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Richard Sorge
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    (October 4, 1895-November 7, 1944)
    Born in Baku, Azerbaijan
    German Communist
    Spied for the Soviet Union in Germany (1920-29), Great Britain (1929), China (1930-33) and Japan (1933-1941)
    Arrested by the Japanese secret service (October 18, 1941)
    Convicted of espionage and hanged
    Posthumously named a Hero of the Soviet Union (1964)
    He was fired from a teaching job in Hamburg, Germany, for trying to indoctrinate his students into Communism.
    His first marriage broke up over his commitment to espionage.
    He joined both the Communist and Nazi parties. (Although being a Nazi was just for cover.)
    His warning about the upcoming attack by Germany against the Soviet Union was ignored by Stalin.
    With the Japanese secret service closing in on him, he decided to flee -- after one last night with a dancer he had been having an affair with. He was arrested while in her arms.
    He was wounded three times in World War I, including losing three fingers to shrapnel.
    His report that Japan would not attack the Soviet Union convinced Stalin to transfer several divisions from the Far East to defend Moscow, inflicting the first tactical defeat on the German army in the war.
    The Soviets rejected several offers from Japan to exchange him for some of their spies.
    There was speculation that Stalin prefered to have Sorge executed to eliminate a witness to his blindness to the warnings of a German invasion.
    Author Frederick Forsyth said, 'The spies in history who can say from their graves, the information I supplied to my masters, for better or worse, altered the history of our planet, can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Richard Sorge was in that group.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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