Skip to main content

View Diary: "War is constant noise": Russian WWII vets tell their stories (53 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  I should probably further clarify one point... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have never believed that Americans "won" WWII. It has always been my view that America simply contributed to an Allied victory. We were, in otherwords, one part of a larger effort. That many Americans feel the need to descibe the Allied victory as a purely American victory is, for the reasons you have pointed out, inaccurate and an insult to soldiers from other Allied nations, and the Russians in particular.

    Blackadder: They're upset, Sir, because they are so poor that they are forced to have children merely to provide a cheap alternative to turkey at Christmas.

    by AuroraDawn on Fri Oct 09, 2009 at 08:18:24 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Another overlooked factor: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Stalin had to keep large numbers of troops in the Far East to hold borders against Japan. He could probably have done it with fewer troops. It was only when Moscow was directly threatened by the German invasion that troops from Siberia were finally moved west and were key to the midwinter counter attack that stopped the Germans and began the push-back.

      But throughout the war Stalin kept a large  force in the East but not enough to launch an overwhelming offensive there. People forget that there was hostilities there BEFORE war broke out with the German invasion...

      ..the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact of April 1941. The Neutrality Pact freed up forces from the border incidents and enabled the Soviets to concentrate on their war with Germany, and the Japanese to concentrate on their southern expansion into Asia and the Pacific Ocean

      . Stalin also had intelligence that the Japanese were not planning any more offensives in Mongolia and Siberia allowed them the flexibility and increased confidence to focus on the West than otherwise would have been the case. But Stalin did not entirely trust his intelligence or the Japanese and felt he still had to keep and later add to the major resources tied up in the East.

      However, with success at Stalingrad, the Soviet attitude to Japan changed, both publicly, with Stalin making speeches denouncing Japan, and "privately", with the Soviets building up forces and supplies in the Far East.

      From 1943 to 1945 Stalin was increasingly able to maintain and add to Russian strength in the Russian Far East and that was due in part to the additional help the Allies sent to Russia and indirectly by the resources that Germany had to redirect in the other direction. Without that Stalin would have been hard pressed to keep and supply the forces he thought adequate in the East and successfully counter attack the Germans in the West.

      The Allies needed each other and without the full participation and support of each the outcome likely would have been very different.

      Another note...

      The arguments over the dropping of the Atom bombs that demonize the US totally over looks other views even from Japanese who were privy to the debate at the highest levels in Japan and the political realities there at the time.

      The "one condition" faction, led by Togo, seized on the bombing as decisive justification of surrender. Kōichi Kido, one of Emperor Hirohito's closest advisers, stated: "We of the peace party were assisted by the atomic bomb in our endeavor to end the war." Hisatsune Sakomizu, the chief Cabinet secretary in 1945, called the bombing "a golden opportunity given by heaven for Japan to end the war."[40]

      And the Russian factor there is important too.

      The Japanese attempted to negotiate with the Russians. A new Japanese prime minister and cabinet was sworn in in May 1945:

      In keeping with the custom of a new government declaring its purposes, following the May meetings the Army staff produced a document, "The Fundamental Policy to Be Followed Henceforth in the Conduct of the War," which stated that the Japanese people would fight to extinction rather than surrender. This policy was adopted by the Big Six on June 6. (Tōgō opposed it, while all the other Big Six supported it.)[32] Documents submitted by Suzuki at the same meeting suggested that, in the diplomatic overtures to the USSR, Japan adopt the following approach:

         It should be clearly made known to Russia that she owes her victory over Germany to Japan, since we remained neutral, and that it would be to the advantage of the Soviets to help Japan maintain her international position, since they have the United States as an enemy in the future.

      But Stalin played for time and did not seriously negotiate with them since he was sure of substantial gains by invading Japanese held areas later in 1945.

      As agreed at Yalta, the Soviet Union had intervened in the war with Japan within three months of the German surrender, and they were therefore entitled to the territories of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands and also to preeminent interests over Port Arthur and Dalian, with its strategic rail connections. The territories on the Asian mainland were subsequently transferred to the full control of the People's Republic of China in 1955; the other possessions are still administered by the Soviet Union's successor state, Russia.

      Though the north of the Korean peninsula was under Soviet control, the logistic machine driving the invasion forces had given out before the entire peninsula could be seized. With the American landing at Incheon — some time before the Red Army could have remobilized and secured the entire peninsula — Korea was effectively divided. This was a precursor to the Korean War five years later.

      What that means is: if the bombs had not been dropped the Soviet attack on the Japanese in the far east would have happened within days anyway (they may have moved up the invasion date slightly but the combined attack happened as soon as the final army groups were in position and the Japanese would have fought far longer and the Soviets would have had time to occupy all of Korea and been in a position overall to demand co-occupation of the Japanese home Islands. Either way the post war history would be totally different. My own father was assigned to a unit that was to be deployed in the planned invasion of the home Islands. I would probably not be here even if he had lived since his later life would have diverged along with that of millions of others.

      Think it through. The US did not want too much Russian involvement in the East post war. The war came to an abrupt end saving a staggering number of lives. Every day the war dragged on meant an additional death toll 10-days to 2 weeks of the average death rate in the Pacific war equaled the total dead in just the 2 bombs and that does not include the far huger losses from conventional bombing. Civilians and Soldiers were dying in labor camps, in direct combat and from disease that raged unchecked in many areas and deaths every other war related reasons. A shorter war meant millions fewer dead. The war would have staggered on for 2 months at least and maybe longer.

      The main Allied thinking about Russia was what would happen post war within their occupation zones? In the end the concerns were more than born out and it is fortunate for Japan and the World that the Russians did not have effective control of half of Japan postwar. Japan's post war economic miracle was jump-started by being used as the staging area and supply source for the UN troops in Korea during the Korean War. Without South Korea and a resurgent Japan the world would be vastly different than it is now. Without Japan going the way it has we would not be typing out these words in the way we are and probably we would not even be around to do it.

      Different people would inhabit the world but it would arguably not have advanced as far as it has in IT without Japan being able to be the innovative and productive powerhouse that it has been as well as South Korea. Both of which along with Taiwan have been experiments that served to change the approach the People's Republic of China has taken. And all due to how the war ended in the Pacific.

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Sat Oct 10, 2009 at 03:50:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for that additional information... (0+ / 0-)

        You present a fascinating argument. I knew that Russia had a long and complicated history with both China and Japan. Having fought a disastrous war at the turn of the century with Japan. I was not aware of the role Russian-Japanese relations played during WWII and post-war. Very interesting.

        Not only would the post-war period have been very different in the East, had the Americans not been involved. Imagine what life would have been like in the West if, instead of the US/UK/Canada liberating France, Belgium, the Netherlands, etc., Russia had liberated those countries. One wonders if they wouldn't have spent several decades as part of the Soviet Bloc right along with Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and East Germany.

        Blackadder: They're upset, Sir, because they are so poor that they are forced to have children merely to provide a cheap alternative to turkey at Christmas.

        by AuroraDawn on Sat Oct 10, 2009 at 01:27:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site