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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June, 2007

THE RICHARD ZORGE CASE. FOLDER 59. THE CHEKIST ANTHOLOGY

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    In this entry, Mitrokhin recounts how during the 1960s the leadership of the KGB had shown its Dzerzhinsky Central Club agents a 2-part French movie entitled “Who Are You, Doctor Zorge?” A Soviet spy, Zorge aroused much interest within the ranks of the KGB. Drawing upon KGB files, Mitrokhin states how Zakharov, the Deputy Director of the KGB, consequently issued an order to prepare a report on Zorge.
    "The Richard Zorge Case. Folder 59. The Chekist Anthology," June, 2007, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Contributed to CWIHP by Vasili Mitrokhin. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/110781
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[Translation unavailable. See original. Detailed Summary below.]

In this entry, Mitrokhin recounts how during the 1960s the leadership of the KGB had shown its Dzerzhinsky Central Club agents a 2-part French movie entitled "Who Are You, Doctor Zorge," A Soviet spy, Zorge aroused much interest within the ranks of the KGB. Drawing upon KGB files, Mitrokhin states how Zakharov, the Deputy Director of the KGB, consequently issued an order to prepare a report on Zorge.

Based on Mitrokhin's account, the report consists of the following statements:

Richard Zorge had been working as an agent in the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Soviet Ministry of Defense. Zorge was born in Baku, Azerbaijan to a Russian mother. His grandfather, Fredrick Albert Zorge, an associate of Marx and Engels, was one of the founding members of the U.S Socialist Worker's Party and the International Worker's Soviet. Mitrokhin mentions that the KGB file relates that while in Germany, Richard Zorge had become a member of the Social Democratic Party. He subsequently changed his affiliation to the Communist Party of Germany in 1919. In 1925 Zorge received an invitation to work in Moscow for the Comintern until May 1927. From 1930 to 1932, Zorge acquired residency status, first in Shanghai, and then in Tokyo. As part of his cover, Zorge assumed the position of a correspondent for German newspapers. In 1939, Zorge became the official press-attach? for the German Embassy in Tokyo, where he gained the favor of the ambassador and other diplomatic heads.

According to the KGB account, in May 1939 Zorge informed the Main Intelligence Directorate that Germany was preparing to invade Poland on September 1, 1939. In May 1941, Zorge presented the Directorate with a forecast of Germany's war plans against the USSR. Zorge warned about the presence of 150 German army divisions near the Soviet border, gave a general outline of German troop movements, and accurately predicted that the German offensive against the USSR would commence on June 22, 1941. The KGB entry further describes that during the fall of 1941, Zorge assured Soviet authorities that Japan would not participate in the war against the USSR. Zorge's guarantee allowed the high command of the Red Army to redirect a part of its force from the Far East to the regions surrounding Moscow.

Zorge contributed precious information to the process of deciphering German and Japanese war plans, but Stalin initially did not pay much attention to his work. One can judge Stalin's misgivings about Zorge from one of his statements: ?Do not send me any more of this German disinformation.? KGB evidence points to the fact that under Stalin's influence, Zorge's motives and advice came to be viewed with much disdain amongst party apparatchiks. Many of Zorge's coworkers often employed deceptive tactics in order to portray Zorge as a German and Japanese spy. Quoting from the KGB files, Mitrokhin expresses that in 1937 there was an attempt to recall Zorge back to the USSR with the purpose of liquidating him. Zorge's understanding of the situation, however, led him to avoid the trap. Mitrokhin concludes by remarking that the circumstances surrounding Zorge's demise remain unknown. According to Japanese accounts, Zorge was executed in Tokyo on November 7, 1944. Max Klausen, Zorge's aid, posits that Richard Zorge committed suicide.

At the end of the document, Mitrokhin includes an appendix in which he lists a timeline of pertinent events and proceedings.



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