As a young boy, Richard Sorge and his parents moved to Berlin. His family had previously worked for the Russian government and were ardent supporters of the Kaiser and the German government.
A Change of Direction
After World War I ended, Sorge joined the German Army at 18 and went to the Western Front. Since he was from an upper-class family, he was on board with the war and the Kaiser.
But as the war went on, he had a change of heart and political views. He was wounded and discharged in 1916. He spent time reading Karl Marx and agreed with much of his doctrine. After graduating with his doctorate, he became a Communist Party member and relocated to the Soviet Union.
He began working for the Red Army’s intelligence directorate and went undercover as a journalist. He went to Germany, China, and Great Britain and fed information back to the Main Intelligence Directorate.
In 1931, Japan took over parts of China, and the Soviet Union grew concerned that they would move into the Soviet Far East. They had Sorge join the Nazi party in Germany, so he could become a correspondent in Japan and collect information.
As a part of his research, he read Mein Kampf and became comfortable creating Nazi propaganda. He did such a good job that three publications in Japan commissioned his work.
In 1933, Sorge worked as a correspondent for Germany’s top newspaper in Japan. His mission was to see if Japan was going to attack the USSR. He played the role of a Nazi diplomat in Japan perfectly. The Germans shared all sorts of information, not knowing he was a Russian spy.
Eventually, Sorge determined that Japan had no interest in the USSR. However, he did learn that the Nazis wanted to invade the USSR, but Joseph Stalin did not believe him. In 1941, the Germans tried pushing Japan to invade the USSR, but Japan wanted to attack the U.S.
The plan was to build German and Japanese troops by capturing Moscow and invading Siberia. Then, they would attack the USSR. Stalin could not ignore this information and mode the Soviet Far East divisions in place to counter a German attack. In 1944, Sorge was captured, tortured, and hanged as a spy.