Poretsky, Ignatz

(Reiss, Ignace)
(1899–1937)
   One of the “great illegals,” Poretsky and his wife Elizabeth operated in Western Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. Elizabeth wrote one of the best accounts of Soviet illegals, Our Own People. From 1934 to 1936 Poretsky was the OGPU rezident in Paris, recruiting and running sources in Paris and Belgium. He was one of the first OGPU officers to receive the combat Order of the Red Banner. In 1937, disgusted by Joseph Stalin’s purge of the Communist Party and the NKVD foreign intelligence component, Poretsky publicly resigned from the service. Aletter published in the European press read in part: “he who remains silent at this hour makes himself an accomplice of Stalin, and a traitor to the cause of the working class and of socialism.” Poretsky publicly returned his Soviet medals and noted his decision to remain in the West. He was assassinated in Switzerland in September 1937 by gunmen dispatched by Stalin only weeks after the letter was received in Moscow. A participant in the assassination was Vladimir Pravdin, an NKVD case officer later posted to New York.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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