecluse just South of Geneva, on 23. June the Germans were stopped North of Chambéry and on 24. June the 3. Panzer Division got stuck at Voreppe (West of Grenoble).

The French Alpine troops resisted the German attack and effectively saved Switzerland from complete encirclement.

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[Last Update 30.08.2010]