as lies of enemy propaganda. Ourrncountry will resist aggression withrnall means in its power and to thernbitter end.rnSwitzerland, in other words, possessedrnthe most democratic system of nationalrndefense in Europe. The Nazis were wellrnaware that invasion meant fighting on everyrninch of ground (much of it vertical),rnin every city and village, in every pasturernand mountainside, right down to everyrnman with a rifle. There would be no easyrnsurrender made by a ruler, as elsewhere.rnThe Swiss policy of total resistance isrnfurther illustrated by the creation of thernOrtswehren (local defense). It was basedrnon the dictum that “only a total defenserncan oppose total war.” By allowing boysrnand old men to be sworn in as membersrnof the armed forces and issuing them anrnarmband, it permitted the entire malernpopulation to fight and still be recognizedrnas soldiers under internationalrnlaw. Armed civilians not so recognizedrnwould, if captured, be treated as Franktireurern(lone snipers) and shot on thernspot. Ortswehr members armed themselvesrneither with their own rifles or withrnrifles received from the military.rnThe Ortswehren consisted of formerrnsoldiers no longer required to serve, thern]ungschutzen (young shooters), accuraternmarksmen who were not capable of militaryrnservice, those with emergency servicernduties and others who had beenrnexempt from the military, and women inrnthe medical service and fire brigades. Byrn1941, its membership totaled 127,563,rnone-fifth of the size of the army. Hadrnthe Germans invaded, the Ortswehrenrnwould have provided armed civilian resistancernin every locality of Switzerland,rnno matter how populous or remote.rnIn May 1940, the Nazis attacked Belgiumrnand the Netherlands. After a fewrndays of fighting, polifical leaders surrendered,rnordering the soldiers to lay downrntheir arms and discontinue resistance.rnThere was no civilian resistance, thanksrnin part to preexisting firearms prohibitionsrnin those countries.rnWithin days, the Wehrmacht routedrnthe French at Sedan and were expectedrnto attack Switzerland. General Guisanrnissued yet another remarkable commandrnto the militia. The latest war news, herndeclared, demonstrated that the Frenchrnsoldiers could have stopped hostile advances.rnInstead, defections allowed thernenemy to penetrate through gaps, whichrnquickly widened. In contrast, Guisan recalledrnthe high duty of the soldier to resist:rnEverywhere, where the order is tornhold, it is the duty of conscience ofrneach fighter, even if he depends onrnhimself alone, to fight at his assignedrnposition. The riflemen, ifrnovertaken or surrounded, fight inrntheir position until no more ammunitionrnexists. Then cold steel isrnnext.. .. The machine gunners,rnthe cannoneers of heaw weapons,rnthe artillerymen, if in the bunkerrnor on the field, do not abandon orrndestroy their weapons, or allow thernenemy to seize them. Then therncrews fight further like riflemen.rnAs long as a man has another carfiidgernor hand weapons to use, herndoes not yield.rnCold steel. Never surrender if any weaponrnis available. This was the tradition of thernfierce medieval Swiss soldiers who defeatedrnmany times their numbers andrnspread terror in the hearts of their enemies.rnWhat would have been the fate ofrnEurope had the countries that fell tornHitler embraced such a warrior code?rnFrance collapsed in June 1940 afterrnonly a few weeks of fighting. Paris wasrntaken without a shot being fired. ThernNazis promptly proclaimed the deathrnpenalty for possession of firearms inrnFrance and other occupied countries.rnHitler was able to conquer much ofrnEurope by bluffing central authorities intorncapitulation. In some eases, after a fewrnmeetings and threats, Nazi henchmenrnconvinced the political leaders of an entirernnation to surrender and to direct thernarmed forces not to resist. In other cases,rnthe surrender would come after a briefrnfight, for which the armies were unprepared.rnThere was no need to order thernpeople not to resist, because they werernunarmed.rnIn contiast, Switzerland hardly had arncentral government, and it had a militiarninstead of a standing army. Power wasrndecentralized. The first unit of powerrnwas the individual and the family, withrnits household and its rifle. Then camernthe village or city, then the canton, andrnfinally the federal parliament. It wasrnpower from the bottom up.rnA 1940 Newsweek article characterizedrnSwitzerland as the world’s oldestrnand purest democracy where, in threerncantons, government was still conductedrnby a show of hands in public squares atrnthe Landsgemeinden. The militia hadrnno officer higher than a colonel in peacetime.rn”Even when there is no Europeanrnwar on, every member of this militiarnarmy of some 500,000 keeps his gun, ammunition,rnand equipment at home —rnmaking the Swiss Government the onlyrnone in Europe which trusts such a largernproportion of citizens with arms.”rnWhat this meant to the Nazis was thatrnthey would have to conquer Switzerlandrnright down to the last man. And many ofrnthese men would be sniping —fromrnsteep, hidden Alpine positions—at Germanrntroops with rifles which were accuraternat long ranges. There would be nornsurrender.rnThe April 1944 issue of American Mercuryrnincluded an intriguing article byrnEdward Byng entifled “If Switzerland isrnInvaded.” In that event, warned Byng,rndemolition would begin in seconds:rn”Terrific explosions [would] rend the airrnall along the Swiss frontiers, as if hundredsrnof avalanches were thunderingrndown the mountain slopes of the land.”rnAll bridges over the Rhine would collapse,rnand mines would await invadersrnwho tried to cross by rafts or amphibiousrntanks. The Simplon and the St. Gotthardrntunnels would be destroyed.rnRoads, railways, bridges, power stations,rnand air fields would be blown up. Camouflagedrntank traps and electrifiedrnbarbed-wire fences would stop manyrnpanzers and infantry.rnBoth World War I and Hitler’srnblitzkrieg attacks demonstrated to thernSwiss General Staff the need for a lightningrnmobilization. If the order werernbroadcast, every soldier on or off dutyrnwould grab his rifle and report to a nearbyrnpost. Byng continued:rnSwitzerland has only a citizen mili-rnFor Immediate ServicernCHRONICLESrnNEW SUBSCRIBERSrnTOLL-FREE NUMBERrn1-800-877-5459rnJANUARY 1998/39rnrnrn