Concept

Alfred Redl

Summary
Alfred Redl (14 March 1864 – 25 May 1913) was an Austro-Hungarian military officer who rose to head the Evidenzbureau, the counterintelligence wing of the General Staff of the Austro-Hungarian Army. He was one of the leading figures of pre-World War I espionage; his term in office was marked by radical innovations and the use of advanced technology to ensnare foreign spies. Due to the innovations he introduced, Redl's successor, Major Maximilian Ronge, ultimately learned in 1913 that Redl himself was also a highly paid spy, working for the intelligence service of the Imperial Russian Army. Upon being exposed as a Russian spy, Redl committed suicide. Although Redl's homosexuality was publicized during the affair, later investigation of Russian archives revealed that his Russian handlers had no knowledge of it, and his sexuality was unrelated to his decision to spy. Instead, he was enticed by the material benefits. Redl's revelations did not have a significant effect on the course of the war. Alfred Redl was born on 14 March 1864 in the city Lemberg, located in the Austrian Empire (now the Ukrainian city of Lviv). He came from a relatively poor family, his father being a railway clerk. Despite lacking the advantages of wealth or family connections, Redl rose quickly within the officer ranks of the Austro-Hungarian Army. He attended the War School in Vienna, which normally accepted only fifty entrants a year from about a thousand applicants. Acquiring a specialist interest in Russian military issues, Redl joined the Intelligence Bureau of the Austro-Hungarian General Staff, and was assigned to the Russian Section in 1900. By 1907, Redl had become head of the counter-intelligence branch of the Intelligence Bureau. Promoted to the rank of colonel, he greatly improved the methods used by the Austro-Hungarian counter-intelligence service, introducing such technological innovations as the use of cameras and primitive recording devices, while creating a database of fingerprint records for persons of interest.
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