Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Tag: Russia (Page 1 of 2)

Episode 219 – The Red Dawn, Part 3

Turns out, getting involved in a land war in Asia really is one of the classic blunders.

This week, how did it all pan out?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Dunscomb, Paul E.  Japan’s Siberian Intervention, 1918-1922

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1854-1945

Debo, Richard K. Survival and Consolidation: The Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia, 1918-1921.

An interesting article on

A Japanese propaganda postcard showing Japanese troops in Siberia. Postcards like this were part of an army effort to build support for the intervention by portraying it as humanitarian.

A photo of the leadership of the Bolshevik forces that took Nikolaevsk. Yakob Triapytsin is in the center, reclining and wearing a white shirt.

Nikolaevsk in the wake of its recapture by the Japanese in May, 1920.

A memorial to the victims of Nikolaevsk in Otaru, Hokkaido.

The territory of the Far Eastern Republic.

The final cabinet of the Far Eastern Republic. A frankenstate maintained solely by the Japanese presence in the region, the FER did not outlive the withdrawal of Japan.

Mikhail Dietrikhs, the crazed monarchist anti-semite Czech who was the force behind the final White bastion in Russia.

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Episode 218 – The Red Dawn, Part 2

How did Japan fit into the broader framework of the Allied intervention? What were the Japanese trying to accomplish in Siberia? And who was even in charge of this damned thing? All that and more, this week.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Dunscomb, Paul E.  Japan’s Siberian Intervention, 1918-1922

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1854-1945

Guins, George C. “The Siberian Intevention, 1918-1919.” The Russian Review 28 No 4 (Oct, 1969).

Images

American troops in Vladivostok. America represented the largest contingent of foreign troops in Siberia other than Japan.

Kolchak reviewing the troops in Omsk in early 1919. He would launch a counterattack against the Bolsheviks later that year which would collapse, beginning the disintegration of his regime.

Anti-Bolshevik forces from Kolchak’s army. The White Russians were a rather motley group, brought together by little more than a shared distaste for Lenin’s ideas.

Japanese marines in a parade of Allied forces in Vladivostok.

The location of Lake Baikal. The lake represented the westernmost extent of Japanese influence during the intervention.

An ethnically Mongol soldier arrayed to fight the Bolsheviks. Grigory Semenov was able to use his heritage as a Buryat Mongol to convince other Mongols to join his cause.

The Alexander Kolchak monument in Irkutsk, where he was executed by the Bolsheviks in January, 1920. Today, Kolchak’s image is somewhat rehabilitated after years of being maligned by the Soviet government. In 1919, the collapse of his government caused the other Allies to begin considering withdrawal.

 

Episode 217 – The Red Dawn, Part 1

100 Years ago, Japan intervened in Russia to create a buffer state against the new Soviet Union. So how did that work out? We’ll start answering that question this week.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Dunscomb, Paul E.  Japan’s Siberian Intervention, 1918-1922

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1854-1945

Guins, George C. “The Siberian Intevention, 1918-1919.” The Russian Review 28 No 4 (Oct, 1969).

Images

Lenin addressing Soviet soldiers at the start of the October Revolution.

Prime Minister Terauchi, who led the charge for intervention.

General Staff Chief Uehara Yusaku, a hard-nosed realist and advocate of trying to create a buffer state in the Russian Far East.

Grigory Semenov, the cossack commander allied to Japan.

Alexander Kolchak, whose British-backed White Russian government was nominally allied with Japan against the Bolsheviks.

The Russian Far East is highlighted in red. Siberia proper is just to the west. Lake Baikal is the long, thin body of water to the north of Mongolia.

 

Episode 173 – The Maelstrom, Part 11

Today, we’ll wrap up our look at the Russo-Japanese War with some thoughts on its long term consequences. How much of an impact can a war that lasted for a year and a half really have?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Asada, Sadao. From Mahan to Pearl Harbor: The Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States.

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Drea, Edward. In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army.

Images

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For Russia, one of the biggest differences made by the war and the revolution was the birth of a representative assembly, the Duma. However, the assembly was generally disregarded by the Czar, which only proved to enemies of the regime that promises of moderation and an end to autocracy were so much hot air.

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An execution scene like the one that inspired Lu Xun to try and mobilize nationalism within the Chinese people. Though the Japanese generally did not attack or harm Chinese civilians intentionally during the war, this did not mean that they had much regard for Chinese lives. Accused spies like the one shown here were doomed merely by suspicion.

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The massive folly of the Yamato class superbattleship, shown here (the IJN Yamato on its shakedown cruise) was a direct outgrowth of the outmoded naval ideas of Togo Heihachiro. Nobody could challenge the authority of the victor of Tsushima, which meant that the navy wasted a lot of time refusing to update its ideas or equipment.

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The army’s obsession with spiritual toughness was such that eventually it was able to receive a mandate to begin army training before men were even conscripted. Children were given basic army drills as part of their PE requirements starting in the 1920s, with the instructors being former army officers.

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The burning wreck of the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941. The success of the Russo-Japanese War convinced Japanese planners that similar tactics would work on the United States. They did not.

 

Episode 172 – The Maelstrom, Part 10

Apologies for the technical delay! Today, we’ll watch Russia descend into chaos, and take a look at the peace negotiations that result as both sides realize they can’t keep this war up.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan. 

Peattie, Mark et al. Kaigun. 

Images

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Finnish demonstrators in the streets during the 1905 Revolution. In addition to a social upheaval at home, the revolution helped make ethnic separatism in the Russian Empire a more visible problem.

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Russian troops blocking the path of — and eventually firing on — protesters during Bloody Sunday in January, 1905. This event would kickstart the 1905 revolution, with thousands taking to the streets to protest the Czar’s autocracy.

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The drama of the mutiny aboard the Battleship Potemkin is probably the best known part of the 1905 revolution, thanks to the fantastic film made on the subject during the early Bolshevik years by Sergei Eisenstein.

Count sergei yulyevich witte (left) with theodore roosevelt (center) in 1905.

The American president, Theodore Roosevelt, with the peace delegations at Portsmouth. Sergei Witte is on the left; Komura Jutaro is on the right.

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The Portsmouth negotiations were a huge profile booster for the United States, and for Roosevelt in particular (who got a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts). This postcard celebrates the American role in the process with Roosevelt’s image front and center.

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An excellent map showing the final arrangements between the two sides. Overall, the Russo-Japanese War was far more costly for Japan than the Sino-Japanese War had been, and the benefits were not at all proportionate to the increased sacrifices.

Apologies for the technical delay! Today, we’ll watch Russia descend into chaos, and take a look at the peace negotiations that result as both sides realize they can’t keep this war up.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Peattie, Mark and David Evans. Kaigun.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan. 

Images

 

Episode 171 – The Maelstrom, Part 9

It’s time for the Imperial Japanese Navy to bail out the Imperial Japanese Army. But first, let’s enjoy the Russian Baltic Fleet’s Party Cruise to the Pacific!

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Asada, Sadao. From Mahan to Pearl Harbor: The Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States.

Evans, David and Mark Peattie. Kaigun.

MacMillan, Margaret. The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914.

Images

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Zinovy Roshestvensky, the Russian admiral who led the fleet to Tsushima and was then knocked unconscious and captured.

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The Knyaz Suvorov, one of the ships of the Russian fleet.

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A British depiction of the Dogger Bank Incident, which almost brought Russia into a second war.

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This famous painting is of Togo preparing to give the order to attack. His cool, collected demeanor in the face of the upcoming battle became somewhat legendary among Japanese commanders.

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The path of the Russian fleet — first to Tsushima and then once the battle began.

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A period woodblock celebrating the victory by showing the destruction of a Russian warship. I couldn’t get a high enough resolution image to read it clearly, but based on the explosion I think it’s supposed to be the Borodino.

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After the battle, Togo’s flagship, the IJN Mikasa, was preserved by the navy. You can still visit it at Mikasa park in Yokosuka.

Episode 170 – The Maelstrom, Part 8

In the last major land battle of the Russo-Japanese War, two great powers enter and…two great powers leave? Wait, I’m confused. How are the Japanese winning every battle and still not winning the war?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945. 

Nish, Ian. The Russo-Japanese War, 1904-05.

Wolff, David et al. World War Zero: The Russo-Japanese War in Global Perspective.

Images

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The Russo-Japanese War was big news around the world. This Italian magazine carried front page coverage of the Battle of Sandepu.

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Georgii Stackelberg, the Russian general whose gloryhound tendencies resulted in him leaking the planned Russian attack on Sandepu to the press in hopes of getting credit for it.

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Russian field guns in operation at Mukden.

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A postcard showing Japanese troops storming the ramparts of the Russian defenses. In practice, these kind of massed ranks of troops were very uncommon — charging forward in such a formation was functionally suicidal. However, older romantic notions of what an infantry assault looked like still held firm in many quarters.

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Russian forces retreat towards Harbin after the battle.

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Russian field medics treat an injured soldier. About 1/3 of the Russian force at Mukden was killed, wounded, or captured.

Episode 168 – The Maelstrom, Part 6

This week: the Port Arthur campaign, from start to finish. Wasn’t this supposed to be a cakewalk?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945

Jukes, Geoffrey. The Russo Japanese War, 1904-05.

Wolff, David, et al. World War Zero: The Russo-Japanese War in Global Perspective.

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Kodama Gentaro, who was sent to Port Arthur to figure out what was taking so damn long when Nogi consistently failed in his attempts to take the city.

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203 Meter Hill, the key to the Russian defenses of the Port.

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A view of Port Arthur from atop 203 meter hill. From that position, Japanese artillery was able to sight in on the city and the Russian fleet.

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Russian artillery trains advancing toward the front during the Siege of Port Arthur.

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Though photography began to displace woodblock prints as the chief means of illustrating news during the war, the old ways still had adherents. This print shows the fight for 203 Meter Hill.

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Russian troops stand over Japanese dead from the assault on 203 Meter Hill. The attacks launched by Nogi were incredibly costly — and arguably, hugely wasteful.

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After the conclusion of the battle and the Russian surrender, the leadership of both sides took a photo together in the gentlemanly traditions of 19th century warfare. Nogi Maresuke is center left; Anatoly Stoessel is center right. In Japan, the photo was celebrated as an example of Japanese being treated as equal to (or superior than) the defeated Russians.

Episode 167 – The Maelstrom, Part 5

The war rages on as the Japanese land in Port Arthur and press the attack, and Oyama Iwao advances north. The Russians will attempt to make a stand as divisions open up in their leadership.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Wolff, David, et al. The Russo-Japanese War in Global Perspective: World War Zero. 

Jukes, Jeffrey. The Russo Japanese War, 1904-05. 

Images\

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Russian troops stand over dead Japanese attackers during the Siege of Port Arthur. The Port Arthur campaign was tremendously bloody; Nogi’s penchant for frontal attacks and the well-entrenched defenders combined to create huge death tolls.

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Nogi Maresuke upon his recall from retirement.

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Field guns like this 11 inch howitzer would play a huge role in the battle for Port Arthur; without them, the Japanese stood little chance of blasting through the massive Russian defenses.

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Aleksey Kuropatkin, commander of Russian forces in Manchuria. A proponent of a defensive strategy of retreats to buy time, Kuropatkin was ordered by his civilian boss Yevgeny Alekseyev to make a stand. This lay the groundwork for the Battle of Liaoyang.

Episode 166 – The Maelstrom, Part 4

Today, we’re starting a war! The battle for Manchuria begins as Japan and Russia confront each other on land and at sea for the first time. But will the daring Japanese plan to win the war quickly pay off?

 

Well….kind of.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945. 

Nish, Ian. The Origins of the Russo-Japanese War. 

Nish, Ian. The Russo Japanese War of 1904-05, vol. 1

Images

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The surprise attack on Port Arthur on Feb 8, 1904.

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Oskar Stark, the Admiral in charge of the Russian Pacific Fleet in February 1904.

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A Japanese tactical map of the Battle of Nanshan. Nanshan itself is highlighted in red; Port Arthur is to the South.

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The Battle of Nanshan. Japanese troops are in the fore; Russian defenses are in the rear.

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