Wednesday, December 12, 2018

September 15, 1941: Sorge Warns Stalin Again

Monday 15 September 1941

Richard Sorge 15 September 1941
Richard Sorge, master spy.
Spy Stuff: Richard Sorge is posing in Tokyo as a German journalist, but, in fact, he is a long-time Soviet spy. He is known as a big partier and glad-hander, someone who always has liquor handy and has parties with lots of attractive young women. He uses these skills to extract information from German officials privy to secret information from Berlin who figure they are halfway around the world and it doesn't matter what they say. This helped him to forewarn Stalin about the start of Operation Barbarossa, though Stalin ignored the warnings.

Soviet 203 mm howitzer M1931 15 September 1941
A Soviet 203 mm howitzer M1931 (or similar gun) on the Eastern Front, 15 September 1941 (AP Photo).
Sorge's spying activities, however, are not limited to German sources of information. He does not speak Japanese but has confederates who do. These include Yotoku Miyagi, a native of Okinawa who resented Japan's annexation of that island as part of the Ryukyu Kingdom in 1879, and fellow journalist Hotsumi Ozaki. Ozaki is an adviser to Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoye, while Miyagi is very knowledgeable about Japanese army activities in China.

Yotoku Miyagi 15 September 1941
Yotoku Miyagi, spy.
Miyagi and Ozaki use their contacts to determine that Japan is not moving troops to northern China for an invasion of the Soviet Union. In fact, they learn that the Japanese are completely disinterested in the Soviet Union due to the Nomonhan incident in May and June 1939 that culminated in the Battles of Khalkhyn Gol in August 1939. The two also talk to lower-level Japanese officers and learn that the Japanese are not sending reinforcements to the Manchurian/Mongolian border where a conflict likely would break out with the Soviet Union.

On or about 15 September 1941, Sorge uses this information to send Stalin another message:
The Soviet Far East can be considered safe from Japanese attack.
While Sorge's warnings about Operation Barbarossa's launch had been ignored, Stalin takes this warning to heart. He begins withdrawing Siberian divisions for the defense of Moscow. The fact that these divisions are trained in and used to winter warfare turns into quite a bonus for the Soviets when the war rolls eastward toward Moscow.

Incidentally, as a postscript, the Soviet Union awarded Miyagi a posthumous medal on 13 January 2010.

The Soviets aren't the only ones spying today. Tokyo today asks the Japanese consul in Honolulu to report again on the deployment of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Japanese have placed a spy of their own on the consulate staff in Honolulu.

Soviet Embassy in Berlin 15 September 1941
Signs posted on the former Soviet Embassy in Berlin warn that the building is undergoing fumigation and passersby should not tarry. 15 September 1941 (Getty Images).

September 1941

September 1, 1941: Two Years In
September 2, 1941: Germans Pushed Back at Yelnya
September 3, 1941: FDR Refuses to Meet with Japanese
September 4, 1941: Hitler Furious at Guderian
September 5, 1941: Germans Evacuate Yelnya
September 6, 1941: Japan Prepares for War
September 7, 1941: Hitler Orders Drive on Moscow
September 8, 1941: Leningrad Cut Off
September 9, 1941: Germans Attack Leningrad
September 10, 1941: Guderian Busts Loose
September 11, 1941: Convoy SC-42 Destruction
September 12, 1941: Starve Leningrad!
September 13, 1941: Zhukov at Leningrad
September 14, 1941: Germany's Growing Casualties
September 15, 1941: Sorge Warns Stalin Again
September 16, 1941: Soviets Encircled at Kiev
September 17, 1941: Iran Conquest Completed
September 18, 1941: Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in Action
September 19, 1941: Germans Take Kiev
September 20, 1941: Death at Kiev
September 21, 1941: Raging Soviet Paranoia
September 22, 1941: Defense of Nickel Mines
September 23, 1941: Air Attacks on Leningrad
September 24, 1941: Japanese Spying Intensifies
September 25, 1941: Manstein at the Crimea
September 26, 1941: Kiev Pocket Eliminated
September 27, 1941: Massacre at Eišiškės
September 28, 1941: Ted Williams Hits .400
September 29, 1941: Babi Yar Massacre
September 30, 1941: Operation Typhoon Begins


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