The release of a long-delayed report into an anti-communist paramilitary group that operated in Switzerland during the Cold War has revealed secret plans to combat a Soviet invasion of western Europe.
The Cornu report into Projekt-26, a stay-behind army charged with countering a possible invasion of Switzerland, had been due for release in 1991 but was shelved over fears its contents were too sensitive for public consumption. A 17-page summary of the report was later released instead.
Now a heavily redacted version of the full report was released by the Swiss government Wednesday and sheds new light on the groups operations, in particular its relationship with British intelligence, while preparing for a Soviet invasion.
Cornu found that Projekt-26 had “a special relationship of trust” with the British secret service. From 1967 onwards, members of the Swiss secret army traveled to the UK using false papers to learn guerrilla warfare tactics, including how to destroy vital infrastructure such as oil refineries. The paramilitary group reportedly operated outside of government control, with the Swiss parliament apparently unaware of its existence.
Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported that the judge in charge of compiling the 126-page document refuted the accusation that Switzerland had been part of a secret committee of stay-behind armies comprised of NATO members. The report did say that while such a committee did exist, Switzerland had not been a member.
The updated version of the report also reveals how the organization planned to use the UK and Ireland as a base in exile, even going so far as stashing supplies in both countries. A stay-behind operation is when a military places secret operatives in its own territory so that they may form a resistance movement in the event of an invasion.
Switzerland has a self-imposed and permanent neutrality. It has not fought a foreign war since its neutrality was established by the Treaty of Paris in 1815.
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