Switzerland's elaborate Cold War defenses  JUN 19 2012

In the event of an invasion, the entire country of Switzerland is rigged to destroy all of its road, bridges, railroads, and other infrastructure. Or at least it was during the Cold War. Geoff Manaugh reports on a John McPhee book about the country's defenses.

In any case, the book's vision of the Alps as a massively constructed-or, at least, geotechnically augmented and militarily amplified-terrain is quite heady, including the very idea that, in seeking to protect itself from outside invaders, Switzerland is prepared to dynamite, shell, bulldoze, and seal itself into a kind of self-protective oblivion, hiding out in artificially expanded rocky passes and concrete super-basements as all roads and bridges into and out of the country are instantly transformed into landslides and dust.

The first reader comment is more than a little eye-popping:

I have seen this with my own eyes as a foreign student in Switzerland in 1981, when a MOUNTAIN "opened" up and four jets flew out of it, near the quiet town, Martigny.

Update: About a minute into this clip from Rick Steves' Europe, Steves takes a tour of some of the hidden defenses of Switzerland.

(thx, nils & dennis)

Read more posts on kottke.org about:
Cold War   Geoff Manaugh   John McPhee   Switzerland

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