Aug 1, 2022
0 0

Summer 1941: Hitler demands that Japan immediately attack the USSR

However, the Japanese waited …

The Imperial Conference, held on July 2, 1941, in the presence of the Japanese monarch, determined the policy of the empire in the conditions of the outbreak of the Soviet-German war. On July 1, the Japanese government sent a message to the government of the USSR, in which it hypocritically declared “a sincere desire to maintain friendly relations with the Soviet Union,” “hope for a speedy end to the Soviet-German war, and an interest in preventing the war from engulfing the Far Eastern regions” . The Japanese High Command described the message as “a diplomatic prelude to the outbreak of war”.

Adopted on July 2, the “Program of the National Policy of the Empire in accordance with changes in the situation” provided for the continuation of the war in China and the simultaneous completion of preparations for war both against the USA and Great Britain, and against the Soviet Union. The policy towards the Soviet Union was formulated as follows:

“Our attitude towards the German-Soviet war will be determined in accordance with the spirit of the Tripartite Pact (Germany, Japan and Italy). However, for now, we will not interfere in this conflict. We will covertly increase our military training against the Soviet Union, maintaining an independent position. At this time, we will conduct diplomatic negotiations with great caution. If the German-Soviet war develops in a direction favorable to our Empire, we, by resorting to armed force, will solve the northern problem and ensure the security of the northern borders.

In his speech at the Imperial Conference, Japanese Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka said: “… As for cooperation with Germany in the German-Soviet war, Ribbentrop asked us about this on June 26, and then telegraphed again on this matter on June 28. At that time, we were discussing the content of the document “On Forcing the Policy towards the South.” We expected war between Germany and the Soviet Union. Therefore, Germany should not be given the impression that we are evading our obligations …

Four days after the start of the war between Germany and the Soviet Union, we declared that the war had nothing to do with the Tripartite Pact. And since then the Soviet Union has not made any protests. The Soviet Union asked us what Japan’s attitude to the current war would be. We replied that we have not yet made a decision on this issue … “

In fact, by decision of the Imperial Conference, an armed attack on the USSR was approved as one of Japan’s main goals. Unprecedented in scale preparations were launched for an attack on the USSR according to the Kantokuen plan (Special Maneuvers of the Kwantung Army). By making this decision, the Japanese government, in fact, tore up the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact signed two and a half months ago. The adopted document did not even mention the Neutrality Pact.

In an attempt to misinform the Soviet side, on the same day, Matsuoka, at a meeting with the Soviet ambassador, stated that Japan “intends to strictly observe the Neutrality Pact.” Immediately afterwards, he met with the German ambassador to Japan, General Eugen Ott, to explain the meaning of this statement. “Matsuoka said – Ott reported to Berlin, – that the reason for this wording of the Japanese statement to the Soviet ambassador was the need to mislead the Russians, or at least keep them in a state of uncertainty, in view of the fact that military training had not yet ended.

The false assurances of the Japanese government could not hide the concrete steps taken by Japan to prepare a treacherous strike. On July 3, the Soviet military intelligence resident in Tokyo, Richard Sorge, informed Moscow:

“… The German military attache told me that the Japanese General Staff was filled with activities, taking into account the German offensive against a large enemy and the inevitability of the defeat of the Red Army.

He thinks Japan will enter the war within 6 weeks at the latest. The Japanese offensive will begin on Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Sakhalin with a landing from Sakhalin on the Soviet coast of Primorye …

Source Invest (Hotsumi Ozaki. – A.K.) thinks that Japan will enter the war in 6 weeks. He also said that the Japanese government had decided to remain true to the three-power pact, but would also adhere to the neutrality pact with the USSR.

Regarding the Imperial Conference on July 2, Sorge reported on July 10: “An Invest source said that at a meeting with the emperor it was decided not to change the plan of action against Saigon, but at the same time it was decided to prepare for action against the USSR in the event of the defeat of the Red Army. German Ambassador Ott said the same thing – that Japan would start fighting if the Germans reached Sverdlovsk. The German military attache telegraphed to Berlin that he was convinced that Japan would enter the war. But not before the end of July or the beginning of August, and she will enter the war as soon as she finishes her preparations … “

At the same time, Sorge reported that “German ambassador Ott received orders to push Japan into war as soon as possible”.

The resistance of the Red Army forced the German leadership to reconsider their views on Japan’s participation in the war. If earlier Hitler and Ribbentrop did not insist on Tokyo’s participation in the war against the USSR simultaneously with Germany, but directed Japan to the south, against Great Britain, then soon they began to demand its immediate entry into the war in the north. Ribbentrop’s instructions to Ambassador Ott, referred to by Sorge, instructed: “To continue to make efforts to achieve the speedy participation of Japan in the war against Russia Use all the means at your disposal, because the sooner this participation in the war is carried out, the better. As before, the goal should naturally be that Germany and Japan meet on the Trans-Siberian Railway before winter sets in.”

Ambassador Ott telegraphed Ribbentrop on July 14: “… I am trying by all means to achieve Japan’s entry into the war against Russia in the very near future … I believe that, judging by military preparations, Japan’s entry into the war in the very near future is ensured … “

However, Tokyo was waiting for reports of a “decisive victory” for Germany. This prompted the German government to switch to the language of threats. Berlin brought to the attention of the Japanese government that if it did not take a decision by July 25 providing for “respect for the terms of the Tripartite Pact and the Anti-Comintern Agreement, and did not denounce the Russo-Japanese Pact by that date, Germany would consider itself free in its actions, and after victory over the USSR will look for the best means to use his influence and strength in his own interests. Germany made it clear that without participation in the war, Japan could not count on the capture of Soviet territories in the Far East and Siberia.

This caused concern in Tokyo, but the Japanese leadership continued to wait for the “most auspicious moment” to attack. Japan was preparing to attack the USSR, provided that the Soviet troops were clearly defeated in the war with Germany. Japanese Minister of War Hideki Tojo stressed that the attack should take place when the Soviet Union “is like a ripe persimmon ready to fall to the ground.”

The Japanese government sought to use the period necessary to complete preparations for the invasion of the USSR to put pressure on the Soviet Union in order to force it to make serious concessions to Japan. The calculation, among other things, was aimed at giving Japan a reason to attack if Moscow did not make concessions. The German ambassador to Japan reported to Berlin that the Japanese government intended to nominate “decisive demands that the Soviet government will not be able to accept”.

In July, the Japanese Foreign Ministry, together with the leadership of the land army, agreed on the requirements that were to be presented to the Soviet Union, taking advantage of its difficult situation on the Soviet-German front. The requirements were formulated in the document “Basic Principles of Diplomatic Negotiations with the Soviet Union” adopted on August 4, 1941 at a meeting of the government and the imperial headquarters. The document ordered to force the Soviet side to stop helping China, transfer or sell Northern Sakhalin, Kamchatka, Soviet territories east of the Amur to Japan, and achieve the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the entire territory of the Far East. On August 5, the new Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Teijiro Toyoda, who replaced Matsuoka, at a meeting with the Soviet ambassador Smetanin, tried to put forward these demands on the Soviet Union.

In essence, the ruling circles of Japan demanded the surrender of the Soviet Union. The prospect of capturing vast Soviet territories through blackmail suited the Japanese generals, who, remembering the experience of the defeat at Khalkhin Gol, feared the Red Army. In July, the chief and deputy chief of the Japanese General Staff of the Army explained to the chiefs of departments of the General Staff: “The use of weapons is aimed at resolving northern problems. However, if they can be resolved through diplomatic negotiations, behind which our armed forces will stand, then such a solution to the issue will be more desirable..

The “concept of diplomacy before the outbreak of war” with the USSR developed by the Japanese leadership provided that, “if political and strategic goals are achieved in the course of short negotiations, hostilities will not be launched”. However, it was prescribed “in case of failure of the negotiations, to carry out an armed action.”

In response to all this, the Soviet government stated that, in accordance with the agreement, Japan should liquidate its concessions in Northern Sakhalin, and the Neutrality Pact had nothing to do with the issue of assistance to China. Such a response was contrary to the plans of the Japanese ruling circles, and they continued to prepare to strike at the USSR.

Berlin meanwhile, meanwhile, demanded that a second front be opened in the east as soon as possible. Japan was given to understand that she would not be able to enjoy the fruits of victory if nothing was done to this end.

However, the Japanese General Staff and the War Ministry were waiting for the Soviet leadership to be forced to transfer most of the Far Eastern and Siberian troops to the Soviet-German front. I wanted to capture the Soviet Far East and Siberia with little bloodshed. Ambassador Ott reported to Ribbentrop that Japan’s decision to enter the war against the USSR was influenced by “Memories of the Nomonhan (Khalhingol) events that are still alive in the memory of the Kwantung Army”.

Having experience of intervention in the Far East and Siberia in 1918-1922, when the Japanese troops, unprepared for warfare in the conditions of the Siberian winter, suffered heavy losses and could not conduct major offensive operations, the command of the Japanese army proceeded from the need to avoid military operations against the USSR in winter. The Japanese ambassador in Berlin, General Hiroshi Oshima, explained to the Nazi leadership: “At this time of the year (meaning autumn and winter. – A.K.), military operations against the Soviet Union can only be taken on a small scale. It will probably not be too difficult to occupy the northern (Russian) part of Sakhalin Island. In view of the fact that the Soviet troops suffered heavy losses in the battles with the German troops, they can probably also be pushed back from the border. However, an attack on Vladivostok, as well as any advance in the direction of Lake Baikal, is impossible at this time of the year, and due to the circumstances, it will have to be postponed until spring..

In the document “The Program for the Implementation of the State Policy of the Empire”, adopted on September 6, 1941 at the next Imperial Conference, it was decided to continue the seizure of the colonial possessions of the Western powers in the south, without stopping before the war with the United States, Great Britain and Holland, for which, by the end of October, finish all military preparations. The participants in the meeting expressed the unanimous opinion that “there will never be a better moment” for going against the Americans and the British.

On September 14, Richard Sorge reported to Moscow: “According to Invest’s source, the Japanese government decided not to oppose the USSR this year, however, the armed forces will be left in the MCHG (Manchukuo) in case of a speech in the spring of next year if the USSR is defeated by that time”. And it was accurate information.

If you notice a mistake in the text, highlight it and press Ctrl+Enter to send the information to the editor.

Article Categories:

Leave a Reply