The Time Switzerland Accidentally Invaded Lichtenstein.. Actually, Make That Three Times

Chuck Banner | February 24th, 2017

Switzerland is well-known for being a neutral power. Its neutrality in both of the World Wars cemented that status, and in fact, it hasn’t fought in a foreign war for over 200 years. Also one of the few nations in Europe not to be part of the European Union, it has long led a relatively insular existence, and its people seem to like it that way. The nation does have a strong military, though, mostly due to ongoing drafting, and often acts as a big brother to the tiny neighboring country of Lichtenstein, which is about the size of Washington, D.C. Lichtenstein is one of the 22 nations in the world without its own military.

While the Swiss certainly aren’t known for military aggression, there have been a few blunders over the years concerning Lichtenstein, some of which might strike some people as pretty humorous. For example, in 1985, the Swiss Army was conducting a training exercise which involved the firing of missiles. In spite of strong winds, they went ahead and launched the missiles, which landed over the border in Lichtenstein, causing a huge forest fire for which Switzerland had to compensate, to the tune of millions of Swiss francs. Someone must have taken some heat for that one.

The second time was in 1992. Cadets in the Swiss Army had an order to set up an observation post in Triesenberg. Small problem, though: they somehow forgot that Triesenberg was located over the border in Lichtenstein. The trip was going well, until a local stopped to ask what they were doing. To be fair, though, it’s not hard to unknowingly cross the border – there are no border posts and no visas are needed to cross over. Fortunately this time no damage was done to Lichtenstein’s property, so no reparation was needed.

The third (and Switzerland is probably hoping the last) accidental invasion happened in 2007. About 170 Swiss soldiers were doing training maneuvers in dark, stormy weather in the Alpine forests of western Switzerland when they took a wrong turn and accidentally wandered across the border, again. They were several miles in before they realized their mistake. Fortunately, though, officials in Lichtenstein didn’t seem to mind. A spokesman was quoted by ABC news as saying, “It’s not like they invaded with helicopters.”

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