Trepper, Leopold, 1904-

Trepper was a Polish Jew who was the head of a Soviet spy network in Belgium. The network was known as the Rote Kapelle, as were other Soviet networks in the west, and was in operation at the time of Barbarossa. Most of the information it collected concerned troop movements in the west but this intelligence was never passed on to the USSR’s allies. The Gestapo eventually uncovered it in December 1941 by deciphering methods and tracking down a transmitter but Trepper, known as the Big Chef, was able to evade arrest by posing as a rabbit-seller. Trepper escaped to France where he constructed another network but the Gestapo traced him and arrested him while he was having a tooth treated on 16 November 1942. He gave the Gestapo much information and agreed to play a double game but they allowed him too much freedom and he escaped in June 1943. Trepper was in hiding for the rest of the war and returned to Moscow afterwards where he faced a long term of imprisonment.

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