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Verk av Stuart D. Goldman


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Good, straight forward, narrative account of the Nomonhan (and other Manchurian) battle in 1939. Makes pretty persuasive case that Japan chose to "turn south" (to Indochina) and eventual war with US/British over "turning north" to war with Soviets due to the mauling Japan received at Nomonhan. Also makes case about Soviet delayed entry into Poland due to waiting for final resolution of Nomonhan situation. Well reasoned, convincing.
apende | 5 andra recensioner | Jul 12, 2022 |
For any one interested in World War II this should be a must read. It's about a small conflict between Japan and the USSR in 1939 and the implications it had on the outbreak of war in Europe.
rockinghorsedreams | 5 andra recensioner | Nov 13, 2014 |
Nomonhan, 1939 is a history of the little known border conflict between the Soviet Union and Japan in Outer Mongolia. Called the Battle of Khalkhin Gol by the Soviets and The Nomonhan Incident by the Japanese, this was the last and largest of a series of Japanese-Soviet border conflicts in the run up to World War II. The battle is significant for many reasons, and Goldman does an excellent job of placing this limited war in its proper military/diplomatic context.

Japan and Russia had a long running competition in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for dominance in eastern Siberia and northern China (particularly Manchuria). The competition often erupted into armed conflict, sometimes as small border conflicts and occasionally as full scale wars, such as the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 and the Siberian Intervention in the Russian Civil War in 1918. After Japan first conquered Korea (1910) and Manchuria (1931), they found themselves sharing a common border with first Russia and then the Soviet Union. Furthermore there was significant disagreement about the exact location of this border in some areas.

The long running competition between Japan and the Soviet Union over Chinese territories in eastern Siberia and China meant that Josef Stalin had to constantly worry about a major war erupting on his eastern boundaries. (Under the Tsars, Russia had obtained Outer Manchuria in the mid 19th century, and had accepted Outer Mongolia as a protectorate before World War I.) While the rapid industrialization of the USSR under Stalin meant that they had achieved significant qualitative (as well as quantitative) military superiority over the Japanese Army, the area was remote from the soviet center of power. Furthermore, the massive on-going purge of the Red Army was decimating the command ranks of the Soviet forces resulting in reduced efficiency and performance.

Meanwhile, the Kwantung Army, the Japanese military unit responsible for Manchukuo (Manchuria), had a low opinion of the Red Army and a rather inflated opinion of its own capabilities. Operating under the philosophy of gekokujo, or "rule from below", the Kwantung Army set its own military and foreign policy in defiance of the Army General Staff, the government and even the Emperor. Acting without (and sometimes against) orders, KwAHQ pushed back against what it perceived to be Soviet border violations (over 150 per year in the 1935-36 time frame). At the Amur River, Lake Khasan and finally Khalkhin Gol, the Kwantung Army attempted with increasing force to dominate the Red Army and "teach them a lesson."

To understand the importance of the Nomonhan Incident/Battle of Khalkhin Gol, it is important to place the incident in its proper historical perspective. The increasingly frequent border conflicts between Japan and the USSR took place while tensions in Western Europe were ratcheting up over the rise of Hitler. Stalin clearly considered Hitler to be his most dangerous enemy. (Hitler was hardly subtle about his hatred of Bolshevism and his desire for Soviet territories.) Thus Stalin faced two dangerous foes, one to his east and one to his west.

In the summer of 1939, Japan (or rather the Kwantung Army) intended to lure out the local units of the Mongolian People's Republic Army and their Red Army compatriots into the disputed area between the Khalkhin Gol River (known as the Halha River in Japan) and the town of Nomonhan and destroy them. This was an area some ten miles wide and 40-50 miles long. Their first attack resulted in a stunning loss. KwAHQ, humiliated by their defeat, increased their troop strength in the area and planned an even more devastating attack against the Red Army and MPR forces at Khalkhin Gol. This time they made no pretense of attacking troops involved in a border incursion. Their plan of attack called for placing troops into and attacking indisputably Mongolian territory.

Concerned with they growing tensions in the east, Stalin and Voroshilov sent the young Georgy Zhukov to evaluate the situation and report back on the performance of the commanders on the ground. Zhukov recommended replacing the commander and urged an increase in troop strength to repel what he believed to be an impending Japanese attack. He was given carte blanche to move in whatever forces he needed to defeat the Japanese and teach them a lesson. (Both sides were keen on the other learning a lesson.)

While both sides had poor intelligence regarding the troop dispositions and plans of their opponent, Zhukov had created an overwhelmingly superior fighting force. As a result, when the Japanese attacked, they launched themselves straight into a killing field of superior artillery and tank forces. The result was another humiliating defeat for the Japanese Imperial Army.

What makes this limited border war so important? First it took place during the months prior to the German invasion of Poland. While Stalin negotiated with both Hitler's Germany and the British/French/Polish governments, he was fighting a very hot war with the Japanese. Politically, the Japanese and the Germans were members of the Anticomintern pact, and Japan wanted an anti-Soviet defense pact with the Germans. If Germany and Japan reached such a deal, then if Stalin sided with the Western capitalist nations against Germany, he would be faced with a two front war. Simultaneously, if Hitler could not prevent Stalin from forming an alliance with the West, then he would be faced with a two front war. However, Hitler could betray the Japanese, sign a non-aggression pact with Stalin and face Britain and France alone, securing his eastern border at least for awhile.

For Stalin, signing a non-aggression pact with Germany meant that he could delay his inevitable war with Hitler and prevent the German-Japanese alliance against him. The non-aggression pact with Germany meant that he had secured his western border while he dealt with the Japanese.

For the Japanese, the sound drubbing that they took from the Red Army in August of 1939 indicated that they did not have the strength to face such a strong opponent alone. With Germany and the USSR signing a non-aggression pact, Japan would lack the military support of Germany in any future conflict with Stalin. Inevitably, they turned their attention south, bringing them into eventual conflict with the British and US.

In Nomonhan, 1939, Goldman provides an excellent overview of this tactically minor, but strategically very important battle. The book is readable with a skillful grasp of the political intricacies of the multinational politics of the period.
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fredbacon | 5 andra recensioner | Oct 21, 2012 |
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.
Waltersgn | 5 andra recensioner | Aug 9, 2012 |



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