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You are here: [http://www.richardsorge.com/] >> [Excerpts from the chronology] >> [1948]

January 28-30
Trial of General Hiroshi Oshima, former Japanese Ambassador to Germany, by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo. Lt. Colonel Fritz von Petersdorf, former Assistant Military Attaché in the Tokyo German Embassy (he was captured by the Russians on the Eastern front and interrogated by Soviet security authorities in Moscow concerning the Sorge Case), is a prosecution witness stating that Richard Sorge was one of the major sources of information on the strength of the Kwantung Army for the Germans.278 The American defense counsel, Cunningham, repeatedly attempted to introduce the name of Sorge into the case. Cunningham stated at one point in his examination of Petersdorf: "Now, I would like to show, if I can have the opportunity, that Richard Sorge, through whom this witness was getting his information and through whom Ambassador Ott was getting all of his information, to whom Ambassador Ott was showing his telegrams from Germany and from whom Ambassador Ott was getting advice, was the most notorious Russian spy, one of them, in history." On each occasion he sought to introduce Sorge's name he was met with violent opposition from the Soviet prosecutor, General Vasiliev. Vasiliev counters: "In its form it [the introduction of Sorge's name] is an attempt to attack the country which is represented in this Tribunal [...] The Tribunal has not as yet established the fact whether Sorge was a Russian spy, or some other sort of spy, and therefore Defense Counsel Cunningham has no right to state that." Cunningham responded that the testimony was pertinent as "the fate of three nations rested, to a great extent, upon the information which Richard Sorge was sending out of the German Embassy." President of the Tribunal, Chief Justice William Webb of Australia, ruled Cunningham's introduction of Sorge out of order. (D&S, p.349; Proceedings ofthe War Crime Tribunal, Far Eastern Division, pp.38, 469-70)
278 It should be again stressed that the Germans viewed Sorge as an invaluable source of intelligence at the German Embassy in Tokyo. In an affidavit von Petersdorf asserted that Sorge was considered a "prime source of intelligence" by the German military staff. This should not be interpreted, however, to mean that Sorge was spying for Germany. Rather, he "traded information on Japan for clues to major Axis policy decisions that affected the Soviet Union." Moreover, the information he gave the Germans had already been sent to the Soviets, or could pose no threat to the Soviets. Sorge also used the Embassy's staff (and Ozaki used the upper echelons of the Japanese government) to kick around his ideas and information - the Embassy served as a constant testing ground for the Spy Ring. On one occasion Sorge gave von Petersdorf fictional data on Soviet military strength in Siberia. The information was transmitted to Berlin and was also given to the Japanese. Both parties could not ignore this information and had to expend precious resources to check it out. After the war von Petersdorf went into seclusion in his estate of Fronhausen and refused to make any comments about Sorge or about war matters. (Johnson, p.146; Mader, p.174) See also footnotes #130-132.