Richard Sorge (continued)
As hostilities between Japan and China escalated, Sorge reported back to Moscow about the readiness of CHinese troops and their chances against a superior Japanes military. After Ozaki returned to Japan in 1932, Sorge fell under suspicion of being a spy. He therefore poured himself into his work as a journalist for almost a year.His writing appealed to members of Chang Kai-shek's military circle, who conferred with Sorge, thus unknowingly providing him with valuable information. he was identified as likely being an agent for Germany.
Sorge was recalled to Moscow in 1932 and met with great praise from his Soviet handlers. While in Russia he married a woman named Yekaterina Maximova. Soon thereafterhe was dispatched to Japan. Because of his excellent work product in China, his Soviet superiors felt that he might be the only agent that could obtain intelligence information in Japan which was at that time extremely secure against information leaks. He was assigned to determine whether Japan was prepared to move militarily against China, with a primary goal of determining the feasibility of developing a Soviet spy network in Japan.
Codenamed "Ramsey", Sorge went to Germany and obtained a German passport. Traveling as a German journalist, he arrived in Japan in September 1933. His spy cell was limited to himself and three other people in order to provide for maximum secrecy. He worked with Branko Vukelic, Yotoku Miyagi and a radio operator named Bernhardt. He immediately found that Benrhardt was a heavy drinker, a liability in that he was often too impaired to transmit his radio messages. In fact, at one point Sorge discovered that nearly half of his messages had not been transmitted by Bernhardt. Bernhardt was soon thereafter recalled to Moscow. Vukelic was quite adept at photographing documents obtained by Sorge and Sorge received information from Miiyagi, courtesy of Sorge's old contact Ozaki.
The information that Sorge was receiving was extremely valuable to the Soviet intelligence officials to whom he reported. His information stream improved significantly in 1932 when Teikichi Kawai returned from China to Tokyo. Kawai began passing information he obtained from the Japanese Army personnel. As Sorge's information cache grew abundantly, he traveled back and forth from Japan and Russia to hand-deliver it, since he did not have anyone to radio the information. Along his trip, he traveled through the United States where he met with Communist Party members and passed along their information.
Upon his visit to Moscow in 1935, Sorge met with General Uritsky, the head of the Fourth Bureau having replaced General Berzin when Josef Stalin came into power. Sorge showed detailed personnel charts of the Japanese military officers and their attitudes towards the Soviet Union, United States and Britain. Ozaki was officially brought back into the fold of his spy ring as was his former radio operator Max Klausen in November 1935. Sorge and Klausen met weekly for an information exchange while Klausen worked under the cover of a successful blueprints printer.
The Sorge spy ring came under the attention of Japanese intelligence and in January 1936 the Japanese secret police arrested Kawai, charging him with being a spy. Kawai, although interrogated and tortured over a period of six months in Manchuria, refused to provide any information and was subsequently released.
A military incident in February 1936 compelled the German Embassy to call Sorge in and give them an assessment of the political and military climate in Japan. So impressed were the Embassy officials that they considered Sorge a trusted ally and provided him with significant information about the Japanese government. Sorge quickly passed this information along to Moscow, including plans for a intended alliance between Germany and Japan. As his apparent value to the German government appeared to grow, so did his real value to the Soviet Union.
Sorge reported Japanese intentions to attack the United States and emphasized that Japan had no immediate intentions of engaging the Soviet Union in warfare.
The Sorge spy ring was compromised when Yotoku Miyagi was arrested by the police and interrogated over several days. Miyagi refused to talk despite repeated beatings by the police but attempted to commit suicide unsuccessfully by jumping out of a second floor window. He subsequently caved under pressure and acknowledged that he was a part of Sorge's Communist spy ring.
The Japanese High Police (Kempei Tai) were called in and arrested Ozaki, eventually beating a confession out of him. Although afraid of causing an International incident by arresting Sorge and Klausen, they decided to arrest them. On October 18, 1941, Japanese police conducted a sweep, arresting Sorge, Klausen and Vukelic. They discovered several messages in plain sight that Klausen was prepared to send to Moscow as well as evidence in the possession of Sorge and Vukelic. Klausen eventually implicated Sorge and Vukelic refused to admit anything. Vukelic would eventually draw life sentence as did Klausen. After six days of brutal torture, Sorge confessed to his part in the spy ring.
On November 7, 1944, Sorge and Ozaki were executed by hanging.
Sorge is remembered as one of the Soviet Union's most accomplished and valuable spies. He was named a hero of the Soviet state in 1964 and eventually had a postage stamp in his likeness issued.