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The Militant, 21 February 1949

Henry Walsh

Spies, Spies, Everywhere!

From The Militant, Vol. 13 No. 8, 21 February 1949, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Don’t trust your neighbor. Suspect your friend’s and relatives. Keep an eagle eye on your brother, sister and wife and especially on your mother-in-law. One of them – the most innocent of the lot, the least open to suspicion – is likely to be a Russian spy. This isn’t the jittery squealing of some nervous nellie in the Hearst papers. It’s the reasoned judgment of the most safe-and-sound institution in the country – the United States Army. And don’t get the unpatriotic idea that the Army is running off at the mouth in a fit of hysteria. The Army speaks from experience – sad experience.

One year ago MacArthur’s sleuths tracked down the “most successful and complete” spying operation in Japanese history. On Feb. 11 the N.Y. Times printed the release as a “story of espionage, intrigue, passion and betrayal.” A Soviet spy ring, led by one Richard Sorge, who was reputed to be a grandson of a secretary of Karl Marx, worked its way into the inner sanctum of the German legation in Tokyo and the Japanese government, ferreting out highly confidential in-forination which they forwarded to Moscow. Sorge himself was so successful as to be eventually appointed press officer of the Nazi embassy. His collaborators, says the Times, were “a clever, well-informed group of agents of several nationalities and a variety of protective colorations.” “Writers, artists, journalists, a soldier, a seamstress ... the group worked in the best tradition of fictional spies. Members arranged meetings through code words, established contact by matching serial numbers on currency, and exchanged notes in cigarette packs.”

The sinister operations of the ring were as nothing compared to the information they forwarded to the Kremlin. Truly outrageous! Stalin was notified (1) that the Japanese cabinet would not enter an alliance with Hitler against the Soviet Union and Great Britain; (2) that Japan would center its attack on South' Asia rather than the Soviet Union; (3) that Hitler was planning to hurl an army against Moscow on June 20, 1941; (4) that Japan would push southward against Indo-China and not north to Siberia.

You can readily see what a heinous, horrible crime was committed and how grateful we should be to the Army for making it public. True, the Soviet Union was the ally of the U.S. in the war, and Hitler and the Mikado its foes. True, Sorge’s messages led to a withdrawal of the Red Army’s troops from Siberia to the Western front thus engaging the Wehrmacht, weakening their resistance to the Allied offensive, shortening the war and slaving American lives, as Roosevelt used to say. True, Moscow notified Washington about Sorge’s discovery of the impending attack on Pearl Harbor.

But don’t be soft-headed. There’s a great principle involved. Spies are spies. And such super-clever spies are positively a menace. Hirohito’s government, properly alert, apprehended the ringleaders, hanged Sorge and a Japanese collaborator by the neck and sentenced a couple of others to life imprisonment. Take a leaf from their book. If you want to safeguard country, God, fireside and family – Be Vigilant! Your daughter’s diary may not be so innocent as it appears.

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Last updated on 5 March 2024