Richard Sorge

Richard Sorge
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1985-1003-020, Richard Sorge.jpg
Richard Sorge in 1940
Nickname(s)Ramsay
BornOctober 4, 1895
Baku, Russian Empire
DiedNovember 7, 1944(1944-11-07) (aged 49)
Tokyo, Empire of Japan
Allegiance German Empire (until 1918)
 Soviet Union (starting 1920)
Service/branchImperial German Army
Soviet Army (GRU)
Years of serviceGermany 1914–1916, USSR 1920–1941
AwardsHero of the Soviet Union
Order of Lenin
Iron Cross, II class (for World War I campaign)
Spouse(s)Christiane Gerlach (1921–1929)

Richard Sorge (October 4, 1895 – November 7, 1944) was a Soviet military intelligence officer, active before and during World War II, working undercover as a German journalist in both Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan. His codename was "Ramsay" (Russian: Рамза́й). A number of famous personalities considered him one of the most accomplished spies.

Sorge is most famous for his service in Japan in 1940 and 1941, when he provided information about Adolf Hitler's plan to attack the Soviet Union.

In mid-September 1941, he informed the Soviets that Japan would not attack the Soviet Union in the near future, which dramatically altered the plight of Operation Barbarossa and allowed the command to transfer 18 divisions, 1,700 tanks, and over 1,500 aircraft from Siberia and the Far East to the Western Front against Nazi Germany during the most critical months of the Battle for Moscow, one of the turning points of World War II.

A month later Sorge was arrested in Japan on the counts of espionage. He was tortured, forced to confess, tried, and hanged in November 1944. He was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union in 1964.

Early life

House in Sabunchi (Azerbaijan) where Richard Sorge lived from 1895 till 1898
Sorge (left) and chemist Erich Correns during the First World War in 1915

Sorge was born in the settlement of Sabunchi, a suburb of Baku, Baku Governorate of the Russian Empire (modern Azerbaijan).[1][2] He was the youngest of nine children of Wilhelm Richard Sorge (d. 1907), a German mining engineer employed by the Caucasian Oil Company, and his Russian wife Nina Semionovna Kobieleva.[3] His father's lucrative contract expired a few years later, and the family moved back to Germany. In Sorge's own words,

The one thing that made my life a little different from the average was a strong awareness of the fact that I had been born in the southern Caucasus and that we had moved to Berlin when I was very small.[4]

Sorge describes his father as having political views that were "unmistakably nationalist and imperialist", which he shared as a young man.[5]

The cosmopolitan Sorge household was "very different from the average bourgeois home in Berlin."[6]

Although Sorge considered Friedrich Adolf Sorge, an associate of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, to be his grandfather, he was in fact his great-uncle.[7]

Sorge enlisted in the German Army in October 1914; shortly after the outbreak of World War I. At age 18, he was posted to a field artillery battalion with the 3rd Guards Division. He served on the Western Front, and was severely wounded there in March 1916. Shrapnel cut off three of his fingers and broke both his legs, causing a lifelong limp. He was promoted to the rank of corporal, received the Iron Cross and was later medically discharged. While fighting in the war Sorge, who had started out in 1914 as a right-wing nationalist, became disillusioned by what he called the "meaninglessness" of the war, and he moved to the left.[5]

During his convalescence he read Marx and became a communist, mainly due to the influence of the father of a nurse with whom he had developed a relationship. He spent the rest of the war studying economics at the universities of Berlin, Kiel and Hamburg. Sorge received his doctorate in political science (Dr. rer. pol.) from Hamburg in August 1919.[8] He also joined the Communist Party of Germany. His political views, however, got him fired from both a teaching job and coal mining work. He emigrated to the Soviet Union, where he became a junior agent for the Comintern in Moscow.

Other Languages
العربية: ريخارد زورغه
azərbaycanca: Rixard Zorge
беларуская: Рыхард Зоргэ
български: Рихард Зорге
Boarisch: Richard Sorge
català: Richard Sorge
Чӑвашла: Рихард Зорге
čeština: Richard Sorge
Deutsch: Richard Sorge
español: Richard Sorge
français: Richard Sorge
հայերեն: Ռիխարդ Զորգե
Bahasa Indonesia: Richard Sorge
italiano: Richard Sorge
қазақша: Рихард Зорге
Кыргызча: Зорге Рихард
latviešu: Rihards Zorge
Lëtzebuergesch: Richard Sorge
lietuvių: Richard Sorge
Nederlands: Richard Sorge
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Zorge Rihard
português: Richard Sorge
română: Richard Sorge
русский: Зорге, Рихард
slovenčina: Richard Sorge
српски / srpski: Рихард Зорге
svenska: Richard Sorge
татарча/tatarça: Рихард Зорге
Türkçe: Richard Sorge
українська: Ріхард Зорге
Tiếng Việt: Richard Sorge