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Richard Sorge

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Soviet cogitations: 4779
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 12 May 2010, 07:43
Ideology: Other Leftist
Post 27 Aug 2011, 21:48
Richard Sorge was a German communist and Soviet spy who operated in Europe and in the 1930's in Shanghai and organized a spy ring in Japan. He was credited for having passed on information to the Soviet Union regarding Operation Barbarossa and information on Japanese war plans with the Soviet Union. Both were important tasks, but the results of the first was ignored, while the second would become important during the Battle of Moscow, by shedding light on Japanese plans against the USSR, which stipulated that Japan would not go to war with the Soviet Union unless

1. Moscow had been taken
2. the Kwantung Army were of a considerably larger size to combat Soviet Far Eastern forces
3. a civil war broke out in Siberia (... what...?)

Not sure what that last one was about, since I was not aware that this was even a concern. I'm also not sure if based on what I read if the Japanese had planned for all three to be met or simply whichever came first (though probably the latter). In any case, this information confirmed that the Japanese were not planning on on attacking the USSR, which allowed for the transfer of Red Army forces from Siberia and the Far East to participate in the Battle of Moscow in late 1941.

Sorge was captured, tortured for information (but refused to divulge his ties to the USSR), put on trial, and executed on November 7, 1944, in Japan.

More details from Wikipedia:

Richard Sorge (October 4, 1895 - November 7, 1944) was a German communist and spy who worked for the Soviet Union. He has gained great fame among espionage enthusiasts for his intelligence gathering during World War II. He worked as a journalist in both Germany and Japan, where he was imprisoned for spying and eventually hanged. His GRU codename was "Ramsay" (Russian: Рамза́й). He is widely regarded as one of the best-known Soviet intelligence officers of the Second World War, according to Phillip Knightley, the author of The Second Oldest Profession (1986).
Sorge was recruited as a spy for the Soviet Union and using the cover of being a journalist he was sent to various European countries to assess the possibility of communist uprisings taking place.

From 1920 to 1922, Sorge lived in Solingen, in present-day North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. He was joined there by Christiane Gerlach who had been the wife of Dr Kurt Albert Gerlach, a wealthy communist who had also been Sorge's professor of political science in Kiel. Sorge and Christiane married in May 1921. In 1922, he was relocated to Frankfurt, where he gathered intelligence about the business community. In the summer of 1923, he took part in the "Erste Marxistische Arbeitswoche" (First Marxist Work Week) in Ilmenau, Thuringia, an event subsidized by Felix Weil. After an attempted communist coup in October 1923, Sorge continued his work as a journalist. At the same time, he helped with organizing the library of the Institute for Social Research, of which Kurt Albert Gerlach was meant to be the first director.
In 1924, he and Christiane moved to Moscow where he officially joined the International Liaison Department of the Comintern, also an OGPU intelligence gathering body. Apparently, his dedication to duty led to his divorce. In 1929, Sorge became part of the Red Army's Fourth Department (the GRU, or military intelligence)[8] He remained with the Department for the rest of his life.
In 1929 Sorge arrived in England to study the labour movements then prevalent in the region, the status of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and the country's political and economic conditions. He was instructed to remain undercover and not to become involved in politics while living in England.
In November 1929 Sorge returned to Germany where he was instructed to join the Nazi Party and not to associate with left-wing activists. To help develop a cover for his spying activities he obtained a post working for the agricultural newspaper, Deutsche Getreide-Zeitung.[9]

Sorge moved to Shanghai in 1930 to gather intelligence and foment revolution. Officially, he worked as the editor of a German news service and for the Frankfurter Zeitung. He contacted another spy, Max Clausen. Sorge also met German Soviet spy Ursula Kuczynski[10] and American journalist Agnes Smedley, both his lovers.[11] Smedley, a well-known left-wing journalist, worked for the Frankfurter Zeitung. She introduced
Sorge to Hotsumi Ozaki, who was employed by the Japanese newspaper, Asahi Shimbun. Later Ozaki agreed to join Sorge's spy network, as well as Hanako Ishii, Sorge's next lover.[12]

As a journalist, Sorge established himself as an expert on Chinese agriculture. This gave him the freedom to travel around the country making contacts with members of the Chinese Communist Party. In January 1932, Sorge reported on fighting between Chinese and Japanese troops in the streets of Shanghai. In December he was recalled to Moscow.

In May 1933, the Soviet Union decided to have Sorge organize a spy network in Japan. As a cover, he was sent to Berlin with the code name "Ramsay" ("Рамзай" (Ramzai, Ramzay)), to renew contacts in Germany so he could pass as a German journalist in Japan. In Berlin, he insinuated himself into Nazi ranks, read much Nazi propaganda, in particular Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, and attended so many beer halls with his new acquaintances that he gave up drinking lest his tongue be loosened by alcohol.

His total abstinence does not appear to have made his Nazi companions suspicious and was an example of his devotion to and absorption in his mission. He later explained to Hede Massing, "That was the bravest thing I ever did. Never will I be able to drink enough to make up for this time."[13] Sorge was a heavy drinker and, later, his drinking came to undermine his work. While in Germany, he was able to get commissions from two newspapers, the Börsen Zeitung and the Tägliche Rundschau. He also got support from the Nazi theoretical journal, Geopolitik. Later he was to get work from the Frankfurter Zeitung.

Sorge arrived in Yokohama on September 6, 1933. He was warned by his spymaster not to have contact with the underground Japanese Communist Party or with the Soviet Embassy in Tokyo. His spy network in Japan included Red Army officer and radio operator Max Gottfried Friedrich Clausen,[14] Hotsumi Ozaki, and two other Comintern agents, Branko Vukelic, a journalist working for the French magazine, Vu and a Japanese journalist, Miyagi Yotoku, who was employed by the English-language newspaper, the Japan Advertiser. Max Clausen's wife Anna acted as ring courier from time to time. From summer 1937, Clausen the spy operated under cover of his firm set up with Soviet funds but which in time became a commercial success, M Clausen Shokai suppliers of blueprint machinery and reproduction services.

Sorge built a network in 1933 and 1934 to collect intelligence for the GRU in Japan. His agents had contacts with senior politicians and through that, to information of Japan's foreign policy. He also recontacted Hotsumi Ozaki who developed a close contact with the prime minister Fumimaro Konoe. Ozaki copied secret documents for Sorge.

Collecting intelligence from inside Germany was more dangerous and difficult at the time, so Sorge was sent to Japan to collect information on Germany's plans. This was a similar tactic with the other soviet rings spying on Germany. The evidence of his communist past in German security files was overlooked, or hidden, according to Prange.

Officially, Sorge joined the Nazi party and became a German journalist in Tokyo, where he came to work closely with the German embassy and ambassador Eugen Ott. He used the embassy for double-checking his information, having access to telegrams in Ott's office. He even had an affair with Ott's wife, proof that he was entirely trusted at the embassy, but the stress also increased his drinking.

Sorge supplied the Soviet Red Army with information about the Anti-Comintern Pact, the German-Japanese Pact and warned of the Pearl Harbor attack. In 1941, Sorge is said to have informed them of the exact launch date of Operation Barbarossa. Moscow answered with thanks but Joseph Stalin largely ignored it,[15] as was also the case with information supplied by the other networks, including Leiba Domb's Red Orchestra spy network on the German Borders. Stalin was reportedly so angry with Domb's information that he ordered that Domb be 'punished for spreading such lies'. (The order was not followed).[citation needed]

Gordon Prange's analysis (1984) was that the closest Sorge came to predicting the launch date of Operation Barbarossa was 20 June 1941 and Prange comments that Sorge himself never claimed to have discovered the correct date (22 June) in advance.[16] The date of 20 June had been given to Sorge by Lt-Col Friedrich von Schol who was assistant military attache at the German embassy in Tokyo.[17] As Sorge took pride in and sought the credit for the spy ring's work, Professor Prange may have taken Sorge's failure to claim that he had discovered the correct date as conclusive evidence that Sorge in fact did fail to discover it. Kim Philby's recruiter A. Deutsch was also the spymaster of Gestapo officer Willi Lehmann, who on June 19 cabled the Barbarossa launch date to NKVD in Moscow. Stalin considered this as disinformation, too.
The Soviet press reported in 1964 that on June 15, 1941, Sorge had broadcast a dispatch saying that, "The war will begin on June 22."[18] Writing before previously-embargoed material was released by the Russian authorities in the 1990s, Prange and those writing with him appear not to have accepted the veracity of this report. More recently, Stalin was quoted as having ridiculed Sorge and his intelligence prior to the launch of Operation Barbarossa:

"There's this bastard who's set up factories and brothels in Japan and even deigned to report the date of the German attack as 22 June. Are you suggesting I should believe him too?" [19]

Sorge advised the Red Army on September 14, 1941, that the Japanese were not going to attack the Soviet Union until:
1. Moscow was captured
2. the size of the Kwantung Army was three times that of the Soviet Union's Far Eastern forces
3. a civil war had started in Siberia.[20]

Sorge transmitted information toward the end of September 1941 that Japan was not going to attack the Soviet Union in the East.

"This information made possible the transfer of Soviet divisions from the Far East, although the presence of the Kwantung Army in Manchuria necessitated the Soviet Union's keeping a large number of troops on the eastern borders..."[21]

Various writers have speculated that this information allowed the release of Siberian divisions for the Battle of Moscow, where the German army suffered its first tactical defeat in the war. To this end, Sorge's information might have been the most important spy work in World War II. At Khimki, a place at the Moscow city border en route to Sheremetyevo International Airport, there is still a memorial plaque reminding visitors of this defining point of modern history.

The second most important piece of information he allegedly passed along concerned the Battle of Stalingrad - the turning point in the war which is considered one of the bloodiest and largest battles in history. Richard Sorge alerted Moscow that Japan would attack the Soviet Union from the East as soon as the German army captured any city on the Volga, thus effectively disrupting oil supplies from Baku and also ammunition and food supplies sent by the allies from the Persian Gulf through Iran, Soviet Azerbaijan and up the Volga river.[22] However, by mid-1941 the Japanese had made their strategic decision to go south and east, instead of north, so the information (if given) seems to have been speculative at best.
“Conservatism is the blind and fear-filled worship of dead radicals” - Mark Twain
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Soviet cogitations: 716
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 04 Aug 2007, 23:25
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Post 14 Sep 2011, 15:14
Sorge was without a doubt one of the most important people of the twentieth century and beyond, and sadly enough also one of the least-remembered. He deserves a lot more honour then the world gives him at this time.

"Communism is more about love for mankind than about politics."
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