The Principality of Liechtenstein in Modern Times

20th and 21st Century

Liechtenstein in the last century is a tale of a country turned around. The turn of the century saw Liechtenstein getting closer to Switzerland, distancing themselves to an extent from their old masters, the Austrians. So when the First World War broke out, Liechtenstein remained neutral with their neighbours Switzerland.

As with the rest of Europe, Liechtenstein suffered food shortages during the war years, and due to old commitments some Liechtensteiners did go to war. The most famous was Father Fridolin Tschugmell who was the medic in an Austro-Hungarian regiment in the Dolomites of northern Italy. His book, "Während der Messe sangen die Granaten" (The grenades sang during Mass) is a diary of his wartime exploits.

After the end of the war, the Austrian Empire was broken up, and Liechtenstein's links strengthened with their Western neighbour - Switzerland. In 1919 they agreed a diplomatic and consular representation agreement with the Swiss, and in 1924 a customs, monetary and postal union was agreed. Because post-war Austria suffered with extraordinary inflation, so much so that the Prince had to sell jewels and paintings to enable the country to buy into the Swiss monetary system. Even now, over eighty years on, Liechtensteiners say that their money is in Switzerland, but their hearts are still in Austria!

So onto the German storm in Europe between 1939 and 45. Hitler made a speech naming Liechtenstein as one of the countries he wanted to 'persuade' to join the German Empire. Liechtenstein, however, remained neutral, and the Prince, Franz Josef II went to Berlin to ensure the neutrality would be upheld. Franz Josef also moved to Liechtenstein - the first prince to make Liechtenstein their home.

Car displaying a Liechtenstein number plateThe Second World War left its mark on Liechtenstein again, with hardships for the people, though no soldiers entered Liechtenstein, and no war casualties were recorded. At the end of the war, however, Liechtenstein stood head to head with Stalin's Russia. A detachment of Belarus soldiers, who had fought for the Germans against Stalin requested asylum in Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein granted their wishes and endured the wrath of the Soviet leader. Some Russian families are still in the country.

Since the end of the war, Liechtenstein has prospered. Industry has flourished in the valley, and entrepreneurs have made use of the creative, hardworking Liechtensteiners, and now import workers from neighbouring Switzerland, Austria and Germany. The Liechtenstein people now enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world, with very little unemployment and very low taxes.


The Rätians > Romans > Goths & Franks > Counts of Montfort > Barons of Brandis > Counts of Sulz > Counts of Hohenems > Princes of Liechtenstein > The modern day