Author: Ad_Idem (Right)
Characters: Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Ashkenazim (Israel), minor appearances by Prussia and historical figures
Warnings: political/ethical topics, allusions to the Holocaust, Nazis, racism
Summary: Neutrality is not as simple as it seems.
Right: As World War II is an important part of my family history, I do research it quite a bit and try to understand all the different layers and angles on it. As such, I found an article recently published by on the contradictory reports about Jewish refuges in Liechtenstein and Switzerland. It eventually lead me to write this.
When she made her way into the parlor where her brother usually waited for her, Liechtenstein found that Switzerland was not there.
Instead there was a man she had only seen a few times before.
On previous encounters with the President he had not seemed as thinned. His balded head was darkly shadowed in the many holds of worry found on his brow. A slight arch had begun in his back where his shoulders seemed to buckle under the weight of air. Despite it all, the front of his face was pacifistic.
Tension gathered heavily as he stared through the parted curtains of the window and Liechtenstein nimbly ran her pinky finger around the contours of her dress bow.
Her mind had ground to a halt and she waited dumbly for her big brother to make his return and properly re-introduce the two of them.
"You are Miss Liechtenstein," the man said in a hoarse voice. The words carried themselves thickly in the air and seemed to surround her with accusation.
In spite of her best efforts, Liechtenstein struggled to force the worlds out. They first had to stumble across her tongue at a time her mouth felt like it was full of cotton.
"Y-yes," she said with a polite bow, her chin tucking into her chest in a vain attempt to curl into a ball until the encounter was over. "Good to meet… ehm… It is good to meet… good to see you again, Herr bundespräsident. Oh, ehm, that is… Herr… Bundespräsident Etter."
The fumbling had passed only with the conclusion of her end of the conversation. Tiny embers seemed to burn behind her cheeks and a noticeable quiver made its way down into her hands.
Fortunately, as she looked up to once more meet the gaze of the President of the Confederation, she only received a kind twinkle behind dulled, tired eyes.
"You may call me Philipp, Miss Liechtenstein," he said in a flat tone that was very similar to her big brother's. "You, after all, are a sovereign entity. I am merely the servant to your neighbor."
Again, her cheeks seemed to flare but, at least, this was for a much more comforting reason.
"I am still a country only because of Big Bruder," she said in a tone muted by her endearment. After a moment of reflecting on this fact she glanced back to the president. "He thinks very much of you. He was eager to have you visit."
The man nodded in near indifference before uncrossing his legs and leaning forward. His elbows sunk into the fabric over his knees as he stared intently at the young Nation. She felt her stomach leap in illogical horror.
"I am always proud to serve my country," he reason quietly, his fingers lacing as their respective hands met in the center of his body. "But I have asked Switzerland to step out. My cause for visiting today is not to do with him directly." His eyes seemed progressively less kind the more focused they became on her. "It is to do with you."
Biting on her lip to keep from gaping, Liechtenstein merely stared at the man. She felt like crying. "I do not understand."
"So long as Liechtenstein is a protectorate of the Swiss Confederation it is important for her to agree and cooperate with the decisions of the Swiss government," he explained dryly.
"Yes, of course," Liechtenstein murmured, still unsure of what she had done to cause doubt in her brother's boss.
He studied her for a moment before rubbing his chin. "Fräulein, I must know where you stand with the Nazi party."
Blinking with great caution, Liechtenstein had to think over the question in her mind. Nibbling on her lip like a rabbit, she wondered if perhaps she had heard the wrong thing because she and her Prince had sworn their neutrality in the current conflicts just as Switzerland had.
"I am neutral," she said quietly, only hoping that it was the answer he was searching for.
"This I know," he shot down her hopes. "But I understand there are sympathizers with the Nazi movement within your country. I also understand there are sympathizers with the Jewish population as well. Perhaps even your Princess. Is any of this accurate?"
Her fingers began to curl into the fabric of her dress. "Herr Prussia raised me. I understand what he and Bruder Deutsch are doing. I just… ehm, I do not agree. A-and I know Jews deserve a home, too, and Big Bruder says that if someone comes over the border I have to let them have friends…"
"These are conflicting things, Miss Liechtenstein," the man responded plainly. "You cannot do anything with your citizens who have German sympathies. I understand. But as long as you are a protectorate of this country you must attempt to not complicate these things further," he explained before a dark look came to his eyes. "Do not accept anymore Jewish immigrants. We will be regulating your borders but you must not allow the Nazis to have reason to send their Waffen-SS into your nation. This would be devastating to both you and Switzerland."
Devastating her royal family or big brother were both out of the question.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. "I-I won't anymore."
The easiest way to overcome the situation was to not attempt to address it.
Liechtenstein instead attempts to remain calm and carry on with her daily routines. She followed her big brother through the towns and mingled with his people and occasionally her own people. They had tea in the afternoons and made cheese fondue when the prices were reasonable for the ingredients.
Her mind had completely closed itself off to the war, to the disappearance of Mr. Austria, and the sullen faced immigrant hopefuls who approached her door.
In her mind, as refugees were scattered across Europe, Liechtenstein told everyone You Are Welcome.
Rarely was it the case.
But she could not close herself off to all that was occurring within the possessed states of her former neighbors. Not completely. Not after Ashkenazim crossed her boarder.
On that day Liechtenstein had been visiting with the Prince and his family. Despite the hardships endured by the entirety of the country, the gracious princess had begun a small tea party and invited their Nation to join them. Liechtenstein obliged.
After some pomp and circumstance, however, Liechtenstein grew tired of the bland dining hall when there was none of her own to keep her company. She missed her brother.
This led to the young girl stepping out into the garden which was still beautiful and green in spite of depressions and wars. It was filled with natural beauty and warmed her heart, until she saw that someone else was sitting on the bench.
Pausing in mid stride, Liechtenstein looked at the man. His eyes were sunk into his sockets and his hair was dripping wet. He smelled like cabbage and was concave and angular. The only thing that Liechtenstein saw was the gold star sutured on his chest.
"You're Jewish," Liechtenstein whispered, more to herself than the man. Her teeth worked nervously at her lip.
He looked up, quiet and uncertain himself, before smiling softly. Then, in a language meant only for Nation's ears, he responded, "In many ways, so is a part you."
And that frightened her. Liechtenstein knew it was true.
In utter silence, Liechtenstein kneaded the hardening dough.
Cooking was something she often did at her brother's home. Backing was something else entirely. It was usually reserved for when she and Switzerland could do it together and it was a very rare and quietly celebrated occasion when they did.
Sweets cost money, after all.
Right then, however, Switzerland was in the den with the black clad men who had come to his door. He was discussing something serious, judging by Switzerland's tone.
Liechtenstein felt as though her stomach was being squeezed and twisted inside her.
In spite of herself, she accidentally eaves dropped as their talk continued.
"The Nations of the Axis would like to implore you to join in their alliance, Herr Switzerland," the chatty officer said with little regard for Liechtenstein's attempts to not listen. He was practically shouting. "Austria himself said you were quite the capable warrior."
"If Austria had said that then he also would have told you that you would be wasting your time," Switzerland said sternly. "I am not interested in how the East feels like bullying its neighbors. And I won't be ran over like Belgium."
Liechtenstein was incapable of pocketing the much pleased smile that crossed her face. Her big brother was so brave.
"Very well," the same one responded thickly. There was a noticeable change in his tenor and Liechtenstein knew he was not happy. "And as for the manner we discussed at large earlier—"
"Neither the Swiss Confederation nor the Principality of Liechtenstein are harboring fugitives from the Third Reich," the Nation said more boldly. "We are not accepting the mass immigrations in general. Must I remind you again that we have no interest in your war?"
For the first time since he had entered, the loud mouthed officer was as quiet as his companion.
"I believe we are done here. Thank you for your time, Herr Switzerland," he said solemnly.
"I don't believe I need to remind you of the way out," her brother's voice carried with the sound of shuffling feet and a scooting chair.
On instinct, Liechtenstein toed her way closer to the kitchen door, just as the front exit shut behind two Nazi uniforms. Switzerland stood between the door facing and Liechtenstein. She felt only slightly comforted by it.
"Ehm… Switzy," she muttered lowly, receiving his full attention almost instantly. "I-I'm sorry for eaves dropping, but I could not help but overhear some things you said." Her face began to fall. "Big Bruder, we're not in danger are we?"
"No," he said without hesitation. "But we have to keep control of the Nazis. No rallying in our countries. And we mustn't give them reason to invade us. Not a single Jew is to cross either of our borders, Liechtenstein. Do you understand?"
She was scared. But she understood.
Ashkenazim returned over the border again. He looked worse than before, to the point that Liechtenstein teared up when she saw him.
He wore an even larger star, scribbled around the German lettering were heavy ink marks of Hebrew. Ashkenazim held his chest up with pride as he wore it and strolled to the counter.
Liechtenstein looked to her brother. Switzerland's hawk-like eyes had never left the other nation nor had his pistol which was taking aim for the other's chest. Or, was, until a woman and a child came in behind him. Similarly, they were marked with golden stars.
"Hello, Liechtenstein," Ashkenazim said with unusual levity. It seemed unnatural to come from such a thinned person with graying skin.
She rubbed her fingers together nervously but did not forget her manners. "Hello," she responded quietly.
"You are not welcome here, Ashkenazim," Switzerland interrupted. There was a dangerous gleam to his eyes. "You may have people within our borders, but they are now considered our citizens. We care for them. Not you. If you enter our lands then you will be putting ourselves, our people, and the people that you claim for yourself at incredible risk. Do you understand that?"
The woman behind the Jewish nation began to cry, holding the child in her arms closer. Ashkenazim shushed them both before looking back to the two with a half broken smile.
"Hashem yevarech otcha," he sighed before looking more emphatically to Liechtenstein. She had let out a small squeak in response.
She never wanted this responsibility in her hands. It was unfair. It wasn't her fault.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. "I have to protect my own people. You must understand."
He nodded solemnly. "U-lay," was all Ashkenazim responded with before gathering the woman and child up best he could and heading out toward the Austrian border again.
Liechtenstein felt sick but a reassuring hand on her shoulder seemed to make it melt away.
"What we do is not easy," Switzerland said with coolly collective eyes on her. "It is even selfish in nature. But our obligations are to our own people first, Liechtenstein. Not the world."
It made sense.
Prussia's visit was unannounced and slightly unwelcome.
Liechtenstein usually preferred staying with her big brother for that very reason.
The cottage home in her land's countryside has always been treated with the sincere and often misplaced affection of a child's fort. It always made Liechtenstein feel like its invisible walls and gates were real and lulled her into a foolish sense of security.
It was very much like Prussia himself, full of nostalgia and hidden danger.
"I've become a fan of coffee lately," her Germanic brother said despite taking the offered tea.
Liechtenstein nodded courteously before taking her own seat across from him. Her eyes were trained on him, not willing to let a single movement past her senses. It was just as Switzerland had taught her.
"West drinks so much coffee he is going to pop like a tick," Prussia explained with a bit of disdain in his voice. "I tell him there's no sense in drinking beer if you're going to wash it out with foreign beans. But he won't listen to me, will he? I'll answer that! Of course not. It's always about what his Boss says. The bastard. They're wanting to take on Russia, and West and I tried to say that it was a bad idea. Stupid idea. They don't care. They're still trying to make up for losing to that pussy lil' island."
It took a lot out of her patience, but Liechtenstein managed to remain composed in spite of the slew of curses.
Prussia sighed and looked into his tea. "They're going to tear him apart if they're not careful, Liechtenstein. Just mark my words. He can't lose Berlin again. He's just too stubborn. He doesn't pay attention to anyone, especially me. He thinks he'll be able to do this all on his own. Dumbass. Where did he get that from?"
Liechtenstein quietly observed how, in spite of his concerns, Prussia seemed perfectly comfortable in his Luftwaffen Fliegerbluse.
The pot of tea was finished in silence. Then Prussia left with a nod and a crude word or two thrown her way.
He said to pass it on to Switzerland, which she never did.
When she looked at the clock she realized it had been four hours. He had never asked her a question. Probably because he knew the answers. Maybe because he didn't care.
When it was dark, and Liechtenstein had checked the property twice, she briskly closed the shutters of the cottage and opened the loose floorboards. The family beneath thanked her kindly.
She then asked them, very politely, to try to make it to the Swiss border and then on into France. She never heard from them again.
Her brother never asked her if the rumors were true. He never had to. Liechtenstein could see in his eyes that he knew the truth.
When she stayed at his house in the spring, it became commonplace for him to polish his guns and gaze quietly out the window. He was not intentionally ignoring her, it just so happened that he was lost in his thoughts.
She sat down beside him.
"Why?" he asked lowly, almost as if it was not to her at all. "Why, Liechtenstein? Why would they need a second war? It makes no sense."
The corners of her mouth tightened into a straight little line and she glanced down to her knees. "I don't know, Big Bruder," she said honestly.
"And how many times will the Nazis knock on my door looking for 'criminals of war?'" he asked, slightly annoyed. Liechtenstein felt the point of this question more directly.
She did not answer more than a meek, "I don't know why, Big Bruder," she whispered. "I just did what I thought was right."
He hesitated before turning his eyes slowly toward her. Switzerland was utterly absorbed in her words.
"It wasn't because I was trying to be a hero or anything," she continued. "There are certain things we should expect all people to do."
They were silent after that. It was long enough for Liechtenstein to think upon her words, her actions, and everything in between.
Then there was a knock at the door and neither said a word because they knew who it was.
Switzerland stared into Liechtenstein's eyes and, to her credit, she did not back down. He then sighed and made his way to the door.
Quietly, he let in Ashkenazim.
*During WWII, Liechtenstein received pressure from both Nazi-occupied Austria and neighboring Switzerland to not accept Jewish refugees.
*Phillipp Etter was President of the Swiss Confederation in 1939, 1942, 1947 and 1953.
*A full monarchy at the time, Liechtenstein was ruled by Prince Franz Josef II during the Second World War. In the study I read he was not painted in a great light for his actions during this time period.
*Ashkenazim is the word for "German Jews," or Jews from central European descent. This is a large population of current Israeli Jews.
*"Hashem yevarech otcha." Hebrew. "God bless you." (Please correct this translation if I'm wrong)
*"U-lay." Hebrew. "Maybe."
*Switzerland here is not a villain, but meant to raise the opposing moral/philosophical point. Is it the responsibility of the country/government to care for the benefit of foreigners over the protection of their own citizens? Or, morally, is it wrong regardless? Because it is a point that needed to be made in a time as scary and uncertain as this and I think it's important to see/understand that fact before making any conclusions about the actions of the governments/countries of Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
*Prussia: It is nearing the end of the war and morale is very down for Germans.
*In the end, reports conflict about the intake of Jewish refugees by Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It's estimated that 400 Jews found sanctuary in Liechtenstein while some 27,000 found it in Switzerland. However, it's important to note that just as many if not more were turned away. I think it does give testament to something, however, that Liechtenstein granted 144 Jews citizenship.
And that's all I have to say.