'Rote Drei' and other Swiss Soviet agent files

'Rote Drei' and other Swiss Soviet agent files

Margarete Bolli

(KV 2/1404)

Bolli (b.1919) was the agent codenamed 'Rosa' who acted as a transmitter operator in Basle and then Geneva for the 'Rote Drei' Soviet spy ring in Switzerland run by the Hungarian Sandor Rado. The Germans had penetrated the ring and pressed the Swiss authorities to take action against it, which resulted in a number of arrests, including Bolli, in November 1943. The German agents Piert and von Pescatore only knew her as Rosa, but one of her fellow agents in Switzerland, Irishman Alexander Foote, revealed her identity to the British intelligence agents who interrogated him.

This file consists mainly of extracts from reports made by Foote, Piert and von Pescatore about Bolli. Bolli was imprisoned for a few months during the war after her arrest, but did not undergo a formal trial until 1948.

Christian Schneider

(KV 2/1406)

Schneider (b.1896) first became known to the Security Service when he was identified as having supplied £500 to a refugee, Paul Brandes, in 1938. Schneider, a German who had taken Swiss nationality in 1935 and held anti-Nazi views, worked as an interpreter at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva until 1938, and was then supported by Moscow as part of the Rote Drei. He acted as a cut out agent between Rachel Dubendorfer and her sources, including the Swiss publisher Roessler, whom Schneider had recruited as an agent. Schneider was arrested by Swiss police on suspicion of being a part of Rado's organisation in June 1944, and was considered by the Soviets as having 'talked' to the authorities and no longer to be trusted. Nevertheless he was again placed under watch in 1952 when the Swiss considered that the Rote Drei was being re-established.

This file (covering 1939-1953) contains reports from various sources, including Foote, about Schneider's role in the Rote Drei.

Renate Bernhard-Steiner

(KV 2/1409)

Steiner was not identified as being part of the Rote Drei, but was nevertheless known as an OGPU agent based in Switzerland. She was responsible for tracing the Soviet agent Ignace Reiss who had gone into hiding in Switzerland, and was murdered in September 1937. Steiner was sentenced to 8 months' imprisonment for her part in his murder.

The file, covering 1937-1952, includes photographs of Steiner, and is chiefly concerned with brief reports of her involvement in the murder of Reiss, and with clearing up the confusion in identity between her and supposed German agent Martha Maria Bursset.