How the legend of Richard Sorge was used against Stalin
Richard Sorge, 1940
In liberal Russia, a myth was created that the outstanding Soviet intelligence agent Richard Sorge infiltrated the militarist elite of Japan, revealed the plans of Hitler and his allies. He informed Moscow that the Third Reich was preparing an attack on the USSR, and even gave the time of the attack. But they did not listen to the reports of the intelligence officer, and when he was captured, Stalin did not save him from execution, although he had such an opportunity.
Falsification of Khrushchev
In fact, this false version was created by Nikita Khrushchev, who tried with all his might to discredit, denigrate Stalin (Betrayal of the USSR. Perestroika Khrushchev; How a brave jackal bit a dead lion).
Under him, it was claimed that Richard Sorge reported on the attack of Nazi Germany on June 22, 1941 in three strategic directions. Naturally, the same topic was raised and tried to develop in the post-Soviet Russian Federation, where the liberal pro-Western intelligentsia prevails in the media, and especially on TV.
So, in 2017, the Russian television series "Sorge", directed by Sergei Ginzburg, was filmed. The role of Richard Sorge was played by Alexander Domogarov. The premiere of the film took place in 2019 on Channel One.
The plot of the film has little to do with historical true. This is generally a feature of the "historical" films of Russian cinema. They especially like to throw mud at the Soviet period of Russian history. In the series, it was agreed that Sorge got the Barbarossa plan from the safe of the German ambassador to Tokyo.
What Ramsay said
The first important information about the German attack on the USSR came from a resident of Soviet intelligence in Japan, who was hiding under the guise of a reporter for influential German newspapers.
On April 11, 1941, Sorge announced that Germany had completed preparations for a war with the USSR, and it could begin at any time. However, the German ambassador received a telegram from Ribbentrop, which said that "Germany will not start a war against the USSR if it is not provoked by the Soviet Union." Also in Germany there is a strong party of the war with the Russians, but it has not yet taken up.
On April 13, 1941, the USSR and Japan signed a neutrality pact. But Moscow was not sure that Tokyo would abide by the agreement in the event of a German attack on the USSR. Therefore, the intelligence department of the General Staff assigned Ramsay the task of monitoring Japan's foreign policy and military activities. Moscow hoped that, having temporarily closed the issue with Russia, the Japanese would focus their efforts on the south to end the war with China and begin a confrontation with Britain and the United States. Therefore, there will be no major provocations on the Soviet border.
Regarding the reaction of the Japanese government to the conclusion of a pact on neutrality, Sorge in a report dated April 16, 1941, reported that Tokyo was "extremely pleased with the conclusion of the pact." The Japanese military-political leadership was now focused on winning the war in China and resolving conflicts with the United States and Britain in the Asia-Pacific region. It was noted that if England continues to suffer defeats from Germany, then the question of the capture of Singapore will arise.
On April 18, 1941, a Soviet intelligence officer noted that the ambassador of Nazi Germany to Japan, Eugen Ott, had influence over the head of the Japanese government, Konoe and other Japanese dignitaries, and could raise the question of Singapore, pushing the Japanese towards expansion in the south. In turn, Sorge was an adviser to Ott, influenced him. He noted that he can encourage the German ambassador to put pressure on Tokyo on the Singapore issue.
However, Moscow rejected this proposal, although it was logical. Ramsay was instructed to continue to collect information about specific events in Tokyo, about the movement of troops, and it is not his task to influence Japanese policy.
Therefore, the version that the Russians pushed Japan to war with Britain and the United States has no basis.
Inconsistency of news
On May 2, 1941, Sorge reported to Moscow that he had spoken with Otto and the naval attaché about the relationship between Germany and Russia. Otto said that Hitler wanted to defeat the USSR and seize the European part of Russia, turning it into a raw material base for the Reich. Therefore, the end of sowing in Russia is important so that the Germans can seize the crop, and negotiations between Germany and Turkey. The German generals are confident that the war with England will not prevent an invasion in the East. The Germans assess the Red Army's combat effectiveness very low and are confident in a blitzkrieg, victory in a few weeks. The decision to start the war will be made by the Fuhrer "either already in May, or after the war with England."
Thus, it is obvious that this report (as well as subsequent ones) did not contain the exact date of the German attack on the USSR.
The report was contradictory.
The possibility of the outbreak of war in May or after the end of the war between Germany and England was admitted.
Was it possible to draw final conclusions on the basis of such data?
Of course not!
Is the Soviet intelligence agent to blame for this?
He simply passed on the information he was getting. And it was difficult to draw conclusions. After all, news of the war came to the center and from other channels. From the British government interested in the Soviet-German war. From other intelligence officers, diplomats, just well-wishers. Among this information, there was a lot of misinformation, inaccurate and contradictory data. For example, the intelligence network "Red Chapel" reported that the Hitlerite Reich was attacking the USSR on April 15, May 1, May 15, May 20, etc. Erroneous data was transmitted by W. Churchill. The Nazis themselves tried to deceive Moscow, they launched false information.
On May 19, 1941, Sorge again transmitted conflicting information.
The new German diplomats announced that the war could start at the end of May. But they also said that "this year, the danger may pass." On the same day, the intelligence officer informed Moscow that at the beginning of the war of Germany against Russia, Japan would observe neutrality. But if the Russians are defeated, Japan will hit Vladivostok. The Japanese and the Germans are monitoring the movement of Soviet forces from east to west.
On May 30, the scout reported to Moscow: Ott received news from Berlin that the war would begin in the second half of June. June 1: The military attaché in Bangkok, Lt. Col. Sholl, announced that the war is expected around June 15. June 15: The war is delayed, probably until the end of June. "The military attaché does not know whether there will be a war or not." June 20: Ott said war is imminent. The Germans are confident in their military superiority. In addition, the strategic defensive lines of the USSR are still not ready. June 21: The war is delayed until the end of June.
As a result, Ramsay did not disclose the date of the German attack on the USSR, as well as the details of the Barbarossa plan. The information from his sources was not distinguished by certainty: either war was inevitable, then it was postponed. Richard Sorge announced several dates of a possible German attack, but they were not confirmed.
It is also worth remembering that Moscow received information from Tokyo and other sources. For example, Soviet intelligence intercepted a telegram from the military attaché of the French embassy (Vichy regime) in Japan, who reported:
Here the term is indicated close to the correct one, but again it is noted that we are talking either about an attack on England or on Russia.
Therefore, Moscow, like other capitals, for example, Tokyo, did not know until the very last moment whether and when there would be a war. Hitler concealed this information even from his closest allies. Up to June 21, 1941, conflicting, various information was received, which gave hope that the attack would be postponed, or it would not be at all, it could be prevented.
It is also understandable that Stalin understood that war was possible, including a sudden one.
There was no "gullibility and naivety", as the destalinizers assured, in the Soviet leader. The entire power was feverishly preparing for a big war. The Red Army was rapidly changing. New fortified areas were built. New divisions were formed, hundreds of new ones entered the army tanks, aircraft and guns. New models of military equipment were created, weapons.
Therefore, the Kremlin was playing for time with all its might, trying to postpone the outbreak of the war.
Arrest and execution
After the German invasion on June 22, 1941, information on how the Japanese Empire would act in this situation was vital for Moscow.
On September 14, 1941, Sorge reported that at a meeting with the Japanese emperor (September 6), it was decided that until the end of 1941 and at the beginning of 1942, Japan would not oppose the USSR. Japan was expected to enter the war with the USSR in the spring of 1942. This saved Moscow from expecting a war on two fronts. Allowed to free up part of the forces and resources in the east, in order to transfer to the western, German front.
On October 18, 1941, the Sorge group was captured by Japanese counterintelligence.
During the searches, the Japanese found documents that testified to the espionage activities of the arrested. Also, members of the group, including Sorge, began to testify. In May, the inquiry was completed. Before the trial, the defendants were subjected to repeated interrogations for six months, now a judicial investigation was underway.
Court hearings began in May 1943, and the main defendants were sentenced in September. Sorge and Ozaki (Japanese journalist, adviser to Prime Minister Konoe) were sentenced to death by hanging, Vukelich and Clausen to life in prison. Miyagi (Japanese artist, communist) died in prison before sentencing.
Richard Sorge was executed in Tokyo's Sugamo prison on November 7, 1944, after which Ozaki was also executed.
The exchange myth
Under Khrushchev, the invention was launched that Moscow could save Sorge by exchanging him for Japanese prisoners. But Stalin allegedly took offense at the intelligence officer who confessed that he was a Soviet agent and refused to do so. In addition, Stalin allegedly wanted to destroy the witness of his mistakes. They say that the intelligence officers warned the Kremlin about the start of the war with Germany, but he did not trust them and slapped the German attack. This led to a catastrophic development of events in the initial period of the Great Patriotic War.
However, neither the USSR nor Japan has found documentary evidence that would confirm this myth.
The beginning of this legend was laid by the Soviet intelligence officer Leopold Trepper. In his memoirs, he said that after the war, while he was in the Lubyanka prison, he was told by his cellmate, General Tominaga Kyoji, that the Japanese offered to exchange Sorge for the Soviet leader, which Stalin did not agree to. The Japanese applied to the Soviet embassy three times with an offer of exchange, but there they replied that they did not know Sorge.
The very story of Trepper is highly dubious and is not confirmed by other sources.
There is no evidence that the exchange of the Soviet intelligence officer was approved by the Japanese government; there are no witnesses from the Japanese and Soviet Foreign Ministries regarding such appeals; there is no evidence from representatives of special services, intelligence services.
Japanese society was quite open, they did not know how to keep secrets. This was noticed by Richard Sorge himself. That is, in Japan, information would have been preserved about the allegedly three-fold appeal to the USSR for exchange.
In addition, the Americans captured many high-ranking Japanese, fished out important information from them. Moreover, the case of the Sorge group after the war was dealt with by a special commission of the US Congress. The Americans in the Cold War would gladly use such a fact against the country of the Soviets. But apart from Trepper's story, there is nothing.
Trepper is also lying on another issue: that Sorge's reports “had not been deciphered for months,” until the moment when it became clear that they were priceless. However, this is not true.
Reports from Japan were deciphered in a timely manner and were immediately reported to the very top, right up to Stalin. It is also obvious that Trepper, after his conviction in the USSR, fiercely hated Stalin, as can be seen from his memoirs. Therefore, in the atmosphere of the 60s, he could simply invent this story, or greatly embellish it, distort it in his personal interests. Fortunately, under Khrushchev, various attacks against Stalin were encouraged.
Thus, the history of Sorge under Khrushchev began to be used to denigrate Stalin.
After the collapse of the USSR, various anti-Stalinist myths were again used to discredit the Soviet Union and Stalin personally. Thus, the black myth about the "hated Sorge" Stalin began to move from one "study" to another.
Postage stamp of the USSR, 1965
- Alexander Samsonov
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