The recent and on-going controversy about the relationship between the government and financial institutions of Switzerland with Nazi Germany has prompted questions in this nation regarding its own status and activities during this black period in human history. I have asked a number of Wotanberg's leading historians to serve on a committee charged not only with answering these questions, but also with providing us with an honest assessment of Wotanberg's relationship with Nazi Germany.
The committee's report is complete and will soon be made available to the public. The purpose of this message is to provide the nation--and the world--with a brief summary of that report and my government's response to it, as well as my own personal response. In this message, I will assume that you have a basic familiarity with world history from 1933 to 1945, so that I may focus on Wotanberg's role in that period.
From the Congress of Vienna until the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, this nation counted on its relative obscurity and geographic isolation to protect it from the frequently tumultuous--and violent--events which take place in Europe. With Hitler's assumption of power in 1933, my grandfather, Grand Duke Siegfried, and his ministers realized that if it were to survive the tide of totalitarianism sweeping over Europe, Wotanberg would have to do more than hide its head in the sand and hope for the best. This realization led to development of policies and plans collectively code-named "Cave Putorum" after the Duchy's (and my family's personal) motto.
These policies and plans were designed to ensure both Wotanberg's survival as an independent democratic nation and the safety, security, and welfare of its people. To these ends, my grandfather's government undertook a program to build an effective military force which would, it was hoped, deter aggression by Nazi Germany by making the cost of conquering Wotanberg too high. More importantly, it also took steps to ensure that its most precious asset--the Siebenzwerge Gold Mines--could be quickly destroyed if conquest were imminent, so that an attack by Nazi Germany would not only be costly, but pointless.
Influenced by my grandmother, Grand Duchess Charlotte, my grandfather and his ministers also recognized that given the nature of the Nazi regime which had just taken power, Wotanberg would have to do what it could to help the rest of the world rid itself of that regime, and, ultimately, to establish a European (and world) order where all peoples can survive and thrive. Whereas the government made no secret of its military preparations or both its ability and willingness to destroy the Siebenzwerge Gold Mines if necessary, it also secretly worked with other European states--and especially the United Kingdom-- to first resist, and then destroy, the Nazi plague.
For example, although Wotanberg formally maintained its neutrality during the Second World War, a company-sized detachment of Wotanberger volunteers, under the leadership of one of my great uncles, Prince Parsifal, and my father, then Crown Prince Victor, served with the British army, both in North Africa and Europe. Moreover, many other Wotanbergers provided valuable intelligence to the Allies during the war, while Wotanberg itself served as a base for numerous clandestine Allied operations (after it had been made quite clear to the Allies that Wotanberg's military forces were not sufficient to simultaneously protect the country against the threat of a Nazi invasion and the Allies' more benign violations of Wotanberg's neutrality). In addition, and perhaps most significantly, both the government and people of Wotanberg offered aid, and sanctuary, to many of the refugees fleeing Nazi rule. Although unable to protect as many as it would have like to, Wotanberg's population nearly doubled as refugees from all over Europe found their way here.
Although most Wotanbergers are aware of these facts, questions have arisen regarding certain aspects of the Grand Duchy's relationship with Nazi Germany which must also be addressed. It has been correctly pointed out that during the Second World War, nearly all of the gold produced by the Siebenzwerge Gold Mines ended up in Nazi hands. However, it must be pointed out that with the influx of refugees, the Grand Duchy's historic dependence on Germany for food and other products increased and the Siebenzwerge gold was the only to pay for those things. Moreover, even if one views the Siebenzwerge gold as tantamount to "tribute", Wotanberg's survival and its contributions to the allied victory against Nazi German were, in my view, worth the price.
It has also been correctly pointed out that a company-sized detachment of Wotanberger volunteers (the so-called "Wotanberger Freikorps"), under the leadership of another of my great uncles, Prince Vladimir, served with the German Army on Russian front. At the time, most Wotanbergers, regretted the fact that any Wotanbergers were fighting with, rather than against, Nazi Germany and the Grand Ducal family especially regretted the participation of one of its own. (Of course, Prince Vladimir had been the black sheep of the Grand Ducal family even before becoming a fan of Adolf Hitler and his policies.) Unfortunately, the government was powerless to prevent Prince Vladimir and his volunteers (and, in many cases, their families) from leaving the country after Germany learned that Wotanbergers under the leadership of another Prince were serving with the British Army fighting against them in North Africa. However, it should also be recognized that when Prince Vladimir left, he took nearly all of the most dangerous Germanophiles in the country with him. This made it easier for the Allies to use the Grand Duchy as a base for clandestine operations and meant that Wotanberg was an even more secure sanctuary for refugees.
Though I continue to regret the very existence of the Wotanberger Freikorps--and especially my own great uncle's role in it--I recognize that it is the only blotch on this nation's otherwise exemplary record during this period. Although many nations suffered more at the hands of the Nazis, and some nations certainly did more to defeat them, our small nation did the best it could, under the circumstances, to help rid the world of the Nazi scourge.