Urban guerrilla

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The urban guerrilla is a guerrilla that operates in an urban / metropolitan area . It adopts strategies and methods of the guerrillas, which are mainly active in rural regions. The Irish freedom fighter Michael Collins is considered to be its inventor .

It is characterized by urban guerrillas for the guerrilla / that they often with militant tried means from the ground or the illegality out against certain political decisions, often but also against a political system as a whole, and thus against a ruling government resistance to afford and own political To implement concepts and goals where this is not possible or ineffective in the opinion of the militant fighters with the means of a legal opposition .


The means of the urban guerrilla are varied. They range from public relations work such as distributing pamphlets to acts of sabotage and other violent attacks , which can include kidnappings and political assassinations .

The methodology of the urban guerrilla as understood in this way is usually equated with terrorism by a ruling government . The respective groups are considered to be terrorist groups . An objective separation between illegitimate "terrorism" and the legitimate struggle for freedom is difficult to achieve and depends on the political point of view of the observer, see also the description in the article Terrorism .


Latin America


During the Cuban Revolution (1953–1959), two different resistance strategies, which were called Llano and Sierra at the time , were complementary and in part competing within the “ Movement of July 26 ” . Llano (plain or plains) referred to the priority and direction of armed struggle in the Cuban cities. Sierra (mountains), on the other hand, stood for warfare by the Cuban rebel army , starting from the inaccessible mountain and inland areas.


Another origin of the urban guerrilla was in Uruguay in the late 1960s . There the Tupamaros operated relatively successfully in the capital Montevideo . They made the concept of the urban guerrilla known worldwide. Its main theorist was the Spanish national Abraham Guillén .


In Argentina , too, an urban guerrilla formed under the military dictatorship, a number of revolutionary splinter groups that operated in Buenos Aires and also in smaller cities, such as the Movimiento Peronista Montonero ( Montoneros ). Between 1969 and 1971 there were mass uprisings in Cordoba, Rosario and Mendoza, which were supported by the trade union base, but in which the urban guerrilla also took part. In 1973 this urban guerrilla was finally the bearer of the militant resistance against the increasingly reactionary course of the new Peron government.


In 1968, an urban guerrilla also emerged in Brazil , most of which emerged from the communist parties. She appeared with individual actions, kidnappings and bank robberies; their theorist was Carlos Marighella , co-founder of the Ação Libertadora Nacional . Another group was the Comando de Libertação Nacional . The most famous representative was Carlos Lamarca , a former captain of the Brazilian army .


In 1965/66 the Guatemalan guerrillas began to shift the focus of their operations from the countryside to Guatemala City . Their guides were Luis Augusto Turcios Lima and El Chino Marco Antonio Yon Sosa .


The Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional operated almost exclusively as an urban guerrilla until 1977. Their most important theorist was Humberto Ortega .

South Africa

As early as the early 1950s, the anti-apartheid movement developed the so-called Mandela Plan , which was intended to prepare the underground struggle, especially in the urban environment of the townships . Later the Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the armed arm of the ANC , partly acted as an urban guerrilla.


From loose, informal, personal and political contexts, which were called "blues", the Tupamaros West-Berlin emerged in autumn 1969 in the western part of Berlin . Parts of the "Blues" merged in January 1972 to form the June 2nd Movement . These groups and also the publication The Concept Urban Guerilla of the Red Army Fraction (RAF) in April 1971 coined the term in the Federal Republic of Germany . The RAF's urban guerrilla tactics were based on Mao Zedong's book Theory and Practice of Guerrilla Warfare . However, in this reference, as in the recourse to Lenin and Che Guevara, the preconditions of armed struggle were ignored: the exhaustion of legal possibilities for political influence and an economic analysis of the living conditions of the population. For example, the reference to the peasantry, central to Guevara and Mao, played no role in the RAF, nor was it able to identify any other revolutionary subject, but simply took its place. The theory of the urban guerrilla was thus characterized in the German case by an enormous voluntarism, which foreseeably contributed to isolation and failure.


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ernesto Che Guevara: Cuban Diary. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2008, p. 240.
  2. Michael Bommi Baumann: How it all began. Trikont Verlag, Munich 1975 (series: novels, reports, autobiographies) ISBN 3-920385-68-3 .
  3. Ralf Reinders, Ronald Fritzsch: The June 2nd Movement. Conversations about hash rebels, the Lorenz kidnapping and jail. Edition ID-Archiv, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-89408-052-3 online edition ( PDF and HTML ) p. 38ff.
  4. Martin Hoffmann (Ed.) Red Army Fraction. Texts and materials on the history of the RAF . ID-Verlag, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-89408-065-5 , p. 27 Download as PDF , or: [1]
  5. Friedrich Schneider, Bernhard Hofer, Causes and Effects of Worldwide Terrorism , Springer Verlag 2008, p. 22.
  6. Robert Wolff: The concept of urban guerrilla - the disenchantment of communist guerrilla and revolution theories? , in: The Magic of Theory - History of the New Left in West Germany, special issue of Work - Movement - History , Issue II / 2018, pp. 105–117.


The "standard work" on urban guerrilla comes from Carlos Marighella , who published the "Handbuch der Stadtguerilla" ( Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla (GFDL) ) in June 1969 .

  • Hans-Joachim Müller-Borchert: Guerrilla in the industrial state. Goals, starting points and prospects for success , Hamburg (Hoffmann and Campe) 1973. ISBN 978-3-455-09094-9
  • Ernesto Che Guevara: Urban Guerrilla. A method , in: Joachim Schickel (ed.): Guerrilleros, Partisanen. Theory and Practice , Munich (Carl Hanser Verlag) 1970, pp. 175–177, original text Guerra sub-urbana , in: La guerra de guerrillas , Havanna 1960, pp. 52–56.
  • Thomas Fischer: The Tupamaros in Uruguay. The model of the urban guerrilla . In: Wolfgang Kraushaar (ed.): The RAF and left-wing terrorism. Volume 2. Hamburger Edition, Hamburg 2006, ISBN 978-3-936096-65-1 , pp. 736-750.
  • Werner Hahlweg : Urban guerrilla . In: Allgemeine Schweizerische Militärzeitschrift (1973), pp. 580 ff., 650 ff.
  • Carlos Marighella: Mini Guide of the Urban Guerrilla in: Socialist Politics . Ed .: Otto Suhr Institute Berlin. Volume 2, No. 6/7 1970, pp. 143-166. (German language first publication)
  • Marcio M. Alves, Konrad Detrez, Carlos Marighella (eds.): Smash the wealth islands of the third world. With the manual of the guerrillas of São Paulo. , Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1971 (series: rororo aktuell 1453/1454), ISBN 3-499-11453-4 .
  • Friedrich August von der Heydte : The modern guerrilla war as a defense-political and military phenomenon. Holzner-Verlag, Würzburg 1972.
  • Martin Oppenheimer: City guerrilla. Ullstein Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin and Vienna 1971.
  • Alex Schubert: Urban guerrilla. Tupamaros in Uruguay - Red Army faction in the Federal Republic , Berlin (Wagenbach) 1971. ISBN 3-8031-1026-2
  • Antonio Téllez: Sabaté. Urban guerrilla in Spain after the civil war 1945-1960 , Munich (Trikont-Verlag) 1974. ISBN 3-920385-67-5
  • Keyword Urban guerrilla warfare , in: Ian FW Beckett: Encyclopedia of Guerilla Warfare , New York 2001, pp. 248–250. ISBN 0-8160-4601-8
  • Robert Moss: Urban Guerrillas. The new face of political violence , London 1972. ISBN 0-85117-024-2
  • James Kohl / John Litt: Urban guerrilla warfare in Latin America , Cambridge, Mass. 1974. ISBN 0-262-11054-7
  • Jay Mallin: Terror and urban guerrillas. A study of tactics and documents , Coral Gables, Florida (University of Miami Press) 1971. ISBN 0-87024-223-7
  • Subsection 31: Urban Guerrilla Wars, 1963-76 , in: Robert L. Scheina: Latin America's Wars, Vol. II: The Age of the Professional Soldier 1900-2001 , Dulles, VA (Brassey's Inc.) 2003, Pp. 289-300. ISBN 1-57488-450-6
  • Ernst Halperin: Terrorism in Latin America , Beverly Hills a. a. (Sage) 1976 (The Washington Papers Vol. 4, 33).
  • Lieutenant Colonel i. G. Elmar Dinter: The urban guerrilla. Aspects of the guerrilla struggle in the industrialized western democracies , in: Troop practice. Zeitschrift für Taktik, Technik und Bildung , H. 2 (February) 1976, pp. 78-83.
  • Willi Baer / Karl-Heinz Dellwo (eds.): The Weather Underground. Urban guerrilla in the USA , Hamburg 2010. ISBN 978-3-942281-75-1
  • Warren Hinckle: Guerrilla War in the USA , Stuttgart (German publishing company) 1971. ISBN 3-421-01592-9
  • Emile Marenssin: Urban guerrilla and social revolution. About the armed struggle of the Red Army faction , ça ira-Verlag, Freiburg 2007. ISBN 3-924627-55-X
  • Humberto Ortega: Sobre la insurreccion , Havanna 1981, German translation About the uprising , Frankfurt a. M. 1984 ( Zambon-Verlag ). ISBN 3-88975-010-9 .
  • Walter Laqueur : Voices of Terror. Manifestos, writings, and manuals of Al-Qaeda, Hamas and other terrorists from around the world and throughout the ages , New York, NY (Reed Press) 2004. ISBN 978-1-59429-035-0
  • Robert Wolff: The concept of urban guerilla - the disenchantment of communist guerrilla and revolution theories? , in: The Magic of Theory - History of the New Left in West Germany, special issue of Work - Movement - History , Issue II / 2018, pp. 105–117.

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