The director Jacques Rouffio - who since that movie did not make another movie - makes an exact account of the book and the script by Gilles Perrault which gives the movie an accurate historical background. Léopold Trepper (a good choice of Claude Brasseur), a Jew of Polish origin, must avoid to attract the attention of the radio-controllers who can intercept all transmissions of the secret messages to Moscow and at the same time his demands for more transmission-material are not fulfilled by the "Centre" of the Orchestra. His cover is that he works as a supply agent for the delivery of concrete to build the Atlantik Wall for the Organisation Todt with his code-name Gilbert. After a persecution in Brussels, a captain of the Abwehr discovers this code-name and finds some embarrassing documents which he transmits to his superior admiral Canaris. Soon after, a special commission is set up by Himmler himself, with all possible facilities, with the Gestapo-officer Karl Giering (Daniel Olbrychski) who will become an alcoholic when he looses his children at an Allied bombardment at Hamburg. The real boss is a former rather obscure policeman with a hoarse voice (who will be replaced because of his throat-cancer) who will conduct the persecutions. The problem for the Orchestra is that it must gather in secret, in lavatories during balls and that they cannot easily exchange information because of the existence of double-agents and at some moment Trepper decides he has to stop all activities for some time. The special commission led by Gestapo-Müller will propose him to launch false information with the aim of dividing the Allies. We see how barbaric the tortures are and how ruthless the Gestapo wants to receive information of the network from the prisoners. The way Trepper can escape is rather funny but he will never see again one of the comrades because they will all be captured. After the war he will not be rewarded by Stalin who considers him as a risk because in 1941 he did not listen to the warnings that the Germans intended to invade Russia. In Poland in 1968 Trepper will again have reasons to be angry when he sees at the entrance of a shop: "Not allowed for dogs and Jews". Remains the question which of the two regimes was most cruel: the Nazis or the Bolshevist; anyway they had one thing in common: "They didn't care about people". This movie is an educative illustration of this conclusion.
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