Posts Tagged ‘Soviet Union’

When Did World War Two Begin?

31 Aug

When Did World War Two Begin?


While the easy and most accepted answer is September 1, 1939, other dates are in contention for that horrible honorific. On that date, 1.5 million German troops invaded Poland from three sides.


Warsaw, Poland after German Bombing in 1939

Warsaw, Poland after German Bombing in 1939

On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland.  Three days later, Britain, France, and Canada declared war on Germany in support of the embattled Poles.  On September 17, 1939, the Soviet Union, acting in concert with the Nazis, invaded Poland from the east.  By October 6, 1936, the German and Soviet invasion of Poland was complete.  The last of the Polish forces had been defeated or driven into exile. 

Nazi-Soviet Partition of Poland

Nazi-Soviet Partition of Poland in 1939

While the Polish government and those troops and airmen who had escaped continued to fight on alongside Allied forces in other theaters, the nightmare inside Poland was just beginning.  Poland would suffer over six million deaths in World War Two.  The vast majority of these came as a result of the Holocaust, but many were also battle deaths, as ethnic Poles and Polish Jews resisted the Nazi occupiers.  The Soviets were also responsible for many Polish deaths, both in their initial invasion and also when they returned in 1944 and 1945 to drive out the Germans.

Poland suffered the highest population loss of any nation in World War Two as a percentage of the nation’s pre-war population.

While World War Two in Asia is often said to have started with the Japanese invasion of China in 1937, for Europe, World War Two began on September 1, 1939.


When Was World War Two?

28 Jun

 Marco Polo Bridge

Japanese soldiers at Marco Polo Bridge.

When Was World War Two?

When was World War Two? This seems like an easy question, but it can be an elusive answer. There are several answers to that question, as many historians debate when World War Two began. The end of World War Two is fairly simple to answer, as the Japanese surrendered on September 2, 1945 in Tokyo Bay.So, when did World War Two begin? Depends on which part of the war you look at.

There are several competing dates for the starting point. If we look at World War Two as a truly global war (which of course it was), and not looking at it from the European or Western point of view, we can pin the answer down to only two dates:

September 18, 1931–The Mukden Incident (also known as the Manchurian Incident) was a pretext for the Japanese invasion and occupation of the region of China known as Manchuria.

July 7, 1937–the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. This is when Japan (one of the Axis powers of World War Two) began its massive invasion of China

Many historians prefer the 1937 date over the 1931 incident as the Marco Polo Bridge incident led to a major war between China (which became one of the Allies of World War Two), and Japan and Germany had already, in November of 1936, signed an Anti-Comintern Pact that made them allies against the democracies and against the Soviet Union.

The start of the European part of World War Two is a bit clearer, as most historians put the start date with the German Invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939.


Russian History Page Now Online

12 Sep
Russian Flag

Russian Flag

The new Russian History Portal page is now online at:


Joseph Stalin: History’s Villain

22 Dec
Joseph Stalin-Soviet Dictator and Mass Murderer

Joseph Stalin-Soviet Dictator and Mass Murderer

Joseph Stalin’s 130th birthday is today.  That he was ever born and lived out his evil, bloody life is a cause for despair and sadness.  Joseph Stalin was, without a doubt, one of the vilest, most villainous dictators in history.  Only Hitler surpasses Stalin in the annals of war and genocide.

Russia’s remaining Communists, though, choose to ignore his crimes (or, perhaps they actually applaud them.  Being Communists, you never know what they truly believe), and instead want to celebrate the birth of their long-lost hero.  For those who may not be fully aware of what Stalin did in his criminal career to deserve this status just below Hitler in

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Posted in History, russia, Soviet Union, Tibet, world war two


August 20, 1939-Final Stage of the Battle of Khalkhin Gol (also known as the Battle of Nomonhan)

20 Aug

On this date in 1939, one of the last prequels to World War Two as a truly global war entered its last phase. 

Since May 1939, Soviet and Japanese forces had engaged in a major battle on the steppes of Mongolia.  The end of this battle began  on August 20, 1939, as Soviet forces under the command of General Georgy Zhukov began the offensive that would defeat the Japanese, and end the months-long Battle of Khalkhin Gol/Nomonhan that pitted huge numbers of Japanese forces against the combined forces of Communist allies, the Soviet Union, and Mongolia.
The Japanese planned a third major offensive against the Soviets to begin on August 24. Zhukov plan to attack the Japanese first gave him the advantage, and neutralized the Japanese plan. Zhukov massed a large armored force of three tank brigades (the 4th, 6th and 11th), and two mechanized brigades (7th and 8th, which were armoured car units with attached infantry support). All told, General Zhukov would use three rifle divisions, two tank divisions, two additional tank brigades (498 tanks and 250 fighterplanes with bomber support) in the coming battle. The Mongolians (on whose territory the fighting took place) added two cavalry divisions. Japan’s Kwantung Army, could only match this Communist army with two lightly armored divisions at the point of attack, centered around Lieutenant General Michitaro Komatsubara’s 23rd Division. Japanese military intelligence failed to understand the sizeof the Soviet buildup or the full scope of Zhukov attack plan.

Zhukov sent 50,000 Soviet and Mongolian troops of the 57th Special Corps to the east bank of the Khalkhyn Gol river, then sent his main force (three infantry divisions, massed artillery, a tank brigade, and the best planes of the Soviet Air Force) across the river on August 20, 1939, to attack the Japanese forces. After the Japanesearmy was pinned down by the attack of the Soviet main force, the armoured forces already on the east bank moved around the flanks of the Japanese position and attacked the Kwantung Army in the rear, cutting lines of communication. This resulted a classic double envelopment of the Japanese position by the Soviet and Mongolian forces. When the two wings of Zhukov’s attack linked up at Nomonhan village on August 25, the Japanese 23rd division was trapped. On August 26, a Japanese attack to relieve the 23rd division failed. On August 27, the last attempt to break out of the encirclement also failed. The Japanese, surrounded by the Soviets,  refused to surrender. The Soviets destroyed the remaining Japanese troops with artillery and air attacks. The battle ended on August 31, 1939 with the complete destruction of the Japanese forces. Remaining Japanese units retreated to east of Nomonhan, and re-entered Japanese-occupied Manchuria (which is part of China, with whom Japan was already at war).

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