Battle of Lake Khasan

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Battle of Lake Khasan
Part of the Soviet–Japanese border conflicts
Battle of Lake Khasan-Red Army soldiers setting the flag on the Zaozernaya Hill.jpg
Lieutenant I.N. Moshlyak and two Soviet soldiers on Zaozyornaya Hill after the battle [1] [2]
Date29 July–11 August 1938
Location
Result Ceasefire [3]
Territorial
changes

Soviets reoccupy Changkufeng after the Japanese withdrawal following a peaceful diplomatic settlement. [4]

Soviet-Japanese border set at the

Contents

Tumen River [5]
Belligerents
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union

Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg  Japan

Commanders and leaders
Strength
22,950 [6]
354 tanks
13 self-propelled guns
237 artillery pieces
70 fighters
180 bombers [7]
7,000–7,300 [8]
37 artillery pieces [7]
Casualties and losses
792 killed & missing
3,279 wounded [9]
46+ tanks destroyed
(Soviet sources) [10]
96 tanks destroyed or crippled
(Japanese sources) [11]
526 killed [12]
913 wounded [13]

The Battle of Lake Khasan (29 July – 11 August 1938), also known as the Changkufeng Incident (Russian: Хасанские бои, Chinese and Japanese: 張鼓峰事件; Chinese pinyin: Zhānggǔfēng Shìjiàn; Japanese romaji: Chōkohō Jiken) in China and Japan, was an attempted military incursion by Manchukuo, a Japanese puppet state, into the territory claimed and controlled by the Soviet Union. This incursion was founded in the belief of the Japanese side, that the Soviet Union misinterpreted the demarcation of the boundary based on the Treaty of Peking between Imperial Russia and Qing China (and subsequent supplementary agreements on demarcation) and that the demarcation markers were tampered with. Japanese forces occupied the disputed area but withdrew after heavy fighting and a diplomatic settlement. [14]

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Chinese language family of languages

Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases not mutually intelligible, language varieties, forming the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the ethnic Chinese majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.

Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 128 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language. It is a member of the Japonic language family, and its relation to other languages, such as Korean, is debated. Japanese has been grouped with language families such as Ainu, Austroasiatic, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance.

Background

For most of the first half of the twentieth century, there was considerable tension between the Russian (later Soviet), Chinese and Japanese governments, along their common borders in what became North East China. The Chinese Eastern Railway (CER) was a railway in northeastern China (Manchuria). It connected China and the Russian Far East. The southern branch of the CER, known in the West as the South Manchuria Railway, became the locus and partial casus belli for the Russo-Japanese War and subsequent incidents, leading to the Second Sino-Japanese War and Soviet-Japanese border conflicts. Larger incidents included the Sino-Soviet conflict of 1929 and the Mukden Incident between Japan and China in 1931. The Battle of Lake Khasan was fought between two powers which had long mistrusted each other.

Chinese Eastern Railway railway line

The Chinese Eastern Railway or CER(Chinese: trad. 東清鐵路, simp. 东清铁路, Dōngqīng Tiělù; Russian: Китайско-Восточная железная дорога or КВЖД, Kitaysko-Vostochnaya Zheleznaya Doroga or KVZhD), also known as the Chinese Far East Railway and North Manchuria Railway, is the historical name for a railway across Manchuria.

Republic of China (1912–1949) 1912–1949 country in Asia, when the Republic of China governed mainland China

The Republic of China (ROC) controlled the Chinese mainland between 1912 and 1949. It was established in January 1912 after the Xinhai Revolution, which overthrew the Qing dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China. Its government moved to Taipei in December 1949 due to the Kuomintang's defeat in the Chinese Civil War. The Republic's first president, Sun Yat-sen, served only briefly before handing over the position to Yuan Shikai, leader of the Beiyang Army. His party, then led by Song Jiaoren, won the parliamentary election held in December 1912. Song Jiaoren was assassinated shortly after and the Beiyang Army led by Yuan Shikai maintained full control of the Beiyang government. Between late 1915 and early 1916, Yuan Shikai tried to reinstate the monarchy before abdicating due to popular unrest. After Yuan Shikai's death in 1916, members of cliques in the Beiyang Army claimed their autonomy and clashed with each other. During this period, the authority of the Beiyang government was weakened by a restoration of the Qing dynasty.

Manchuria geographic region in Northeast Asia

Manchuria is a name first used in the 17th century by Japanese people to refer to a large geographic region in Northeast Asia. Depending on the context, Manchuria can either refer to a region that falls entirely within the People's Republic of China or a larger region divided between China and Russia. "Manchuria" is widely used outside China to denote the geographical and historical region. This region is the traditional homeland of the Koreans, Xianbei, Khitan, and Jurchen peoples, who built several states within the area historically.

The confrontation was triggered when the Soviet Far East Army and Soviet State Security (NKVD) Border Guard reinforced its Khasan border with Manchuria. This was prompted in part by the defection one month before, of Soviet General G. S. Lyushkov, in charge of all NKVD forces in the Soviet Far East at Hunchun, in the Tumen River Area. He provided the Japanese with intelligence on the poor state of Soviet Far Eastern forces and the purge of army officers. [15]

The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, abbreviated NKVD, was the interior ministry of the Soviet Union.

Soviet Border Troops military border guard service of the Soviet Union

Soviet Border Troops were the militarized border guard of the Soviet Union, subordinated to its subsequently reorganized state security agency: first to Cheka/OGPU, then to NKVD/MGB and, finally, to KGB. Accordingly, they were known as NKVD Border Troops and KGB Border Troops. Unlike border guards of many other countries, Soviet Border Troops also included the maritime border guarding units.

Defection giving up of allegiance to one state for allegiance to another in a manner considered illegitimate by the first state

In politics, a defector is a person who gives up allegiance to one state in exchange for allegiance to another, in a way which is considered illegitimate by the first state. More broadly, it involves abandoning a person, cause, or doctrine to which one is bound by some tie, as of allegiance or duty.

Build-up

Camouflaged Soviet tanks Battle of Lake Khasan-Camouflaged soviet tanks.jpg
Camouflaged Soviet tanks

On 6 July 1938, the Japanese Kwantung Army decoded a message sent by the Soviet commander in the Posyet region to Soviet headquarters in Khabarovsk. The message recommended that Soviet soldiers be allowed to secure unoccupied high ground west of Lake Khasan, most notably the disputed Changkufeng Heights, because it would be advantageous for the Soviets to occupy terrain which overlooked the Korean port-city of Rajin, as well as strategic railways linking Korea to Manchuria. [16] In the next two weeks, small groups of Soviet border troops moved into the area and began fortifying the mountain with emplacements, observation trenches, entanglements and communication facilities.

Kwantung Army military unit

The Kwantung Army was an army group of the Imperial Japanese Army in the first half of the 20th century. It became the largest and most prestigious command in the IJA. Many of its personnel, such as Chiefs of staff Seishirō Itagaki and Hideki Tōjō were promoted to high positions in both the military and civil government in the Empire of Japan and it was largely responsible for the creation of the Japanese-dominated Empire of Manchuria. In August 1945, the army group, around 713,000 men at the time, was defeated by and surrendered to Soviet troops as a result of the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation.

Posyet Urban-type settlement in Primorsky Krai, Russia

Posyet is an urban locality in Khasansky District of Primorsky Krai, Russia, and an ice-free port on the Possiet Bay. Population: 1,671 (2010 Census); 2,927 (2002 Census); 2,223 (1989 Census).

Khabarovsk City in Khabarovsk Krai, Russia

Khabarovsk is the largest city and the administrative center of Khabarovsk Krai, Russia, located 30 kilometers (19 mi) from the Chinese border, at the confluence of the Amur and Ussuri Rivers, about 800 kilometers (500 mi) north of Vladivostok. The city was the administrative center of the Far Eastern Federal District of Russia from 2002 until December 2018, when Vladivostok took over that role. It is the second largest city in the Russian Far East, after Vladivostok. As of the 2010 Census, its population was 577,441. It was previously known as Khabarovka. Khabarovsk is the closest major city to Birobidzhan, which is a town and the administrative center of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast.

At first, the Japanese Korean Army, which had been assigned to defend the area, disregarded the Soviet advance. However, the Kwantung Army, whose administrative jurisdiction overlapped Changkufeng, pushed the Korean Army to take more action, because it was suspicious of Soviet intentions. Following this, the Korean Army took the matter to Tokyo, recommending that a formal protest be sent to the Soviet Union.

Japanese Korean Army

The Japanese Korean Army was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army that formed a garrison force in Korea under Japanese rule. The Korean Army consisted of roughly 350,000 troops in 1914.

The conflict started on 15 July, when the Japanese attaché in Moscow demanded the removal of Soviet border troops from the Bezymyannaya (сопка Безымянная, Chinese name: Shachaofeng) and Zaozyornaya (сопка Заозёрная, Chinese name: Changkufeng) Hills to the west of Lake Khasan in the south of Primorye not far from Vladivostok, claiming this territory by the Soviet–Korea border; the demand was rejected.

In diplomacy, an attaché is a person who is assigned ("attached") to the diplomatic or administrative staff of a higher placed person or another service or agency. Although a loanword from French, in English the word is not modified according to gender.

Moscow Capital city of Russia

Moscow is the capital and most populous city of Russia, with 13.2 million residents within the city limits, 17 million within the urban area and 20 million within the metropolitan area. Moscow is one of Russia's federal cities.

Primorsky Krai First-level administrative division of Russia

Primorsky Krai (Russian: Примо́рский край, tr.Primorsky kray, IPA: [prʲɪˈmorskʲɪj kraj] is a federal subject of Russia, located in the Far East region of the country and is a part of the Far Eastern Federal District. The city of Vladivostok is the administrative center of the krai, as well as the largest city in the Russian Far East. The krai has the largest economy among the federal subjects in the Russian Far East, and a population of 1,956,497 as of the 2010 Census.

Battle

The Japanese 19th Division along with some Manchukuo units took on the Soviet 39th Rifle Corps under Grigori Shtern (eventually consisting of the 32nd, 39th and 40th Rifle Divisions, the 2nd Mechanised Brigade and two tank battalions). [17] One of the Japanese Army Commanders at the battle was Colonel Kotoku Sato, the commander of the 75th Infantry Regiment. Lieutenant General Suetaka Kamezo gave Sato an order: "You are to mete out a firm and thorough counterattack without fail, once you gather that the enemy is advancing even in the slightest". The hidden meaning of this was that Sato had been ordered to expel the Soviets from Changkufeng. [18]

On 31 July, Sato's regiment launched a night sortie on the fortified hill. In the Changkufeng sector, 1,114 Japanese engaged a Soviet garrison of 300, eliminating them and knocking out 10 tanks, with casualties of 34 killed and 99 wounded. In the Shachofeng sector, 379 Japanese surprised and routed another 300 Soviet troops, while knocking out 7 tanks, for 11 killed and 34 wounded. [19] Thousands more Japanese soldiers from the 19th Division arrived, dug in, and requested reinforcements. High Command rejected the request, as they knew General Suetaka would use these forces to assault vulnerable Soviet positions, escalating the incident. Japanese troops defended the disputed area. [20] In 1933, the Japanese had designed and built a "Rinji Soko Ressha" (Special Armoured Train). The train was deployed at "2nd Armoured Train Unit" in Manchuria and participated in the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Changkufeng conflict against the Soviets, transporting thousands of Japanese troops to and from the battlefield, displaying to the west the capability of an Asian nation to implement western ideas and doctrine concerning rapid infantry deployment and transport.[ citation needed ]

On 31 July, People's Commissar for Defence Kliment Voroshilov ordered combat readiness for 1st Coastal Army and the Pacific Fleet. The Soviets gathered 354 tanks and assault guns at Lake Khasan, including 257 T-26 tanks (with 10 KhT-26 flame-throwing tanks), 3 ST-26 bridge-laying tanks, 81 BT-7 light tanks and 13 SU-5-2 self-propelled guns. [21] The chief of the Far East Front, Vasily Blücher, arrived at the front line on 2 August 1938. Under his command, additional forces were moved up and from August 2–9, the Japanese forces at Changkufeng were attacked. Such was the disparity of forces that one Japanese artillery commander observed that the Soviets fired more shells in one day than the Japanese did in the two-week affair. [8] Despite this, the Japanese defenders organized an anti-tank defense, with disastrous results for the poorly coordinated Soviets, whose attacks were defeated with many casualties. Thousands of Soviet troops were killed or wounded and at least 46 tanks were knocked out, with another 39 damaged to varying degrees. [22]

Despite repelling the Soviet thrusts, it was clear that the local Japanese units would not be able to keep Changkufeng without widening the conflict. [14] On 10 August, Japanese ambassador Mamoru Shigemitsu asked for peace. [23] [24] Satisfied that the incident had been brought to an "honourable" conclusion, on 11 August 1938, at 13 hours 30 minutes local time the Japanese stopped fighting and Soviet forces reoccupied the heights. [25] [26]

Consequences

Red Army soldiers celebrate after the Battle of Lake Khasan. Soviet soldiers celebrate after the Battle of Lake Khasan.jpg
Red Army soldiers celebrate after the Battle of Lake Khasan.

More than 6,500 Soviet officers and soldiers were awarded the orders, decorations, and medals of the Soviet Union; [27] 26 of them were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union, [23] and 95 were awarded the Order of Lenin. [28]

Soviet losses totalled 792 killed or missing and 3,279 wounded, according to their records and the Japanese claimed to have destroyed or immobilized 96 enemy tanks and 30 guns. Soviet armoured losses were significant, with dozens of tanks being knocked out or destroyed and hundreds of "tank troops" becoming casualties. Japanese casualties, as revealed by secret Army General Staff statistics, were 1,439 casualties (526 killed or missing, 913 wounded); the Soviets claimed Japanese losses of 3,100, with 600 killed and 2,500 wounded. [29] The Soviet losses were blamed on the incompetence of Vasily Blücher. On 22 October, he was arrested by the NKVD and is thought to have been tortured to death. [30]

The Japanese military, while seriously analyzing the results of the battle, engaged with the Soviets once more, with disastrous results, in the more extensive Battle of Khalkhin Gol (Nomonhan) in the Soviet-Japanese border conflict of 1939. This second engagement resulted in the defeat of the Japanese Sixth Army. After World War II, at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in 1946, thirteen high-ranking Japanese officials were charged with crimes against peace for their roles in initiating hostilities at Lake Khasan. [31]

See also

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References

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  14. 1 2 Military History Online Retrieved Sept. 14, 2015
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  29. Alvin Coox, Nomonhan (Stanford University Press, 2003), p. 136
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  31. "Indictment from the International Military Tribunal for the Far East". Harry S. Truman Library & Museum. Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.

Further reading

Coordinates: 42°26′09.26″N130°36′39.62″E / 42.4359056°N 130.6110056°E / 42.4359056; 130.6110056