The story of a little-known Soviet-Japanese conflict that influenced the outbreak and shaped the course of World War II. In the summers of 1937, 1938, and 1939, Japan and the Soviet Union fought a series of border conflicts, the first being on the Amur River days before the outbreak of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War. In 1938, division-strength units fought a bloody two-week battle at Changkufeng near the Korea-Manchuria-Soviet border. The Nomonhan conflict (May-September 1939) on the Manchurian-Mongolian frontier, was a small undeclared war, with over 100,000 troops, 500 tanks and aircraft, and 30,000-50,000 killed and wounded. In the climactic battle, August 20-31, the Japanese were annihilated. This coincided precisely with the conclusion of the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, the green light to Hitler's invasion of Poland and the outbreak of World War II one week later. This book relates these developments and weaves them together. The fact that these events coincided was not accidental. Europe was sliding toward war as Hitler prepared to attack Poland. Stalin sought to avoid a two-front war against Germany and Japan. His ideal outcome would be for the fascist/militarist capitalists (Germany, Italy, and Japan) to fight the bourgeois/democratic capitalists (Britain, France, and perhaps the United States), leaving the Soviet Union on the sidelines while the capitalists exhausted themselves. The Nazi-Soviet Pact pitted Germany against Britain and France and allowed Stalin to deal decisively with an isolated Japan, which he did at Nomonhan.
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