This obit goes back to May of 2011. I guess I somehow missed it, but it appeared in part in a paper this weekend past as one of several chosen as among the most colourful. Well, I don’t know how colourful this is but friends, for an obituary is sure as heck is funny.
It’s pretty long and I hate to cut things like this short. But I have to so please, please read all of it at the link.
You know, they could easily make a movie or two movies on this man’s life.
In fact, they did.
THE PINK PANTHER series could have been written for this guy.
I think you’ll like him.
Colonel Albert Bachmann
Colonel Albert Bachmann, who has died aged 81, was Switzerland’s best-known and most paranoid spymaster, in a country that traditionally has no enemies and refrains from foreign entanglements.
Mustachioed, pipe-smoking and blessed with an ability to wreak havoc within his own organisation, Bachmann’s resemblance to Inspector Clouseau was striking; by the time his plots and schemes were uncovered by an astonished commission of inquiry, he had reduced the Swiss military intelligence agency, in which he had mysteriously managed to rise to a senior role, to a state bordering on chaos, not to mention bankruptcy. So catastrophic was his impact that, when he was finally unmasked, many assumed he must be a double agent. He was not.
His most controversial, some would say delusional, acts occurred between 1976 and 1979, when he took charge of top-secret operations for Switzerland’s military intelligence force, the Untergruppe Nachrichtendienst der Armee (UNA). Though Bachmann had flirted with communism in his student days, he was by then a fanatical Cold Warrior, and brought the zeal of the convert to the fight against the Soviet Union.
His first significant move was to buy a country estate in Ireland for use by a Swiss government-in-exile in the event of a Soviet invasion. His second bold step was Projekt-26 (P-26), the creation of a clandestine army of Swiss guerrillas trained in weaponry, bombing and assassination techniques to repel the dreaded Soviet attack.
The problem was that neither the Irish venture nor the secret anti-Soviet army had been officially authorised, and were the fruits of what Bachmann called his “initiative”. Others would come to call it insubordination or even fantasy.
But neither plan stalled Bachmann’s rise. Indeed, his intelligence career was curtailed only after a top-level investigation into an operation he sanctioned in 1979 that deeply embarrassed Switzerland and Austria — friendly neighbours with the same neutral status and few if any military secrets to hide from one another.
In November that year, Austrian troops on manoeuvres in the city of St Pölten tapped on the window of a parked car at 2.30am and were surprised to find inside not a courting couple but a Swiss management consultant called Kurt Schilling.
Schilling, an expert time-and-motion man but an inept spy, was sitting in the front seat with binoculars, map and notepad, staring into the darkness. He had been ordered there, he was happy to recount, by Bachmann, his case officer.
When Schilling asked the soldiers for particulars about their positions, they marched him straight to the state police. His arrest on charges of spying for information freely available to Swiss and other foreign observers at the manoeuvres was portrayed in the press as worthy of a comic opera.
At his subsequent trial for espionage, it emerged that Schilling had been seeking to establish how long Austria could hold out in the event of a Soviet invasion. Taking account of the botched execution of his mission, the court leniently sentenced him to a suspended five-month term and deportation back to Switzerland.
The press mocked Schilling as “the spy who came in from the Emmenthaler”, after Switzerland’s famous cheese. But it was Bachmann’s career that never recovered. In the wake of the Schilling debacle, it became clear that Bachmann and his department were out of control. His boss was forced to resign, and Bachmann himself – exposed as a loose cannon, unchecked and unregulated – was consigned to early retirement.
Albert Bachmann was born in Zurich on November 26 1929, the son of a house painter, and grew up in humble circumstances. While employed as a printer, he enrolled in the youth wing of the PDA, the Swiss communist party. But in 1948, following the communist coup in Prague, he renounced his Left-wing sympathies, became staunchly pro-West and began his National Service with the Swiss grenadiers.
His military career blossomed, and against expectations (he had completed only eight years at school) Bachmann successfully applied to the officer training academy, where he specialised in intelligence gathering with the Swiss military intelligence service.
There, in 1968, he caused a stir as lead author of an official civil defence booklet, delivered to every household in Switzerland, with instructions on how to withstand invasion by an occupying power. In it Bachmann asserted that the gravest danger lay not just with the enemy but with the Swiss political Left, specifically pacifists and intellectuals, just the sort of people with whom he had himself mixed in the PDA.
In his anti-communist booklet, with its plain red cover redolent of the Little Red Book of the Chinese Maoist era, Bachmann controversially urged Swiss citizens to spy on one another.
He escaped the ensuing furore by heading to Biafra, which was seeking to secede from Nigeria. There he operated undercover as a pipe-smoking upper-crust Englishman called Henry Peel and cultivated an air of mystery, hinting at links to secret arms deals involving the Shah of Iran.
On his return Bachmann was promoted to the rank of colonel in the intelligence and defence section of UNA. The post gave him authority over three units of secret military intelligence, including a special service (Spec D) set up to respond to invasion by an occupying power.
Under Bachmann’s eccentric command, its remit grew extensively, and agents were trained as sharpshooters, bomb makers, codebreakers and even mountain guides who were to lead key government and administration figures to safety over the Alps in the event of an invasion. Projekt-26 was born.
Meanwhile, using government funds, Bachmann bought the imposing 200-acre Liss Ard country estate near Skibbereen, in west Cork.
Click the inspector below and link to the entire obit. It might make your reading day.
I’m reading the snippet and thinking, “I know I’ve read this before!”, so maybe you did get it last year. Still, the guy certainly had his own ideas, and these days they seem pretty decent ones. Maybe in his day he was the odd man out. He was just decades ahead of the curve.
Wasn’t he in a band in the 80’s with a dude named Turner?