As Swiss as Chocolate and Mountains – The Swiss Nuclear Bunkers


Want to come into my cellar and see my nuclear bunker? That’s quite some chat-up line, right? Not so much here, since the Swiss nuclear bunker is just a part of life here, and everyone has one.

Not sure why it has a window
Air filter


We live in a small detatched house near to Geneva and the Swiss/French border and in the event of a nuclear incident, we can serenely skip downstairs and enter our safe little Swiss nuclear bunker. Up until recently every house built in Switzerland had to have a bunker; a communal one for apartments and a individual family bunker for houses. Anyone who did not have a bunker – in older houses, or where it was practical or possible to build – had to prove that they had bought a “space” in a communal bunker. Kind of a Atomic Timeshare, if you will.

Only problem with our Bunker Plan is that there is not much food in the bunker – although there was an offer on De Cecco pasta recently in Coop so there is that. I do have an electric stove, bought for our party where we served mulled wine, so we could even cook the pasta. If we had water. Ah. A flaw in The Bunker Plan.

We mainly use the room as a store, like most other Swiss nationals and guest. Wine, old photos, wine, summer clothes, wine, flour, wine, suitcases, wine, Christmas decorations, wine.. you get the picture.

Recently, my husband got fed up at the state of the bunker, as we had not really unpacked all our boxes from when we moved – it has only been 2 years after all – and we had to climb over boxes to reach anything that we needed.

Typically German, he had A Plan.


It involved taking everything out of the bunker, laying it out in the playroom, sorting, binning and returning what was left to the bunker. Which meant that our playroom looked like a bomb had hit it.

Soon, I was settled down on the children’s Ikea chair and was sorting through boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff, most of it junk. I lost count of how many bin bags we filled, but it went into high double figures.

The problem with sorting through old boxes, is that you invariably get distracted by sentimental memories attached to the most unlikely objects.


My ballet shoes – never finished embroidering toes


Souvenirs from first trip to Germany


And yes, that is an original piece of DDR toilet paper. We were in Germany with the Venture Scouts in 1990, first in Koblenz/Bonn area then on a trip to the former East – to Leipzig, Dresden and Berlin. The atmosphere in Germany that first year after the “Wende” – the fall of the Berlin Wall – was electric. You could feel the joy and excitement in the air. We spent a few days in Berlin, where we saw this concert.



Little did I know that just seven years later, I would be slipping into a pair of cream satin pumps and an organdy silk dress to walk down the aisle to marry my German husband.

My wedding shoes
Last piece of our wedding cake – want a bit?

And then in 2002, our daughter was born.

Daughter’s first dress
My first Mother’s Day card

Two years after the birth of our daughter we were blessed with another child, but as is often the case with second children, I forgot to take a photo of the things that belonged to our son. Sorry, my lad.

All this reminiscing and cooing over baby-gros and meant that it took much longer to tidy the bunker but it was fun.

Now it looks like this:

Note almost empty wine rack

We are due an inspection of the bunker soon, so it will be great not to have to haul everything out so that the guys can get in to the air filter. Last year, they had to clamber over boxes and bags of stuff. Actually, every year since we moved in it has been an It’s A Knockout Engineer Challenge.

So, in the unlikely event of a nuclear strike, we shall be fine. I think we could fit a few more in, if anyone wants to pop over.

We could have an Atomic Party.

Don’t forget to bring some Pringles and a bottle of Hooch.


  • waterbirthplease

    I really liked reading that! It is SO easy to get distracted by nostalgia and the photos captured it perfectly. The whole bunker thing's a bit mental though! Great great post. (Can you pop over to Bolton and do our spare room?!) xx


    I´m loving the wedding cake and shoes. (look like mine….what a surprise twinny!!)
    As you know I´m also de-junking house and cellar right now too, so I am totally with you. It does make you feel good though!.
    I have even seen your nuclear bunker live!!! It looks bang tidy now. xx

  • The Alexander Residence

    I feel priviledged to see inside your bunker. Very tidy too. We're in the midst of a clearout, wish one of us had some German in us, it's chaos!

  • Felix N.

    As a Swiss living most of the time abroad, I sometimes miss the safety of an In-House nuc Bunker.Indeed some of the Bunkers have even a sheltered window, this is because you can use them in times of peace as well. There was a time that every Swiss Bunker was stuffed with emergency food*, water supply and of course the fresh air filter sufficient for several weeks.Being Swiss makes a big difference than being German and this not only by speaking Alemannic (Helvetic) instead of German.After all, the Germans were the reasons that Swiss started to build Bunkers and the Reduit in the Swiss Mountains!

    * The Government gave a list for the emergency supply, it was similar to the one the Swiss army used at the time.

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