Dr. Richard Sorge and his group were exposed through
DO errors of their own. Their operations were faultless; no
one ever suspected them.
Paradoxically it was a local Communist, Ito Ritsu, one
of the four or five most influential leaders in the postwar
Japanese Communist party, who betrayed them, motived
bv malice and jealousy, though he had no real conception
of what he was doing.
Ito Ritsu, then aged 29, worked in the investigation
department of the Tokyo branch of the South Manchurian
Railway, the same organization which Ozaki was serving
as special adviser. He was arrested in June. 1941, on suspicion of secret Communist activities. Interrogated by officers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Board. Ito made
full confession, claimed to have erred by his Communist
faith, and then began to implicate others. The Fifth
Amendment was not valid in Japan.
Among those on whom he informed was a woman,
Kitabayasha Tomo, whom he had known as a former
member of the American Communist party. He had noted
that since her return to Japan, she had refused to have
anv intercourse with Communists, and appeared to have
become an apostate. Possibly calculating to enlist the aid
ol his enemy, the police, for the punishment of a party
traitor, Ito named this woman as a Communist and probable spy. It does not seem that Ito Ritsu had any real
grounds to think of her as a spy, and certainly- he never
imagined that she was a member of Sorge's ring.
The police at once began hunting for Kitabayasha Tomo
and put her on the watch-list to develop her contacts.
Tliev did not arrest her until September 28, 1941, along
with her innocent husband. Mrs. Kitabayasha does not
seem to have been a very strong character. She soon confessed, and named Miyagi as her associate.
Miyagi was arrested on October 10. From his attempted
suicide and from evidence found in the house, the police
realized that he was a member of an important spy ring.
Much information was picked up from continuous interrogation of Miyagi, a frail, consumptive, who was not
treated too gently. He talked freely. Much more was
gathered by using his empty house as bait and picking
up all callers. Ozaki was soon uncovered and by October
14, he too was behind bars. Since these men had [in excess
of caution] not established an emergency warning system,
and only met by prearrangement, none of them was able to
warn anv- of the others.
IVIax Klausen went to Sorge's home on October 15, 1941,
to discuss a projected radio transmission to the USSR.
Sorge was disturbed. Miyagi had arranged to meet him
but had missed an appointment for the first time. Ozaki
was supposed to come to a meeting on the 15th but he
too had not appeared and both Klausen and Sorge were
worried. Sorge showed Klausen the draft of a dispatch on
the Japanese Army's advance in Indochina, followed by
a request for relief. Klausen thought this message premature and returned it to Sorge unsent.
Two days later Klausen again went to Sorge's house.
where he found de Voukelitch who had also become disturbed by the silence of Miyagi and Ozaki. On his way
home, Klausen met an officer of the Metropolitan polic*
named Aoyama. The encounter upset him greatly. "''
wondered if it were more than accidental, and debated '"
his own mind whether to burn the documents then in '"■
possession and bury his transmitter in the garden. Finall)''
he decided to do nothing and went to bed.
The next morning, while Max was still asleep, AoyaiH*
and another police officer walked in and arrested hif1'
While Aoyama was telling Max to get dressed and cofl*
along, other officers had closed in on Dr. Richard Sort!e
and Branko de Voukelitch. By October 18, 1941, all tl*
principals of the Sorge ring were in jail and the organiz"'
tion was completely disrupted.
Sorge's arrest was a great shock to his Cerman friend*
Ambassador Ott and the Gestapo chief, Colonel Josepj
Meisinger. They could only believe that the Japanese 1'"
committed another of the blunders for which they VV0J
famous, and they worked hard to get their friend out fl
jail. There was also a disturbing element: I by S0^
remote chance, good Nazi Sorge actually was a SoV
spv. where did that leave two highly placed Nazi officii
who had trusted and confided in him for so long?
obstinate Japanese police
adamant. Thev ins'5
that they had the principals of a most dangerous spy rl
Ott and Meisinger reported the arrest to Berlin, but tn
to minimize their relations with Sorge. so that if (
Japanese police were right, their reputations would "
be hurt too badly. Von Ribbentrop sharply demanded
explanation from Ott; ultimately, he replaced him-
Meanwhile, Gestapo-headquarters in Berlin turned J
° complete dossier on Surge from his earlier days "
Germany, indicating his Soviet connections. MeisiDJ
turned this over to the Japanese, to save his own P"''"',,
skin. He was still German Gestapo representative in JaP)g,
when Eisenhower accepted the German surrender in 1 p
He was flown to Poland in the autumn of 1945, eharf!
with commission of atrocities at Warsaw, where he
The Japanese police records show that 35 persons *
arrested in connection with the Sorge case. So man> .
their prisoners talked freely that the police had no pr
lem in getting a full picture. Having proved their '■ .
they became concerned with deeper implications: /
wanted to know more than the mere facts of how the SP
had operated and what they had found out; thev "'"" ,a-
to know what had motivated them, especially the Jap"'
traitors. Although Surge attempted to maintain silence- • 1
was contemptuous of (Clausen's turning informant,fi^g
five months had passed, even he came to talk freely '
1 he police discovered That Klati:
traffic which Sorge was preparing In
enthusiasm for the Soviet cause. His 8r0]*J
tusionment had made him reluctant to send the PJl
him in ever ""''.fi
ing volume. Until the autumn of 1940 he sent *-j|
message. From then on he began to cut down and '"' ],i
1941 transmitted only about a third of the messa'-!''1"^-
July, 1941, when Sorge gave him the call signal and *\J
length of a new radio station with which he
municate in addition to the old one, Klausen failed v>
I'vi is Forum News, March