From May through July 1939, the conflict was provoked and escalated by the Japanese, whose assaults were repulsed by the Red Army. In August, Stalin unleashed a simultaneous military and diplomatic counter strike. Zhukov, the Soviet commander, launched an offensive that crushed the Japanese. At the same time, Stalin concluded an alliance with Hitler, Japan's nominal ally, leaving Tokyo diplomatically isolated and militarily humiliated.
The fact that these events coincided was no coincidence.” Europe was sliding toward war as Hitler prepared to attack Poland. Stalin sought to avoid a two-front war against Germany and Japan. His ideal outcome would be for the fascist/militarist capitalists (Germany, Italy, and Japan) to fight the bourgeois/democratic capitalists (Britain, France, and perhaps the United States), leaving the Soviet Union on the sidelines while the capitalists exhausted themselves. The Nazi-Soviet Pact pitted Germany against Britain and France and allowed Stalin to deal decisively with an isolated Japan, which he did at Nomonhan.
Zhukov won his spurs at Nomonhan and won Stalin’s confidence to entrust him with the high command in 1941, when he halted the Germans at the gates of Moscow with reinforcements from the Soviet Far East. The Far Eastern reserves were deployed westward in the autumn of 1941 when Moscow learned that Japan would not attack the Soviet Far East, because it decided to expand southward to seize the oil-rich Dutch East Indies, which led them to attack Pearl Harbor.
The notorious Japanese officer, TSUJI Masanobu, who played a central role at Nomonhan, was an important figure in the decision to attack Pearl Harbor. In 1941, Col. Tsuji was a staff officer at Imperial General HQ. Because of the U.S. oil embargo on Japan, the Imperial Navy wanted to seize the Dutch East Indies. Only the U.S. Pacific Fleet stood in the way. Some army leaders, however, wanted to attack the U.S.S.R., avenging the defeat at Nomonhan while the Red Army was being smashed by the German blitzkreig. Tsuji, an influencial leader, backed the Navy position that led to Pearl Harbor. According to senior Japanese officials, Tsuji was the most influential Army advocate of war with the United States. Tsuji later wrote that his experience of Soviet fire-power at Nomonhan convinced him not to take on the Russians in 1941
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About the Author
Table of Contents
List of Maps viii
Chapter 1 The Legacy of the Past 7
Chapter 2 The Global Context 21
Chapter 3 Changkufeng 55
Chapter 4 Nomonhan: Preliminaries 79
Chapter 5 Nomonhan: A Lesson in Limited War 101
Chapter 6 Nomonhan, the Nonaggression Pact, and the Outbreak of World War II 154
Chapter 7 Nomonhan Casts a Long Shadow 166
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
An editorial in the 20 July 1939 New York Times described the conflict between the Soviet Union and Japan on the border of Outer Mongolia and the puppet state of Manchukuo as, “A strange war raging in a thoroughly out-of-the-way corner of the world where it cannot attract attention.” Indeed, geography, the compulsive secrecy second nature to both combatants and the subsequent outbreak of World War II in Europe combined to overshadow this little known but nonetheless critical, battle. Boasting the most extensive use of tanks and aircraft since World War I, Nomonhan, or Khalkin Gol as it was called by the Soviets, impacted World War II in areas far beyond the immediate scope of the battlefield. Nomonhan was the culmination of nearly fifty years of Russo – Japanese rivalry in the Far East. The Russo – Japanese War of 1905 followed Japan’s occupation of Korea. Japan then antagonized the new Soviet state when she intervened in Siberia during the Russian Civil War. Japan’s seizure of Manchuria, renamed Manchukuo, in 1931 created a 3000-mile border between two suspicious, hostile, diametrically opposed ideologies. The Changkufeng / Lake Khasan incident of 1938 was but a dress rehearsal for further hostilities. Consequently, what began as a minor clash between Soviet sponsored Mongolian cavalry and Japanese supported Manchukuoan cavalry on the Halha River rapidly escalated into a major campaign with far reaching consequences. In this extremely well researched and very readable book Stuart Goldman thoroughly analyzes the far reaching military and political consequences of this little known, yet critical campaign and how it factored into the concurrent diplomatic negotiations not only between Russia and Japan but also between the Soviet Union, NAZI Germany, Great Britain and France as those nations positioned themselves for war in 1939. At the battles' peak the Japanese fielded approximately 75,000 men, the Soviets perhaps 100,000. While the Russians claimed 50,000 enemy casualties the Japanese acknowledged losses of 8,400 killed and 8,766 wounded. The Soviets conceded 9,284 casualties. A relatively minor engagement by World War II standards, why is Nomonhan significant? As the author ably demonstrates Nomonhan influenced Stalin to enter into a Non-Aggression Pact with Hitler with dire consequences for Europe while Japan, based on her experience at Nomonhan, adopted a Southern or Navy strategy rather than the Northern or Army strategy previously favored with equally disastrous results for Asia. Nomonhan also launched the career of General Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov, future Marshal of the Soviet Union, savior of Moscow, Stalingrad and architect of the crushing Soviet counteroffensive that began at Kursk and ended in Berlin. Nomonhan, 1939 is a must read for any serious student of World War II. Highly recommend for its depth of research, breadth of scope and wealth of information.
In the summer of 1939 there was a limited border war between the USSR and Japan. It was short but fierce. The book describes the combat itself, which resulted in a defeat for the Japanese army of Manchukuo. This is a very rare example of a limited war between two major powers, each with imperial ambitions. The war influenced Stalin in the complex negotiations his government was conducting with the fascists and with the democracies before World War II. It also influenced the Japanese as they contemplated going to full scale war against either the USSR or the United States and its allies. Perhaps because this battle with tens of thousands of casualties was fought in the far east, its importance in the run up to World War II has not been widely recognized. The book is deeply researched by a historian deeply knowledgeable about the Soviet Union and Japan, informed by both Japanese and Russian archives. However, it is that rare thing -- a well documented historical text that is also a real page turner. It achieves readability by very careful selection of the background facts the reader needs, clear exposition of the military events, and explicit attention to the implications of the events in the evolution of larger strategic concerns.
A good addition to understand the Japanese expansion of the war into the Pacific, as well as providing a "piece of the puzzle" as to the rationale behind the German-Soviet Non-agression Pact of 1939. Additionally, provides information as to Marshall Zhukov's development and implementation of his tactical coordination of armor, massed artillery, mechanized infantry, and tactical air support which proved effective against the German army on the eastern front.