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Military history Nine-ton tank-stopping Toblerones

The name "Toblerone" calls to mind a pyramid-shaped chocolate bar that bears a resemblance to one of Switzerland's famous mountains: the Matterhorn. But "Toblerone" was also the word used to refer to the tank barriers which can still be found in some rural regions of Switzerland. Thanks to photographer Gabi Vogt these barriers have practically achieved cult status.

Switzerland built the barriers in the 1930s as a defence against the threat from Nazi Germany. They were also built during the Cold War due to the fear of a Soviet invasion. The blocks – each weighing nine tons – were supposed to prevent tanks and motorised military vehicles from passing through the area. 

These barriers exist outside of Switzerland as well. The blocks – also known as 'dragons' teeth' – were used on various defensive lines during the Second World War – for example, the Maginot line in France and the Siegfried line in Germany.

Many barriers still haven't been removed today, although they've become obsolete in the meantime and have no further military use. They can serve as a tourist attraction, however, as in the Toblerone Trailexternal link, a collection of more than 2,700 blocks that stretch over dozens of kilometres from the foothills of the Jura all the way to Lake Geneva. 

Photographer Gabi Vogtexternal link combed the country in search of these unusual objects, which have blended in with the landscape over the years.

(Text: Olivier Pauchard,

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