Colonel Alfred Redl Biography

Biography of Colonel Alfred Redl, pre WWI Austrian spymaster who turned traitor.


Redl had started out as the officer behind the reorganisation of the Austro-Hungarian intelligence service. He revamped its foreign branch and made the internal security service his own. As part of this he encouraged the use of hidden cameras for surveillance and bugged interrogation rooms with gramophone disks. On the external front he used secretly gathered fingerprints to apprehend a network of Russian spies. Added to this he organised an intelligence sharing pact with Germany. Indeed Redl was a formidable operator.

However Redl had expensive habits which an officer's pay packet could never hope to cover. He had an appetite for Daimler limousines, exquisitely tailored clothes, parties and luxury apartments. On top of this he was a hidden homosexual who lavished gifts upon a young lieutenant. It was this that was to be his undoing


The Russians used his homosexuality as blackmail against Redl. As such Austria's Master Spy became a mole in his own intelligence agency. The Russians also paid Redl well so as to sweeten the pill. From 1903 to 1913 Redl served the Russian Empire. He diverted suspicion form Russian spies in Austria while betraying Austrian spies on missions abroad. In order to hide their mole the Russians sometimes offered the odd expendable spy to Redl so as to upkeep his plausibility.

It was around this time that Plan III was devised. This was a contingency plan drawn up by the Austrians. It involved the invasion of Serbia. Redl passed this on to his Russian contacts. They, in turn, informed the Serbians. When Austria did attack they had heavy losses, up to half a million, as the Serbians were waiting for them.


Ironically Redl was discovered by the very man he had hand picked to succeed him, Major Maximilian Ronge. Redl was caught while picking up his money from a post office. Ronge compared the writing on the post office box application with a top secret monograph written by Redl. They proved to be the same. Redl revealed the location of several top secret documents then asked for a revolver and a single bullet. He took the only honourable path an officer could and committed suicide.

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