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Trial Opens on Trepper’s Libel Suit

October 27, 1972
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Leopold Trepper’s role as the Soviet Union’s master spy in Nazi-occupied Western Europe during World War II was attacked and defended at the opening here today of the libel trial brought by Trepper against Jean Rochet, head of the French counter-espionage agency. Rochet, who appeared in his own defense, testified that allegations that Trepper collaborated with the Gestapo and denounced his own agents which he made in a letter to the newspaper Le Monde last April were substantially correct.

Trepper, who lives in Warsaw and was re- fused a visa by Polish authorities was unable to attend the trial opening. He was defended by his son Michael Brojde, and by two former French resistance fighters who said the attacks on Trepper brought discredit to the entire resistance movement. The principal defense witness today was Giles Perrault, head of the Leopold Trepper Defense Committee and author of “The Red Orchestra,” a book describing Trepper’s wartime activities. Mrs. Elisabeth Trepper, who has been residing in Copenhagen, was unable to come to the trial because of ill health.

Trepper’s son expressed “disgust” at the charges brought against his father whom he described as a man who left the Soviet Union after the war because of anti-Semitism only to encounter it in Poland, and whose “deepest wish today is to go to Israel and no longer be a minority member in any country.”

Perrault said in his testimony that the “Red Orchestra,” Trepper’s spy network, was never honored as other resistance organizations were because of its links with the Soviet Union. He said the attacks on Trepper were rooted in “anti-Sovietism and anti-Semitism.” He claimed that the “Red Orchestra” was so effective that even the Gestapo acknowledged that it was responsible for the deaths of more than 200,000 German soldiers in the battle of Stalingrad, “thanks to the widespread infiltration of Nazi divisions.”

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