Richard Sorge the Soviet spy who was hanged by the

Richard Sorge: the Soviet spy who was hanged by the Japanese

Japanese counterintelligence exposed the German spymaster’s operation.

Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

On November 7, 1944, Richard Sorgewas a half-Russian, half-German Soviet spy who had used the cover of being a German journalist to report on Germany and Japan for the Soviet Union, only to be sentenced to hang by his Japanese captors.

Sorge fought in the first World War in the German army and then earned his doctorate in political science at the University of Hamburg.

He joined the German Communist Party in 1919 and traveled to the USSR in 1924. His first major assignment for the soviet intelligence it was in the late 1920s, when he was sent to China to organize a spy ring.

Returning to Germany, he joined the Nazi Party in 1933 to hone his facade as a loyal German. He proceeded to develop a reputation as a respected journalist working for the Frankfurter Zeitung, eventually convincing his editors to they will send it to tokyo as a foreign correspondent in the mid-1930s.

Once in Japan, Sorge proceeded once more to create a spy networkwhich included a Japanese cabinet adviser and an American communist, who also worked for Soviet intelligence as Sorge’s interpreter.

Sorge had ingratiated himself so successfully with the German diplomatic community in Japan that he was allowed to work out of the German embassy, ​​giving him access to confidential files. At the same time, he also befriended Japanese government officials, trying to convince them not to go to war with the Soviet Union.

In May 1941, Sorge informed Moscow that Hitler was planning an invasion of the Soviet Union and that 170 divisions were preparing to invade on June 20, but Stalin ignored the warning.

He was also able to report, in August 1941, that Japan had plans to attack targets in the South Pacific, not in the Soviet Union. This allowed Stalin to withdraw troops from the Manchurian border, freeing them to engage in a counterattack against Germany outside Moscow.

But Sorge’s brilliant spy career came to an end on October 18, 1941, when Japanese counterintelligence exposed their operation and was arrested, along with 34 members of his network. Finally, he was hanged in 1944.

20 years later, he was officially declared a Hero of the Soviet Union.

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