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The National Movement of Switzerland (German: Nationale Bewegung der Schweiz or NBS) was a Nazi umbrella-group formed in Switzerland in 1940.

The NBS had its roots in the 1938 foundation of the Bund Treuer Eidgenossen Nationalsozialistischer Weltanschauung [de] by Rolf Henne after the more moderate Robert Tobler had removed Henne from the leadership of the National Front.[1] In 1940, the Bund absorbed a number of tiny Nazi-supporting organisations to become the NBS under Henne and Dr. Max Leo Keller. Other groups absorbed included the Eidgenössische Soziale Arbeiterpartei [de] and elements of the National Front. The new group also officially bore the French-language name Mouvement Nationale Suisse as an appeal to Francophone Swiss.[2] Keller had worked with Heinrich Himmler and brought with him Andreas von Sprecher, whom the SS had trained, to run the new group's propaganda department.[1]

Keller, Jakob Schaffner and Ernst Hofmann, as representatives of the NBS, received an audience with the Swiss President Marcel Pilet-Golaz (in office throughout 1940) in which they demanded much closer relations with Nazi Germany, leading to eventual incorporation.[1] This was followed by a Munich conference in October 1940 to which the Director of the Reich Security Main Office, Reinhard Heydrich and the Swiss doctor and SS-member Franz Riedweg invited the leaders of the NBS and of other Swiss groups in order to increase cohesion.[1] Ultimately the meeting strengthened the hand of the NBS, as the remnants of the Bund Treuer Eidgenossen Nationalsozialistischer Weltanschauung as well as the Eidgenössische Soziale Arbeiter-Partei and Ernst Leonhardt's Nationalsozialistische Schweizerische Arbeitspartei agreed to be absorbed into the movement.[1]

Despite this strengthening the National Movement did not last long, as the Swiss Federal Council feared that annexation by Germany was just around the corner.[1] In a series of moves against the most extreme groups, the NBS was closed down on 19 November 1940, by which time it had 160 cells and around 4000 members.[1] The group continued to work underground for a time before a police crackdown which led to most of the leadership fleeing to Germany.[1] Whilst in Germany Keller set up the Bund der Schweizer Nationalsozialisten as an émigré movement, although its influence remained limited; eventually he returned to Switzerland in 1941.[1] Meanwhile, various NBS units continued underground activity secretly, mostly with help from the SS, until World War II ended in 1945.[1]

See also

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Alan Morris Schom, A Survey of Nazi and Pro-Nazi Groups in Switzerland: 1930–1945 Archived 2019-03-15 at the Wayback Machine, Simon Wiesenthal Center
  2. ^ Georges André Chevallaz, The Challenge of Neutrality: Diplomacy and the Defense of Switzerland, Lexington Books, 2001, p. 95