Born Alexander Radolfi in Budapest, Hungary, the son of a wealthy businessman. Attended the University of Budapest, where he joined the Communist Party in 1919.
Took part in a revolutionary coup against the Hungarian government but the coup was put down quickly and Rado fled to Russia. Married fellow Communist Helene Jensen while in exile in Russia.
Was trained by the NKVD in 1931 and was assigned to a post in Berlin, Germany, working under the cover of a clerk in the Russian Embassy. Provided information on the strengthening position of the Nazi Party in Berlin and helped to organize demonstrations and violent uprisings against the Nazis by Communist Party members.icer and a housewife. Howard Hansen was part of a special division called the Red Unit, created to ferret out communist sympathizers during the Red Scare.
Joined the GRI in 1936 and was posted in Switzerland, serving as Resident Director for Soviet intelligence within the country. Rado built a very successful network of spies named DORA. Members of his network included Ruth Kuczynski, Alexander Foote and Rachel Duebendorfer. Foote was actually a British agent, but he helped to feed information to Rado because the Soviet Union was an ally against Germany in World War II.
The DORA spy ring provided information to the Soviet Union about German military troop alignment. Some of this information was obtained from Rudolf Roessler, who ran the Lucy Spy Ring. Rado was not aware of his identity as Rado preferred to work through cut-outs. Provided detailed information regarding a German invasion of Russia. Despite having supporting information from another Soviet spy Richard Sorge, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin refused to believe that Hitler in fact planned such an invasion.
Rado was highly praised for the sophistication of his network and the level of reliability and detail of the information provided. Unbeknownst to Rado and the Soviet, much of the prized information was coming from the British, through Foote. The British had broken the Enigma code and therefore could read detailed German messages. Britain, however, did not want the Soviets to know they had broken enigma and thus passed information to Moscow through Foote.
Although he ran his spy network exceptionally, Rado was known to drink too much and often mad himself conspicuous through his lavish spending habits. Unbeknownst to Rado, two of his agents were actually Nazi spies, passing along information to the German high command. Germany, therefore, threatened neutral Switzerland, demanding that the Swiss government arrest Rado and his entire spy network. Because the presence of the DORA spy ring had become so conspicuous, Switzerland felt it had no choice but to arrest members of the ring, lest Germany take military action.
After fleeing to France, Rado was ordered back to Moscow to explain how the DORA spy ring was shut down. Rado panicked, thinking he would be blamed for the failure and therefore put to death. Upon making a stopover in Cairo, Egypt, he fled from his companions and was found later hiding in a hotel room. He was immediately forced back to Moscow. Although he was believed to have been executed, Rado surfaced in 1955 in Budapest, where he was teaching cartography at Budapest University. Died on August 20, 1981.