80 years ago, on October 18, 1941, Soviet intelligence officer Richard Sorge was arrested in Tokyo. He had 1,100 days ahead of him in Sugamo prison, accompanied by endless tortures and interrogations.
The sentence — the death penalty — he met in cold blood, without forgetting to thank the prison officers, those of them who preserved in communication with the prisoner human appearance.
Helped save Moscow
Sorge made history by reporting on the impending attack of Hitler on the USSR. He also conveyed information that in 1941 Japan was not going to declare war on the Soviet Union.
The scout sent this information to the Center on September 6, 1941. Sorge’s report said that Tokyo was planning to start fighting in the south, and not in the Soviet Far East, which the Soviet leadership feared. It was the very moment when the Germans had already approached Moscow. After receiving the encryption from Ramzai (codename Sorge), divisions and tank brigades ready to repel the attack of the Kwantung army were transferred from our Far Eastern borders to Moscow and played a huge role in saving the capital.
Sorge operated under the noses of the Japanese authorities for almost 10 years. He was a resident of Soviet intelligence in Tokyo from February 15, 1932 to October 1941. All this time, he was being monitored. Every day the scout walked on the blade of a knife, managing to get secret information and transmit it to Moscow. This became possible thanks to the assistants with whom he started working back in China, the journalist Hozumi Ozaki and to the radio operator To Max Clausen. In the future, a journalist joined the intelligence group Branko Vukelic and the artist Etoku Miyagi.
Japan as the final stop
The uniqueness of the situation was that, as a Soviet intelligence officer, Sorge worked as an adviser to the German ambassador in Tokyo. The future resident got carried away with leftist ideas in Berlin during his studies at the university. While pursuing a scientific career, he simultaneously led an active party activity, creating a socialist group thatIn 1919 she became a member of the Communist Party of Germany. Over time, Sorge became the head of the Communist Party school in Germany. And in 1924, a German activist was invited to Moscow to work in the structures of the Comintern, where he would stay for five years, until he was invited to the Soviet military intelligence in 1929.
He begins his resident activities in China under the guise of working as a journalist, writes articles for the German press. Sorge’s materials are a success among readers. He is making a name for himself in international journalism. And proceeds to the next step — preparing a springboard for work in Japan. This is exactly the goal set for him by the Soviet leadership.
To do this, the scout had to return to Germany, where Hitler came to power the day before. Miraculously, Sorge corrects a new passport, since the old one expired. He took a colossal risk if former acquaintances who knew him as an ardent socialist met on his way. But everything went smoothly. Sorge, where necessary, mentioned the sins of youth, assuring that in the presentfully shares the views of the Fuhrer. Having finally received a new passport, he begins to bypass the leading newspapers in Germany, offering himself as a correspondent in the land of the Rising Sun. And Sorge manages to go to Japan as a journalist. And then he will have incredible luck — the position of press secretary of the German Embassy in Tokyo.
Why didn’t Stalin exchange Sorge
The surrounding people saw Richard as a lover of carousing and a womanizer who twisted novels to the right and to the left. Wherever Sorge appeared, he became the soul of the company. Even with those who conducted surveillance on him (in Japan, a detailed dossier was kept on every foreigner), he managed to make friends. I had a drink with one of the spies in a bar, I presented presents to someone on time. In Tokyo, Sorge drove a motorcycle at a tremendous speed. It was hard to imagine that behind the facade of the guy’s shirt there was hard work, on which the course of world history depended.
The Soviet leadership appreciated Sorge, not once making sure of the fidelity of the information transmitted to them.
It is all the more surprising that Stalin did not try to get his intelligence officer out of the bowels of a Japanese prison. Tokyo offered an exchange for two admirals held in Soviet captivity. And this is by no means a myth — says journalist and intelligence historian Nikolai Dolgopolov: “After the war, the indisputable fact of the proposed exchange was confirmed by a major German intelligence officer held in Moscow. The Gestapo revealed another option: Tokyo was not averse to exchanging Sorge for several of its officers captured somewhere on the islands by the Americans who fought with Japan.
Execution on the day of the October Revolution
ButJoseph Vissarionovich on it’s not gone. Why he did so, and it remains unclear to the end. As one of the versions, the leader’s doubts are called: they say that Stalin could consider Sorge a double agent working simultaneously for the USSR and for Germany. However, this version did not even have indirect evidence, neither in the 1940s nor the 50s, nor much later, when there wereThe materials of the Japanese and German intelligence services have been declassified and made available. The answer, rather, lies in the other. Suffice it to recall that during the war and after the Victory, hundreds of thousands of Soviet servicemen who had been captured by the enemy were waiting for suspicions, new ordeals in the camps. Perhaps this rule also worked in relation to a unique scout.
The Japanese showed special sophistication by appointing the day of Sorge’s execution on November 7, the feast of the October Revolution. On this day, in 1944, Ramzai was hanged. The scout’s body was buried in a mass grave with other prisoners. In the USSR, Sorge’s feat became widely known during the times of Khrushchev. Sorge’s posthumous fame became a reward for his feat. Usually the names of residents die for history, so that the scouts themselves remain alive. In the case of Sorge, the opposite happened.