Echo Daily Newsletter 5

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The Treachery Of Colonel Redl


Shot in hotel room. General Staff to be reorganised

The New York Sun,  22nd June 1913

NEW YORK, June 22nd — It is easy to imagine the consternation which has been created throughout the dominions of Emperor Francis Joseph, and especially in Austro-Hungarian military circles, by the startling discovery that Col. Alfred Redl, who was on the very eve of promotion to the rank of General, and who as chief of the intelligence department of the Army had been regarded as one of the most brilliant and able officers of the General Staff, had been using the peculiar advantages of his position to sell to Russia ever since 1906 the secrets that came within his ken.

In order to appreciate the full measure of the scandal it is necessary to point out that Col. Redl, who was but 46 years of age, was entrusted with the management of the entire system of espionage carried out by the Austrian Government in foreign countries, and that through his hands passed all information obtained by these agents of Austria abroad — no matter whether they were military attachés of Emperor Francis Joseph's embassies in foreign capitals, or officers of the Austro-Hungarian Army entrusted with the delicate and dangerous duty of penetrating military secrets in Russia, in Italy, in France and in the Balkan States, or whether they were ordinary paid spies or traitors in the armies of either power. In fact, he was supposed to direct their operations.

Moreover, he was required, by virtue of his office, to keep a careful watch upon the activities of foreign spies in Austria and Hungary.

That Redl misused much of the enormous sums of money that passed through his hands goes without saying. This, however, weighs but little in the balance when compared with his other transgressions. For it seems that he not only sold the information at his disposal to the German, the Italian and more especially to the Russian Government, but he actually went so far as to betray to the latter the names of his unfortunate fellow-officers of the Austria army engaged in espionage work in Russia, as well as the identity of the Russian officers and officials from whom he was purchasing information on behalf of his own Government.

There are not a number of Austro-Hungarian officials now undergoing long terms of captivity in Muscovite prisons in consequence of their betrayal by Col Redl, while plenty of Russian subjects have been condemned to hard labor in the mines of Siberia.

It is one of these Muscovite victims of his treachery who, managing to escape and reach Europe again, addressed by way of vengeance, and in order to get even with Redl, an anonymous denunciation about him to Gen. Conrad von Hotzendorf, the Chief of the General Staff at Vienna, which resulted in his exposure.

When the denunciation of Col. Redl was first received a few weeks ago, the Chief of the General Staff declined to accord any credence thereto. Still, as a matter of precaution, he determined to subject Redl to a little quiet surveillance, firmly convinced that it would result in clearing him of any suspicion that might possibly be entertained. To his dismay, the shadowing had the contrary result, and was in consequence redoubled, until finally no doubt remained that Redl was receiving sums of money from Russia. Accordingly, a trap was laid.

Redl was induced to attend what he believed to be a rendezvous with one of the agents of Russia at a hotel late in the evening, and, as he regarded it as probable that the business in which he was concerned would last long into the night, he took rooms there for himself and his servant. A few minutes after he had retired to his apartment, three officers of the General Staff entered his room giving orders that they were not to be disturbed. They remained with him until 2 o'clock in the morning, confronted him with proofs of his guilt, and before leaving him obtained from him not only a full confession but also a letter resigning his commission and severing his connections with the imperial and royal army.

He was warned that the hotel was watched, that flight would be impossible, and that his arrest would take place at 8 o'clock that morning.

When military officers appeared on the scene to take him into custody, they found him dead, with the left back of his head shattered, the death wound having been inflicted by a brand new automatic pistol.

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