Steinhausen, 08.06.2021

The final dismantling of Crypto AG

The Steinhausen company Crypto AG manufactured deciphering machines –  and sold them to many customers, including foreign intelligence services. That was ultimately the company’s undoing.

It's a sad picture. The once so successful Steinhausen company Crypto is being vacated step by step, both inside and out, and these impressive pictures were taken by the Zug photographer Patrick Hürlimann over a longer period of time. Crypto AG produced encryption machines in Steinhausen over decades.

The German Federal Intelligence Service BND and the US-American CIA bought the company in 1970. By selling specially prepared cipher machines, they were thereby able to spy on foreign governments.

The company logo is removed
An office space in the administration building
Empty archive cabinets

Photos: Patrick Hürlimann (Steinhausen, April 7, 2021)

The successor company, Crypto International AG, was located in this building until recently. The company, which was run by a Swedish couple, found itself at the centre of an alleged espionage affair, as well as an investigation by the Federal Prosecutor's Office in connection with the Crypto affair. Although the company did not produce hardware, but only cyber security software – i.e., software to defend itself against hacker attacks – it did not receive an export permit from the federal government.

Demolition of the building and new apartments planned
After dismissing 83 of its 85 employees, Crypto International AG filed for bankruptcy last August, and plans to demolish the factory and administration building, which was built in 1966. Around 200 apartments are to be built on the site.