War and Conflict

World War II Ends

Were any countries besides Switzerland neutral during World War II?

Yes, in its official stance of neutrality, Switzerland was joined by Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey, and Argentina. However, postwar findings indicated the neutrality of these countries—with the exception of Argentina—was not an absolute policy. (Some have described these countries as only nominally neutral.) A 1998 report released by U.S. Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat indicated that the Swiss had converted Nazi gold to Swiss francs and that Germany had used that exchange to buy minerals from Spain, Portugal, Sweden, and Turkey. The report further pointed out that Sweden had allowed a quarter of a million Nazi troops to cross its country in order to reach neighboring Finland, where the Germans fought Soviet forces.

Eizenstat, who headed a U.S. government effort to determine where Nazi gold ended up, was assisted in his research by State Department historians. Although the investigation’s reports were critical of these neutral countries, Eizenstat also pointed out that all the countries were in difficult positions during the conflict. For example, Switzerland was completely surrounded by German-occupied countries. Nevertheless, Jewish groups brought lawsuits against the Swiss government and three Swiss banks for their role in converting looted Nazi gold into currency during World War II.


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