Secret Intelligence Service
Soviet Military Intelligence
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This is a very large collection of era-specific papers, comprising; spoken thoughts, opinions, diary extracts, books and other writings of Soviet / Russian intelligence officers
Attention to the point of view
No X of XL
The activity of Russian military intelligence in the Far East, on the eve of and during the years of the Great Patriotic War, has always attracted the attention of lovers of Russia’s military history. However, the lack of declassified materials did not allow to fully represent the conditions in which intelligence operated, and its contribution to the defeat of militarist Japan. The events that unfolded in the Far East in August 1945 were not only characterised by the intensity of military operations, but also by the complexity of secret political intrigues that ended World War II. The Far Eastern patrol of the Soviet General Staff had to act without errors.
On July 17, 1945, the Potsdam Conference began its work in the suburbs of Berlin. The delegation of the Soviet Union was headed by I.V. Stalin. US interests were represented by Acting Vice President G. Truman. Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrived in Berlin from Great Britain, who, during the conference, surrendered his powers to Labour Attorney C. Attlee.
Negotiations in Potsdam looked like a match between two teams to overtighten the rope. On the one hand, Stalin participated in that political contest, on the other – Truman, who was helped self-confident and cunning Churchill. At times, the confrontation between the conference participants reached a maximum of tension, which was hidden behind the benevolent smiles and heads of delegations, and the diplomats who accompanied them.
The head of the Soviet delegation was supposed to have, besides perseverance, convincing political arguments. And he seems to have these arguments at his disposal. The Soviet special services, including military intelligence, were able to inform in advance and in sufficient detail the head of the Soviet delegation about the main approaches of the leaders of the United States and Great Britain on the most complex issues that should have been discussed during the Potsdam Conference. Valuable information was obtained by military intelligence officers ‘Maurice’, ‘Grant’, ‘Brion’ and ‘Moliere’.
One of the difficult problems discussed in Potsdam was associated with the end of the Second World War. The last shots of that war were to be fired in the Far East. To achieve victory over Japan, it was first necessary to defeat its armed forces. They were stationed not only on the Japanese islands, but also in Manchuria and on South Sakhalin.
The Soviet Union and the United States on the issue of war against Japan had only one immediate task in common – to achieve the surrender of this ally of Nazi Germany. The subsequent goals and objectives of Washington and Moscow no longer coincided. We can say that they were even diametrically opposed. Stalin wanted to strengthen the security of the Soviet eastern borders and the return of the Russian lands seized by Japan. Truman thought broader – he wanted to ensure the dominance of the United States in Japan, to gain a foothold in China.
As you know, in February 1945, during the Yalta Conference, in which US President Roosevelt took part, the Americans expressed great interest in the Soviet Union helping them in defeating Japan. However, the question of the participation of the USSR in the war against Japan arose in 1943 during the Tehran meeting. Then, in connection with the insistent demands of the Soviet delegation to open a second front in Europe, the leaders of the American and British delegations demanded that Stalin accept the participation of the Soviet Union in the war against Japan. He gave such consent, stating his readiness to enter the war in the Far East at the end of hostilities in Europe.
The US war against Japan could continue until March 1946. In pursuing the occupation of the Japanese islands, the Americans would inevitably have suffered considerable losses in manpower and equipment. The US Department of Defence estimated that about a million American soldiers and officers could have died in the course of these hostilities. Such victims would not be forgiven by American voters for Truman. And he understood that.
The Soviet delegation was ready to discuss in Potsdam the question of the start of hostilities against Japan. At the direction of Stalin, the Chief of the General Staff, Army General A.I. Antonov thoroughly informed the military representatives of the United States and Great Britain about the course of the preparation of the Far Eastern campaign.
Americans, too, carefully prepared for this meeting. In the course of it, they put forward a number of proposals. The first of these was that the Soviet Union should allow the United States to create on its territory two weather monitoring stations : one in Khabarovsk, the other in Petropavlovsk. The second and third proposals related to the coordination of the northern border for the conduct of sea and air operations by the armed forces of the United States and the USSR. The fourth proposal concerned the creation of a liaison group between the Allied headquarters in the Far East. The fifth request was related to an agreement on the use of Soviet air bases and sea strongholds. All these proposals were developed by the head of the American military mission in Moscow, General J. Dean.
At the end of the first military meeting, Admiral Leah presented the list with the requests of the US delegation to the Chief of the Soviet General Staff Antonov, who handed the list with the demands of the Americans to Stalin. After examining them, the Supreme Commander paid special attention to the request of the Americans to place their radio and meteorological stations in Khabarovsk and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Stalin told the chief of the General Staff:
– The Americans decided to make their own. We intend to set our Far East parameters. Not the weather and typhoons, of course, they are interested. They want to know as much as possible about our communications, ports and airfields.
Antonov agreed :
‘It is not possible to refuse an ally this time, on the eve of our conflict with Japan, comrade Stalin. But the delegation of American specialists in two times, approximately to fifty people, should be reduced.
– Perhaps that is what we will do, comrade Antonov. Prepare our response in this spirit to President Truman. Refer to the difficulty of accommodating their military personnel.
At the second meeting, Antonov told the Americans that Marshal Stalin had conveyed to President Truman the answer to the questions of the US chiefs of staff. At the request of the American military, which, as it turned out, Truman did not introduce Stalin’s reply, Antonov read the proposals of the Soviet General Staff.
The request of the American delegation to open its own weather stations in Khabarovsk and Petropavlovsk was accepted. However, these weather stations ‘… should have been serviced by Soviet personnel.’ Minor changes were made regarding the boundaries that were established for the operations of Soviet and American troops at sea and in the air. The proposal to exchange groups of liaison officers between the Soviet and American main headquarters was also approved. Antonov did not agree only with the request for the joint use of strongholds for the Navy and the Air Force.
According to General Dean, ‘… the military negotiations in Potsdam … ended in complete agreement.’
The US radio and meteorological stations were located where admiral Leahy requested. To serve them was still the American military personnel. When the Soviet Union appealed to the US government to place similar Soviet stations on American territory, the Soviet proposal was rejected on the pretext that American law prohibited the deployment of foreign military facilities in the US.
In Potsdam, Truman was looking forward to the message from Alamogordo, where the first atomic explosion test was conducted. July 21, he received a detailed report on the successful testing of the atomic bomb. When this news came to Truman through the secret channels of special communication, he realised that a new powerful argument had emerged in his hands in the struggle, and not only against the Japanese. Truman came to the conclusion that the United States could, without the participation of the Soviet Union, break the resistance of Japan and thus end World War II.
On one of the working days of the conference, Truman informed Stalin that a new weapon of enormous destructive power had been created in the USA. Churchill, who was watching the conversation between Stalin and Truman, thought that the Soviet leader had not responded to the message of the American president. Stalin already knew that an atomic bomb was tested in the USA.
Truman could not openly reject the participation of the Soviet Union in the Japanese campaign. Two circumstances prevented this. First, the Americans themselves have repeatedly insisted on joint actions by the United States and the USSR in the war against Japan. Truman did not dare to break the agreement reached in Yalta. Second, despite the assurances of his generals, Truman was still not sure that the atomic bomb would be so effective that its use would destroy Japan. He could not help but fear that the bomb would not be as powerful as he was convinced, and that it would not be possible to complete the war in the Far East with a single atomic strike.
Such a prospect could arise. About this Truman July 2, 1945 warned the Minister of War G. Stimson. He prepared a secret note for the president, in which he cited the following arguments : ‘If we land on one of the main islands and start seizing the Japanese islands, then the Japanese will most likely resist to the last drop of blood … huge losses and we will be forced to leave Japan.’
The Minister of War diplomatically asked his president a very difficult question : ‘Is it possible, without resorting to the forced occupation of Japan, to force its armed forces to unconditional surrender?’
Americans had two paths to achieve this goal. The first is to achieve the entry of the USSR into the war against Japan, and thus to shift to the Soviet troops the brunt of the fight against the numerous and well-equipped Japanese Kwantung Army stationed in Manchuria.
The second is to strike atomic strikes on Japanese cities and thus demonstrate the US military power to the Japanese and the whole world. This would exclude the participation of Soviet troops in the fighting on the Japanese islands. This option, if successful, made it possible to exclude the USSR from the process of the Far Eastern settlement or reduce its role.
US Secretary of State J. Byrnes, who participated in the Potsdam Conference, wrote in his memoirs: and we had to adhere to our obligations.’
The bet was made on the use of the atomic bomb. The calculation was simple – the use of new weapons should have forced Japan to capitulate before the Soviet Union entered the war in the Far East.
On July 24, Truman approved the order to the commander of strategic aviation, General Spaatsu, about the atomic bombing of Japan. The order stated : ‘The 509th Air Group of the 20th Air Army … after August 3, 1945, as soon as the weather allows, to make a visual bombardment for one of the following purposes : Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata and Nagasaki.’
So Truman made the final decision – not to officially abandon the agreed decisions of the Yalta Conference, but really – to exclude the Soviet Union from the further process of solving the Far Eastern problems, dropping atomic bombs on Japanese cities. The secret plan to force Japan to capitulate before the Soviet Union entered the war in the Far East was put into action.
The Potsdam Declaration imposed strict requirements. The Japanese government was asked to stop resistance and accept the conditions of unconditional surrender. The Allies insisted on the elimination of the rule of militarists in Japan, demanded the punishment of war criminals, the dissolution of the Japanese armed forces and military disarmament. The terms of surrender provided for the development in Japan of only such an industry that would allow it to maintain its economy and pay ‘fair reparations in kind.’
The provisions of the declaration provided for the preservation of imperial power, the sovereignty of Japan over the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku. Other smaller islands should have been indicated later.
The heads of government of the United States, China and Great Britain, who signed the Potsdam Declaration, defining the conditions for the occupation of Japan, stated that ‘… the Allied occupation forces will be withdrawn from Japan as soon as a peaceful and responsible government is established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people’ (The Potsdam Declaration, published on July 26, 1945 as part of the Potsdam Conference, is a joint declaration on behalf of the governments of Great Britain, the United States and China. It demanded an unconditional capitol of Japan in World War II and formulated the basic principles of a peaceful settlement. On July 28, the Japanese government rejected the demands of the Potsdam Declaration. On August 8, the USSR joined the Potsdam Declaration and declared war on Japan. – Ed.).
The Soviet Union did not take part in the signing of the declaration, but its adoption, as claimed by the head of the American military mission in Moscow, General Dean, ‘… passed with the consent of Stalin.” It is possible that it was. But there was more. Even before the Potsdam Conference began, Stalin had the opportunity to familiarise himself with the contents of this document, the draft text of which was prepared in Washington in May 1945. Soviet intelligence was able to find out the content of the draft declaration from one of its reliable and reliable sources, which operated in the US capital. The work of this source was led in the United States by military intelligence officer Captain Lev Alexandrovich Sergeev. At the Center he had the pseudonym ‘Maurice’.
Stalin was aware that American intelligence had the key to the Japanese diplomatic cipher. Intercepting Japanese diplomatic radiograms, the Americans knew what instructions the Japanese Foreign Ministry sent to their ambassadors. Thanks to the efforts of Soviet intelligence, Stalin also had the opportunity to get acquainted with some of these documents that Soviet intelligence sources mined in the United States.
The Japanese government, apparently in order not to undermine the morale of the nation, which was still to be fought, decided to publish the Potsdam Declaration in abbreviated form. The Domey Tsusin news agency transmitted a statement : ‘It has been reported from authoritative sources that Japan will disregard the joint appeal of Churchill, Truman and Chiang Kai-shek, urging the Japanese to announce unconditional surrender.’ According to the agency, Japan was going to wage war until ‘the very end, in accordance with its established policy.’
On July 28, Prime Minister K. Suzuki said at a press conference that Japan was ignoring the Potsdam Declaration. This performance was undoubtedly a hasty mistake. Refusal to recognise the conditions of the Potsdam Conference gave Truman the right to use atomic weapons, the use of which could already be justified by military necessity. And Truman immediately took advantage of this error. As soon as the Potsdam Conference ended, he hurried to Washington.
Moscow knew that the United States at the final stage of World War II could use atomic weapons against Japan. This was reported back in 1944 to the Centre from New York by illegal intelligence officer Arthur Adams (‘Achilles’). In a letter to the chief of military intelligence, Adams on March 7, 1944, in particular, reported that the new projectile, which is being created in the US, ‘being dropped on the ground, it will destroy everything living in the area hundreds of miles away. This is designed to complete the destruction of Japan.’
Reporting the creation of an atomic bomb in the United States, Adams wrote : ‘there is no guarantee that our allies will not try to influence us when they have such weapons at their disposal.’
The data obtained by the Soviet intelligence officer Arthur Alexandrovich Adams was fully confirmed on August 6, 1945.
Arriving in Moscow from Potsdam, Army General A.I. Antonov invited the head of the Far Eastern direction of the Operational Directorate of the General Staff, Major General N.A. Lomov. Special Forces for the Far East, commanded by Lomov, was established in June 1943. Beginning in September 1944, A.I. Antonov, S.M. Shtemenko and N.A. Lomov began to prepare preliminary calculations in case of war with Japan.
The General Staff started the detailed elaboration of the plan for the Far Eastern campaign even before the start of the Potsdam conference. The final draft of the plan was reviewed by the Supreme High Command in mid-June 1945.
In the summer of 1945, military intelligence activities began a period when it was necessary to concentrate the main forces on providing the Supreme Command with the information needed to complete the preparation and successful conduct of the Manchurian strategic offensive operation, which was the main operation of the entire Far Eastern campaign. To develop and conduct such an operation without accurate intelligence data about the enemy was impossible. Retrieving information about the Japanese army, too, should be so as not to alert the Japanese in advance.
Military intelligence is rarely mentioned in the memoirs of Soviet commanders who participated in the defeat of the Kwantung Army. This is not by chance. The fact is that when the books of these famous military leaders were published, only 20-30 years passed after the end of the Second World War. At that time, all materials on the activities of domestic military intelligence were closed. This circumstance was the main reason that the military leaders could not assess the actions of those intelligence officers who obtained the necessary intelligence information for them.
In the Far East, Russia has always had the same difficult relationship as in the West. The main source of many Far Eastern problems for Russia, was Japan. The land of the rising sun in 1904 launched a war against Russia and achieved victory. At a conference in the American city of Portsmouth on August 5, 1905, a peace treaty was signed between Russia and Japan. Under this treaty, Russia, which lost the war, ceded Japan the long-term lease on the Liaodong Peninsula in the area where the cities of Port Arthur and Dalny are located, the southern half of Sakhalin Island and the southern branch of the Chinese Eastern Railway (CER), later called the South Manchurian railway (YuMZHD).
Russia also recognised the actual predominance of Japan in Korea, pledged to enter into an agreement with Japan to grant Japanese citizens the right to fish along the coasts of the Russian possessions in the Sea of Japan, Okhotsk and the Bering Sea. The reasons for the defeat of Russia in the war with Japan are many. One of them is poorly organised and insufficiently active Russian military intelligence.
Already in the first years of Soviet power, the Red Army Intelligence Directorate began to take organisational measures aimed at creating intelligence in the Far East. A division of military intelligence was established at the headquarters of the 5th Red Banner Army, which began to gather information about Japan, its plans and the armed forces. The head of the intelligence department was Randmer, the duties of the deputy head of the intelligence section were performed by Protopopov. Departments of human intelligence were also formed at the headquarters of the rifle corps, which were part of the 5th Army.
From November 1923, the tasks of reconnaissance in Japan, China and Mongolia were assigned to the reconnaissance department of the 5th Army, which was joined by the People’s Revolutionary Army of the Far Eastern Republic.
In 1924, it was decided to strengthen the intelligence work on obtaining information about Japan. The intelligence division of the Siberian Military District has stepped up the use of various possibilities for solving intelligence tasks. For these purposes, the possibilities of the Soviet official missions that opened at that time in Japan began to be used; intelligence officers were sent to Japan under the cover of the Centrosoyuz and Sovtorgflot that existed in those years.
The need for accurate and timely information about Japan has steadily increased. This is evidenced by the report on the work of the information and statistics department of the RKKA Intelligence Division for 1924–1925. This document indicated that it was necessary ‘to cover the details of the armed forces of Japan, which, due to political and other conditions, was still not adequately covered by our agent apparatus’.
The organisers of military intelligence in the Far East were Randmer, Protopopov, Vishnevetsky, Melnikov, Askov, Sallnin and others. The chief of the intelligence department of the Separate Red Banner Far Eastern Army was Nikolai Petrovich Vishnevetsky. In 1930, he went on a special trip to Japan, where he was engaged in intelligence work for about six years. After returning from a business trip, Vishnevetsky was appointed to the post of head of the intelligence department of the OKDA headquarters, came under repression, in 1937 he was arrested and shot. Rehabilitated in 1956.
The fate of military intelligence officer Leonid Yakovlevich Burlakov was difficult. He worked for the CER, in 1921–1922 he headed the underground Awareness Department of the Far Eastern Republic, in 1922 became a military intelligence officer. In 1922–1925, Burlakov led the intelligence network of the 5th Army in Primorye and China, after expelling the Japanese from Primorye, combined party work with intelligence, visited the Japanese-occupied Sakhalin illegally, organised intelligence in Manchuria, led by one of the organisers of military intelligence in Far East Kristapsa Salnyn, acted in Canton.
In September 1925, during the conduct of an undercover operation, Burlakov was seized by the Chinese, who acted on instructions from the Japanese counterintelligence, at Pogranichnaya station. In 1926 he was sentenced to 9 years and 2 months in a convict prison.
The command of military intelligence made a lot of effort to find a version of the release of Burlakov. This was achieved only in April 1930. In Moscow, Burlakov underwent a long course of treatment. A year later he was again sent to Vladivostok. From 1931 to 1936, Burlakov was an assistant to the intelligence chief of the 57th rifle division, led the intelligence department of the OKDA headquarters, set up intelligence posts along the Soviet-Chinese border, and was the intelligence chief of the Pacific Fleet headquarters.
While working in the Far East, Burlakov developed a plan for introducing a Soviet intelligence officer-illegal into the territory of Japan and selected a candidate for this task. They became Vasily Sergeevich Oschepkov, who since 1914 has been an employee of the intelligence department of the headquarters of the Amur Military District.
After the establishment of diplomatic relations with Japan, Karl Yurievich Yanel was appointed the first Soviet military and naval attache in Tokyo, who in 1921–1922 was an employee of the RSFSR ombudsman in Berlin and carried out the tasks of Soviet military intelligence.
In 1924, after graduating from the Military Academy, Yanel was sent to reconnaissance work in Vienna, then to Japan, where he operated until 1926.
In 1925, a retired captain of the Japanese navy was recruited by Janela’s residency. He was able to produce a collection of orders on the Japanese Navy. In September 1925, one of the intelligence officers, Janel, succeeded in recruiting an employee of the Asahi newspaper and a major merchant who passed on scientific and technical information.
In 1931, Alexander Ivanovich Kukk, an active participant in the Civil War, was appointed Soviet military attache in Japan. Before being sent to a special mission in Japan, Kukk was the commander of the 16th Army (1920–1921), worked as an assistant chief of the Red Army Intelligence Directorate (1921–1923). In Japan, A.I. Kukk worked until May 1932.
From 1932 to 1937, Ivan Aleksandrovich Rink was military attaché in Japan.
In Japan, the tasks of military intelligence were carried out by M. Babichev, who worked under the cover of Sovtorgflot. Prior to being sent to the special mission, Babichev underwent special training, gained experience in intelligence work and was able to do well what was required of him.
The military intelligence officer Arkady Borisovich Askov successfully worked in Japan. In 1923 he graduated from the Anglo-Saxon branch of the Institute of External Relations, in 1925 he graduated from the Japanese department of the oriental department of the Red Army Military Academy. After graduating from the Academy, he was sent to reconnaissance work in Japan. Returning from the special mission, Askov worked in the central military intelligence apparatus. In September 1933, he was again sent to Japan as a resident of military intelligence. In 1936, Askov was promoted to the rank of regimental commissioner.
Successfully performed the task of obtaining information about the armed forces of Japan and the regimental commissar Georgy Alexandrovich Abramov. In 1926–1930 he was a member of the intelligence department of the headquarters of the Siberian Military District, in 1932 he graduated from academic courses of higher and senior commanders at the Intelligence Directorate, was with the Chief of the Intelligence Directorate of the Red Army headquarters to perform special assignments.
Soviet military intelligence obtained information about the Japanese armed forces not only in Japan, but also used the capabilities that arose in Manchuria and Korea to solve this problem.
On September 18, 1931, Japan began hostilities against Manchuria. As always, the reason for this was the ‘incident’, which was prepared and carried out by the Japanese near Mukden. Japanese authorities said a group of Chinese soldiers had destroyed a section of the South China Railway. Under the pretext of the need to protect the railway, Japanese troops began hostilities, captured Mukden, Changchun, Andong and other cities in southern Manchuria. For a short time, Jirin was under Japanese control, and then Qiqihar, the main city of northern Manchuria. In early January, the Japanese captured Harbin. Manchuria was in the hands of the Japanese, who created a new vast base for actions against the Soviet Union.
Considering the difficult situation that developed along the Soviet Far Eastern borders, the head of the Intelligence Directorate, Jan Berzin, decided to advance the position of Soviet military intelligence in the Far East in advance. To this end, a plan was developed for the introduction of illegal intelligence officer Richard Sorge to Japan, which was soon done. The residency of the Soviet military intelligence in Shanghai, which was led by Sorge, was assigned to lead Yakov Grigorievich Bronin (operational pseudonym ‘Abram’).
Bronin in 1933 was in a special illegal business trip in Germany. In June of the same year, following the instructions of the Centre, he met with Sorge in Berlin and then went to Shanghai. Sorge went to Tokyo. Residency, which was led by Bronin, successfully fulfilled the tasks assigned to it. ‘Abram’ timely and fully covered the actions of the Japanese in China.
In September 1935, Bronin sent a report to the Centre, in which he announced the meeting of the new commander of Japanese forces in Northern China, General Tad, with Japanese journalists. Tada openly called for the overthrow of the Chinese government and the Kuomintang, the establishment of ‘independent’ North China, and the ‘cooperation’ of Japan with China in order to save it from ‘Sovietization’. Bronin said that the Japanese, seeking ‘autonomisation’ of the five Chinese provinces, are seeking to strengthen their own positions in China. The principle of ‘divide and conquer’ has always been actively used by conquerors.
The Japanese authorities established that November 1935 is the deadline for creating an ‘autonomous regime’ in the five Chinese provinces of northern China. To complete the process of ‘autonomisation’, the chief of intelligence of the Kwantung Army, General Doihara, arrived in Tianjin and began negotiations with representatives of five provinces. At the same time, on November 15, the headquarters of the Kwantung Army concentrated four divisions at the Wall of China, ostensibly to defend the new ‘autonomous region’. In order to eliminate the opponents of ‘autonomy’, the Japanese carried out mass arrests in a number of cities.
In November 1935, Yakov Bronin, a resident of the Soviet military intelligence, was later captured by Chinese counterintelligence, who was subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison. The wife of the resident radio operator Ellie Ivanovna Bronina managed to travel to the USSR. The failure in the residency ‘Abram’ gradually managed to localise. But it was not immediately possible to get Bronin out of a Chinese prison. Only after some time, the intelligence officer was exchanged for an important Chinese, who was in captivity on the territory of the USSR.
Lev Aleksandrovich Borovich, who in 1936–1937 was a resident of the Soviet military intelligence in Shanghai, successfully engaged in the exploration of Japan from the territory of China. Significant success in obtaining information about the Japanese troops in China was also achieved by military intelligence officer Zalman Litvin.
Residents of military intelligence reported to the Centre about the goals pursued by Japan, signing on November 25, 1936 with Germany, in which the fascist dictatorship, the so-called ‘Anti-Comintern Pact’ was established. They knew in Moscow about the goals of the signing of the Three Powers Pact in Berlin in 1940, signed by Ribbentrop, Ciano and Kurusu. The Berlin Pact stated that Germany and Italy ‘recognise and respect the leadership of Japan in creating a new order in the great East Asian space.’ The pact of the three powers of 1940 was directed against the USSR. This was reported to the R. Sorge Centre and other intelligence officers.
In general, in the years 1930-1940. Japan was engaged in reconnaissance by the residency of the Red Army Headquarters Intelligence Directorate, which were located in Shanghai, Harbin, Dairen, Chongqing, Tokyo, Nagasaki and in some other Japanese, Chinese and Manchu cities. The Far Eastern patrol of the Soviet General Staff, despite some failures in work, has become stronger. Military intelligence officers quite successfully coped with the task of obtaining information about the Japanese armed forces, the military industry and the foreign policy of Japan.
The plague bacterium : On January 4, 1938, the deputy head of the Red Army Intelligence Directorate, Senior Major of State Security S.G. Gendin sent I.V. Stalin’s top secret report of particular importance. In this report, it was reported : ‘The agent data established that in 1937 the Japanese organized a bacteriological laboratory in Harbin. About 200 specialists work in the laboratory, half of which came from Kyoto University. The laboratory conducts experiments on the cultivation and spread of plague, typhoid and cholera bacteria.’
As was later established, it was a secret Japanese bacteriological centre established in the area of the city of Harbin. This centre originated in 1936, when Japan’s military preparations for the war against the USSR were strengthened. It was then that, by decree of Emperor Hirohito, the General Headquarters of the Japanese Army deployed not one but two bacteriological institutions in Manchuria, designed not only to develop methods of waging bacteriological warfare, but also to create bacteriological weapons in sizes sufficient to actively support the combat operations of the Japanese army against the Soviet Union.
Bacteriological centres were strictly classified. The Harbin Center, better known as ‘Detachment 731’, was called the ‘Department of Water Supply and Prevention of Parts of the Kwantung Army’ for disguise. This institution was located in a specially built and strictly guarded military camp near Pingfan station, 20 kilometers from Harbin.
The Kwantung Army Water Authority attracted the attention of Soviet military intelligence officers who operated in Harbin, not by accident. Employees of the facility engaged in the cultivation and spread of plague, typhoid and cholera bacteria. This was what Soviet spies learned.
Deputy Chief of Military Intelligence, State Security Commissioner 3rd Rank SG Gendin ordered to send a special message about the bacteriological centre detected near Harbin not only to Stalin, but also to the highest official of the Soviet state A.A. Zhdanov, V.M. Molotov, N.I. Yezhov, K.E. Voroshilov and MP Frinovsky.
As it turned out, intelligence data was reliable. Under the direction of the People’s Commissar of Defence, Deputy Chief of Military Intelligence, SG Gendin sent to the residency of the Soviet military intelligence, which operated in the Far East, urgent instructions. Spies were required to obtain information about Japanese laboratories and detachments that were engaged in the development of bacteriological weapons, as well as report all cases of diseases of the local population with typhus, cholera, plague and similar infectious diseases.
The Far Eastern residences of Soviet military intelligence took control of the epidemiological situation in Manchuria. It was not easy to do. Nevertheless, the Centre began to receive data on the occurrence of diseases of cholera, plague, typhoid and other infectious diseases in Manchuria and in China. This disturbing information could have indicated that the Japanese had begun to test bacteriological weapons or made mistakes in their villainous experiments.
The military intelligence station in Harbin in 1937-1939 was led by the resident ‘Lavrov’. Military intelligence officers sought to control the ‘Water Supply Directorate of the Kwantung Army’ and the activities of its personnel. It was possible to extract some information, but what became known required the adoption of pre-emptive measures aimed at protecting both the troops of the Red Army and the population of the Soviet Far East.
On July 6 of the same year, ‘Lavrov’ sent a new report to the Centre, in which it reported : ‘In the Tungliao district, several deaths were caused by the plague in July.’
On July 14, 1938, Lavrov once again reported to the Centre : ‘Recently, a large number of diseases of dysentery have appeared in all cities of Manchuria.’
On August 9, Lavrov reported to the Centre again : ‘The press reports many cases of cholera. From Mukden, cholera has already moved to Xinjing. In Xinjing, cholera diseases cause great concern to the authorities.’
The second Japanese bacteriological centre was located in Mogaton, 10 kilometers south of Changchun. The production department of this squad had six divisions. The bacteria of anthrax, glanders, and microbes multiplied in them to infect cereal grains with the aim of their destruction, as well as the causative agents of cattle plague.
The Japanese command, placing a bacteriological laboratory in Mogaton, did not know that a residency of Soviet military intelligence was operating nearby in Changchun. The work of this residency on the eve and in the first years of the Great Patriotic War was led by Major General V.I. Chuikov, who later became Marshal of the Soviet Union. When Chuikov was called to Moscow and was appointed to the post of commander of the 62nd army, which was to fight at Stalingrad, Major General A.V. became the resident in Changchun. Ruzankov. The residency of the Soviet military intelligence in Changchun operated no less effectively than the same group of Intelligence in Harbin.
The military intelligence officers controlled most of the cargo arriving from Japan to Manchuria. The tasks of collecting such information were solved by military intelligence officers who operated in Dairen. Special teams that had no identification marks were also transferred through this port city. The arrival of each such team was noted by the residency agents, the targets for their arrival and the place of subsequent deployment were set.
All this information was accumulated in the Intelligence Directorate and used to prepare special messages about the Japanese armed forces, the Japanese military industry, the combat strength of the Kwantung Army, its garrisons, and the construction by the Japanese in the occupied territories of fortified areas. These specific data testified to the secret intentions of the Japanese generals.
The data received from the residency were compiled at the Centre, analysed and used to create a unified information database for Japan. The most important operational information was used to prepare urgent special communications that were sent to the political leadership of the USSR and the high command of the Red Army. The remaining information was used to prepare Intelligence Reports on the Far East. In 1937–1941 such reports were published monthly. These important documents set out specific data on the Japanese armed forces, the deployment of Japanese military units in the Far East and Southeast Asia, indicated the command structure of these units up to the division, including a characteristic of the state of the military economy of Japan, the performance of military factories.
The treacherous German attack on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 created favourable political and military conditions for Japan, which could launch another campaign against Russia, taking advantage of the fact that its main forces were deployed on the Soviet-German front. However, in June-July 1941, Japan did not start hostilities against the USSR. What prevented the Japanese generals, who had dreamed of a northern campaign, to begin military actions? The answer to this difficult question lies in the numerous reports of Soviet military intelligence officers.
The first to notice the growing danger on the part of fascist Germany and militaristic Japan were military intelligence officers Yan Berzin, Boris Melnikov, Leonid Burlakov, Richard Sorge, Vasily Chuykov and others. Berzin together with Melnikov developed a plan for the introduction of Richard Sorge in Japan.
Boris Nikolaevich Melnikov – a native of the Cossacks, was a member of the First World War, in 1917 became the head of the Irkutsk garrison, was captured by the Japanese in 1918, then emigrated to China, where he was arrested and transferred to the White Guards, until the beginning of 1920 was imprisoned .
After escaping, he returned to Russia, was a member of the Military Council of the Provisional Primorsky Government, then a commissar of the headquarters of the Amur Front, a member of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Eastern Front. From September 21 to December 18, 1922, Boris Nikolayevich was commander of the Amur military district, then chairman of the regional bureau of the party.
In 1922, Melnikov again found himself in military service. This time in the position of assistant chief of the Intelligence Directorate of the assistant commander in chief for Siberia. In 1923–1924, B.N. Melnikov was on a special mission, conducted reconnaissance work in Harbin, in 1924–1926, Boris Nikolayevich was the head of the Intelligence Directorate Division of the Red Army Headquarters, and at the same time worked as the head of the Far East department of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs.
Yang Berzin, giving the characteristic B.N. Melnikov, in April 1924, wrote : “… Melnikov … has been working in reconnaissance specifically for the Far East since 1920. I personally visited Japan, China and Mongolia. Studied and knows in all respects both China and Japan. A highly developed and knowledgeable worker, not fond of or burying. Politically sustained … ‘
In 1928, a new stage begins in the life of military intelligence officer B. Melnikov. He is going to Harbin as the general consul of the USSR and a member of the board of the CER. In 1931, B.N. Melnikov is the temporary charge d’affaire of the USSR in Japan.
From February 1932 to June 1933, Boris Nikolayevich – Deputy Head of the Intelligence Directorate of the Red Army Headquarters – Head of the 2nd (intelligence) department. On the orders of Jan Berzin, who highly appreciated the experience and knowledge of Melnikov, he was preparing Richard Sorge for a special trip to Japan. The plan was successfully implemented. For about ten years, the Center has received reliable information about the policies of Germany and Japan towards the USSR from Sorge.
The same information about the direction of foreign and military policy of Japan was sent to the Center by residents of Soviet military intelligence from Harbin, Changchun, Dairen, Shanghai and Tokyo. An analysis of these reports led to the conclusion that Japan’s policy toward the USSR always had the power option and the seizure of Soviet Far Eastern territories in the first place. In the strategic plans of the Japanese militarists, the USSR was usually called as ‘Object No. 1’.
Japan’s attack on December 7, 1941 on the United States, and not on the Soviet Union, can also be explained by the general strategy of the Japanese leadership. Throw the Japanese army to the south in the winter of 1941 was reasonable and thoughtful. France and other European countries that had colonies in Southeast Asia were captured by Germany. England waged war against Germany. Therefore, the seizure of the southern territories seemed to the Japanese leadership an attractive and quickly implemented plan. Only US Pacific Fleet could prevent these plans. On December 7, 1941, most of this fleet was destroyed in the Pearl Harbour naval base (8 battleships, 6 cruisers, 1 destroyer, 272 aircraft). On the morning of December 8, Japan declared war on the United States, Britain and Holland. The road to Malaya, the Philippines, Burma, Indonesia and New Guinea was open.
In October 1941, the data obtained by military intelligence officers R. Sorge and L. Sergeev allowed the Soviet command to take the right decision and transfer part of the divisions from Siberia and the Far East near Moscow, which helped protect the capital from being captured by German troops. At that critical moment, Sorge and Sergeev sent to the Centre accurate information that Japan was aimed at the south and did not intend to attack the USSR in the near future.
The German command in the summer of 1942 continued to push Japan into the war against the Soviet Union. This could seriously weaken the resistance of the Red Army on the Soviet-German front. In pursuing this goal, German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop strongly recommended the Japanese ambassador to Berlin, General Oshima, to visit the southern sector of the Eastern Front. On August 1, 1942, Oshima flew from Berlin to Ukraine on a special aircraft allocated by the German command. He visited the main headquarters of Hitler, visited Odessa, Nikolaev, Simferopol, Rostov-on-Don, Bataysk, Kiev and Krakow. The Japanese ambassador (and intelligence officer) Oshima wanted to personally see how great the successes of the German army were on the Eastern front, find out to what extent the Red Army was weakened, and predict the possible prospects for the development of the situation on the Soviet-German front. These parameters were the main for the Japanese decision to join the war against the USSR. Japanese troops at that time had already achieved significant success in Southeast Asia.
The German command did everything possible to convince the Japanese general of the expediency and timeliness of Japan entering the war against the USSR. Returning to Berlin, General Oshima sent to Tokyo a detailed report on his inspection trip to the Eastern Front. He gave a detailed assessment of the situation, the forces of the opposing sides, the morale of the German soldiers and officers, their confidence in the near victory, and he specially stressed that the Soviet command, trying to save the situation, ‘transferred several divisions from the Far East.’
Studying the report of his ambassador, the Japanese leadership should have made only one conclusion – the hour of the attack on the USSR has come. The German victory at Stalingrad was to be the last argument that would allow the Japanese command to make a final decision about the start of a new march to the north.
Soviet military intelligence was able to obtain the full report of General Oshima on his trip to the southern flank of the Soviet-German front. This important document was reported to the Supreme Commander, members of the Supreme Command Headquarters. It became obvious that the retreat of the Soviet troops beyond the Volga or their defeat at Stalingrad would inevitably lead to the attack of Japan on the USSR. The Kwantung Army was ready for this. In the Great Patriotic War, this period was critical.
Oshima, in his secret message to Tokyo, could not openly recommend to his government whether to start or not to launch military operations against the Soviet Union. However, assessing the implementation of the plan of the German summer campaign of 1942, he unequivocally reported : ‘The plan is being fulfilled faster than expected … After the defeat of the Soviet troops, the Germans plan … to leave some small forces to monitor the remnants of the Red Army, to transfer the rest to the winter or on other fronts.’
In the summer of 1942, neither in Tokyo nor in Berlin, no one knew that thanks to the efforts of the Soviet military intelligence, this most important report of the Japanese ambassador was in Moscow. Perhaps it was this report of the Japanese ambassador to his government, obtained by the Soviet military intelligence, that forced the Supreme Commander to take urgent additional measures that were to save Stalingrad by any means.
If the Soviet troops had left Stalingrad temporarily and moved beyond the Volga, this would incline the Japanese to put into effect the plan, which was given the code name ‘Kantokuen’. This plan was developed in the summer of 1941 after the German attack on the USSR. He envisaged the seizure of the Soviet Far East and a large part of Siberia. The number of the Kwantung Army in July-August 1941 was brought up to 600 thousand people. The force has been gained enough to conduct a successful offensive operation …
Soviet military attache, Major-General V.I. Chuikov reported on January 19, 1942 to the chief of military intelligence from Changchun : ‘The Japanese have success in the south, their immediate task is to seize Singapore and Dutch India in order to have complete supremacy in the southern seas. Seeing the weakness and indecision of the Anglo-Americans, Japan will most likely take over Australia as well. Japan during the offensive of the German troops on Moscow did not attack us, as it was preparing for the southern offensive.’
Japan did not seize Australia, but achieved considerable success in the war against the United States. From December 1941 to June 1942, the Japanese seized Hong Kong, British Malaya, Singapore, Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines, New Ireland, New Britain, Solomon Islands, the western and central parts of the island of New Guinea, Guam, Wake, Kyska and Ata. Up to 150 million people lived in the occupied territory.
Among the Japanese leadership, as evidenced by the reports of the Soviet military intelligence of 1941-1942, the differences were not about whether to launch a new march to the north, but about when to start a war against the USSR in order to achieve maximum success with minimal losses.
The campaign to the north of the Japanese had to be postponed again. The victory of the Red Army near Stalingrad was a big surprise not only for the German, but also the Japanese generals. In addition, the Japanese unexpectedly suffered a major defeat in a naval battle that occurred in the area of the Pacific atoll of Midway. The Japanese then wanted to deliver a second crushing blow to the American fleet. The main objective of this strike was to seize the Midway Atoll and establish the complete domination of Japan in the central and northern parts of the Pacific Ocean.
This time, American intelligence was able to promptly disclose the plan of the Japanese operation. Admiral Nimitz took proactive countermeasures. As a result of the battle at Midway, the Japanese lost 4 aircraft carriers, 7 other warships, 332 aircraft. The losses of the American fleet were also significant – one avi aircraft carrier and 150 aircraft. The defeat of the Japanese fleet changed the balance of naval forces in the Pacific in favour of the United States.
But even after the failure in the area of the Midway Atoll, the Japanese General Staff continued to increase the capabilities of the Kwantung Army. This was constantly reported to the Centre by Soviet military intelligence officers who operated in Manchuria, Korea and China. In June 1945 there were already more than 1 million people in the contingent of Japanese troops in Manchuria and Korea. The army was headed by an experienced Japanese general, O. Yamada, and the chief of staff, Lieutenant-General H. Hata, who had previously been military attache in the Soviet Union. The army was armed with 5 thousand guns, over 1 thousand tanks and 2 thousand aircraft. ‘The danger that this army can be used against Russia …’ has not disappeared.
Major defeats of the German troops did not allow the Japanese to make a final decision on the start of hostilities in the Far East. But the search for a serious reason for aggression against the USSR did not stop. In 1942–1944, the Japanese repeatedly provoked the aggravation of Soviet-Japanese relations. It can be accurately said that it was for these purposes that the Japanese detained 178 and sank 18 Soviet merchant ships for the period 1941-1944. Divisions of the Kwantung Army violated the land border of the USSR 779 times, the Japanese Air Force more than 400 times invaded the airspace of the Soviet Union. Moscow understood this and tried not to aggravate relations. The second front in the Far East was not needed by the Soviet Union.
Representatives of the USSR through diplomatic channels tried to resolve conflict situations. This was achieved with great difficulty. Still, Moscow managed to balance on the brink of peace and war. Walking on a tightrope without insurance, this is the state of Soviet-Japanese relations in 1942–1944.
In 1943–1944, US representatives persistently sought a decision from Stalin that would allow American Liberator bombers to be based on Soviet airfields in Siberia, and use naval bases in the Far East for US Navy ships if necessary. Specifically, these issues were discussed between Stalin and Roosevelt during the Tehran Conference on November 29, 1943. On that day, the American president handed Stalin a memorandum in which he expressed his desire to exchange information about the Japanese and preliminary planning, which in the future could lead to joint Soviet-American operations against Japan.
Roosevelt put specific questions to Stalin :
(I) Does Stalin agree to provide the United States with military information on the fight against Japan?
(II) Is it desirable for the United States to create strongholds in Alaska and the Aleuts to protect Soviet squadrons of destroyers and submarines located in Soviet ports from possible attacks by the Japanese?
(III) Would the Soviet Union be in a position in the event of a US attack against the northern Kuriles to provide direct or indirect assistance? ”
Roosevelt asked Stalin and other questions. In particular, he sought from Stalin an agreement on the transfer to the Americans of information about Soviet Siberian ports, which could be used by the US Navy, as well as information about Soviet aviation bases located on the coastline, which could take up to 100 American aircraft.
People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR V.M. Molotov told the American ambassador Harriman at the end of December 1943 that; ‘the Soviet government is ready to share the available information about the Japanese as much as possible.’ The remaining questions required additional study. Nevertheless, the head of the American military mission in Moscow, General J. Dean, began to persistently seek a decision to deploy US bomber aircraft at Soviet air bases in the Far East.
The American specialists who worked at the US military mission in Moscow were puzzled why Stalin never fulfilled his promise at certain times to allow the American ‘bombers to fight from the territory of Siberia’.
To understand why Stalin initially lost interest in the requests of Americans to allow them to use Soviet air bases, and then refused such cooperation, allows the content of some reports of Soviet military intelligence officers from Tokyo and Changchun. Of considerable interest in this regard is the text of the report of the military attache of Major-General A.V. Ruzankova from Changchun on March 4, 1942. The report reported the following : ‘Wang Pyong-xiang told me in an interview that Hitler appealed to Japan to launch an offensive against the USSR in the near future. The Japanese replied that they were not yet ready for war. However, the discussion on this issue in the Japanese government and tops is underway. The military clique is in favor of unleashing a war against the USSR in the near future, and major political figures Konoe, Matsuoka, representatives of the Mitsua and Mitsubishi concerns consider the military offensive to be premature. According to the Japanese, they now need to gain a foothold in the south, in China, and see how Germany itself will launch a new offensive. If Germany has the strength and the offensive is successful, then Japan can start a war against the USSR.’
Completing his report to the Centre, Major General Ruzankov reported to the Chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate : ‘The Japanese are watching if we are not providing the Americans with bases in Kamchatka and Sakhalin.’
This report was handed over to the head of the GRU, Lieutenant-General Ilyichev, to direct to Stalin, Molotov, Malenkov, Beria, Kaganovich, Mikoyan, Voznesensky and Shaposhnikov.
Attention is drawn to the last phrase from the report of Major-General Ruzankov that ‘the Japanese are watching if we are not providing the Americans with bases in Kamchatka and Sakhalin.’ It really was an important message. Ruzankov warned that Japanese intelligence is constantly monitoring whether the USSR provides its territory for American aviation. If this were so, it could have served as a serious reason for the aggravation of Soviet-Japanese relations, and, it is not excluded, would have been used by the Japanese for delivering a massive strike not only on American aircraft, which would undoubtedly be revealed by Japanese intelligence, but also for the destruction of important Soviet military facilities. The Japanese, as evidenced by their attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbour, were able to deliver such massive strikes suddenly and with maximum efficiency.
It is not difficult to imagine what such a strike by Japanese aircraft on American aircraft that turned out to be on Soviet airfields in the Far East could lead to. Such a development could have provoked the Japanese-Soviet war, that is, the premature opening of a second front, but not in Europe, but in the Far East.
It is hard to believe that the pragmatic military representatives of the United States, seeking the right to use Soviet aircraft in the Far East by American aircraft, did not understand that this would violate the Soviet-Japanese agreements and provoke a strike by Japanese aviation on these objects, which would lead to a military conflict between the USSR and Japan. Japanese intelligence had an idea of what was being done on the territory of the Soviet Union. Its agents closely followed Soviet-US military engagement.
On 10 April 1942, the GRU resident in Tokyo reported to the Centre : ‘The source said that Japan is mobilising to increase the number of troops to conduct combat operations against India. The other day, 24-25 thousand recruits were sent to the south, who will carry a security service there. At the same time, some of the troops are being transferred to the north, since Japan fears that the USSR will provide the United States with Kamchatka in June-July as the basis for an attack on Japan.’
Resident of the Soviet military intelligence, Colonel F.A. Fedenko reported to the Centre from Changchun : ‘According to the source, Germany insists on Japan joining the war against the USSR. However, the Japanese do not intend to unleash this war until Germany achieves decisive successes on the Eastern Front. Japan fears that in the event of war against the USSR, the Allies use Vladivostok, from where they will bomb the Japanese islands together with Soviet aviation.’
The question of whether to attack or not to attack the USSR was intensely debated among the highest Japanese military officials not only in 1942, but also in 1943 and 1944. This was regularly reported to the Centre by military intelligence officers who operated in Tokyo, Changchun and Harbin. Information came from Major General A.V. Ruzankova, Colonels F.A. Fedenko and I.V. Gushchenko, from lieutenant colonel K.P. Sonina and M.A. Sergeecheva.
In 1944, the Soviet military attache in Tokyo was Lt. Col. MA. Sergeechev. On January 3, he was invited to the reception by the Chief of the Japanese General Staff, Marshal Suguyama. The meeting was held at 19 o’clock on the Tokyo time. Suguyama told the Soviet military attache :
– I ask you to inform your command that Japan has nothing to do with the war between the Soviet Union and Germany. Japan will continue to strictly abide by the neutrality pact between our countries. Let your command be completely calm, we are not going to oppose the USSR.
Returning to the office of the military attache, Sergeechev sent a report to the Centre about his visit to the Chief of the Japanese General Staff Marshal Suguyama. This report was immediately reported to Stalin and the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs Molotov. Marshal Suguyama’s statement was noteworthy. It indicated that among the influential Japanese politicians and high-ranking military, those forces that were reserved with the idea of implementing the Kantokuen plan began to gain the upper hand.
Nevertheless, the statement of Marshal Suguyama in Moscow was treated carefully. The long experience of Soviet-Japanese relations taught a sober approach to the statements of Japanese leaders and the military. Declarations made in Tokyo, often served as a cover for the subsequent aggression. The presence of a large number of Japanese troops along the Soviet borders in 1944 could not be regarded as a manifestation of good-neighbourly intentions. Moreover, Soviet military intelligence continued to report on the increase in troops in the Kwantung Army, on the improvement of the fortified areas by the Japanese, on the presence of secret bacteriological centers near Harbin and on Changchun, and on laying new roads that had military purpose.
The meeting of the delegations of the USSR, the USA and Great Britain in the suburbs of Berlin ended on 2 August. The refusal of the Japanese government to accept the demands of the Potsdam Conference predetermined the development of events in the Far East. The commander-in-chief of the Soviet troops in the Far East Marshal of the Soviet Union A.M. Vasilevsky reported to Stalin about the readiness of the troops to the start of hostilities. The Japanese, according to intelligence data, in the first half of August did not expect changes in the situation in Transbaikalia and the Far East.
In July and the first days of August 1945, the reconnaissance departments of the headquarters of the Soviet Far Eastern and Trans-Baikal fronts worked with maximum voltage. The overall management of the three intelligence departments of these fronts was carried out by Major General Serafim Mikhailovich Chuvyrin, who was the Chief of Intelligence of the headquarters of the Main Command Committee of Forces in the Far East.
Chuvyrin knew his business well. In the Red Army, he joined as a volunteer back in 1920, graduated from the 1st Soviet United Military School. VCIK. In 1936 he graduated from the special department of the Military Academy named after M.V. Frunze, served in the central apparatus of military intelligence in Moscow. In November 1941, Serafim Mikhailovich was appointed to the position of chief of intelligence of the headquarters of the 1st Shock Army and departed to the Far East. In 1941-1945, he was engaged in organising the gathering of information about the Kwantung Army. Better than Chuvyrin hardly anyone knew what was being done on the territory of Manchuria, where Japanese units were stationed.
The chief of the intelligence department of the headquarters of the 1st Far Eastern Front was Major General Yakov Isfikorovich, an enterprising military intelligence officer who gained experience in special work on the Karelian Front. Marshal of the Soviet Union K.A. Meretskov, who commanded this front, appreciated Ischenko for his resourcefulness and initiative. When the Supreme Headquarters appointed Marshal K.A. Meretskov commander of the 1st Far Eastern Front, he suggested that Major General Ischenko go with him to the Far East. Ishchenko agreed.
Yakov Nikiforovich was an experienced intelligence officer. In 1922, he voluntarily joined the ranks of the Red Army, studied at the Military Academy named after M.V. Frunze, in 1941 graduated from the Academy of the General Staff, served in various positions in military intelligence.
The head of the intelligence department of the 2nd Far Eastern Front was Major General Naum Semenovich Sorkin, one of the most experienced specialists in the organisation and conduct of intelligence in the Far East. He well studied Mongolia and Manchuria. From 1923 to 1926 he was an instructor, and then head of the artillery school of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Army, performing military intelligence tasks, being the consul of the USSR in Ulan Bator. For four years (from 1935 to 1939) Naum Semenovich was deputy head of the Mongol-Xinjiang section of the Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Red Army. Since 1941, Sorkin – head of the intelligence department of the headquarters of the Far Eastern Front. When, in preparation for the Manchurian operation, this front was transformed into two independent fronts, Sorkin headed the reconnaissance of the 2nd Far Eastern, commanded by Army General MA. Purkaev, a former Soviet military attache in Berlin, who, on the orders of Hitler, had unsuccessfully tried to recruit German military intelligence.
The forces of the Trans-Baikal Front, commanded by Marshal of the Soviet Union R.Ya., also took part in the defeat of the Kwantung Army. Malinovsky. Major-General Pyotr Akimovich Popov, a Don Cossack who began serving in the Red Army in 1918, was Malinovsky’s chief of intelligence. Popov graduated from the Rostov command courses, the United Kiev School, Chemical advanced training courses for commanders, the main and eastern faculties of the Military Academy named after M.V. Frunze. Peter Akimovich began working in military intelligence in 1936. There is a line in his biography that is rarely found in the personal affairs of other intelligence officers of those pre-war years. Popov had an internship in exchange in one of the units of the Japanese army, fluent in Japanese, worked in senior positions in the Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Red Army. Since January 1944, Major General Popov has been in the Far East as the head of the intelligence department of the headquarters of the Trans-Baikal Front.
The chief of the intelligence department of the staff of the Pacific Fleet was Colonel Arkady Zinovyevich Denisin, a fearless, enterprising and talented intelligence officer. Denisin joined the Red Army too voluntarily, in 1920. After the Civil War, Denisin graduated from the Kharkov Infantry School, externally passed the exams for a full course of study at the Leningrad Artillery School. From 1933 to 1936 he studied at the special faculty at the Military Academy named after M.V. Frunze. In the Pacific Fleet Denisin since 1936. In September 1944, Arkady Zinovievich was appointed to the post of head of the intelligence division of the Pacific Fleet headquarters.
Such were the heads of the intelligence departments of the fronts and fleet who took part in the defeat of the Kwantung Army.
Recalling the period of preparation for the beginning of the Manchurian operation, Marshal of the Soviet Union K.A. Meretskov wrote : ‘you need to know the strength of the enemy. However, you will never win a victory without knowing its weaknesses. We have tried to take into account the latter. As established intelligence, between the nodes of resistance, as well as between the fortified areas remained gaps, not filled with fortifications. Thus, the line of defense was almost continuous, but still not quite. We clung to this almost ..
Spies managed to establish not only the weak links in the defense of the enemy. The forces of the intelligence departments of the fronts obtained precise information about the enemy air bases and airfields, revealed the locations of fuel depots, ammunition and food, the presence of railways and highways, which, as a rule, were the axes of operational directions for troop operations. Such data interested not only the front commanders, but also the commanders of the Soviet aviation units, which were supposed to deliver bombing strikes on specific, most important military targets of the enemy and throw airborne units to capture headquarters, communications centers and command posts.
In order to defeat the Kwantung Army, commanded by General Yamada, it was necessary to deprive him of the ability to control his numerous troops. Soviet military intelligence officers were able to identify the main points of control. At these points powerful artillery and air strikes were inflicted.
Usually, when they talk about what the intelligence officers managed to do, as a rule, they call, if possible, the names of agents who obtained valuable information, they estimate the quantity and quality of this information. In this case, to evaluate the contribution of military intelligence to the defeat of the Kwantung Army, this method cannot be applied. At the headquarters of General Yamada there was no agent of Soviet military intelligence. Even if he had been, he could hardly have obtained complete information about all the fortified areas, minefields, alternate airfields, false targets and other features of the enemy’s defenses.
In the course of the preparation for the offensive, about 200 special operations were carried out by forces of the intelligence departments of the fronts, during which 188 reconnaissance groups were withdrawn to the enemy rear. 588 well-trained spies were deployed across the state border and had radio stations to communicate with the Centre. The overwhelming majority of them completed their tasks. Information about the enemy was mined by 2.452 intelligence agents and agents, among whom were Russians, Mongols, Chinese, Nanai, and persons of other nationalities. They were fluent in Chinese or Japanese, easily guided by the terrain, which was occupied by the troops of the Kwantung Army. To create such a force for two or even three months is impossible. These forces military intelligence accumulated over the years. Jan Berzin, Leonid Burlakov, Vasily Oschepkov, Kristan Salnyn, Vasiliy Chuykov and many other scouts took part in this work. At the right moment, a large army of military intelligence officers and their volunteers was activated. Neutralise the Japanese counterintelligence was not capable.
During the preparation period for the offensive, military intelligence officers and their agents controlled everything on the enemy’s territory: railways, airfields, warehouses and other important objects to a depth of 100 to 250 kilometres.
The undoubted success of Soviet intelligence during the preparation of the Manchurian operation was also the fact that the intelligence officers were able to timely establish the covert withdrawal of the main Japanese forces from the forward contact line. This made it possible to identify the plan of General Yamada, which was to withdraw the main forces from the first, usually massive artillery and aviation strike, in advance, to save them, sacrificing parts of cover, and thereby force the Soviet command to beat on empty squares.
It was conceived correctly. However, Yamada could not have imagined that his secret intention would be unraveled. Marshal Vasilevsky used the data obtained by the scouts – the offensive began without the traditional artillery preparation that Yamada and his headquarters had expected. Soviet troops suddenly and swiftly from three directions began fighting, and then began to destroy the enemy on the second and even the third line of his defense. The Japanese did not expect such a development of the situation.
The data obtained by military intelligence was accurate. They helped the troops achieve maximum success. The reservists and the Manchu troops, whom Yamada had deployed in the frontier zone instead of regular units, could not withstand the rapid onslaught of the forward detachments. Behind these detachments the main forces of the fronts entered the battle.
The defeated Japanese generals did not have time to destroy the staff documents. As a result of their study, it turned out that there was no serious discrepancy in the overall assessment of the group of enemy troops prepared by the Soviet military intelligence and the actual data plotted on the Japanese maps. Only inconsistencies in the numbering of some Japanese parts were identified. The assessment of the operational areas, strengths and weaknesses of the fortified areas was also almost completely confirmed, except for a slight discrepancy in the number of firing points and the nature of fortifications in some fortified areas.
During the offensive, the spies also successfully solved the task of obtaining information about the enemy and did it no less successfully, despite the rapidly changing situation. Military intelligence officers took part in the execution of special tasks of the command as part of special assault squads and groups. Representatives of the intelligence department of the headquarters of the Trans-Baikal Front were part of a parliamentary group, which the front commander Marshal R.Ya. Malinowski sent on August 19 to Changchun, where the Japanese command headquarters was located. The group was headed by Colonel I.T., Special Representative of the Soviet Military Command. Artemenko, who was the head of the operational department of the front headquarters. It was a bold and bold operation. The parliamentarians flew deep into the rear of the enemy, in Changchun, which was 500 kilometers from the front line, and there forced General Yamada to accept the demand of the Soviet command for complete and unconditional surrender.
Recalling the meeting with General Yamada, Colonel Artemenko wrote : ‘There was a meeting in the office of the Commander-in-Chief, General Yamada. I interrupted him and handed over requests for surrender. Yamada was silent. The gift of speech came back to him when Soviet bombers began to hoot over the city. The Baron tried to stipulate his conditions, I rejected them and again demanded an immediate decision. Then he took off his samurai ‘sword of the spirit,’ pleaded defeated. Other members of the headquarters did the same. At 14.10 on August 19, 1945, the surrender of the Kwantung Army was signed and announced on the radio.‘
Artemenko was not the only one who delivered an ultimatum to surrender to General Yamada. After the Soviet troops captured Harbin, on August 19, the command post of Marshal K.A. Meretskov was brought in by the Chief of Staff of the Kwantung Army, Lieutenant General H. Hata, with a group of Japanese generals and officers. Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet troops Marshal A.M. Vasilevsky sent an ultimatum to the commander of the Kwantung Army with Hut, in which he demanded an immediate cessation of hostilities.
Commander of the 1st Far Eastern Front Marshal of the Soviet Union K.A. Meretskov also sent reinforced airborne assault forces to the rear of the enemy. One of the landings was landed in Harbin, in the vicinity of which was a secret Japanese bacteriological centre; ‘Detachment 731. Recalling these events, Meretskov wrote that he ordered the creation of reinforced mobile units, ‘which were to advance at a rapid pace, seize important industrial centres and prevent the Japanese from exporting or destroying material values.’
Serious assistance to the advancing Soviet troops was provided by the Russian inhabitants of these cities. In Harbin, they directed Soviet paratroopers to enemy headquarters and barracks, captured communications centers, prisoners. ‘Due to this,’ wrote Meretskov, ‘unexpectedly for themselves, some of the higher ranks of the Kwantung Army found themselves in Soviet captivity.’
In those days, one of the forward detachments of the 1st Far Eastern Front carried out a special task – captured the Japanese, who worked in Detachment 731. Among those arrested were Lieutenant-General Medical Service Kajitsuka Ryuji, Head of the Medical Administration of the Kwantung Army; Major General of the Medical Service Kawashima Kiosi, Head of the Production Department of Detachment 731 of the Kwantung Army; Lt. Col. Nishi Tosihide, bacteriologist, head of the educational department of Detachment 731; Major Medical Service Karasawa Tomio, bacteriologist, head of the department of the production department of the detachment No. 731.
Other employees of the Japanese bacteriological centres were also captured : Onoo Masao, a medical service major, a bacteriologist with the doctor, and the head of the branch number 643 of the detachment No. 731; Major General Veterinary Services Sato Shunji, Head of the 5th Army Health Service; Lieutenant General of the Veterinary Service Takahashi Takaatsu, Head of the Veterinary Service of the Kwantung Army; Lieutenant of the Veterinary Service Hirazakura Dzensaku, veterinarian, researcher of the detachment number 100; Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Mitomo Kazuo, member of Detachment 100; Corporal Kikuchi Ioremitzu, sanitary trainee of branch No. 643 of Detachment No. 731; medical technician Kurushima Yuji, an employee of the branch of the detachment No. 162 of the detachment No. 731.
Among those arrested was General Yamada Otozoo, Commander-in-Chief of the Kwantung Army. All of these Japanese were sentenced in 1949 by the Military Tribunal of the Primorsky Military District to long prison terms.
Describing the purpose of Detachment 731, accused Yamada showed : ‘Detachment 731 was organised to prepare for bacteriological warfare, mainly against the Soviet Union, as well as against the Mongolian People’s Republic and China.’ Further, Yamada showed that detachment No. 100 ‘was assigned the task of conducting sabotage activities, that is, contamination of pasture livestock and water bodies with epidemic bacteria. In this part, Detachment 100 in its work was closely associated with the intelligence section of the headquarters of the Kwantung Army.’
In the campaign in the Far East, an important role was played by the forces of the Pacific Fleet and its spies, as well as air force units. They took part in the battles for the liberation of North Korea, South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. The Amur flotilla and its scouts actively assisted the troops of the 2nd Far Eastern Front in forcing the Amur and Ussuri, as well as in the advance along the Sungari River.
For courage and heroism shown in battles in the Far East, 93 Soviet generals, officers and soldiers were awarded the high title Hero of the Soviet Union. Among them; six military intelligence officers. The military intelligence officer, Senior Lieutenant Viktor Nikolaevich Leonov, who distinguished himself in battles on the east coast of North Korea, on September 14, 1945, was awarded the second Gold Star medal and became twice Hero of the Soviet Union.
On September 2, 1945, an act of complete and unconditional surrender of Japan was signed on board the American battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay. The first to sign this act was the former Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu. Behind him, the former chief of the Japanese general staff, General Yosijiro Umezu, put his signature. On behalf of the United States, the act of unconditional surrender to Japan was signed by General Douglas MacArthur, who commanded the Allied forces in the southwestern Pacific Ocean since 1942.
It would seem that on behalf of the Soviet Union this act was supposed to be signed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet troops in the Far East Marshal of the Soviet Union A.M. Vasilevsky. However, Stalin, apparently, had his own thoughts. On May 7, 1945, representatives of the United States and Britain were quick to sign in Reims an act of surrender of the German armed forces to the Western allies. On behalf of the United States, General D. Eisenhower, the commander-in-chief of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe, signed the act. Under this act, without the authority to do so, Major General I.A. Susloparov, a representative of the Soviet command at the headquarters of Eisenhower.
Having signed the preliminary act of surrender of the German armed forces in Reims, Eisenhower did not arrive at the main ceremony of ending the war with Germany, which took place on May 8 in the Berlin suburb Karlshorst.
Marshal Vasilevsky did not arrive on board the battleship Missouri, the deck of which was American territory. On the Soviet side, Japan’s capitulation act was signed by Lieutenant General Kuzma Derevianko. He was the representative of the High Command of the Soviet Forces in the Far East at the headquarters of General MacArthur. On the eve and during the Great Patriotic War, K.N. Derevianko served in various positions in the Soviet military intelligence. In 1951–1954, he was Deputy Head of the Information Directorate of the Main Intelligence Directorate.
The Far Eastern patrol of the Soviet General Staff in 1941–1945 fully fulfilled its tasks.
Secret Intelligence Service
Red Star. Soviet Military Intelligence
No. X of XL
Adversitate. Custodi. Per Verum