DEMIGODS WITH RED STRIPES OR HEIRS OF WILLIAM TELL? THE GENERAL STAFF'S ROLE IN A DEMOCRACY: THE GERMAN REICH AND SWITZERLAND
Amigo, Enric F.
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From 1933 to 1945, the respective general staffs of Germany and Switzerland took two different paths in civil-military relations in German-speaking Europe. Whereas the German general staff did not prevent or substantially impede the rise of Hitler and his repressive policies, the Swiss counterpart constituted a fundamental pillar of liberal, democratic constitutional and institutional civilian control of armed forces. The study of these two siblings provides historical insights into the effects of liberal democratic values on military bodies in comparison to authoritarian views. The primary research question addressed is: How do liberal values and democratic civilian control affect the general staff’s role in a democracy in a time of domestic and international crisis? The author defines the liberal values of the general staff officers (endogenous factor) and the civilian control of democracy over its armed forces (exogenous factor) as independent variables, and the role of a general staff within a democracy as the dependent variable. The comparison of the two states’ general staffs from 1933 to 1945 emphasizes that liberal principles and the conviction of a democratic civilian authority as having moral primacy prevents a powerful military entity from becoming a mortician of democracy. This concept of moral primacy must be implanted within the hearts and minds of future general staff officers far earlier than at the start of military education.
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