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Richard Sorge

Richard Sorge (October 4, 1895 - October 9, 1944) was a German journalist and a spy for Soviet Union in Japan before and during World War Two.

Richard Sorge was born in Adjikent[?], Baku, Russia. He was one of the nine children of the German mining engineer Wilhelm Sorge and his Russian wife Nina. His family moved to Germany when he was three. His uncle had been a secretary for Karl Marx.

In October 1914 Sorge volunteered to service in the World War One. He joined a student battalion of the 3rd Guards, Field Artillery. During his service in the Western Front he was severely wounded in March 1916 when shrapnel broke his both legs, causing him a lifelong limp. He was promoted to corporal, received an Iron Cross and a discharge.

During his convalescence he read Marx and adopted communist ideology. He spent the rest of the war studying economics in universities of Berlin, Kiel and Hamburg. In 1920 he graduated with a Ph.D. in political science. He also joined the KPD[?], the German communist party. His political views, however, got him fired from both a teaching job and coal mining work. He fled to Moscow where he became a junior agent for Comintern.

1921 Sorge returned to Germany, married Christiane Gerlach and moved to Solingen, in North Rhine-Westphalia[?]. In 1922 the Communists relocated him to Frankfurt where he gathered intelligence about business community. After an attempted communist coup in October 1923 he continued his work as a journalist.

In 1924 he moved to Moscow where he officially joined the International Liaison Department of Comintern, OMS[?], also a OGPU intelligence gathering body. Apparently his dedication to duty lead to a divorce. In 1928 he was transferred to GRU duties and 1930 sent to Shanghai to gather intelligence and foment revolution. Officially he worked as the editor of German news service and for the Frankfurter Zeitung[?]. There he met Ozaki Hozumi, a Japanese journalist working for Asahi Shimbun[?]. In January 1932 Sorge reported on fighting between Chinese and Japanese troops in the streets of Shanghai. In December he was recalled to Moscow.

Sorge was decorated and remarried. In 1933 he was sent to Berlin with the code name "Ramsey", to reform contacts in Germany so he could pass for a German journalist in Japan. He arrived to Yokohama on September 6, 1933.

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

Officially Sorge joined the Nazi party and worked with the local embassy and ambassador Eugen Ott[?] as an agent for Abwehr. He used the embassy for double-checking his information. Stress also increased his drinking.

Sorge supplied Soviets with information about Anti-Comintern Pact[?], the German-Japanese Pact[?] and warning of Pearl Harbor attack. 1941 Sorge informed them of Hitler's intentions to launch Operation Barbarossa. Moscow answered with thanks but little was done.

Before the battle for Moscow, Sorge transmitted information that Japan was not going to attack Soviet Union in the East. This information allowed Zhukov to redeploy Siberian troops for the defense of Moscow.

Japanese secret service had already intercepted many of his messages and begun to close in. Ozaki was arrested in October 14 and interrogated. Sorge was arrested in October 18 in Tokyo. Sorge was not exchanged for Japanese prisoners of war, although reason for that is unclear. He was incarcerated in Sugamo[?] Prison.

Both Ozaki and Sorge were hanged on October 9 1944. The Soviet Union did not acknowledge Sorge until 1964.

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