Switzerland has a long-standing tradition of neutrality and rarely gets involved in military confrontation. It may, therefore, surprise you to learn that Switzerland has invaded its neighboring country Liechtenstein, not once, but three times in a 22-year period — each time by accident!
- On December 5, 1985, the Swiss Army fired rockets as part of a training mission. A targeting error brought the rockets down in Liechtenstein, sparking a forest fire. Switzerland apologized profusely and reimbursed its neighbor for the damages.
- Seven years later, on October 13, 1992, Swiss Army cadets crossed the Liechtenstein border and established an observation post at Triesen. They acted in obedience to written orders. Unfortunately, the orders were issued by military leaders who forgot that Triesen is not in Switzerland — an honest mistake, but understandably embarrassing to anyone who is in charge of protecting a nation’s borders. Switzerland apologized to Liechtenstein for the incident.
- Fifteen years went by without further incident until March 2007. A wrong turn in the night brought 171 Swiss soldiers into Liechtenstein. This mighty invasion force blitzkrieged their way almost 2 km into the country before realizing their mistake and executing a hasty retreat. The Liechtenstein authorities did not discover they had been invaded until they received a formal apology from Switzerland.
Liechtenstein has taken the occasional violations of national sovereignty with good nature. A spokesman said, “It’s not like they invaded with attack helicopters. No problem, these things happen.”