View Full Version : Büsingen (German Enclave Within Switzerland)

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008, 09:22 PM
Büsingen is a German exclave within Switzerland along the Rhine near Schaffhausen. It covers 7.6 km² in area and contains a population of about 1,500 people. Büsingen has a mixed economy including service-related activities in the built up areas and agriculture.

Büsingen’s development in the Middle Ages seems typical for Europe - it changed sovereignty many times as it was traded by its landowner, given as a gift to the Church and inherited.

Büsingen was first mentioned in records in 1090 as “Bosinga” when Count Burkhardt von Nellenburg willed it to the Allerheiligen abbey in Schaffhausen. It passed through several important families until it was sold to the Habsburgs in 1465.

In 1651 Schaffhausen succeeded in buying Büsingen from the Hapsburgs for 20,000 Gulden. A territorial dispute, however, between Büsingen’s Lord Eberhard von Thurn saw Schaffhausen lose the territory in 1698. By 1723 Schaffhausen had managed to acquire vast surrounding territories save for Büsingen. Büsingen remained under von Thurn’s rule “to the eternal annoyance” of Schaffhausen.

This legacy of feudal Europe saw Büsingen appear by 1770 as a territory under Austrian rule entirely surrounded by Switzerland. Along with Nellenburg, it then became the part of Württemberg and, later, Baden. Since 1871, Büsingen has been part of Germany.

The Swiss canton of Schaffhausen last tried to buy Büsingen during the Vienna Congress in 1814-15 but this failed. In 1835, Büsingen was excluded from Germany’s customs territory and a long period of unclear border arrangements ensued.

This was finally resolved in 1964 when a special German-Swiss treaty saw the territory included into the Swiss customs zone. This has since proved to be a highly satisfactory and efficient model of enclave management. As such, Büsingen does not annoy Schaffhausen any more.

In 1967, a nearby German enclave called Verenahof was transferred to Switzerland. Verenahof was a tiny enclave of 43 hectares containing just three farms with all residents being Swiss nationals. The transfer only occurred following numerous attempts since 1815 by Switzerland to acquire the territory. (From Vinokurov: ‘Theory of Enclaves’ 2005)

The source:

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009, 05:55 AM
Interesting. I found this while I was looking for a race map:

Germany Surrounded by Switzerland


The town of Büsingen am Hochrhein is one of two foreign enclaves enclosed within the territory of Switzerland (*). Büsingen has a long, intimate knowledge of borders, being located on the old limes between the Roman empire and the Germanic barbarians.
Ever since the mid 14th century, Büsingen has had Austrian overlords – at the end of the 17th century, the abduction, trial and death sentence of the Lord of Büsingen at the hands of the neighbouring Swiss canton of Schaffhausen almost led to war between Austria and Switzerland.
It’s said that due to this near-war, the Austrians decided to never relinquish control over Büsingen to the Swiss, just to spite them. When Austria sold its rights to the nearby villages of Ramsen and Dörflingen to the canton of Zürich in 1770, Büsingen effectively became an enclave within Switzerland.
In 1805, the Peace of Pressburg handed Büsingen to the kingdom of Württemberg, in southern Germany. Five years later, the town came under the overlordship of the Grand Duchy of Baden. Eventually, with German Unification in 1870, Büsingen became part of the German Empire.
A whopping 96% of the inhabitants voted for annexation by Switzerland in a 1919 referendum, but since the Swiss couldn’t offer Germany any territory in return, Büsingen remained, somewhat reluctantly, German.
As Büsingen is in a customs union with Switzerland, it is outside the European Customs Area. Other peculiarities caused by its exterritoriality:
• the common currency in Büsingen is not the euro, but the Swiss franc.
• Swiss police may pursue and arrest suspects in Büsingen, but no more than 10 Swiss police officers are allowed in the town at one time.
• Similarly, there may never be more than 3 German police officers per 100 inhabitants.
• There are two postal codes in this one town, a German one 78266 Büsingen; and a Swiss one: 8238 Büsingen (D). You can use Swiss or German stamps for your letters.
• Büsingen’s only petrol station advertises that it’s the cheapest in all of Germany – on average 30% cheaper.
(*) later more on Campione d’Italia, an Italian exclave in southern Switzerland.


Friday, June 8th, 2012, 07:24 PM
I know it's not as exotic as enclaves in Venezuela or Central Asia but Büsingen am Hochrhein (or just Büsingen for short) is a German town enclaved in Switzerland, in the canton of Schaffhausen. It originated between 1694 and 1728 because of war between Schaffausen and the Austrians.

It has about 1'450 inhabitants and is administratively dependent of the Land of Baden-Württemberg in Germany. It has both German and Swiss public transport connections, police service, phone service and postal codes (you can use/call the Swiss one or the German one if you want) as well as Swiss Franc and Euro currencies. Also the local football team (FC Büsingen) is the only German team to play in the Swiss Football League and, unlike the rest of Germany, the town was not part of the Schengen Zone until Switzerland signed the Schengen Agreement in 2008.

As far I know, it's the only German enclave with "Vennbahn" in Belgium.

More here:

Here are some photos:





Friday, June 8th, 2012, 07:27 PM


Tom Schnadelbach
Friday, June 8th, 2012, 11:32 PM
For years I have thought that it would be very interesting to read the history of the village during the Third Reich and the occupation. Did food rationing at the german level (during the occupation sometimes 600 calories a day) exist? How could the orders of the Reich and later the allies be enforced? Were allied soldiers allowed to transit through Switzerland to enforce their will there? Were the inhabitants forced to undergo the "Spruchkammer"/de-nazification courts if anyone in the village was a party member or SA or SS Mann or something?

Saturday, June 9th, 2012, 09:36 AM
Interesting, I've found this on Axis History Forum discussing "Crazy and strange facts about World War II":

Busingen is an German exclave located entirely in Switzerland. During the war, Switzerland effectively shut down the border, leaving Büsingen closed off from the rest of the Third Reich. German soldiers on home leave were required to deposit their weapons at the border guards' posts. The Swiss customs officers would supply them with greatcoats to cover up their German uniforms for the duration of their short walk over Swiss territory to their homes in Büsingen.


And also this on a message board discussing about German/Swiss enclave agreement:

... Again in the aftermath of the First World War, the residents pressed Swiss authorities to negotiate with the Weimar government, but no action was taken. Frustrated, the residents tried to separate themselves from Germany by force, but German police quickly swamped the village. Seeking work in Schaffhausen, the enclave residents, as foreigners, were the first laid off when the Great Depression hit, increasing discontent.

Another request to Berlin for cession in 1931, even for an equivalent amount of Swiss land, was ignored, and German attempts to industrialise the enclave failed due to the Swiss customs barrier, and distance from materials and markets.

The Second World War's end brought another opportunity for negotiations, but although Schaffhausen continued to side with the enclave residents, the central Swiss authorities refused to consider the issue, arguing that any negotiations would have to be made with a completely sovereign and independent Germany.
The enclave's mayor of the time, Bürgermeister Hugo, who was petitioning the World Court for German cession to Switzerland, was removed by embarrassed authorities at Constance. Meanwhile, the French, who occupied southern Germany in the wake of the war, were pressuring Switzerland for access to allow their troops to maintain order in the enclave. After the Second Büsingen Affair, Switzerland had effectively denied foreign military passage through its territory, even to the enclaves of Büsingen and Campione d'Italia. While against granting access to French occupation troops, the Swiss were equally worried about Büsingen becoming a haven for war criminals. By the "Bern Agreement" of November 1945, Switzerland granted special access for up to ten "armed and uniformed" French soldiers at a time, and requiring Schaffhausen to supply the enclave with food. The agreement became obsolete with the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) in 1949, but not before further negotiations by the French raised the Swiss customs cordon from the enclave on 1 January 1947, placing the enclave inside the Swiss customs area).


Saturday, June 9th, 2012, 10:41 AM
On 1 April 1944 Schaffhausen suffered a bombing raid by United States Army Air Forces aircraft which strayed from German airspace into neutral Switzerland due to navigation errors. About a hundred civilians were killed.

I wonder if there is a connection here. Büsingen is only about 6km from Schaffhausen. Could this have been a clandestine attempt to enter Switzerland and attack Büsingen under the guise of a "navigational error"? If they had succeeded they could have explained afterwards that they thought they were in Germany, which would have been true, and then pretended they were ignorant of violating Swiss air space. If that is the case then the feigned "navigation error" became a genuine one when the pilot mistook Schauffhausen for Büsingen. :insane