Total Resistance (book)

Total Resistance (book)
Der totale Widerstand: Eine Kleinkriegsanleitung für Jedermann  
Author(s) Hans von Dach
Translator Total Resistance
Country Switzerland
Language German
Subject(s) Military
Genre(s) Instruction manual
ISBN ISBN 3-9521096-1-4
ISBN 978-0873640213
OCLC Number 75856605

Total Resistance (Der totale Widerstand: Eine Kleinkriegsanleitung für Jedermann) is an official Swiss manual for resistance to enemy occupation of Switzerland (presumably in a Soviet general occupation of all central Europe) that was issued in 1957-1958.

It was written by Hans von Dach of the Swiss military and is a crash course in irregular resistance by ordinary civilians, rather than a plan for resistance by defeated soldiers operating as guerrillas within their homeland. It notably presumes a form of irregular resistance involving nothing beyond rifles, hand grenades, and mines that very much resembles the Iraqi insurgency 50 years after the book was written.

There are various editions of the book, ranging from 64 through 287 pages. The book was originally written for wide dissemination to the Swiss population via the SUOV (Schweizer Unteroffiziersverband, i.e. Swiss NCO association)[1] during a time when there was a public perception that Switzerland needed to be prepared to resist external aggressors.[2] As of 2007, at least one of von Dach's books (on chemical weapons) ships with sealed pages and the instruction "NUR BEI KRIEGSMOBILMACHUNG OEFFNEN" ("open only in case of mobilization").[3]

The book contains advice on how to defend Switzerland through stay-behind guerrilla warfare in case of an enemy invasion. Detailed information on how to organize small "armies" and resistance groups is given; the readers are also taught on how to build explosives (which earned the book a ban in several countries, even though often claimed, it is legal in Germany).

Summarized in a few words, the book explains:

  • the operative, tactical, technical and psychological basics of guerrilla warfare
  • how to build-up, organize and command a guerrilla warfare
  • how to build-up and command a civilian resistance movement
  • the enemy's methods of suppressing and combating guerrilla warfare
  • explosives techniques, with the focus on placing the charges, optimizing the effects, and knowledge of the various types of explosives

Views of the book as an obsolete legend due to today's technological standards, as it studies old cases like the German Wehrmacht occupying Warsaw and the Soviet intrusion into Prague and Budapest, have been disproven in Iraq today. Iraq's insurgency very much resembles the doctrines taught in the book. That the book doesn't cover today's internet and readily available message encryption like PGP has been proven irrelevant in Iraq's insurgency today; and the book's not covering newer weapons similarly has been proven irrelevant in the Iraq insurgency. Another points are that this combat manual only addresses how to organize the resistance locally, but not how to deter the occupation of a whole country. The fact that the book focuses on the situation that prevails in Switzerland (hilly and mountainous landscape) has not kept its doctrines from being successfully used by Iraq's insurgents.


  1. ^ SUOV Homepage
  2. ^ During the same time period, Switzerland also had a secret nuclear weapons program. As of 2007, legally mandated nuclear bomb shelter capacity for 100% of the Swiss population continues to be available. [1]
  3. ^ Swiss Firearms Trade

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