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Old 06-22-2012, 07:36 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
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There is a new book out (2012) by Stuart D. Goldman entitled Nomonhan, 1939: The Red Army's Victory That Shaped World War II. The major, four months long battle known to the Russians as "Khalkhin Gol" and to the Japanese as "Nomonhan" took place in the area of the disputed and poorly demarcated border between the Mongolian People's Republic and Japanese-occupied Manchuria.

This book's strength is in providing the overall context in addition to the story of the campaign itself. That context concerns Stalin's concerns and diplomatic strategies vis vis Britain, Germany, and Japan as he attempted to make sure he would not be fighting a two-front war. It also involves debates within Japan about whether to pursue a northern thrust against the Soviet Union or a southern thrust into resource-rich areas such as the Dutch holdings.

When Japan invaded China following the Marco Polo Bridge incident in 1937, it was in Stalin's self-interest that China not be allowed to collapse completely. Therefore he gave considerable material aid to Chiang Kai-shek: "From September 1937 to June 1941, Russia supplied China with 904 planes, 82 tanks, 1,140 peices of artillery, several thousand military specialists, and over 450 pilots." (p.35)

Another point of statistical interest to me was numbers connected to Stalin's purge of the Red Army. We all know about that purge, but I had never seen precise numbers before: "Of the five marshals of the Red Army, three were shot, as were all eleven deputy commissars for defense. Seventy-five of the eighty members of the Military Collegium perished. Every military district commander was liquidated, as were the heads of the Army Political Administration and the Frunze Military Academy. Of the fifteen army commanders, only two survived. Fifty-seven out of eighty-five corps commanders were shot, as were 110 of the 195 division commanders. At the brigade level, only 220 of the 406 colonels survived. In the Soviet Far Eastern Forces the attrition rate was even higher, with 80 percent of the staff being removed in one way or another." (p.29)

One fascinating if disgusting character is Major Tsuji Masanobu, one the the firebrand young officers of the Kwantung Army who pushed for confronting the Soviets even if that involved ignoring orders from Tokyo. "Tsuji was on the mainland at the time of Japan's surrender and went into hiding in Southeast Asia, returning to Japan in May 1948, after the end of the IMTFE. He received amnesty for alleged war crimes in 1950 and was elected to the Lower House of the Diet in in 1952 [and to] the Upper House in 1959. While on a fact finding tour in Southeast Asia, he disappeared mysteriously in the jungles of Laos in 1961 and officially was declared dead seven years later." (p. 208, note 37)

Goldman's book is very throrough - he even contrived to visit the battlefield. Also, he was able to conduct interviews with a few surviving participants.
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Old 06-23-2012, 05:38 PM
 
Location: Texas
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Tsuji is an interesting character. I'd never heard of him before, so thanks for putting me on to him.
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Old 06-25-2012, 01:52 PM
 
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Sounds like a good read, thanks for sharing. So much of Soviet military planning and development came out of that campaign. For instance the development of the T34 tank was heavily influenced by their experiences at Khalkin Gol. Zhukov also used the opportunity to test many of the tactics that would later form the basis of Soviet planning in WW2 in terms of the proper use of armor, mechanized infantry and artillery.

The battle also had long ranging implications for the Japanese and the world. The Japanese defeat, in spectacular fashion, made a "southern strategy" the one overwhelmingly preferred by the Japanese command. A Japanese win at Khalkin Gol, may have meant no strike to the south to gain resources that they needed. A strike that could only happen if the US Pacific Fleet was neutralized.
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Old 06-30-2012, 04:26 AM
 
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I finished that book a few weeks ago and it was pretty good.
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Old 07-04-2012, 08:52 PM
 
Location: New York City
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What I find really interesting is that, besides the Soviet Union, Germany, of all countries, was also helping out China for a brief period of time.
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Old 07-14-2012, 04:48 PM
LLN
 
Location: Upstairs closet
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If the Japanese had maintained the pressure, Moscow would have fallen to the Germans...and then????
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Old 07-14-2012, 05:36 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LLN View Post
If the Japanese had maintained the pressure, Moscow would have fallen to the Germans...and then????
The problem with that scenario is that Japan did not have the resources of either manpower or heavy artillery or transport to pursue their conquest of China and to "maintain the pressure" on the Soviet Union. China turned out to be quite a quagmire for the Japanese - not that they couldn't beat the rag tag Chinese forces in set-piece battles, but that China was just so big and so populous that it became a constant drain on resources.

Once the Japanese had been pretty solidly trounced by the Soviets at Nomonhan, they quickly lost their appetite for attacking the Soviet Union. And Nomonhan was not even a Japanese attack on the Soviet Union per se - it was more like a border skirmish which turned into a large battle over an ill-defined border. Had there been agreement on both sides on exactly where the border was, it's rather doubtful there would have been armed conflict there in the first place.
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Old 07-16-2012, 10:18 AM
 
Location: Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LLN View Post



If the Japanese had maintained the pressure, Moscow would have fallen to the Germans...and then????


It would have saved ethnic Russians another 45 years of antichrist soviet communist misery.



.
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