Reading Group Guide
1. Before reading The Swiss Courier, what did you know about the July 1944 assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler’s life? What about German development of the atomic bomb?
2. What did you learn about WWII Switzerland that fascinated you?
3. Switzerland’s “official” position was neutral --- meaning they didn’t align themselves officially with either the Allied forces (United Kingdom, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States) or the Axis powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan). Do you think Switzerland’s neutrality helped or hindered the Allies’ efforts to win the war?
4. Gabi Mueller, a Swiss farm girl turned spy, has an American father and a Swiss mother. How do you think her upbringing prepared her for the tasks ahead?
5. What is the significance, if any, of Gabi being a safecracker?
6. What is the significance of Gabi’s father being both a pastor and a furniture maker? How does that tie in with Ernst’s underground activities?
7. What is your first impression of Dieter Baumann, the Swiss agent heading up the American OSS office in Basel? When did your impressions change?
8. What were the motivations behind Sturmbannführer Bruno Kassler’s actions? Do you think these motivations were common for Gestapo officers?
9. Who is the unlikely hero of this story? Is there more than one?
10. One of the book’s major themes is trust. Would you have trusted certain people or situations the same way Gabi did?
11. Who was your favorite character in the story and why?
12. For most of The Swiss Courier, everything that happened to Joseph Engel was out of his control. He simply went from one frightening and unsure scenario to another. How did he change in order to survive?
13. What surprised you most about the ending of this book?
14. In The Swiss Courier, a small band of German Christians were part of the “Confessing Church” movement that worked underground to oppose the Nazi regime. What would you have done if you lived in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s?