Civil Defense Book

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Civil Defense Book, 1969 edition

The Civil Defense Book was a guidebook published by the Swiss Federal Council as part of intellectual national defense on the civil protection of the country in order to strengthen the resistance of the people and to secure the independence of Switzerland. The book was distributed free of charge to all households in Switzerland in September 1969 by the Federal Department of Justice and Police on behalf of the Federal Council.


The civil defense book was planned in the early 1960s as an educational contribution for the federal authorities against the dangers of nuclear weapons , but then developed into a comprehensive guide on civil defense. Its purpose - according to accompanying letter - was to show the population what precautions the private, the family, to protect them and to contribute to the civil defense can meet and should take time in the eye , so that when but unlikely event of a disaster occur, ready and are equipped and know how to behave . The book, together with the soldiers' book given to all soldiers , was intended to help secure the independence of Switzerland.


Federal Justice and Police Department: Ludwig von Moos

The foreword was written by the head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police, Ludwig von Moos .

The book is divided into the main chronological chapters Peace, Danger of War, War, The Second Form of War, Resistance . You close up leaflets on.

The chapter on peace is based on the Swiss model of defensible values ​​such as freedom in the community, the peaceful state, and freedom of conscience . A large area is devoted to preparedness in the event of war: preparedness for defense, stockpiling , organization of civil defense, warning service, protective measures against nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, help for the homeless, fire fighting, medical service and spiritual national defense .

The measures to be taken if there is a risk of war are described in detail: fuel and food quotas, combined civil defense exercises, military readiness, partial and war mobilization, food bans, props, sabotage and espionage , death penalty, rationing , radiation protection , internees and refugees, etc.

The chapter on war deals with bombings, military and civil defense operations, misleading reports and local combat.

As the second form of war camouflaged war action of the opponent are referred to with the aim of inner circulation or a Revolutionary War: Revealing parties Defaitismus and Pazifismus , sympathy and intimidation propaganda, economic war , Revolutionary fight apparatus, flow of a Revolutionary War, attrition and subversion , disorganization political life, terror, foreign policy pressure, coup d'état .

The chapter Resistance describes a concept of civil resistance after a military defeat: right of resistance, occupation, passive resistance , international law , reprisals, propaganda and spiritual national defense, underground liberation struggle and open liberation struggle.

Political reactions

When the Civil Defense Book was published in 1969, the population had vivid memories of the invasion of the Warsaw Pact troops in August 1968, which put an end to the Prague Spring . At that time it was feared that Soviet troops could invade Switzerland via neutral Austria. The threat scenarios in the civil defense book were considered quite realistic in this context.

Various circles strongly criticized the civil defense book because it portrayed groups such as trade unionists, intellectuals, Italians and even chess players as potential traitors. At the Swiss Writers' Association (SSV), the Olten group was secessionized in 1970 because the SSV president, Maurice Zermatten , had obtained the French translation of the civil defense book. In their opinion, the book had an anti-communist tendency, which would mark all left intellectuals as traitors .

Due to the sharp left-wing criticism of the book, official Switzerland said goodbye to the national spiritual defense .

Historical processing

The opening of the archives in East and West allows for the first time a historical assessment of the civil defense book as a countermeasure by the Federal Council to ward off Eastern espionage. With regard to the realism of the various threat scenarios in the civil defense book, the following picture emerges from the files:

Based on the current state of knowledge and the numerous new official files available in Berlin and Bern, we can soberly state that all the dangers and subversive activities of the psychological war by the communist states in Switzerland during the Cold War described in the "Civil Defense Book" were real, with the exception of the coup d'état and intervention, which however clearly took place in East Berlin, Budapest, Prague and during the Cuba crisis and which had massively threatened world peace .

Writers, experts and contributors

The book was written and designed by Colonel Albert Bachmann and Georges Grosjean .

Experts and employees were: Karl Brunner, Guido Calgari , Arthur Daetwyler, Emanuel Diez, Peter Dürrenmatt , Alfred Ernst , Hansjakob Flückiger, Robert Forrer, Paul Gasser, Fritz Glaus, Ewald Im Hof, Walther Hofer , Paul Huber, Werner Kägi , Peter Keller , Franz Kessler, Walter König, Franz Koenig, Hans-Rudolf Kurz , Hans Leibundgut , Paul Leimbacher, Fritz Marbach , Arnold Muggli, Karl Müller, Richard Ochsner, Elsa Peyer-von Waldkirch, Fritz Rentsch, Friedrich Salzmann , Eduard Scheidegger, Diether Steinmann , Ernst Wiesmann, Ernst Wüthrich and Maurice Zermatten.

Contributors were: the Swiss Red Cross , the Swiss Confederation for Civil Protection , the Federal Commission for the Monitoring of Radioactivity with its Alarm Committee, the interdepartmental commission for the civil defense book set up by the Federal Council under the direction of Secretary General Armin Riesen.

International distribution

Civil defense book in foreign editions

The civil defense book aroused interest in numerous foreign countries and has been fully or partially translated into various languages: it was also published in Chinese, Japanese and Arabic. The Swiss cross was also partially taken over.

Original text


Web links

Commons : Swiss Civil Defense  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Marco Jorio : Spiritual national defense. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  2. Erwin Bischof : Traitors and Failures. How Stasi spies infiltrated Switzerland during the Cold War . Interforum publishing house, Bern 2013, ISBN 978-3-9524099-1-6