Thank you for the interesting information about Japanese-Soviet battles pre-1939, Dan and Mark.
However, Henry was right when he said, "In fact, World War II for the Soviet Union began on Sept. 17, 1939 when its armies invaded and occupied Poland, in alliance with Hitler's Germany."
Some people bristle at assertions that the Second World War began with Germany's attack on Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, arguing that the Second
Sino-Japanese War was part of the Second World War and began with Japanese aggression on China on July 7, 1937. Others argue that despite its earlier and ongoing conflict with China, Japan didn't enter the Second World War until its attack on the US at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
It's even harder to contend that the Soviet-Japanese Border Conflicts of 1932-39 were part of the Second World War. While Japanese forces threatening the Soviets in the east were indeed defeated by Zhukov in late August 1939, the Japanese were planning a counterattack but held off after the politicians signed a ceasefire in Moscow Sept. 15, taking effect Sept. 16 and removing Stalin's last excuse for failure to attack Poland from the east under terms of his pact with Hitler. Soviet forces did invade on Sept. 17, as all of us on this forum are only too painfully aware.
The Japanese-Soviet ceasefire of September 1939 was strengthened by a Neutrality Pact that took effect April 13, 1941 and was to last five years. The US (especially) and UK were so eager for Stalin to break this pact and declare war on Japan (among other things) that they gave him half of Poland and dominion over the remainder (among other things) at Teheran and Yalta. Stalin subsequently did break that pact and attacked Japanese forces in Manchuria on Aug. 9, 1945 - three days after the Americans dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima and the same day they dropped another on Nagasaki, effectively blasting Japan out of the war. So it's pretty hard to argue that the USSR entered the Second World War by fighting with Japan in August 1939. (Interesting parallel, isn't it, how Stalin entered conflicts as late as he could in both the west in 1939 and east in 1945 and picked up
huge territorial gains for little effort in both cases.)
Germany's Ribbentrop started pressing the Soviets to get into action in Poland as early as Sept. 3, 1939, and several times after that as the Soviets kept balking at keeping their end of the bargain. (See the secret exchange of Nazi-Soviet communications starting Sept. 3, at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/ns061.asp) The German suggestions start out politely with cautions that their own soldiers will have to enter the "Soviet zone of influence" in Poland unless the Red Army got into gear soon, but became more insistent - perhaps because the Germans found that tiny Poland was holding out against its might better than anticipated and German losses were greater than anticipated (although they naturally do not say so in their communications with the Soviets).
I don't know where you read that "Stalin would never have moved against Poland if the Japanese threat hadn't been squashed in Mongolia," Dan, but it sounds ill-founded to me. The Soviets wanted half of Poland pretty desperately, and were nervous that the Germans and Poles might sign an armistice that would rob the USSR of the territories it felt due them under secret terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Consider this from a Sept. 10 report by the German ambassador to Moscow, Schulenberg, on Sept. 10: "... in accordance
with a statement by Colonel General Brauchitsch, military action was
no longer necessary on the German eastern border. The report created
the impression that a German-Polish armistice was imminent. If,
however Germany concluded an armistice, the Soviet Union could not
start a "new war." [by invading Poland too late]" - http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/ns069.asp
In any case, "what-if" speculations interest me less than what actually happened. What happened was that the Soviets entered the Second World War on Sept. 17, 1939 by attacking Poland, just as Henry said.
Sault Ste Marie, Canada
From: Dan Ford <cub06h@...>
Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2012 1:32:44 PM
Subject: Re: [Kresy-Siberia] Re: Gulags and disinformation
Lessened the threat to the USSR and increased that to the US, Britain,
and the Dutch in Indonesia. When it became obvious that the Japanese
army and air force were no match for the Red Army, the "navy faction"
gained influence in Tokyo. The army's goal had always been to expand
onto the continent, in China and in Siberia. The Chinese war was
stalemated and the Siberian option had been foreclosed. So the navy's
idea of moving into "the southern treasure chest" was the way the
Japanese decided to go at the Imperial Conference of September 1941. The
result was the Japanese breakout of December 7/8 against Hawaii, Malaya,
From what I have read, Stalin would never have moved against Poland if
the Japanese threat hadn't been squashed in Mongolia. In 1940, the
Russian fighter and bomber squadrons that had served in China since
1937/38 were withdrawn to reinforce the Red Army in the west. So this
was indeed a major change in the power balance in Asia as well as in
Eastern Europe. Where would the Red Army have been in 1941 if Zhukov was
still holding the line in Mongolia? Blue skies! -- Dan Ford USA
On 1/29/2012 12:58 PM, Mark and Oyun wrote:
> The defeat for Japan lessened the threat for the Soviet Union in the
> East... and two days after the ceasefire the Red Army entered Poland