LGBT Research Community

Treason and Sex: The Case of Colonel Redl

August 6, 2013
by Laurence Georgin

Redl cartoon 1The case of Colonel Alfred Redl, who betrayed Austrian military secrets to the Russians before the First World War, is one of the most notorious cases of high treason. Despite this, and despite numerous academic and popular works about Redl, the homosexual dimension of the case has received little treatment (or has constantly been distorted and simplified by commentators). This research project of Mark Cornwall is part of his larger project about Loyalty and Treason in the late Habsburg Monarchy. It seeks to explore how the homosexual dimensions of the Redl case (the supposed victim of Russian homosexual blackmail) were exploited at the time and in the 20th century – in memoirs, literature and films. For Redl’s treason against the empire was compounded by his treason against military codes of honour and by treason against the norms of sexuality. The importance of the case lies also in how it was used in the 20th century by Intelligence agencies to justify the exclusion of homosexuals from intelligence work: a wariness about homosexuals which has continued with the case of Bradley Manning. The research is based on archival work in the German, Czech and Hungarian languages, and will help us to understand the complicated historical relationship between treason and ‘sexual outsiders’.

Contact for more information

Name: Prof Mark Cornwall

View Mark’s profile


Categories: History. Tags: gay history, Homosexuality, LGBT history and Sexual outsiders.