This 1964 Swiss Army Propaganda Film Got an Oscar Nod
'Wehrhafte Schweiz' is a military masterpiece
Dutch director John Fernhout’s short film Wehrhafte Schweiz — that’s Fortified Switzerland in English — is a magnificent depiction of the Swiss armed forces in action in the early 1960s.
Filmed at a cost of between one and three million Swiss Francs, the 20-minute-long film features the combined arms of the Swiss military during a fictional invasion. Troops man positions in the Alps, on river crossings and in the hills.
The film shows a great many aircraft and armored vehicles in action, and also heavily features the MG52 machine gun and the SIG StG-57 battle rifle.
Fernhout made his movie with the Swiss military’s assistance. It’s propaganda. But that didn’t stop the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominating it for an Oscar for best short film in 1965.
Wehrhafte Schweiz was well received in Switzerland. An English-language version, Fortress of Peace, played around the world. The film underwent restoration in 2014.