Controversial Swiss master-spy dies in Ireland

Albert Bachmann

Albert Bachmann

One of Switzerland’s most controversial Cold War figures, who set up a clandestine guerrilla unit to combat a feared Soviet invasion, has died in Cork, Ireland. Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger has said last week that Colonel Albert Bachmann, who headed Switzerland’s military intelligence force, the Untergruppe Nachrichtendienst der Armee (UNA), from 1976 until 1979, died on April 12. Although Bachmann was a communist in his student years, he later headed Projekt-26 (P-26), a clandestine project to set up a ‘left-behind’ force of Swiss guerrillas trained in sharp shooting, bombing and assassination techniques. The guerrilla force was designed to engage the Soviet military if it ever invaded Switzerland. In the late 1970s, Colonel Bachmann also secured government funds to purchase the 200-acre Liss Ard country estate near the Irish town of Skibbereen, in west Cork. The estate was to be used as a base for a Swiss government-in-exile following a feared Soviet invasion of central Europe. Furthermore, the basement of one of the two manors on the estate was designated as a secret depository of Switzerland’s gold reserves, in the event of a Soviet invasion of the Alpine country. However, Colonel Bachmann was forced to retire in 1980, after Switzerland’s Minister of Defense, Georges-André Chevallez, discovered the existence of P-26, which had apparently been set up without ministerial approval. The project, however, continued under different names, until the Swiss government dissolved it completely in November of 1990, following an official investigation. The investigation criticized P-26 as an illegal paramilitary program, operating as a clandestine, parallel structure within the Swiss security complex, and lacking governmental authorization or control. Colonel Bachmann had been living in Ireland since his retirement in 1980. He was 81.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

2 Responses to Controversial Swiss master-spy dies in Ireland

  1. Kevin Larkin says:

    Sounds like Brad Thor’s “Lions of Lucerne” ;)

  2. Swiss master spy. That’s a surprise. I would have thought Russin or something like that but Swiss? None the less a very interesting article.

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