19 minutes read.
Before listing the top spies during World War 2, let's briefly clarify some terms:
In Japan, Sorge spied against both Germany and Japan. He became a close friend, confidant, and unofficial advisor, of the German military attache, later promoted to be the German ambassador in Japan. The two met daily for years, and the ambassador shared practically all of Germany's secrets known to him with his best friend, not suspecting that Sorge was a spy. At the same time, Sorge used his journalistic ties and cover to recruit Japanese agents, including an advisor of the Japanese Prime Minister.
The most crucial reports that Sorge sent to Moscow were: (a) Sorge warned Moscow, three weeks in advance, of the coming German invasion of the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa. Stalin ignored that report, refusing to accept that war was coming. (b) Days after the invasion started, Sorge reported, based on his Japanese agents, that Japan was not going to also invade the Soviet Union, despite being allied with Germany. That report was not ignored, and it enabled the Soviet Union to shift large military forces from the far East to the West, which helped to stop the German invasion and save the Soviet Union from defeat.
The increasing wartime activity and suspiciousness led to German suspicions against Sorge, but he was able to outsmart the GESTAPO (Nazi secret police) investigator and convince him of his loyalty. But the Japanese secret police, the Kempeitai, suspected and arrested Sorge's main Japanese agent, Hotsumi Ozaki, and followed by arresting Sorge on 18 October 1941, ending his 21 years long exceptionally long and exceptionally productive espionage career.
The Kempeitai initially thought that Sorge spied for Germany, but after Germany denied that, Sorge confessed under torture that he spied for the Soviet Union. Japan tried 3 times to offer the Soviet Union to exchange Sorge for a captured Japanese spy, but despite his exceptional service, which saved them from destruction, the Soviet Union insisted that Sorge was not known to them, so after 3 years in a Japanese prison, Sorge was hanged on 7 November 1944. Only 20 years after his death, Sorge was officially acknowledged by the Soviet Union, posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union and the rank of a Colonel.
General Douglas Macarthur said about Sorge that he was "a devastating example of a brilliant success of espionage", and top spy novelist Tom Clancy said, half a century later, "Richard Sorge was the best spy of all time".
Trepper's wide spy network obtained highly valuable information about the German military from multiple sources. Its most crucial information were two warnings about the coming German invasion of the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa, one delivered in advance, and one delivered in person by Trepper just before the invasion. These warnings, like those of Sorge, were dismissed by Stalin. During the war, it was essential to deliver information with minimum delay, so the spy network was forced to use radio transmitters. The Abwehr, the German military intelligence, intercepted the coded transmissions and, knowing that they assisted the Soviet Red Army, nicknamed them "Die Rote Kapelle", The Red Orchestra. This started a protracted chase by German intelligence to capture the transmitters and the spies who used them, but Trepper carefully built his large spy network to be resilient. Although several transmitters and network members were captured, the network continued to spy. It took the Germans until the end of 1942 to capture Trepper himself. He then bought time by outwardly accepting the offer by his German captors to become a double agent, but actually helped the Germans as little as possible and was able to deliver a warning that he's captured. Six months later he exploited an opportunity to escape and was not captured again. Five months after the liberation of Paris, Trepper was flown to Moscow, where he was arrested due to internal power struggles. He was interrogated and then imprisoned until 1955, when he was released and rehabilitated. He became a publisher, and in 1975 published his own autobiography, named "The Great Game: Memoirs of the Spy Hitler Couldn't Silence".
The "Oslo Report" was perhaps the most continuously useful single document from a spy in the history of espionage. It provided critically important information that gave Britain months, in some cases years, of early warning. Critical time needed to prepare for and to disrupt these revolutionary new and secret German weapons. These included: radio navigation for bombers, RADAR, proximity fuzes for shells and bombs, remotely guided missiles, cruise missiles, acoustic homing torpedoes, magnetically fused torpedoes, and the V-2 ballistic missiles. The document also revealed the exact locations of Germany's advanced weapons test site and its new aircraft test site. In 1943 Mayer was imprisoned for expressing criticism of the Nazi regime and remained imprisoned until the end of the war, but the Nazis never knew that he was a spy.
When British intelligence finally found out who he was, they discovered that Garcia, who offered to spy for Britain several times and was rejected, independently convinced German intelligence that he was running a network of agents for them in Britain, a network which did not exist, while he was actually in Lisbon, Portugal. He fed the Germans disinformation that damaged them, and was well paid for it by them. Juan Pujol Garcia was a genius of deception and disinformation. In April 1942 he was moved to London and became one of the XX comittee's double agents, the best of them. Working with British intelligence instead of all by himself, his fictitious network gradually grew to 27 nonexistent agents, allegedly reporting from all over Britain. Until the end of the war Garcia delivered to the German intelligence nearly 2000 reports, disinformation that caused Germany tremendous damage, and also carefully timed true information that could not help them but convinced them that Garcia's network was real. For his unique service, both fake and real, Nazi Germany paid Garcia over $300,000, and awarded him on July 29, 1944 the Iron Cross medal, and four months later King George VI made him a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE).
German Secret Weapons (7 minutes read)
The Battle Of Kursk (8 minutes read)
World War 2 Leaders (17 minutes read)
World War 2 RADAR (6 minutes read)
Russia In World War 2 (22 minutes read)
World War 2 Submarines (6 minutes read)
The Manhattan Project (7 minutes read)