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John G. Wright

Sovet Union Notes

French Newspaper Investigates Activities of G.P.U. Murder Agents – Tells of Schemes to Encompass Death of Ignace Reiss

(26 February 1936)


From Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 9, 26 February 1938, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


The French press has reflected the great indignation and resentment that has been aroused by the action of the French judicial authorities in allowing a G.P.U. agent, implicated in the murder of Ignace Reiss, to escape. The newspaper le Jour undertook an independent investigation into the case, and on February 2 appeared with the following headlines:

SPIEGELGLASS, HEAD OF G.P.U., ORDERED REISS’ MURDER IN PARIS

FOR THE FIRST TIME SOVIET AGENTS HAVE OVERSTEPPED THEIR CUSTOMARY CAUTION

After recounting the details surrounding the murder of Reiss, le Jour charges that Spiegelglass had been sent to Paris on a special mission to effect a “purge” among the secret agents there. When the Grosovsky couple, to whom Reiss had entrusted his letter to the Kremlin, which was to be forwarded with the diplomatic mail, handed over the letter to Spiegelglass, the latter immediately ordered the assassination of Reiss.
 

Murder Operatives Summoned

Two G.P.U. agents were summoned. We cite from the article:

“One of these Russian agents was resident in Paris, the other, according to our information, was merely passing through. But it so happened that these two men chosen for the task found different excuses for evading it. One pleaded an urgent mission, the second found some other excuse. But one of these two agents, the non-resident in Paris, was amicably inclined toward Reiss. He wished to warn him of the terrible danger that threatened. Tell it to Reiss personally? That would compromise him beyond repair. He hit upon an ingenious method to do so without revealing his identity. He phoned Reiss, who was in a cafe, and said: ‘This is X speaking ...’ Then he hung up. He repeated this procedure three times.”

According to the further account, Reiss, who was an experienced man, immediately gathered what was up, and on the next day departed for Holland, where he visited a friend, leaving with him a copy of his famous letter. Then he departed for Switzerland – where he was murdered. According to le Jour, the G.P.U. agent who left for Russia has not been heard of since. The other agent received instructions to come to Moscow immediately, and had even bought his ticket, but at the last moment decided not to go. He remains in Paris under the protection of the French police.
 

Makes Complaint of Double-Cross

As for Grosovskaya, the article implies that she might not have left France voluntarily. Le Jour reports a conversation she is alleged to have had with Soviet diplomats in which she complained that they had not kept their promise to her – not to have her involved in the case. They reassured her. She is also reported to have been considerably disturbed over the fact that she had received no word from her husband, who had fled to Moscow several weeks before.

The editors of the Russian Bulletin (No. 62–63) cite the following facts relating to the activities of one Beletsky, G.P.U. agent masquerading as Soviet trade representative in Paris: It was Beletsky who issued instructions to Gertrude Schildach, one of Reiss’s assassins. Not trusting her fully, he had her shadowed. He not only instructed Schildach to take an apartment with Rossi, the actual killer, in a hotel, but visited them there a few days prior to the assassination. It was he who gave Schildach and Rossi a box of poisoned candy intended for Reiss, his wife and child. The editors further declare that there are any number’ of witnesses available to testify concerning Beletsky’s activity. For example, a German emigré F., a woman, broke with Beletsky and Co. after the murder of Reiss. Beletsky came to her rooms and threatened that unless she immediately left for Moscow she would suffer the same fate as Reiss.


Last updated: 30 July 2015