Farming at Bellevue, Zurich, 1941
Providing enough food for the population is a theme which appears frequently in the news bulletins of the SWS. The information broadcast varies between reassuring updates about the self-sufficiency of Switzerland and the sacrifies made by the population. (Student: William Yoakim) RDB
Annemarie Blanc and Heinrich Gretler in the film "Gilberte de Courgenay", 1941
Cultural news and information features strongly in the programms of the SWS, which notably served to present a positive image of Switzerland abroad. (Séminaire: Gregory Vauthier) Keystone
Liberation celebrations, Place de la Concorde, Paris, August 26, 1944
Re-transmitting information from the BBC, the SWS announced the liberation of Paris on August 23, 1944. In effect, liberation of the city did not happen until two days later. (Students: Baptiste Jaccard, Damien Chenevard) Keystone
Mobilising 1939, Zurich main station
On August 28, 1939, the SWS announced in solemn tones the mobilisation of the Swiss Army. It tried to create a link with the Swiss abroad based on the values of unity and solidarity. (Student: Constance Dayer) RDB
Chocolate production, Lindt & Sprüngli, 1941
The SWS presented a positive image of the working class in an effort to position Switzerland as a country that knew how to rise above social conflict. (Student: Rita Cunha) RDB
Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941
December 8, 1941, the SWS broadcast news of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The German language broadcast noted that the raid was not a surprise, coming as it did after several months of increasing tensions between Japan and the United States. (Student: Giorgia Andreani) Keystone
Swiss mountain soldier, circa 1940
At the beginning of the war, the SWS presented a vision of soldiers as the "protective guards" of Switzerland. As the threat of invasion receded, the emphasis was placed on the benefits received by the families of mobilised soldiers, with the idea of promoting solidarity within the country. (Student: Marc Huber) RDB
Interned Russians, 1945
The SWS was somewhat inconsistent in its attitude towards Russia; on the one hand it was vehemently anti-communist, on the other it welcomed attempts to restore normal diplomatic relations between Bern and Moscow.
(Students: Marek Chojecki/Christina Eberhard). RDB
Youth camp for the Swiss abroad at Zernez, canton Graubünden, 1943
At the start of the Second World War, some 430,000 Swiss (10% of the population) were living abroad. The SWS became the preferred means for maintaining ties between Switzerland and its citizens abroad. (Studens: Sophie Chiffelle). RDB
Refugees from Ossola, Italy, arrive in Brig, 1944
Like the country's official discourse, the SWS propogated the image of Switzerland strong humanitatian credentials. In its broadcasts, it softened and justified the harsh policy towards refugees applied since summer 1942. (Student: Anaïs Jeanmonod) RDB
Kiosk in Zurich, circa 1941
During the Second World War, the Swiss media was subject to censorship. Orientated towards an international audience, the SWS was closely watched. (Student: Grégoire Luisier) RDB
Instructing firewomen, 1941
Even during wartime, the SWS held on to a rather conservative image of women. In the army, for example, it underlined that "Swiss women should not be soldiers but an ancilliary to our army". In other words, they provided precious help, but in no case were to be soldiers. (Student: Alix Meister) RDB
National Day, Arosa, 1940
Despite reinforced authoritarian measures such as increased powers for government, the SWS contributed to forging a mythical image of Switzerland that was an island of democracy at the heart of a Europe at war. (Students: Pauline Rumpf/Pascal Vosicki) RDB
During the Second World War, radio was the preferred means used by Switzerland to communicate with its expatriate citizens. But the Short Wave Service (SWS) was also used to explain and justify the Swiss position on events to other countries.
This content was published on August 20, 2012
August 20, 2012
Archived by swissinfo.ch, the manuscripts of news bulletins have been studied by a group of history students at Lausanne University. Their work contributes to a more accurate picture of of the activities of the SWS between 1939 and 1945. (Images: RDB, Keystone)
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