The Swiss Army Gendarmerie: A Composite Force Facing the Challenges of the First World War

  • Philippe Hebeisen
Part of the World Histories of Crime, Culture and Violence book series (WHCCV)


The Swiss Army Gendarmerie may rightly be considered as the first federal police force or at least as the first ‘all-purposes’ force in the service of the Confederation outside the army itself—a significant innovation in Switzerland. From early suggestions of creating a Gendarmerie force for military purposes in 1878 to the founding legislation issued in August 1914, this paper highlights thirty years of struggle to establish the Army Gendarmerie. Though legally created in the first years of the twentieth century, it was nevertheless the Great War that gave the force its missions and organisation. While initially limited to provost duties, the new corps was quickly given new assignments in accordance with the evolution of the conflict and the country’s position in the war.

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philippe Hebeisen
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of NeuchâtelNeuchâtelSwitzerland
  2. 2.Sorbonne UniversityParisFrance

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