Abstract

Political and cultural life in Switzerland in the 1950s was characterized by a particularly fervent anti-Communism. This position was sustained by Swiss authorities as they promoted “spiritual national defense,” a policy that consisted—in the struggle against Soviet influence—of subsidies for patriotic works of art or essays and the covert prosecution of citizens (in particular, intellectuals and artists) suspected of having Communist sympathies. This article examines the rise of Swiss anti-Communism, including the reestablishment of political censure at the beginning of the Cold War, which led to a series of legal procedures against Communist intellectuals and on several occasions to prison sentences. The article assesses the impact of major international events on official policy measures implemented in Switzerland, including the Korean War, the rise of McCarthyism, and the Soviet intervention in Hungary. It also examines the attenuation of “spiritual national defense” in the 1960s with the rise of East-West détente.

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