- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Swiss spies

The Swiss ambassador to the United States opened a seminar on Swiss neutrality and intelligence during World War II at the International Spy Museum, noting that Switzerland was completely surrounded by Nazis and Fascists, who were 30 times stronger than the Swiss militarily.

Ambassador Christian Blickenstorfer said his country survived only by making itself more valuable as a free nation than it would have been as a conquered one.

“In order to survive, the government had to make concessions,” he said, noting that Germany decided how much coal, steel and oil came into Switzerland and at what price.

“And Herr Hitler was not satisfied with just chocolate,” he said.

The joke at the time was that Switzerland spent “six days a week working for the Axis, and on the seventh day prayed for an Allied victory,” he said.

The seminar Tuesday night was held to introduce Swiss academic Pierre Braunschweig’s book, “Secret Channel to Berlin,” on the Swiss intelligence network during World War II and to discuss the back-door access Swiss spies had into the Nazi regime, our correspondent Tom Carter reports.

Joseph Hayes, a retired CIA operative who ran U.S. spy networks in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, said the book has lessons for today and should be studied by those proposing reform in the U.S. intelligence community.

He said, “The Swiss were focused. They clearly understood the world in which they were living, and they prepared, setting up an intelligence network” when the rest of the world thought the Germans might be accommodated.

James Srodes, Allen Dulles’ biographer, said the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, which Mr. Dulles created, is modeled on the Swiss World War II network.

“Through its foibles, flaws and success, the Swiss showed Dulles the pitfalls of creating an intelligence agency in a democracy,” he said. “Switzerland was for Allen Dulles his alma mater. He learned his craft there on the fly.”

LI, the brand

A top American diplomat yesterday praised the tiny principality of Liechtenstein as a major U.S. ally in the war on terrorism.

“You have been a remarkable partner with the United States,” said Robert Bradtke, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for European affairs.

Liechtenstein’s contribution came in the fight against terrorist financing. A key global banking country, the principality has been shutting down money-laundering operations and closing legal loopholes that allowed its financial institutions to be used by terrorists and organized crime.

Mr. Bradtke toasted Foreign Minister Ernst Walch at a lunch at Georgetown’s Citronelle restaurant.

Mr. Walch took a break from his schedule at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week to make a brief visit to Washington for meetings with members of Congress and State Department officials.

Liechtenstein — bordered by Switzerland and Austria, about the size of Washington and with a population of 33,500 — has a grass-roots political system. Only a thousand voters have to sign a petition to call for a referendum or place a legislative initiative on the ballot, Mr. Walch said.

Prince Hans Adam II, the country’s constitutional monarch, remains close to the people, he said.

“We are nothing without the prince, and the prince is nothing without the people,” Mr. Walch said.

The foreign minister also noted that Liechtenstein in July initiated an ambitious public relations campaign that has adopted the initials LI as its official abbreviation.

The campaign includes a “brand” with a stylized crown and an official color, purple, that Mr. Walch referred to as “aubergine.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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