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Document Published Aerospace Power Journal - Summer  2000

The Diplomacy of Apology:
U.S. Bombings of Switzerland during World War II


Dr. Jonathan E. Helmreich

THAT the United States bombed the small, neutral state of Switzerland during World War II seems at first implausible, but such attacks did occur. There was a scattering of incidents in 1943. Then on 1 April 1944 the northern Swiss city of Schaffhausen was seriously damaged. As the Allied air attack on Germany intensified, the number of raids on Swiss territory increased, culminating in the nearly simultaneous bombings of Basel and Zurich on 4 March 1945.

Where pertinent records still exist, the causes can be traced to bad weather, faulty equipment, incompetence, or excess pilot zeal rather than to malice or purposeful planning. Yet the lack of demonstrable intent did not mitigate the sufferings and suspicions of the Swiss. The United States' embarrassment was considerable, and the efforts of diplomats and generals to smooth matters revealed widely varying degrees of concern and conflicts of interest among agencies that supposedly were cooperating. The negotiations were also peculiarly influenced by the conflict between American acknowledgment of Switzerland's usefulness as a listening post and irritation over her economic aid to Germany; on the other hand there was tension between the aggressiveness of individual pilots and their instructions to observe Swiss neutrality.

Debate, of course, did occur over responsibility for numerous incidents.1 Swiss efforts in this regard had two obvious goals: first, to make the offending nations aware of the acts their pilots were committing and take corrective steps and, second, to obtain indemnity for the damages suffered. As the expanding Allied air forces came closer to the Axis homeland and blind bombing through clouds became a frequent practice, the Swiss established increasingly stringent protective procedures. Allied war departments were informed that single aircraft violating Swiss territory would be approached by Swiss aviators and ordered to land by means of green flares and the lowering of landing gear if speed permitted. Foreign military aircraft in formations of two or more would, however, be attacked by Swiss squadrons without warning. Such an attack actually occurred early in March 1944 when Swiss fighters shot down one U .S. bomber and forced another to land at Dübendorf.2

During this period the United States was ably represented in Switzerland by its experienced minister, Leland Harrison, by the military attache, Brigadier General Barnwell R. Legge, and by the counselor to the legation, Jerome K. Huddle. The legation at Bern was a sensitive assignment, for the Swiss heard much, and discreet inquiries could produce valuable information. It was important that United States officials be favorably received and granted access to as many persons as possible. There was also the matter of the increasing numbers of grounded U .S. airmen interned by the Swiss. Their treatment and speed of repatriation could be greatly influenced by Swiss views of the American air war. Key to any list of sensitive issues was the matter of Swiss trade with the Axis and the willingness of the Swiss to allow goods in transit between Italy and Germany to pass over their railway lines. International law on this matter is complex, especially when the neutral power, virtually surrounded by one group of forces, must exercise discretion.

When he learned of the 1 April attack on Schaffhausen, Harrison promptly visited Swiss Foreign Minister Marcel Pilet-Golaz to express sympathy and regret. He was told that the offending planes numbered 50, that the killed and wounded amounted to more than 100, and that fires were still ravaging homes, factories, city buildings, and railway yards of the city of 22,000 inhabitants. The polite foreign minister voiced his inability to conceive of an explanation for "what apparently was a deliberate attack."3 Nevertheless, he ordered that radio and press announcements be restrained. Harrison himself warned his superiors:

If attribution to American Air Force is verified frankest and fullest explanations should be given to Swiss Government soonest possible accompanied by all other possible amenities from highest quarters. If our culpability confirmed effects will be most difficult to overcome.4

The question of U.S. culpability was quickly resolved. Carl A. "Tooey" Spaatz, Commanding General of the U .S. Strategic Air Forces in the European Theater of Operations, reported that two bomber groups admitted bombing in the northern salient of Switzerland on that Saturday, although the pilots claimed they had missed the town.

Commanding General of the Army Air Forces Henry H. "Hap" Arnold decided to let the State Department take prime responsibility for handling the matter. He did order the Operations Division of the War Department's General Staff to prepare a statement to be issued by the Secretary of War; appropriate action was also to be taken by the local commander .

Such action consisted of a formal call of apology by Spaatz, in the company of the United States ambassador to the United Kingdom, on the Swiss legation in London. In Switzerland, Legge conveyed to Division Colonel Fox Rihner of the Swiss Air Force his chief's extreme regret and assurances of future precautions. Legge himself expressed regrets to General Henri Guisan, the commander in chief of the Swiss armed forces. The formal statement of regret that Secretary of State Cordell Hull released on Monday admitted full responsibility and indicated the American government's willingness to make appropriate reparations for damages incurred insofar as it was humanly possible.5

The good effect of this statement was erased by an ill-phrased release by Spaatz's headquarters in London on Sunday mentioning that navigational difficulties and bad weather had caused some bombs to fall by mistake on Switzerland. The deliberate understatement of the size and accuracy of the attack and the alibi of bad weather angered the Swiss press. In a telegram sent Sunday afternoon, Harrison had warned that "there is natural popular feeling throughout Switzerland of resentment and indignation on material, moral and theoretical grounds but it is as yet too early to gauge its depth or estimate its effect."6 The London statement triggered the release of this resentment and indignation into public print. Harrison winced and telegraphed that "terrestrial weather conditions Schaffhausen area were reported exceptionally clear with excellent visibility. If conditions in higher atmosphere were bad, details thereof are essential if statement in communiqué to carry any conviction and not be regarded as inept attempt at evasion."7

The Gazette de Lausanne wrote that the excuse of poor weather was worthless and that "If American commanders know no better than to multiply bombardments without even taking geography into account it is but time to replace them by others." The Basel National Zeitung was similarly angry over the weather comment and claimed Schaffhausen was willfully attacked. "We do not exaggerate in characterizing [this] act as [a] 'war crime' with its destruction of irreplaceable lives, unique cultural objects, and much valuable property." The semiofficial Bern Bund was more restrained. One headline called "Stick to the Truth, Please!" but the editors did not question that the raid was a mistake. They urged that henceforth Switzerland should not rely on protests alone but should insist on specific steps being taken to improve security. The Berlin press had a field day decrying the terroristic actions of the U.S. gangsters.8

U.S. Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, perhaps more than any other member of the American military, felt serious concern over the violation of Swiss neutrality. The impression to be gained from dispatches of lower-level generals is that of genuine regret and sympathy but irritation that further discussion of the matter was keeping them from getting on with their prime task of fighting the war. This was not the attitude of Marshall, a man with a strong conscience and sense of responsibility. He, along with Hull, Legge, and others in the War Department, held that a serious mistake had been made.

Marshall and Hull, therefore, lost little time in instructing Harrison to ask Swiss authorities for data on the full amount of personal and property damage so that the United States could pay reparations. The War Department in particular felt "that prompt action . . . without haggling the claims . . . will redound to our benefit."9 One day later Hull released to Harrison $1 million to be placed at the disposal of the Swiss government immediately. No special accounting was required for its disbursement, and the Swiss were to know that additional funds would be forthcoming if the total cost of damages exceeded the million dollars.

At a subsequent Swiss press conference, Harrison gathered that the Americans' quick admission of error had been appreciated and compared favorably with the reluctant attitude of the British in cases of violation of Swiss airspace. The prompt provision of reparations had similar positive effect. 10 Though the raids on Schaffhausen were not as disastrous as initial Swiss protests had indicated, they were indeed serious.11 He reminded his superiors that the death and damage "add up to a major catastrophe for Switzerland, and it must be candidly stated that public opinion was profoundly affected."12 While the Swiss were willing to concede the immediate accidental aspects of the Schaffhausen raid, they saw the fundamental burden of avoiding such occurrences to fall squarely on the United States government for, American planes would not have found themselves over Switzerland had they been operating with proper regard for Swiss neutrality.

The initial provision of $1 million relief funds was followed by another $3 million in October. An attempt was also made to meet the Swiss request for an explanation of the incident. Investigations revealed that weather had indeed been a factor, but that it was not so much the weather over Schaffhausen as that over France which caused the difficulty. Clouds and unsuspected winds from the northwest had the bomber formation scattered and navigators confused by the time the planes reached Strasbourg. Three widely separated locations had each been mistaken for the primary target of Ludwigshaven am Rhein: Strasbourg, Pforzheim, and Schaffhausen. Though the air speed of the 14th Wing was about 160 miles per hour, its ground speed was nearly 100 mph faster. A gap in the clouds over Schaffhausen gave the bombardier time to recognize a large city on the east bank of the Rhine but not enough to check out details that might have signaled the error in identification. No attempt was made to search out the butadiene factory, the benzol storage plant, or the compressor house, which were intended to be the aiming points for a visual attack.13

Though the command pilot of the 392d Bombardment Group was unofficially reprimanded for not following the division lead, the more serious factor in terms of the result was the error in identification. Theoretically, such identification problems had been met by a standing Eighth Air Force directive prohibiting bombing of any target within 50 miles of Germany's borders or in enemy-occupied countries without positive identification was questionable, however, and in this case the combat crews were not even aware they were within 50 miles of Switzerland and therefore required to exercise special caution.

This last dilemma was not spelled out by Secretary of State Hull when he officially communicated the reasons for the mishap to the Swiss minister. Reference was made to unexpected winds, the loss of the division leader, and failure of navigation equipment. He assured the Swiss that directives were in effect to prohibit bombings within 50 miles of Switzerland without positive identification.14

Despite the announced precautions and increased concern following the Schaffhausen tragedy, the incidents multiplied. Bombing damages were small, but there were many violations of Swiss airspace. The Swiss Air Force could do nothing against misdirected formations as large as 100 bombers, but the Swiss did take action regarding single planes.15 As these were usually cripples searching asylum, American officers resented the Swiss attacks. At the close of May, under prodding from the War Department, Hull condemned a Swiss attack of 13 April on a damaged U.S. bomber. Six officers and crewmen had been killed despite their answering to Swiss rockets with signal flares and by lowering their landing gear. Harrison also registered a "formal and energetic protest."16

On 1 June, however, Hull had to admit that bombs jettisoned by aircraft over Samedan on 1 October 1943 were American. Damages and investigation expenses of $56,-515.00 were allocated from the Emergency Fund for the President of the United States, a special fund authorized by Congress for matters of a confidential nature and accounted for solely on the certificate of the Secretary of State.17

On 11 July eight bombers from a group raiding Munich were forced to land in Switzerland by Swiss pursuit planes; on the twelfth ten planes were forces down, and on the thirteenth five were required to land. The incidents were not denied; the U.S. forces merely quibbled over the number of planes actually escorted by Swiss fighters to landing fields or landing on their own. On 19 July one crippled bomber which had been abandoned by its crew crashed into the Castle of Weyden, resident of Max Huber, President of the International Red Cross. In reply to Swiss remonstrances, the desk officer in the Division of Western European Affairs of the State Department told the Swiss chargé d'affaires that while efforts were being made to avoid violations, nevertheless, "in his personal opinion it was obvious that as increasing numbers of bombers are used in missions against those parts of enemy territory which are near Switzerland, it is manifestly impossible to hope that occasional violations will not occur."18

The violations did keep on and with good reason. While some pilots could express total surprise that bombs they had jettisoned landed in Switzerland rather than in France, all the Americans knew that if a plane could not make it back across the English Channel, it was far better to land in Switzerland than behind German lines. The Swiss understood this, but their posture as a neutral required that they make some mild protests. Moreover, continuous raising of the issue kept the Americans alert to avoid a repetition of the Schaffausen affair and ready to make good on any claims the Swiss might present.

The Americans grew annoyed with the game. As General Spaatz's chief of staff commented later, "We had a war to fight, and we had to get on with it."19 Thus as early as June, Colonel Harold R. Maddux, Chief of the Liaison Section, Theater Group, Operations Division in the General Staff of the War Department, was telling the State Department that unless a given incident represented a matter of great importance he "would not like to irritate. . . [the commanding general] by continued requests for information."2o Paul T. Culbertson of State's Division of West European Affairs agreed. When General Eisenhower failed to reply to a violation inquiry, the diplomat commented: "It is believed quite likely that the theater commander has experienced considerable difficulty in framing a reply concerning instances of this sort which it appears may be continued. "21

Hull, nevertheless, remained concerned about the repetitious nature of the problem. Writing to Henry L. Stimson at the War Department, the Secretary of State commented that he knew such incidents would probably increase as fighting developed in proximity to the Swiss border, but he wished that the competent officials be "vividly refreshed" regarding the prohibition of bombing within 50 miles of the Swiss border without positive identification. Because the Swiss could render invaluable services on behalf of American prisoners of war, Hull wanted to be "in a position to acknowledge frankly and to offer the regrets of the American Government for such of the incidents. . . as are substantiated by the facts."22

Stimson concurred in part. The Swiss minister should be assured that "every reasonable effort has been made to avoid violation" and that previous incidents had been "forcibly brought to the attention of the theater commander. . . ."23

This had been done, but there was no great interest within the theater command in tracing down the various Mustangs and Thunderbolts presumably responsible for the incidents. Major General J. E. Hull of the Operations Division of the General Staff advised Stimson that specific responsibility could not be assessed for many mishaps; it could be presumed that American aircraft were involved "even though it is known that the Germans have repaired and flown Allied aircraft in combat and it is possible that some of the incidents were deliberate efforts by the Germans to injure Allied relations with Switzerland."24 He suggested reparations be paid even though there might be doubt of American guilt. Stimson therefore pointed out to the Secretary of State that:

The diversion from the principal task of pursuing the war in Europe with utmost vigor which would be required to completely and thoroughly substantiate or refute these allegations is not warranted at this time.25

THE pattern of violation, apology, reparation, and new violation was not impressive. This was why, when the Swiss made a special request, the War Department thought it wise to reply in the affirmative.

There were those who disagreed. Major General Kenneth W. D. Strong, Chief of Intelligence, Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF), wrote from the forward headquarters of the Allied forces:

Because of violations of Swiss neutrality by Army Air Forces, the United States War Department has recommended approval of the Swiss request that Swiss observers be attached to the Allied Expeditionary Force with the object of counter balancing the effect of these unfortunate incidents and to establish friendly liaison between the United States and the Swiss.

It is my opinion that the proposed action will create a serious security hazard to future operations and should not be permitted.26

The request had been put forward at the end of September 1944 by General Guisan, the Swiss commander in chief, and supported informally by the Swiss foreign ministry.
Legge thought acquiescence to the assignment of one or two Swiss officers to the Allied staffs in Western Europe would greatly facilitate his contacts with General Guisan; Harrison recommended the move as a step toward improving relations.27

At work again here, as in the differing degrees of concern regarding the accidental bombings, were the varying perspectives and immediate preoccupations of the officers at the front and the policy-makers in Washington. The War Department initially went along with the Swiss idea but soon encountered all sorts of opposition. The theater commanders were not interested in having to host observers and distrusted the Swiss military. Strong insisted that if overall policy required assent to the Swiss request only two officers of field grade be permitted to observe. Their names should be cleared by the British and American attachés in Bern, all their communications should be sent through U .S. ciphers, and their personal mail censored. They should stay at least four months, during which they could not travel out of the Allied Expeditionary Force zone nor move to the very front. They should be given no information regarding secret equipment or operations and should always be escorted by an Allied officer.

At the close of September Deputy Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Thomas T . Handy, working in the Pentagon, contacted Lieutenant General W. Bedell Smith, Eisenhower's chief of staff, for his opinion. Smith's reply was similar to Strong's. Handy wrote Arnold:

The reason is that the SHAEF people are convinced that the Swiss General Staff is full of German sympathizers. As a matter of fact, Bedell Smith says that they believe about half the Staff has a close tie-in with the German General Staff.28

Both Smith and Handy agreed that placing extensive restrictions on any Swiss observers would defeat the object of allowing them to come. It would be simpler and cleaner to say no, but Legge was not happy about transferring that message to the Swiss general. He made one last try, writing Bedell Smith on 9 November .

Our situation here is extremely tenuous. Repeated violations of the frontier are bringing about a feeling of bitterness on the part of the Swiss, especially in Army circles.

Today, two Swiss bridges and a dam on the Rhine were bombed. In view of my recent approach on the subject of the Rhine control, this puts me in rather a difficult situation . . . .

I feel that with the Swiss it is more question of loss of face which is hurting them than anything else. They feel that we are friendly towards them but still we do not trust them on a mission with our Army.29

If Smith would reconsider, it would greatly assist Legge's problems. The interests of some thousand air force internees were involved.

The following day General Omar N. Bradley, commander of the Twelfth Army Group, telegraphed Smith requesting authority to accept a Swiss military observer in order to strengthen the hand of Allen Dulles, who was heading up the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) intelligence activities in Bern. This appeal was no doubt stimulated by a message similar to one Arnold received the same day from Bill Donovan, Chief of the OSS. It enclosed a report of 3 November, from the OSS representative in Bern, in which the resentment of the Swiss over the bombings was described. General Guisan, it was said, was deeply disturbed, for while he realized that some mistakes were inevitable, he could not understand the occurrence of low-level attacks. The whole OSS task of penetrating Germany was being hindered by the increasing difficulty of obtaining Swiss cooperation.30

The pressure brought some results from Eisenhower's headquarters. On 18 November, Strong telegraphed Bradley that acceptance of a permanent Swiss observer was contrary to higher policy. But, for the sake of good relations, arrangements would be made for four Swiss officers to be conducted on a ten-day visit to the VI Army Group only.31

The British chiefs of staff agreed to the limited proposal provided the Swiss were not shown secret equipment and it was understood that the visit was not establishing a precedent. The tour took place without mishap, and in the middle of January 1945 General Guisan wrote Legge a gracious note thanking him for his assistance. He emphasized how instructive it was for the Swiss officers to watch such a well-regulated organization and to sit in on informative conferences.

The case of Swiss military observers was not the only instance in which at least some American officers came to believe that the Swiss were trying to take advantage of the United States. When the Swiss legation expressed concern about an attack on the French power station at Kembs, Colonel Maddux viewed the démarche as "tantamount to the assertion of a right to have the Allies refrain from attacking targets in enemy-occupied territory because Swiss citizens have a financial or other interest therein."32 His blunt reply to the "unwarranted presumption" of the Swiss was diplomatically modified by the Adjutant General's office.

Part of the American irritation and distrust of the Swiss was also caused by Swiss trade with the Axis powers. As a neutral, Switzerland had the right to trade with either camp. Surrounded by German-held territory and traditionally accustomed to trading with their neighbor, the Swiss naturally had extensive dealings with the Germans during the first years of the war. Both their own exports and those that passed through Switzerland from Italy and Spain were important to the German war effort, although it is likely the aid Germany provided Italy was more signification than that Germany obtained from the south.

Though the Swiss had agreed in December 1943 to quotas on the importation and exportation of certain goods and foodstuffs, the progress of the war led the Allies to press for expansion of the controls Switzerland exercised over trade with Germany and transit traffic. Out of fear of German cutbacks on coal shipments to Switzerland if the Swiss inhibited German coal shipments to Italy, the Swiss had dragged their feet in further negotiations. By the end of July 1944, Cordell Hull found the Swiss attitude "most disturbing" and "strongly believed that we should be ready to consider appropriate retaliatory action now. " He wrote:

The delaying tactics the Swiss have employed in this matter are deplored particularly and we are most dissatisfied with Swiss handling of the matter. . . . The Swiss should be warned in strong terms that we will be forced to consider measures at our disposal to prevent the enemy from continuing to receive undue assistance from Swiss railway facilities . . . 33

If the Swiss did not comply with Allied requests, then the American ambassador in Britain should discuss with the British Ministry of Economic Warfare possible counteractions. "Withholding food quotas is not favored here. Discussions with military as to feasibility of air attacks on key points in the approaches in Germany and Italy to the two main Swiss rail routes should be considered in any case we believe."34

The British, however, did not think it wise to give a strong warning to the Swiss without checking with the Air Ministry and the U.S. Fifteenth Air Force, for fear such a warning might coincide with a planned attack and jeopardize the security of the fliers.

By August, Hull was ready to demand that Switzerland suspend all exports to the enemy and prohibit all enemy transit traffic through Switzerland. The British were willing to take such a stand but only with an important reservation. They did not want to take any action that would result in a breach in Swiss diplomatic relations with Germany. If the Germans did break with the small neutral, Switzerland could not act as a protecting power for prisoners of war. The recent murder of captured British airmen in Germany caused London to fear that in the face of defeat the Gestapo might run amuck, killing great numbers of POWs. Therefore, the British would settle for prohibition of export of high priority goods and cessation of transit traffic while allowing the continuation of trade in lower priority exports.35

In October the Swiss agreed to end the export of munitions and explosives to Germany, but the issue of transit traffic remained. The Allies were also annoyed by the amount of other valuable material the Germans were still able to purchase from the Swiss, including railroad switching engines, industrial supplies and machine tools, and two billion kilowatt hours per year of electric power. Undersecretary of War Robert P. Patterson was therefore quick to inform Major General Hull at the Pentagon that Spanish exports to Switzerland were resuming by truck. He recommended that Switzerland not be permitted to make imports across France until she had stopped all war aid to Germany. The undersecretary further suggested that facts regarding the Swiss aid to Germany be brought to the attention of the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Forces.

Aware that to inform General Eisenhower of the facts of Swiss trade with Germany would be tantamount to directing him to shut off the traffic, Hull recommended that the Joint Chiefs of Staff bring the matter of Spanish-Swiss transit trade to the attention of the State Department. It might be a useful lever.36

On 6 November the Swiss chargé d'affaires called at the State Department to complain that all Swiss rail and truck traffic into France had been prohibited by a General Gray, who, he believed, was in charge of U.S. Army transportation in France. The desk officer replied that the matter of Swiss traffic in France was being left in General Eisenhower's hands as an operations matter; given the transportation difficulties that existed, he was not surprised the order had been issued. By implication and innuendo he skillfully left strong doubt in the mind of the Swiss attaché as to whether the State Department was actually behind the order prohibiting Swiss traffic in France. At the same time, he made quite clear that the State Department was very reluctant to interfere with SHAEF operational actions until the matter of Axis transit through Switzerland was satisfactorily settled.37

While negotiations dragged on, the trains moving between Switzerland and Germany and Switzerland and Italy were obvious enough to the pilots patrolling the skies of those regions. As the front moved closer to Germany, violations of Swiss neutrality were increasingly committed by fighter pilots and the tactical forces as well as by the strategic air forces. Many of their intended targets lay narrowly within German borders, thus heightening the probability of bombs falling in Switzerland. The nature of the targets clearly shows the eagerness of the commanders on the scene to slow or halt the shipment of goods and power from Switzerland to Germany.38

The United States did not hesitate to deny responsibility for raids where brief investigation could not reveal the involvement of American units. Such was the case for allegations regarding attacks on Cornol 3 December and Niederweningen four days later. There was no accounting for some incidents, despite firm Swiss identification of American insignia. Arnold at one point wrote Donovan to inquire if the OSS knew whether German pilots were attacking Switzerland with captured American planes.39 Just how thorough the American investigations were may be open to question. They were launched appropriately enough at the highest levels, but the prime interest on the airfields in England and France was the current war, not past history. Then, too, rumors and conversations with ex-pilots suggest that flight logs were not always well kept, in some cases deliberately so.

A severe error in identification occurred on Christmas Day 1944, as planes from the 1st Tactical Air Force bombed Thayngen. The pilots reportedly "were under the impression that they were attacking the Singen railroad bridge located in Germany."40 Although the day was cloudy, the Swiss felt that the incident demonstrated the insufficiency of the measures the Americans were taking to prevent accidental bombings.

The diplomats of the small country were especially concerned that there be no confusion regarding the regions of Basel near the French and German borders and the Puschlav valley in southeastern Switzerland. As early as September the Swiss minister and attaché called the attention of the War Department to the similarity of terrain in the Basel area and adjoining France; the marshalling yard in Basel should not be mistaken for nearby yards in France and Germany. At Brúsio in the Puschlav valley there was a highly exposed hydroelectric plant which might appear to be a good target; the Swiss diplomats gave assurance that no electricity went from this plant to Italy.41

Despite directions that pilots be carefully briefed on these areas, several complaints were received in January and February 1945 regarding attacks on Brúsio. Responsibility for these was denied, but incidents at Chiasso were another matter. Just over the border from Como, Italy, Chiasso was hit several times, the most notable occasions being on 11 and 27 January.

Meanwhile the German-Italian transit traffic continued. In January 1945 it involved the shipping of more than 7000 tons of clothing, textile materials, and foodstuffs to Germany, while the Italians received more valuable products, including chemicals, some ore and iron, and 53,000 tons of coal--an essential commodity for the war effort of Mussolini's Italian Republic.42

In that month the State Department changed its tactics on the recommendation of the American legation in Switzerland and the British government. For political reasons stemming from Switzerland's neutral position and because of the future potential usefulness of Switzerland in restoring Europe's economy, Acting Secretary of State Joseph C. Grew decided that it would be inadvisable to place "too great" pressure on the Swiss. The position of principle would be abandoned and some concessions on transit and Swiss-German trade might be allowed as the most practical means of achieving the Allies' goals. The Swiss had been stubborn, and this new approach seemed worth trying to Grew, who was more flexible than the recently retired Cordell Hull.43

In an effort to expedite discussions, the British and Americans sent a mission to Switzerland headed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's special assistant, Laughlin Currie. By 10 February the Swiss had temporarily suspended all exports to Germany until Germany made up her arrears in shipments to the Swiss; there was minimal likelihood of the Swiss renewing their trade treaty with Germany on 15 February. As a gesture to the Swiss, on 22 February Currie traveled to Schaffhausen to lay a wreath on the graves of the citizens killed in the bombing of the preceding April.

His timing could not have been more awkward, for minutes prior to his arrival the Americans had another of their mishaps. The damage caused in Switzerland by the raids of 22 February 1945 was extensive. Seven persons were killed and 16 injured at Taegerwilen and Stein-am-Rhein; eight died at Rafz, as did a child at Vals. A total of 13 separate attacks took place, that at Stein-am-Rhein, 12 miles from Schaffhausen, being the worst. Currie was aghast but managed a public assurance that every possible precaution would be taken to avoid similar accidents in the future. He personally visited the ruins at Stein-am-Rhein and the following day telegraphed a report and his concern in a personal message to the President.44

Currie's skill and statements helped to ease tensions, but feelings in Switzerland remained strong. The weather had been excellent, and there seemed to be no acceptable excuse for the errors. Grew expressed his "profound shock" and assured the Swiss of American willingness to pay reparations if the responsibility belonged to the United States.

Promises and payments could not be the only response; something had to be done to prevent further recurrence of such incidents. This was clearly the thinking of General Marshall. On 25 February he sent a personal cable to Eisenhower, expressing the growing concern in Washington over the increasing number of attacks on Switzerland: "everything within our power" should be done to ensure that American pilots were properly briefed and aware of the importance of positive identification.45

Eisenhower, too, was disturbed by the frequent mistakes, and the message from Washington caused him to order that the tactical air forces make no attacks even with good visibility within ten miles of the frontier; under conditions requiring instruments, they should not attack within 50 miles. The 50-mile limit for strategic air forces, save for positively identified targets, was to stay in effect. Yet he felt constrained to reply to Marshall on 28 February that:

Under existing conditions, however, there can be no positive guarantee that such incidents will not occur. Weather conditions are such that air navigation is largely dependent upon dead reckoning except in areas contiguous to our front lines where navigational aids can be utilized. Our Air Forces are performing thousands of successful missions daily in weather conditions that would normally prevent all flying. We will continue to make every effort to prevent recurrence of these incidents.46

So matters stood when four days later, as a result of faulty equipment, bad weather over France and haze in Switzerland, navigational error, and misplaced zeal, six American B-24H bombers dropped 12.5 tons of heavy explosives and 12 tons of incediaries on Zurich, while more planes dropped 16.5 tons of heavy explosives and five tons of incediaries on Basel.47

Marshall's reactions to the news was strong and immediate, as he ordered Eisenhower to send Spaatz to Switzerland "to clear up bombing mishaps."48 The Chief of Staff felt a sense of personal responsibility. He undoubtedly knew that the State Department had run out of ways of saying "sorry." Reparation costs were mounting at a steady rate, and important negotiations were being jeopardized. Currie had also telegraphed that the Swiss "have cooperated magnificently" in the negotiations and had agreed to prohibit transit of coal from Germany to Italy; surely some statement was needed to counteract this "most painful impression" created by the bombings.49

It was Marshall, rather than the State Department, who decided that a special emissary should apologize to the Swiss. The choice of Spaatz would impress the Swiss and assured Marshall of getting the attention of the Commanding General of Strategic Air Forces, European Theater. Spaatz was capable of doing the job; if he were annoyed at having to do it, then he might take steps to ensure that he would not have to do it again.

Spaatz's irritation was more than passing. He did not like receiving such a curt order. Nor did he wish to leave his headquarters even for a few days when the next weeks would tell whether or not the air war could drive Germany to her knees. The prosecution of the war had been carried on so intensely in his headquarters that little attention had been paid to the first Schaffhausen incident. It was only with the 22 February affair that significant concern began to mount, and then only because Marshall and others in Washington seemed disturbed.50 The feisty General Spaatz did the job, and with a flair. Proper groundwork was done in advanced by Harrison and Sam E. Woods, the American Consul General in Switzerland. The latter toured the Zurich site with Leagge, privately called on the mayor, and even attended the funeral of several of the victims. The details of Spaatz's trip were left to Harrison and the chief OSS agent in Switzerland, Allen Dulles, who was in charge of travel arrangements. The mission was to be secret, and so it was thought best that the emissaries arrive in civilian clothes. Spaatz journeyed to the small French border town of Annemasse, where he donned ill-fitting civilian garb including a Tyrolean hat, drove across the bridge to Geneva, and there was publicly met by a large Swiss military delegation in full uniform.51

Harrison, Spaatz, and his chief of staff, Brigadier General Edward P. Curtis, met with Swiss Foreign Minister Max Petitpierre, Minister of War Karl Kobelt, and Generals Guisan and Rihner the next morning. Following a handsome apology delivered in fluent French by General Curtis, Minister of War Kobelt read prepared statement listing every violation since 1 April 1944 and bluntly demanded full indemnity and reparation. The session was difficult. Spaatz carefully expressed his regrets and explained the navigational and weather difficulties affecting American fliers. He assured the Swiss that not only had strenous efforts been made to avoid recurrence since the first Schaffhausen affairs but that also new arrangements were being made which he would discuss in detail with the Swiss generals.

Spaatz and Eisenhower knew that the Americans could not go to Bern with the same tired statements about weather, precautions, and positive identification within 50 miles of Switzerland. The 50-mile limit had not worked, nor had the notion of positive identification. On paper they seemed to be satisfactory enough precautions, but practice had proved otherwise. Whether General Spaatz formally acknowledged it or not, in poor weather his pilots often had no more awareness of being within 50 miles of Switzerland than of actually being over the border. At 300 mph ground speed, the difference was only ten minutes of flight time. Although the existing navigational aids were a wondrous improvement over the pure dead reckoning and visual sighting of the first months of the war, these technical achievements were not always free of error or malfunction.

The news Spaatz brought was, therefore, that the zone requiring positive identification of targets would be expanded to stretch 150 miles from the Swiss frontier; within 50 miles of Switzerland no targets of any sort, especially targets of opportunity, were to be bombed even under perfect visibility without Spaatz's personal authorization. Should a target within that area have to be attacked for military reasons, highly experienced crews would be picked for the mission and given special briefings.

These regulations would henceforth hold for all of the Eighth Air Force's activities and for most of the Fifteenth's. The tactical air forces directly under General Eisenhower's command were forbidden to attack any target within ten miles of Switzerland and required to have positive identification of any target in a zone extending 10 to 50 miles from the frontier.

Spaatz withheld discussion of these new bombing restrictions until the civilian ministers had left the room following a magnificent luncheon. He may have felt more at ease in talking with fellow officers, and certainly he was aware of rumors concerning Kobelt's alleged pro-German leanings. He impressed on Guisan and Rihner the importance of keeping the regulations in strict confidence and warned that if, because of a leak, the Germans should take advantage of the bomb-free zone it might be necessary to order more attacks in that area. The conference ended in cordiality.52

Although the trip had gone well, Spaatz detected a faint smell of reprimand in being sent to Switzerland. After his return, he sent long personal letters to Generals Marshall and Arnold in defense of his air war effort. Precautions had been taken previously, and "fortunately, priority targets within one-hundred-fifty miles of Switzerland now number only thirteen, I do not include tactical targets, so that it is now possible to take restrictive action which would have been unacceptable a few months ago. " He concluded that "although I feel that the restrictions now in effect are greater than normal prudence would demand, my thought is that the limitation they impose on operations is acceptable at this time."53

Arnold knew that his able general was seeking support. He also had to indicate his agreement with Marshall's views. Arnold therefore, like Marshall, sent an appropriate note of thanks. But he also drew on the careful wording proposed by Major General Laurence S. Kuter in his original draft for the letter: "I am confident that you will maintain the effort necessary to prevent your aggressive but sometimes careless leaders, from poor target identification. "54 He went on to say he "understood and appreciated" Spaatz's part in showing determined leadership and a keen desire to put the Air Forces in the forefront of the war.

Spaatz and Eisenhower were not the only generals in the European Theater of Operations called to account by Marshall. Violations of Switzerland had also been committed by planes from the Mediterranean Theater. The commander there, Lieutenant General Joseph T. McNarney, was called on to report. He promptly had a special board of officers investigate. Its conclusions were that adequate instructions did exist to prevent air attacks on Swiss territory and that large formations under senior commanders seldom had difficulty in finding the correct targets. The problems arose when small formations peeled off to attack alternative targets in small groups or when individual and less-experienced pilots, unfamiliar with the terrain, shot up Swiss trains and railroad yards.

A number of important targets within 50 miles of Switzerland remained to be attacked. Nevertheless, no strategic air force attacks would be made between the Swiss border and a line from Strasbourg through Reutlingen, Laupheim, and Innsbruck, nor within 40 miles of the southern Swiss border with the exception of Milan and Bergamo without special clearance. Visual means on assigned targets would be required for bombing in the large area south of Frankfurt and Nürnberg to the no-bombing line. McNarney further ordered that crews abandoning aircraft over Switzerland should set them on automatic pilot toward either. Germany or the Mediterranean and that great care should be used in jettisoning bomb loads.55

A glance at the map shows that a large part of Germany was being given some form of protection by the new limitations, but the course of the war permitted this. The restrictions, joined with the rapid collapse of Germany, did bring an end to the bombing
violations of Switzerland except for two minor incidents.56

Reparation negotiations progressed only slowly. At first the delay was caused by Swiss requests for American P-51 Mustang fighter planes and the replacement of destroyed leather hides as part of the payment.57 The United States did not have sufficient supplies to make the deliveries in kind, and there were other complications in any case: The chief delay, however, was caused by the necessity of determining responsibility for various violations.

For the Swiss, the matter was one of principle. Eventually the U.S. decided that reinvestigation of unresolved cases was not practicable; the damage costs were low, and the headquarters concerned with these incidents had by that time been disbanded and its records stored.58

On 21 October 1949 the State Department and the Swiss government agreed on 62,176,433.06 Swiss francs (equivalent to $14,392,692.82) as full and final settlement of balance and interest due, in addition to the $4 million already paid, for damage caused to
persons and property in Switzerland by all United States armed forces during World War II.

Financial reparation was not the only concern of the Swiss, especially in the first months of 1945. They obviously had reason to demand information regarding the cause of the accidental bombings and solid proof that the individuals involved had been held responsible. The minor border incidents and cases of crippled planes jettisoning defused bombs were understandable; indeed the two Schaffhausen affairs had been fairly well accounted for and the exposed location of that canton was further explanation.

A case such as that of Zurich was different. The city not only was located on an easily recognizable landmark, the Lake of Zurich, but it also represented the deepest penetration of Switzerland by attacking United States bombers during the war. Swiss officials had long feared an accidental raid on the border town of Basel, yet it was at Zurich that the greater number of personnel casualties occurred. If the Swiss asked questions, the State Department would need to demonstrate that the matter had been fully investigated and the individuals concerned held responsible.

Indeed, a court martial was held on 1 June 1945, at the headquarters of the Second Air Division, Eighth Air Force, Horsham St. Faith, England. The presiding officer was Colonel James M. Stewart (who despite his fine war record is more widely known for his acting career). The pilot and the dead-reckoning navigator of the plane that had led a makeshift squadron over Zurich were charged with violation of the 96th Article of War: they had "wrongfully and negligently caused bombs to be dropped in friendly territory" and had negligently and incorrectly determined the location of the aircraft. Considerable evidence was presented regarding equipment malfunction, poor visibility, errors of judgment, and the zeal with which attacks crews were necessarily imbued. The fliers were acquitted of any criminal intent.59

THE STORY of the bombings of Switzerland is one more reminder of the desperate nature of the total struggle then occurring. The ramifications of that war and the tensions it produced were far reaching. Conflict between State Department and Pentagon, between general headquarters and field command, between Army intelligence and OSS was not unusual. The same could be said of tension between the desire to prosecute the war fully and the need to treat lightly with neutrals harboring downed fliers and shipping goods to the enemy, between the aggressive zeal of pilots and the fine lines of regulations easily obscured by the clouds of both climate and war. The peculiar relations of the United States and Switzerland provide a microcosm that sets these problems in especially sharp focus.

The question may well be asked why the violations of Swiss neutrality did not receive much publicity in the United States. Many of the bombings were given extensive coverage in the Swiss press, and certainly American reporters had access to these accounts. Probably in the news of the day, the Swiss events seemed of minor significance. The official history, The Army Air Forces in World War II contains only a sparse account of the embarrassing episode, and the individuals involved have for the most part been reticent about discussing their experience.6o It should not be implied, however, that this low profile was the result of a cover-up. During World War II, United States bombing practices simply were not subject to the close public review and criticism that has almost become standard since the height of the Vietnam war.

In recent years, some spokesmen have suggested that events in Vietnam represented the first occasions when the United States bombed neutral targets. This was not so. The more important issue is one of intent. The Cambodian incursion was a deliberately planned campaign. Not so with the Swiss bombings. To the extent there is demonstrable evidence, these were accidents. Accidents do happen, although they do not necessarily occur accidentally. Many of the crews that committed violations displayed unusual skill, initiative, and aggressiveness. Without these highly esteemed attributes, they might have aborted their missions before entering into serious error. In acting beyond the call of duty, some men win a medal of honor; others receive a court martial.

The war was made up of men. As such, conflicts regarding policy and procedure were bound to arise. The intent of high command to avoid violations of Switzerland is clear. The attitude of the on-the-scene generals was less concerned. Yet where there was personal contact, there was more sympathy for the Swiss position. The attitudes of Spaatz and Curtis and their suspicion of the German proclivities of the Swiss were altered as a result of their visit with the Swiss generals. Throughout the war Legge, Harrison, and Currie strongly supported the Swiss both out of diplomatic necessity and out of their own personal horror at the events. Marshall did not have the benefit of such contact, yet he exercised the most balanced leadership. In the Swiss affair, as in so many events of the period, his character stands forth.

Allegheny College


1. For example, investigations showed British responsibility for minor attacks on Geneva, Basel, and Zurich in 1940. There was controversy over incidents at Samedan on 1 October 1943 and at Coblenz, across the Rhine from Waldshut, Germany, on 16 February 1944. Because British planes were involved in violations of Swiss airspace during these periods, U.S. representatives initially blamed the British. Eventually the U.S. accepted responsibility for the Samedan incident, but that for the Coblenz affair was still undecided several months after the European War was over; at that time the Swiss submitted a map charting the path taken over Switzerland by an American Thunderbolt which allegedly attacked Coblenz at 2:45 p.m.

2. Department of State Records, National Archives (hereafter cited as DS), 740.0011 European War 1939/33139, Legge and Harrison to War Dept., 9 Feb. 1944. Modern Military Records Division, National Archives, Records of War Department General and Special Staffs (hereafter cited as MMR, WDGS), OSW 360.112 Switzerland, précis of Hull note to Stimson, 15 March 1944.

3. Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office) (hereafter cited as FR), 1944, IV, no. 2020, Harrison to Hull, 1 April 1944, p. 792.

4. DS, 411.54 Bombing (hereafter cited as Bombing), Jck. 1, Harrison to Hull, 1 April 1944.

5. Arnold papers, Library of Congress, Box 190, Spaatz to Arnold, 1 April 1944, plus attached notes by Lt. Gen. B. M. Giles and Arnold. DS, Bombing, Jck. 1, 740.0011 European War 1939/34-24, Legge report 14 April 1944; 740.0011 European War 1939/;34-24, Culbertson to Hull, 10 April 1944.
6. DS, Bombing, Jck. 1, 740.0011 European War 1939/33785, Harrison to Hull, April 1944.

7. FR, 1944, IV, no. 2086, Harrison to Hull, 4 April 1944, pp. 793-94.
8. Ibid. and DS, Bombing, Jck. 2, 740.0011 European War 1939/33794,
Harrison to Hull, 3 April 1944; the translations are Harrison's.

9. FR, 1944, IV, Hull to Harrison, 5 April 1944, p. 795.

10. DS, Bombing, Jck. 1, 740.0011 European War 1939/33837, Harrison to Hull, 5 April 1944.

11. By 20 April the death toll was 39, with 33 persons still hospitalized, 12 of whom were seriously injured. There were 428 homeless persons, including 102 families; 67 buildings had been damaged. Sixteen persons had been killed at the railway station, and one bomb at the city administrative offices killed ten, including a member of the town government and a cantonal judge. Valuable treasures had been destroyed at the Museum of Natural History and at the Allerheiligen Museum, where nine works of Tobias Stimmer and the collection of Swiss painters of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were burned.-DS, Bombing, Jck. 2, 740.0011 European War/4-2044, Harrison to Hull, 20 April 1944.

12. Ibid.

13. Washington National Records Center at Suitland, Maryland, Record Group 18; report of operations 1 April 1944 to Arnold from Hq Eighth Air Force (24 June 1944) including: lead bombardier's narrative, 44th Bombardment Group, mission of 1 April 1944 (2 April 1944); A-3 narrative of operations, 44th Bombardment Group, mission of 1 April 1944 (2 April 1944); command pilot's narrative, and lead navigators report, 392d Bombardment Group, Mission of 1 April 1944 (3 April 1944). See also MMR, WDGS, OPD 336 Switzerland I, Spaatz to Arnold, 2 April 1944.

14. FR, 1944, IV. Hull to Charles Bruggman (Swiss minister in Washington), 25 April 1944.

15. On 24 April, 100 bombers had flown over the Schaffhausen area; 12 damaged bombers had landed in the country, another crashed at Baltenswil, and still another was shot down by the Swiss over Greifensee. Two planes were forced down at Dübendorf, and two more made emergency landings.--MR, WDGS, OPD 336 Switzerland I-A, copy of Dept. of State memorandum of conversation among Bruggman, Culbertson, and MacArthur.

16. DS, 740.0011 European War 1939/34724C, Hull to Harrison, 30 May 1944.

17. DS, Bombing, Jck. 1, 740.0011 European War 1939/735. Hull to Bruggman, 1 June 1944; ibid., 740.0011 European War 1939/7-844, G. H. Shaw to H. D. Smith, 8 July 1944.

18. MMR. WDGS, OPD 336 Switzerland I-A, Bonbright to Maddux, 26 July 1944.

19. Author's interview with Gen. Edward P. Curtis, 19 Feb. 1972.

20. MMR, WDGS, OPD 336 Switzerland I-A, memorandum for record of Maddux telephone conversation with Culbertson, 13 June 1944.

21. Ibid., memorandum for record,18 June 1944. In September the Swiss charged that on the fifth American pursuit planes attacked two Swiss planes escorting U.S. bombers to fields near Dübendorf, resulting in the death of one Swiss pilot and the wounding of another. On 8 September the railway stations of Delémont and Moutier were attacked and trains strafed; moving trains were strafed on 9 September near Rafz and Weiach/Kaiserstuhl. September 10 saw steady violations and the attack by a Mustang on two Swiss pursuit planes. The Zurich-Basel express was reportedly strafed on II September.-MMR, Air Force Central File, Attacks and Raids 384.5B.
Hodges to Arnold, 12 Sept. 1944.

22. DS, Bombing, Jck. 1, 811.2354/9-1344, Hull to Stimson, 15 Sept. 1944.

23. MMR, WDGS, OCS 091 Switzerland, Stimson to Hull, 25 Sept. 1944.

24. Ibid., memorandum by Gen. Hull, 10 Oct. 1944.

25. Ibid., OPD 336 Switzerland I-A, Stimson to Hull, 12 Oct. 1944.

26. Ibid., OPD 336 Switzerland II, Strong to Chief of Staff, 4 Oct. 1944.
27. Ibid., Harrison to Hull, 12 Oct. 1944.

28. Ibid., Handy memorandum for Arnold, 19 Oct. 1944.

29. Ibid., SHAEF 091/1 Switzerland I, Legge to Smith, 9 Nov. 1944.

30. Ibid., Bradley to Smith, 10 Nov. 1944, and Arnold papers, Library of Congress, Box 44, Donovan to Arnold, 10 Nov. 1944.

31. MMR, WDGS, SHAEF 901/1 Switzerland I, Strong to Bradley, 18 Nov. 1944.

32. Ibid., OPD 336 Switzerland II, Maddux to Commanding General, Army Service Forces, 14 Nov. 1944.

33. FR, 1944, IV, Hull to Winant, 26 July 1944, pp. 751-52.

34. Ibid.

35. Ibid., Winant to Hull, 2 Sept. 1944. pp. 764-05.

36. MMR, WDGS, OPD Switzerland II-A, summary by Gen. Hull, 21 Oct. 1944.

37. FR, 1944, IV, memorandum of Wallner conversation with Feer, 6 Nov. 1944, pp. 781-82.

38. On 29 October several planes attacked the railway station at Noirmont. The attack was attributed to a mistake in border identification, despite the presence of Swiss flags painted on four of the village roofs. Sometimes the violations were the result of near misses on legitimate targets. Such was the case for the raids of 9 November which embarrassed Legge in his negotiations regarding Swiss observers and the Rhine control. At Diessenhofen, U.S. units were attempting to bomb the German end of the bridge over the Rhine. Near Eglisau the attack was on a power dam; an error in bombing technique caused the bombs to fall wide, striking near the Swiss bridge over the River Glatt.-DS, Bombing,Jck. 1, 811.2354/12-1644FIS, Stettinius to Bruggman, 22 Dec. 1944.

39. DS, Bombing, Jck. 2, 811.2354/2944, Stettinius to Bruggman, 19 Feb. 1945. Arnold papers, Box 44, Arnold to Donovan, 12 Nov. 1944.

40. MMR, WDGS, OPD 336 Switzerland III memorandum by Col. D. Divine 11, 26 Jan. 1945.

41. DS, Bombing, Jck. 1, Maddux memorandum to Dept. of State, 10 Sept. 1944. MMR, WDGS, OPD 336 Switzerland II, Maddux to Culbertson, 29 Nov. 1944.

42. DS, 740.00112 European War 1939/2-845CS EG, Huddle to Grew, 8 Feb. 1945.

43. FR, 1945, V, Grew to Crowley, 15 Jan. 1945, pp. 770-71.

44. DS, 740.0011 European War 1939/2-2345, Harrison to Grew encloses Currie note, 23 Feb. 1945. Other towns hit on 22 Feb. were Neiderdorf, Lohn, Beringen, Neuhausen, Hundwil. Otelfingen, Igis, and Zizers, as well as a train running between Neunkirch and Schaffhausen.-MMR, WDGS, Eighth Air Force Target Summary, 17 August 1942-8 May 1945.
45. MMR, WDGS, OPD 353.4TS I, Gen. Hull (for Marshall) to SHAEF, 25 Feb. 1945.

46. Ibid., SHAEF 373.5 Switzerland I, Eisenhower to Marshall, 28 Feb. 1945.

47. MMR, WDGS, Eighth Air Force Target Summary , 17 August 1942-8 May 1945. In Basel, bombs landed in the main freight station, causing much damage; seven persons were injured. At Zurich, 23 bombs exploded in an open field. Two houses were directly hit, while others were severely damaged; about 22 persons were rendered homeless. Five people were killed and 12 more required hospitalization.-DS, 411.54 Bombing, Jck. 2, 740.0011 European War 1939/3-745, Lehrs to Grew, 7 March 1945.

48. MMR, WDGS, SHAEF 373.5 Switzerland I, Marshall to Eisenhower, 5 March 1944.

49. DS, 470.00112 European War 1939/3-545, Harrison to Marshall enclosing Currie message for Marshall, 5 March 1945. Currie's reaction, as well as those of others, indicates the inaccuracy of persistent rumors in Switzerland that the American bombings were not accidental but rather heavy-handed efforts by the U.S. to force Swiss compliance in the Currie negotiations.

50. Interview with Gen. Curtis, 19 Feb. 1972.

51. DS, Bombing, Jck. 2,740.0011 European War 1939/3-945, Woods to Grew, 9 March 1945. Interview with Gen. Curtis. 19 Feb. 1972.

52. MMR, WDGS, OPD 353.4TS I, Spaatz to Marshall, 10 March 1945. Interview with Gen. Curtis, 19 Feb. 1972.

53. MMR, WDGS, OPD 336TS I, Spaatz to Marshall, 13 March 1945.

54. Arnold papers, Box 49, Arnold to Spaatz, 26 March 1945, and attached memoranda.

55. MMR, WDGS, OPD 353.4TS I, McNarney to Marshall, 13 March 1945.

56. On 8 April six bombs were dropped on Münster, shattering stained glass windows in the church and cloister; Brúsio was also bombed on 26 April.

57. Arnold papers. Box 130, SAS 452.1 Switzerland, Spaatz to Arnold, 11 March 1945; Giles to Spaatz, 23 March 1945; Eaker to Legge, 10 Sept. 1945. DS, Bombing, Jck. 2, 740.00112 Navicerts 7-1345, Grew to Stimson. 17 July 1945; MMR, WDGS, OCS 091 (44-45), Stimson to Grew, 3 Aug. 1945.

58. The U.S. denied connection with incidents at Brúsio on 30 January and 23 February 1945 but admitted possible guilt for an attack on 26 April. The War Department would not pay for damage to the Thur River bridge between Felben and Pfyn and rejected responsibility for certain attacks at Muggio, Chiasso, and Coblenz. There was much debate over incidents at Sulsanna (Susauna) and Ponte.-DS, Bombing, Jck. 2, 740.0011 European War 1939/9-2145. Reid to Culbertson, 21 Sept. 1945. MMR, WDGS, OPD (42-45) 336 Switzerland III, Christenberry to Adjutant General, 25 Oct. 1945.

59. Washington National Records Center, Suitland, Maryland, Record of trial of Lt. William R. Sincock by general court martial, Horsham St. Faith, England, 1-2 June 1945.

60. Wesley F. Craven and James L. Cate, editors, The Army Air Forces in World War II, 7 volumes (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948-58), III, 307, 735-36.

Author's Acknowledgment

Much of the article is derived from interviews and correspondence with various persons. I especially wish to express appreciation for the assistance of General Edward P. Curtis and of the late Dr. William R. Sincock, who initially urged me to explore this topic. Gratitude is also extended to Allegheny College and the Ford Foundation for grants facilitating this research.

We (that's my ship and I) took off rather suddenly. We had a report somewhere around 4 o'clock in the afternoon before that the weather would be fine, so we thought we would try it.

I saw a fleet of fishing boats. . . . I flew down almost touching the craft and yelled at them, asking if I was on the right road to Ireland.

They just stared. Maybe they didn't hear me. Maybe I didn't hear them. Or maybe they thought I was just a crazy fool: An hour later I saw land.

Lindbergh's Own Story
[of his non-stop flight, Long Island to Paris],
in the
New York Times May 23, 1927


The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.

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