The fascinating second lives of Swiss bunkers

For a country that cherishes neutrality, Switzerland sure loves its military. It’s the biggest irony of a country trying to dodge involvement in war: To do so, they must fortify.

That military obsession, once nicknamed “bunker mania,” was full blown during World War II, when the Swiss built an intricate system of 8,000 bunkers and shelters to guard against Hitler. As soon as news spread that the Nazis had stormed and occupied Paris, workers began toiling around the clock to build bunkers underground and in the mountains, according The New York Times.

That was 75 years ago. The threat of imminent invasion has long since subsided. As dust collected on gun muzzles, the cost of maintenance bowed the national budget. In the 1990s, Switzerland began the process of declassifying the bunkers, and since then some have assumed fascinating second lives.

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