A breach of national defence? The Swiss Movement against Nuclear Weapons (1950s-60s)

Combatants and pacifists
By Hadrien Buclin

This paper focuses on MCAA, the movement against nuclear weapons, which was founded in Switzerland in 1958 to express opposition to the atomic bomb project announced by the Swiss government. Admittedly, MCAA’s proposal of banning nuclear weapons was rejected by a referendum in 1962, following a campaign in which proponents of nuclear weapons brandished the threat of a military confrontation between the two superpowers as an argument in favour of their project. This article sheds light on MCAA’s importance in Swiss political history despite this failure. This movement was one of the main challengers of Swiss governmental policy in the post-war period. As such, MCAA became a central venue for the transmission of political experience between the generation of pacifists who had been activists since the Great War, and the younger generation that paved the way for the new social movements of the post-1968 period.

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