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Anglo-Swiss relations, 1914-1918: With special reference to the Allied blockade of the Central Powers.

Driscoll, David Daniel (1968) Anglo-Swiss relations, 1914-1918: With special reference to the Allied blockade of the Central Powers. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Allied blockade policy during the First World War jeopardized the traditionally amicable relations between Great Britain and Switzerland. Situated between the two belligerent camps, neutral Switzerland was compelled by the peculiarities of her economic structure to maintain normal commercial ties with both the Allies and the Central Powers. In exercising diplomatic and commercial pressure on the Swiss to minimize trade with Germany and Austria-Hungary in conformity with the demands of the blockade, the Foreign Office had to avoid the extremes of forcing the confederation into alliance with the enemy for the sake of economic survival, and of drawing her into complete dependence on the Allies for materials whose delivery would have constituted an embarrassment if not an impossibility. Direct pressure on the Swiss executive had its limits as the Swiss government could not compromise their nation's neutrality by issuing export prohibitions too favourable to Allied blockade policy. The British solution to these problems was found in a policy of agreed rationing and in the establishment in autumn 1915 of the S.S.S., a semi-official agency under the direction of Swiss businessmen. This body acted as unique consignee and distributor for all goods from the Allied countries or from abroad transported across Allied territory, and controlled the re-export of these goods to the Central Empires. German counter-pressures, Allied need for substitute markets in Switzerland, and the technical difficulties of imposing control on a free-wheeling economy made the operations of the trust organization at first difficult and unpopular. British firmness and Swiss realization of the advantages of co-operation, however, ultimately made the trust a great success so that by autumn 1916 the Swiss section of the blockade was regarded as the most efficient in Europe. At the same time, a jealous regard for their national sovereignty and forthright openness with both belligerent groups enabled the Swiss government to maintain complete political independence. A rational policy of commercial control, agreed to and conducted by Swiss businessmen under the guise of a commercial enterprise, obviated foreign interference in the political life of the nation and avoided the dangers for Swiss independence inherent in British wartime policy. In this way the continuance of cordial Anglo-Swiss relations was ensured during the difficult years 1914-1918.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, International Relations, History, Military
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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