During the First World War, a ‘Humorous Map of Europe in the Year 1914’, published in Germany, depicted Switzerland as a tiny, isolated gingerbread chalet, sheltering motley residents in the midst of a marauding Europe personified by diverse oafs and barbarians straining at their own national boundaries. Lest the visual metaphor be lost on the viewer, an accompanying caption explained: ‘Switzerland sits back in comfort and observes the world conflagration while providing a sanctuary for homeless Russian princes.’ 1 Printed images representing Switzerland have often played on the small country’s peculiar situation in Europe. Both in spite and because of its neutrality, there was enormous sensitivity during the war to these and many other kinds of printed text and image. The potential for printed material to upset the already delicate equilibrium of Swiss domestic and foreign relations after August 1914 came to be widely recognised. The map in question was just one example of the ‘propaganda material’ collected and monitored by the Swiss police during the war in an attempt to control partial, ‘neutralitätswidrig’ (or ‘anti-neutral’) material. At that same time, one could also buy a postcard in Bern, the Swiss capital, showing an image of the country symbolized by its parliament building depicted as a rocky island surrounded by stormy seas. Evoking Switzerland’s perhaps best-known painting, Arnold Böcklin’s Island of the Dead, it too sought metaphorically to capture the political position of a small neutral country surrounded by international hostilities. Since 1901, visitors to the parliamentary chamber of the Bundeshaus have been greeted with the sight of Charles Giron’s large mural depicting a timeless central Swiss Alpine landscape as the bearer of the Swiss state - Cradle of the Confederation. But Switzerland’s position within Europe was much more complex than any of these clichéd images imply. The vision of Swiss stability, balance and unity even in the face of encircling crisis belies a reality that was critically fractious during the First World War. Switzerland’s neutrality was more severely tested than usual from 1914. In cities especially, where the most intense publishing activity was concentrated, tensions were in many cases exacerbated by the production, dissemination and reception of particular printed items. This essay investigates how and why printed texts and images were regulated in Switzerland. It focuses on the problems that arose under the conditions of war and the uneasy alliance of neutrality, asylum and press freedom in Switzerland. It examines how material that transgressed official regulations could have serious implications for Switzerland’s domestic and foreign relations during war. For reasons that will become clear, my discussion concentrates on cases of the French- and German-language Swiss press. 2