World War II (Part I) — The German Strategic Plan

Fortunately for the United States, the Japanese strategic plan for World War II was flawed in that the Japanese High Command decided to take on a sleeping giant in order to gain control of the Pacific basin, rather than attack the USSR. There was no way for the Japanese to beat the U.S., even with their alliance and the support of Italy and Germany. On the other hand, if the German grand strategy had been followed and carried out by Germany AND Japan, we could, very possibly, have lost the war, and today be speaking German on the East coast and Japanese on the West coast!

Enigma machineA lot of historic material exists to support various theories about how the Germans and the Japanese could have won World War II. What follows here is my take on this subject, based not only on standard history books, but on information gathered from formerly classified intelligence from U.S., German, and Soviet files, much of it published in excellent books. This treasure trove includes the released German files from Enigma deciphered (photo, left) and other captured materials, the Venona transcripts, the selectively released KGB files, and best and perhaps most authoritative of all — The Mitrokhin Archives (i.e., almost the complete files from the archives of the KGB's First Chief Directorate up to 1984). As a result of the information contained in the Mitrokhin Archives, hundreds of Soviet spies and traitors have been uncovered, some even prosecuted for their treachery many years after it occurred.

 But even though we could read German and Japanese secret messages during World War II via SIGINT, and the German high command was infiltrated by Western (e.g., the Black Orchestra) and Soviet spies (including the Red Orchestra and the funkspiel radio broadcast), the Germans could still have won the war, but the Japanese got greedy and overconfident in their estimate that they could defeat the British and American forces in the Far East and did not cooperate with the German Grand Strategy.

The German Strategy was of course to crush the USSR by a two-front attack: The German Germand High CommandPanzers were to roll into the USSR from the west, which actually took place on June 22, 1941, and the Japanese Imperial Army was to attack Siberia from the east, which never took place. As a result, we shall see what actually happened.

The Germans pleaded with the Japanese to invade Siberia in the east and catch the hated Russians between two fronts in crossfire between the two powerful, invading armies. Stalin, fearing the Japanese, had placed his best troops in the east just for that contingency. His best troops were then in Siberia, heavily armored and motorized divisions, well stocked, and with suitable winter clothes (e.g., white snow fur coats to blend in with the Siberian terrain, etc.) placed there awaiting the Japanese, who never came. The Japanese decided they wanted a different prize — namely, the Pacific region.

Just before the onset of World War II, the Japanese Army in Mongolia had been decisively defeated by those elite Siberian Soviet army units at Khalkan Gol and Lake Khasan in an almost secret encounter that involved a million soldiers. More than likely this defeat helped convince the Japanese to proceed with the Tanaka Plan or Southern strategy for the conquest of the Far East and the Pacific, rather than invade Siberia, where the Soviets had their best troops. After their defeat in Mongolia and other concerns, the Japanese Navy's arguments for the Southern naval strategy had prevailed over the Army's Northern Siberian military strategy.

Now we know there is more to the story thanks to two books: 1) Stalin's Secret Agents — The Subversion of Roosevelt's Government (2012) by M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein and 2) Operation Snow: How a Soviet Mole in FDR's White House Triggered Pearl Harbor (2012) by John Koster.  Soviet Agents of Influence in the FDR administration led by the spy Harry Dexter White, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, acted at the behest of Moscow and Stalin, to push the Japanese into war against the United States to protect the USSR. Harry Dexter White pushed the Japanese into a corner. In the summer of 1941, Japan deficient and desperately needing raw materials and oil, resources crucial to its survival, was deliberately blocked access to them by the FDR administration. By late 1941 further deprived of oil and vital resources, Japan was forced to go to war and manipulated to attack, not the Soviet Union but the U.S., protecting the USSR from invasion from the east and being attacked and crushed on two fronts.

And on October 9, the master spy Richard Sorge radioed Moscow and reassured the Soviets that there would not a Japanese invasion of Siberia. Japan had decided to proceed with the Tanaka Plan to attack the Pacific Rim and get her raw materials and oil from Southeast Asia. On December 7, 1941, "a day that will live in infamy," the Japanese navy and air force attacked Pearl Harbor. In 1942 the Roberts Commission placed much of the blame for America's lack of preparedness for Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, unfairly, on Rear Adm. Husband E. Kimmel and Lt. Gen. Walter C. Short, the Navy and Army commanders. We now know where the blame should have been laid.

Hans GiseviusSpies Working Against the Third Reich

Among the greatest spies who infiltrated the nerve center of Nazi military intelligence were civilians like Fritz Kolbe and high ranking German officers, including Von Gaevernitz and Hans Gisevius (photo, left). But treason in the Third Reich led all the way to the top. Rear Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr, German military intelligence, was himself a double agent, our top man in Hitler’s circle! A fascinating book makes a good a case that one member of Hitler's inner sanctum, Martin Bormann, was also a Soviet spy. The book is Hitler’s Traitor (2000) by Louis Kilzer. Kilzer also wrote Churchill’s Deception — The Dark Secret that Destroyed Nazi Germany (1994). 

As I stated before, the Allies could already read the German ( i.e., Enigma traffic) and Japanese secret messages because we had broken both of their codes with our decoding machines at Bletchley Park. (Some years later, we would also temporarily break and decipher the Soviet code in the Venona transcripts via Ultra.) 

Stalin Deceived

Stalin, who did not trust anyone, put his faith in the German-Soviet NonAggression Pact of 1939 or the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (photo, below), via which they carved out Poland betweenMolotov-Ribbentrop themselves. Deep inside his dark inner self, Stalin wanted (or was forced by circumstances) to trust Hitler, but Hitler despised the Russians and Stalin. And so while they were talking cooperation, Stalin was thinking time to build up his Red Army, and Hitler was thinking lebensraum and Operation Barbarossa.

For Hitler, Russia was nothing but lebensraum (i.e., living space) and the Russian Slavs were to do the work of the master race, the German people, the volk. So as soon as the Battle of Britain stalemated, he responded with his planned Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia over a thousand mile front, with 3 million men and more than 3000 tanks.

The German's Army Group Center was pointed like a dagger toward Moscow. Their Army Group North was aimed at the Baltic States and Leningrad. And, their Army Group South was to roll toward the South, the Crimea, and eventually capture Stalingrad and the Soviet oil fields near the Caspian Sea.

Soviet spies, such as those in the Red Orchestra (Rote Kapelle) and most remarkably, Richard Sorge, not only uncovered the exact date of Operation Barbarossa (June 22, 1941), but also tried to assure Stalin that the Japanese had no intention of attacking Russia, that their intentions were in the Pacific area. But Stalin refused to listen to them or even to listen to Winston Churchill, who also tried to warn him.

And so the GGerman Army Operation Barbarossaermans were initially extremely successful. They conquered large chunks of Soviet territory, including the Russian breadbasket region of the Ukraine and the most populated regions in western European Russia.

The Germans did need oil and refineries to conduct the war, especially after they were not able to knock Russia out on their first blow before the winter of 1941-42 set in. In fact, one of Stalin’s reasons to “trust” Hitler in 1939-40 was the fact that he knew that Germany needed oil, and much of her oil came through the Trans-Siberia railroad that ran across the vast territory of the USSR, bringing oil and other raw material and supplies from the Pacific port of Vladivostok and Siberia to European Russia and Germany.

The Napoleonic MistakeFrozen German Soldiers

The Germans though did not run out of oil during the initial stages of Operation Barbarossa. But they did begin to run out of oil later, when they were already losing their offensive capabilities. (The Germans running out of fuel was particularly dramatized in a Hollywood movie, The Battle of the Bulge, starring Robert Shaw.)

What halted the Germans was the combination of the severe Soviet winter and lack of proper winter clothing (photo, above), the unimaginably unending vast expanse of Russian territory, and the return to the Russian western front of the reserved, fresh, best Soviet Divisions, who had been guarding Siberia in case of Japanese attack in the east.

Richard SorgeIn Tokyo, as previously mentioned, Richard Sorge (photo, left), a communist German journalist led a major Soviet espionage ring, spying for the USSR and Stalin against Germany and Japan. Sorge had not only correctly radioed Stalin the exact date of the German invasion of the USSR, but he had repeatedly also radioed Stalin that the Japanese had no intention of attacking Russia. Stalin did not believe Sorge’s message that Germany would attack Russia so soon, not before defeating Great Britain, not before they had eliminated their Western front to fight en masse on a single front in the East.

Hitler unwittingly had made the same mistake as Napoleon of fighting on two fronts, something he had sworn he would not do. Japan had made its mistake and Germany had made hers. On the other hand, Stalin had finally listened to Sorge, sending those reserve troops to the Western Russian front to stop the German juggernaut.

Had the Japanese attacked Russia in the Siberian east, instead of attacking the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, the Russians would have been defeated, crushed between two fronts. Needless to say, the U.S., without the attack on Pearl Harbor, would not have entered the war until later, possibly too late.  Honolulu newspaper December 7, 1941

Without the U.S. as an active participant in the war, England would have eventually made peace with Germany or risked certain defeat by Germany’s war machine, the Wehrmacht; and if Churchill and the British Parliament would have insisted in war to the death with the Nazis, Britain, exhausted and with no chance of victory, would have been forced to surrender. England, with the Russians defeated and the U.S. not entering the war, would have accommodated Hitler. FDR, of course, was itching to enter the war against Hitler, but without a major provocation, it would have been very difficult to convince the American people that the U.S. needed to enter the war in Europe or later in the Pacific.

Nevertheless, the victorious German Nazis and the Japanese would probably have attacked the U.S. eventually, and then possibly attacked each other…I will leave it there. At the end, with Nazi victory assured, it would have been a global German language, but with my eternal hope and trust in our superior American institutions, I assert, that even under those conditions, English could have eventually ended on top, the U.S. over Germany. I say this, despite my earlier speculations!

Japanese Fire Balloon World War IIWorld War II on American Soil

There were enemy attacks during World War II on U.S. soil. The Japanese sent thousands of "fire balloons" (photo, left) but only about 300 of them reached North America's Pacific coast; miraculously, five children and a woman were the only casualties.

On June 4, 1942, the Japanese Air Force bombed Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands, killing more than 100 Americans, and this was shortly after followed by the Japanese invasion of the Aleutian Islands, Attu and Kiska, territories of the United States. They occupied the islands for nearly a year. Aleut islanders were taken prisoner and held in Japanese concentration camps for the duration of the war.

The Japanese also launched a submarine attack on an American military base on June 21, 1942. The submarine penetrated and surfaced in the estuary of the Columbia River in Oregon and fired missiles at Fort Stevens. No serious damage or casualties were sustained and the submarine escaped. 

Another Japanese submarine raid on the West coast during World War II included a raid on an oil field, which led to an "invasion scare" in California. 

There were also several successful torpedo attacks of ships on the West coast. There was even an aerial attack, the only aerial bombing of U.S. soil by a foreign enemy, when the Japanese unsuccessfully attempted to start a forest fire in California.

German activity was heavy on the East coast and inflicted heavy loses in shipping. There were infiltration attempts and spy rings, but to my knowledge no German invasion of the U.S. mainland. There were several German landings in Canada and Newfoundland. They were of no consequence in the vicissitudes of the war.

Continue to Part II

Written by Dr. Miguel A. Faria

This article was published exclusively for on October 18, 2011. The article can be cited as: Faria MA. World War II (Part I) — The German strategic plan., October 18, 2011. Available from:

This article (portions of Parts 1 and 2) featured in RealClearHistory, History Live, "How Germany and Japan Could've Won," February 13, 2014.

For additional material, particularly supporting the RealClearHistory argument, watch the excellent History Channel documentaries, The Samurai and the Swastika (2000) and The Last Secrets of the Axis (2001).

Copyright ©2011 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., MD.

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Comments on this post

Major Lyudmila Pavlichenko

This comment is more of a question, and I asked it on another blog which includes questions on history. A Russian answered me, but he did not give the answer I wanted. I wanted to know why she died at age 58 in 1974. That seemed so relatively young, so I was always curious what happened, and there is very little information on her.

I reproduce the conversation here, because perhaps it raises some other issues that might be valid to recent discussion on this website.

Me: What killed Lyudmila Pavlichenko at only 58?
Russian: Blah Blah Blah..... PTSD...Blah...
Me: Well, yes, but if you examine Ms. Pavlichenko’s career after the injury in Sevastopol (June 1942) which ended her active duty as a famed sniper, you find that she seems to have recovered from the physical and mental stress of her injuries incurred while in action fairly well, given all she was still to accomplish. Plus, we know it could have been much worse on her, as she was withdrawn a month after recovering, since the Soviet leadership thought her already too well revered by the public to risk her any further injury. Had she not been thus pulled from Sevastopol, she would have been killed along with the whole regiment, including her husband. I have to wonder if she and her husband knew that he was to likely die and she was not because Stalin needed her for purposes of Soviet propaganda. I have written elsewhere on this, and my best guess is that they did, but what they each thought I will never know.

That said, after she was retired from active duty, she went on a publicity tour, and trained Soviet snipers until the end of the war. After the war, she finished her education at Kiev University and began a career as a historian. From 1945 to 1953, she was a research assistant of the Chief HQ of the Soviet Navy. She was later active in the Soviet Committee of the Veterans of War.

There are some that can handle the kind of action Ms. Pavlichenko saw, and not develop PTSD. We are still unclear about what the true etiology of it is in any particular individual. However, she does not seem to have suffered any injury or experience that could be considered so traumatic that we can say with any degree of certainty that she developed it. From the relatively little information that I am able to even find on her, there is no indication she possessed any of the classic symptomatology.

I find it interesting that when she was on her tour of the United States, she took offense at some remarks reporters made at her lack of makeup and unflattering manner of dress. She used this opportunity to point out that in the USSR, women were far advanced in gaining equality to men, and that while in the USA they may have been allowed to indulge in making themselves look pretty, that was just about all that they could do. However, it was found later that when she had time back in the USSR, she enjoyed the same fancy clothing, nail polish, hair styles, and makeup that American women did, and she was actually quite beautiful. I certainly have no problem with that, except it is not exactly in line with how she portrayed herself while in the United States. Also to note is that while in the USA, she could not eat enough of typical American breakfasts at one sitting, despite her claims of being happy with Soviet food production. The was mocked by a reporter during the time she was in the United States. Sure, some of this she had to say because she knew she had Stalin to reckon with when she got back home, but she did not have to be so hypocritical about all of it.

What she did also not say was that there were several Soviet women snipers besides herself (she seems to have been by far the best, and therefore the most well known), and all of them (usually Soviet women of Ukrainian, Russian, or Jewish background) met with tremendous resistance from the Red Army, as they really did not like women actively fighting Pavlichenko with the men. This attitude was pervasive from Voroshilov, Timoshenko, Zhukov, et al downwards to Red Army recruiters. Roza Shanina, another excellent World War II Sniper had to personally write to Stalin for permission to be allowed to fight on the front lines with the men during Operation Bagration. I am assuming he gave it, but the very fact that with her absolutely incredible skills she had to do that is quite telling. Ms. Pavlichenko was either not being honest with Americans when she insisted upon the egalitarian nature of Soviet society with regard to men and women, or she was not completely being honest with herself.

I am sorry for the digression, but this subject is of interest to me. As regards the cause of death, I have no reason to believe it was not something such as cancer or heart disease, just as could occur in anyone and unfortunately end their life somewhat early. I thank you for your response, and I would welcome any other information you could supply me to counter anything that I have written. Best Regards, Adam

Nicknamed “Lady Death, Lyudmila M. Pavlichenko (1916-1974; photo, above), according to Wikipedia, is “credited with 309 kills, including 36 enemy snipers, and she is regarded as one of the top military snipers of all time, the most successful female sniper in history.” She was a Soviet Ukrainian who reached the rank of major in the 25th Rifle division of the Red Army (1941-1953). She fought in the Sieges of Odessa and Sevastopol during World War II. She received numerous decorations and medals including the coveted Gold star of Hero of the Soviet Union Award. After she was wounded in 1942, she was sent to the US and used by FDR as a propaganda piece to shame American boys to go and die in the coming battlefields of World War II to defend the USSR and save Uncle Joe.. She died young at 58 in Moscow. I don’t know her cause of death, but at 58, that was more or less the longevity of Russians at the time. And yes given her picture, she was beautiful during the time of her greatest feats of World War II. She looked more like the stylish Russian women of today than the matronly heavy-set Soviet women of the USSR. Now I’ve two questions of my own: One, I wonder how she compared with our own Annie Oakley as a marksman, not as a sniper. Two, as decorated as she was, why was she not promoted from major and ascend the ladder of Soviet top brass? It seems she hit a glass ceiling of her own in Soviet Russia under Stalin and later under the collective leadership!--- MAF

Pavlichenko vs. Oakley

You give me a tough assignment, MAF. I honestly don't know.
I know Oakley was one of the best women shooters of all time, but she was not a war sniper, and she used weapons technology at least 40-50 years older than Pavlichenko. Also, Pavlichenko had a personal passion to kill German invaders and their collaborators to protect her motherland, while Oakley shot mainly for entertainment and money. Plus, having shot myself with and without a scope at target competitions, I can tell you just how much difference the scope makes. I thought it was almost cheating, the way I could just line up the bullseye in the crosshairs and fire at a hundred yards or two. I'm hardly what you would consider a good shooter, and I make no comparisons between myself and Pavlichenko, but I think it is fair to consider that although late 19th century rifles might have had scopes, Oakley did not use them, and what she fired at was much closer. Much of her shooting was geared towards entertainment, such as shooting playing cards, and other such crowd pleasers.

It is no mystery why they never promoted her past major, at least the way I see it. It is because of what we have been discussing. The USSR strived to been seen as a "sexless" society, but as Pavlichenko and all the other women snipers found out, it was not that way in the armed forces, and also not that way in many other aspects of Soviet society. I think the top brass might have resented a woman such as her. They would not have appreciated any woman who could best them at any aspect of combat.

Yes, you can see her natural beauty in that photograph you inserted, but she is in her red army uniform. I meant that when off duty she enjoyed painting and clothing herself like a fashion model, and then she was absolutely stunning. That is why, when she came to the USA looking precisely like a plump Soviet matron, we know it must have been directly or indirectly ordered by Stalin. He wanted to convey that look so they could shame American women who only "thought" they were free. Yes, if Stalin said to dress that way, she had better do it, so I can't blame her, but she played the part with such zeal that I believe she would have done it even if he said nothing. That is where I see her hypocrisy. You look and see if you can find any photos of her dressed like a fashion model, but you won't. That is because I believe none were ever taken.--AR
Adam, I know what you mean about a rifle with scope. It was Fidel's favorite. I'll send you a picture by email.---MAF

Pretty Girls Fight for their Motherland!

Hi Miguel,

OK, 1st thing:

No, I guess you might not want to post them, because unlike Lenin's last illness, while we had our disagreements, we both advanced well founded scientific hypothesis about why we believed he died of what we asserted he did. Here, what is my hypothesis? That female Soviet snipers during the Great Patriotic War were much better looking than the average Soviet woman? OK, fine, I will say it is. But from a few examples, I am hardly proving that, and I have also found some female snipers that weren't. So, I will send them now for your amusement, and not necessarily for you to post them. Litvyak

Lydia Litvyak (photo, right), Soviet Jew, but I made a mistake. She was no sniper, but a terrific pilot. Seems amazing what natural selection will do to hair, eyes, and skin even if her ancestors might have been in Russian territory only about 1, 000-2,000 years. But from the look of the hair, I think she wanted to be extra sure and added a bit of bleach, too.

Not as useful as Pavlichenko to Stalin, so died in battle, 1943. See what Molotov’s wife looked like to make the comparison from Litvyak to a civilian Soviet Jewish woman. Molotov was such a toady, he never said a thing to Stalin about getting her released (Beria had to do it, as you have written), but he did say, “She's not only beautiful and intelligent, the only woman minister in Soviet Union; she's also a real Bolshevik, a real Soviet person.”

From what we now know of Molotov’s cynicism and unrepentant Stalinism until he died in 1986, I would find it amusing to know what such a person as him would mean by that. I know what I would, but him?

Shanina Roza Shanina (photo, left), Soviet Russian. I guess from looks alone, she is marriageable. But all Stalin cared about was whether she was of sufficient use, and she outlived that, so she died in battle in January 1945.

Thank you for the pictures! Great stuff! I figured you were a pretty good shot, but we never discussed it before. So, yes, you do understand what a scope can do to assist you with hunting!

Both you and Pavlichenko would be shooting at living perceptive things, and I totally understand how I can be great at targets and still be an overall poor shooter as long as I have the scope. I shot for squirrel in rural Ohio when a grad student with my best friend at the time, but I never did get any. In some areas of Ohio, the state is so poor, that squirrel is a close to a major staple. I wish I would have hit one, because I am really curious what they taste like.

Yes, I remember the photo of Fidel now with his telescopic rifle. You remind me of a good family friend, Tony... he married my mother’s best friend – an Irish schoolteacher. They both taught kindergarten and first grade together in NYC. He introduced me to Cuban prepared beef tongue, and I am still hooked on it, but sorry I can’t find some in Kentucky. In NYC, there are many good Cuban restaurants. But his parents had money and land when Fidel took over and he was still a kid. The new government appropriated it, but his family knew they were already on the usual Bolshevik “list.” So, they fled with none of their savings or property.

To this day, his wife Peggy will not let him take a trip back to see his old family house because she thinks maybe Raul Castro still has that list, and we know Bolsheviks forget nothing. I don’t know the political situation well enough to comment, but I can only say I don’t find it unbelievable that what she thinks is true. Best Regards, Adam

More Russian women fighter pilots!

I have been reading the posts on the World War II Russian women fighter pilots. Maybe Putin has been reading them too!

BBC News reported “Russia to train female fighter pilots” for the first time since World War II.

Japanese Naval Codes

Re book. The Imperial Japanese Army: The Invincible Years 1941-42 (2014) by Bill Yenne

This book relates the military feats that made the Imperial Japanese Army seem invincible during the early months of World War II (1941- 1942), and recount those feats in eloquent and engaging prose. The book is written with a Japanese perspective. During those two early years, the Imperial Japanese Army gained a strings of victories in the Far East that the author, Bill Yenne, compares favorably with the German blitzkrieg of 1939 and 1940.

The victories over the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, and the surrounding islands, against both colonial and native armies were astonishing military feats that swept all enemies before them. In particular, the defeats of the American Army in the Philippines and the British Army in the Malayan Peninsula made the Japanese Imperial Army overconfident, fatally underestimating the untapped industrial might of the United States and the fierce patriotism aroused following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, "the day that will live in infamy."

Those early years of victories would soon be overshadowed by the American determination for revenge, exerting all the financial, industrial, and military might America could muster. Moreover, the Japanese did not know the Americans had broken their cipher code for secret communications, allowing the Allies to decipher and counter the Japanese strategic military plans. Thus, it was only a matter of time. It took barely two years for the sleeping giant to completely wake up from the slumber and avenge Pearl Harbor and those early year victories. But in the meantime, the Japanese Army was rolling over, "invincibly,"over Southeast Asia, victorious at every turn, while the Japanese Navy ruled in the Pacific basin and the islands. The Imperial Japanese Army by Bill Yenne narrates those early years of Japanese military victories well, for which it is highly recommended for history buff, particularly those with an interest in Japan and the Pacific conflict during World War II.

Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.


Ray (Amazon): The Japanese Army codes were not broken until 1944. By the end of 1942 the army had been ejected from Guadalcanal. By the end of January, 1943, the Japanese positions at Buna-Gona, New Guinea were over run. 1943 would be a year of defeat and retreat in the South Pacific for both the Imperial Army and Navy. The only place, that I know the Japanese remained on the offensive in 1943, was Burma and China. The Japanese victory march lasted a year, not two. The road to Tokyo was hard and bitter but well underway before two years of war.

MAF: Incorrect, the Japanese Foreign Office's secret codes for diplomatic communications were deciphered in 1940 (1-3), and the Japanese Naval codes in 1942 (4-5), which made the timing of whatever Japanese Army code you are referring to, moot, as afar as the comments of my review. The Japanese Naval code was changed at various times, including on Dec 4, 1941, just before Pearl Harbor, but we can infer the U.S. already had foreknowledge of the attack by then. We had again broken the modified code by early 1942, had foreknowledge of, and thus prepared, for the Battle of Midway of June 4-7, 1942! Admiral Yamamoto himself was later assassinated, his plane shot down, because U.S. intelligence had foreknowledge of his flight, as we continued to decipher the Japanese Naval codes.

As to when the Japanese Army generally began retreating (on land) is arguable depending of when and where, and you admit that in Burma and China they were still on the offensive in 1943; be that as it may, we are talking about an arguable period of months anyway!


1. Clark, R.W. (1977). The Man who broke Purple. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. pp. 103–112. ISBN 0-297-77279-1.
2. Friedman, William F. (14 October 1940). "Preliminary Historical Report on the Solution of the "B" Machine"
3. Japanese cypher decoded
4. Japanese Naval Codes
5. Wilford, Timothy. "Decoding Pearl Harbor: USN Cryptanalysis and the Challenge of JN-25B in 1941", in The Northern Mariner XII, No.1 (January 2002), p.18.

Japan and Spies: WW II

Regarding Koster's Operation Snow and Evans' and Romerstein's Stalin's Secret Agents submitted comments concerning the issues in this article:

ReasonableGuy: I have not read this book, but I have read Koster's "Operation Snow" and I'm familiar with its thesis. Setting aside the major documentary problems with Koster's book, it seems to me that his thesis never takes into account much more basic explanations of the evolution of US policy. It presumes that a covert Soviet influence drives the train while ignoring the fact that Japan's own policies made her into a pariah state. There's the occupation of Manchuria, multiple bloody incidents with China, culminating in full scale war in 1937. There's withdrawal from the Naval Limitations Treaty. The attack on the Panay. The Rape of Nanking (which is witnessed first hand by a diverse international audience). The seizure of French IndoChina.

I don't doubt that the Soviets would have welcomed a conflict between the US and Japan, but to see their moles as a decisive element in engineering that conflict... No, they may rate a footnote, but it was the Japanese that did all the heavy lifting.

The real problem was the ascendancy of a military clique with no scruples about using violence to attain power, which was at the same time incapable of questioning its strategic assumptions (which were completely detached from reality). They're just not inclined to do the math, or to consider the possibility that the military option is not the best tool in the box. They dig themselves into a hole, and then afraid of losing face, they keep digging.

Seeker: Bankrupting the Enemy is a good work, and goes to the heart of the motivations of the US - which you have expressed above. The pro-Soviet moles ( who did exist, it is not paranoia to say so) only nudged in the direction the US was going anyway.

It is disturbing to think that there were people in the US govt. devoted to the interests of another land before their own, especially in making sure the Japanese Empire attacked the US because it would be better for their precious Soviet Union. We can only be glad their influence was marginal. And that Truman and the ADA flushed them out after the war.

Dr Miguel Faria: Unfortunately, the influence in the FDR administration was considerable in many other areas, from the mishandling and betrayal of China (e.g., Solomon Adler, Owen Lattimore, Lauchlin Currie, John Stewart Service, etc.) the concessions to Stalin in World War II (e.g., Harry Dexter White, Harry Hopkins, etc.), the inception of the U.N. (e.g. Alger Hiss), map of post WW II Europe, etc., and not all the moles and agents of influence were flushed out; few were prosecuted and many continued to operate (with less influence) in the Truman administration until their partial exposure in the late 40s and early 50s (e.g., Lattimore, Currie, etc.).


1.Stalin's Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt's Government by M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein Threshold editions, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2012
2. Operation Snow: How a Soviet Mole in FDR's White House Triggered Pearl Harbor by John Koster, 2012, which is discussed here.
3. Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations by Richard C. S. Trahair Greenwood Press, 2004.
4. See also : Wikipedia,"List of Soviet Agents in the United States"

ReasonableGuy: Agreed. I think Seeker puts it well as describing the influence of pro-Soviet moles in the embargo decision as more of a "nudge" in the direction US policy was already heading for other reasons. However, I also believe that you are on solid grounds to suggest that their influence over other decisions and matters of policy really shouldn't be dismissed. FDR's accommodation of Stalin goes well beyond what can be justified in terms of keeping the Soviet Union in the war against Hitler. Whereas Mao was the beneficiary of a virtual public relations campaign that could have sold sand to a Bedouin.

Dr. Miguel Faria: I agree and extend thanks for your critical comments. And Speaking of Mao, I have recently read and reviewed three books concerning him and his propagandized mythic Long March that supports your conviction:

1) Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang
2) The Long March: The True History of Communist China's Founding Myth by Sun Shuyan
3) The Long March by Harrison Salisbury

Operation Snow and Pearl Harbor

Operation Snow: How a Soviet Mole in FDR's White House Triggered Pearl Harbor by John Koster (2012)

On the eve of World War II, the little known Battle of Khalkan Gol between the Soviet Union and the Imperial Empire of Japan was fought to a climax on August 20-31, 1939. Suffice to say the Japanese Army in Mongolia was decisively defeated by elite Siberian Soviet army units at Khalkan Gol and Lake Khasan led by Marshall Sergei Zhukov, later a Hero of the Soviet Union. This almost secret encounter involved a million soldiers and was kept quiet by both Russia and Japan. I have come to believe that more than likely this drubbing of the Japanese helped convince them to proceed with the Tanaka Plan or the Southern strategy for the conquest of the Far East and the Pacific, rather than the invasion of Siberia, where the Soviets still kept their best troops.

After this defeat in Mongolia and other concerns — among them, the needed vast supplies of oil and raw materials available in Southeast Asia, it stands to reason the Japanese Navy's arguments for the Southern naval strategy had prevailed over the Army's Northern Siberian military strategy. This explains why the Japanese chose to attack Pearl Harbor and invaded Southeast Asia, instead of attacking Siberia and the USSR, as Hitler and the German High Command urged them. Had the Japanese done this, they could have crushed the Russians between two fronts in 1941, avoiding the attack on Pearl Harbor, entrance of the U.S. into the War would have been delayed, or possibly, the U.S would have staid out of the conflict, increasing the chances of Axis Powers victory.

But the Japanese did attack Pearl Harbor. Now we know there were other factors, namely the Soviet spy and agent of influence, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Harry Dexter White, who was doing the bidding for Stalin and the Soviets, a traitor in the FDR administration. To protect the Soviet Union from attack and divert the Japanese attack against the U.S. Harry Dexter White pushed the Japanese into a corner: Japan, deficient and desperately needing raw materials and oil, resources crucial to its survival, was deliberately blocked access to them by the FDR administration "war hawks," led by Harry Dexter White. In 1941 deprived of oil and vital resources, Japan was forced to go to war and manipulated to attack, not the Soviet Union but the U.S., preventing the USSR from being attacked and crushed on two fronts.

This book is momentous and together with M.Stanton Evan's and Herbert Romerstein's book, Stalin's Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt's Government fills a serious gap in historical knowledge that needed filling as to the events leading to World War II and the Cold War. This book is essential reading and should be available in public libraries and institutions, as well as the personal library of historians of the Cold War, non-fiction espionage aficionados, and those who want to set the record straight about the FDR administration and the Cold War. I assign it 5 stars without reservations. Get this book and read it!

Japan forced into WW II

"How U.S. Economic Warfare Provoked Japan's Attack on Pearl Harbor by" Robert Higgs, The Independent Review, May 1, 2006

In the late nineteenth century, Japan’s economy began to grow and to industrialize rapidly. Because Japan has few natural resources, many of the burgeoning industries had to rely on imported raw materials, such as coal, iron ore or steel scrap, tin, copper, bauxite, rubber, and petroleum. Without access to such imports, many of which came from the United States or from European colonies in southeast Asia, Japan’s industrial economy would have ground to a halt. By engaging in international trade, however, the Japanese had built a moderately advanced industrial economy by 1941.

At the same time, they also built a military-industrial complex to support an increasingly powerful army and navy. These armed forces allowed Japan to project its power into various places in the Pacific and east Asia, including Korea and northern China, much as the United States used its growing industrial might to equip armed forces that projected U.S. power into the Caribbean and Latin America, and even as far away as the Philippine Islands...

...the Roosevelt administration, while curtly dismissing Japanese diplomatic overtures to harmonize relations, imposed a series of increasingly stringent economic sanctions on Japan. In 1939 the United States terminated the 1911 commercial treaty with Japan. “On July 2, 1940, Roosevelt signed the Export Control Act, authorizing the President to license or prohibit the export of essential defense materials.” Under this authority, “[o]n July 31, exports of aviation motor fuels and lubricants and No. 1 heavy melting iron and steel scrap were restricted.” Next, in a move aimed at Japan, Roosevelt slapped an embargo, effective October 16, “on all exports of scrap iron and steel to destinations other than Britain and the nations of the Western Hemisphere.” Finally, on July 26, 1941, Roosevelt “froze Japanese assets in the United States, thus bringing commercial relations between the nations to an effective end. One week later Roosevelt embargoed the export of such grades of oil as still were in commercial flow to Japan.”[2] The British and the Dutch followed suit, embargoing exports to Japan from their colonies in southeast Asia.

Roosevelt and his subordinates knew they were putting Japan in an untenable position and that the Japanese government might well try to escape the stranglehold by going to war. Having broken the Japanese diplomatic code, the Americans knew, among many other things, what Foreign Minister Teijiro Toyoda had communicated to Ambassador Kichisaburo Nomura on July 31: “Commercial and economic relations between Japan and third countries, led by England and the United States, are gradually becoming so horribly strained that we cannot endure it much longer. Consequently, our Empire, to save its very life, must take measures to secure the raw materials of the South Seas.”[3]

Because American cryptographers had also broken the Japanese naval code, the leaders in Washington knew as well that Japan’s “measures” would include an attack on Pearl Harbor.[4] Yet they withheld this critical information from the commanders in Hawaii, who might have headed off the attack or prepared themselves to defend against it. That Roosevelt and his chieftains did not ring the tocsin makes perfect sense: after all, the impending attack constituted precisely what they had been seeking for a long time. As Stimson confided to his diary after a meeting of the war cabinet on November 25, “The question was how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.”[5] After the attack, Stimson confessed that “my first feeling was of relief ... that a crisis had come in a way which would unite all our people.[6]

1. Harry Elmer Barnes, “Summary and Conclusions,” in Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace:A Critical Examination of the Foreign Policy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Its Aftermath (Caldwell, Id.: Caxton Printers, 1953), pp. 682–83.
2. All quotations in this paragraph from George Morgenstern, “The Actual Road to Pearl Harbor,” in Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, pp. 322–23, 327–28.
3. Quoted ibid., p. 329.
4. Robert B. Stinnett, Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor (NewYork: Free Press, 2000).
5. Stimson quoted in Morgenstern, p. 343.
6. Stimson quoted ibid., p. 384.

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at The Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review.

Germany and Japan attacking the USSR?

Marco replying to Dr. Faria's review of Operation Snow on Amazon: "I would certainly hope that the U.S. would not have stayed out of the war. An all-out attack on the Soviet Union by Japan would have insured a Soviet defeat and the collapse of Soviet tyranny. At that point or even sooner an attack from Southern Europe by the U.S. and Britain could have brought about a victorious war against Germany using U.S. tanks, trucks and arms and ammunition in the hands of the U.S. and Britain rather than the Soviet Union. The train tracks to German death camps could have easily demolished and the German military leaders would have been open to the idea of a conditional surrender, eliminating the Nazis and allowing for a unified Germany. In any case the U.S. and Britain would have had no reason to terror bomb Dresden and other German cities. China could have remained free and British and French interests in Asia more easily defended against Japanese attacks. A conditional victory over Japan by Anti-Communist Russians and the U.S. and Britain could have repulsed any further Japanese advances after the defeat of the Soviet Union. An attack on Japan with Atomic weapons avoided by agreeing to allow the Japanese Emperor to remain titular leader of Japan. All this may be conjecture but there is no doubt in my mind that the U.S. would have been in a better place with the defeat of the Soviet Union and could have defeated Germany and defended southern Asia as well with the full force of a well armed U.S. army. The Lend Lease program of aid to the Soviets could have been scrapped, freeing up huge amounts of equipment for our military and free Russian forces that wanted to ally with the U.S."

Dr Faria replies: The strategic plan for the destruction of the USSR, with Germany attacking from the west and Japan from the east, was called "Plan Orient." It was to be followed by the conquest of India and Asia with the Nazis coming down from the Middle East and linking with the Japanese marching from South East Asia. The Plan was disrupted by Japan deciding to go ahead instead with its sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and awakening a sleeping giant.

I recommend the excellent History Channel documentaries, "The Samurai and the Swastika" (2000) and "The Last Secrets of the Axis" (2001) bolstering my arguments in the History Live debate: "How Germany and Japan Could've Won," in RealClearHistory, February 13, 2014. As it was World War II was a long drawn-out conflict, unequaled for its savagery in history. Russia and China alone lost 20 million citizens each!

As these documentaries show, as the war ended, Japan was building advanced Rocket-propelled fighter planes and jet fighters to combat the U.S. B-29 "Super Flying Fortresses" and Ally Air Power. These were being built in the "Land of the Rising Sun" from super secret plans and blue prints — dispatched secretly from Germany and Italy, as these Axis powers were on their death throes, to the last ally Axis standing: Japan.

Incredibly, at the time of the bloody invasion of Okinawa, which resulted in 20% of all the Japanese casualties of the War, Japan was proceeding with plans to build also giant intercontinental bombers that could carry massive bombs and bacteriological warfare (e.g. Bubonic plague bacteria) to the continental U.S. from secret basis in Manchuria (i.e., Unit 7-31). Additionally jet fighter planes with folding and twisting wings were being built that could be carried by ultra secret giant Submarine Aircraft Carriers.

There were plans for these desperate measures as well as the destruction of the Panama Canal. At the very moment that the bombs were being dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, operational research in Japan continued until the very end. The bombs stopped that, as well as a very costly invasion of the mainland of Japan, as Okinawa had demonstrated. — MAF

Interesting notes!

Comments on Amazon —

Thomas C. Quinn: The idea that Pearl Harbor was instigated by Soviet intrigue, through Harry Dexter White or anyone else, is ridiculous on its face. Imperial Japan had well developed war aims in South East Asia centered around obtaining the oil fields of Indonesia. Knocking out the US fleet in Hawaii was central to that, something that was debated exhaustively in top power circles in Tokyo that included the emperor. Toland's book discusses this in great detail. On the other hand, Russian and Japanese conflicts in the far east were of a minor character with Russia's main concerns being a continent away. Dexter White may have been a soviet informer, but the idea that he-or the Soviets more generally-instigated Pearl Harbor is sheer fantasy that insults the intelligence of both American and Japanese leadership and is of a piece of the kind of fableist conspiracy theories that some of the more gullible and less educated fall for.

And [in his book John Koster writes:] "was a great way to convince Americans to die destroying the Japanese Empire so Stalin could move in..."

Where did Stalin move in? Russia did not even declare war until a week before the war ended and wound up with what, half of Sakhalin Island? You're way off base. Believe it or not, the whole world, even then, did not revolve around Soviet Russia. Moreover, from Stalin's perspective the war in the Pacific only distracted the US from opening the second front in Europe he so desperately wanted. Nonetheless, Mr. Koster's castigation of the wrong-headed and illegal detention of Japanese-Americans is well taken.

JJ Murphy: The Soviet invasion invented North Korea, where about five million Koreans have died due to outside war and bad government. PS Russia owns ALL of Sakhalin Island. Read the original OPERATION SNOW by Vitalii Pavlov of the KGB.

Richard H McQueen: "Where did Stalin move in?"
Basically, everywhere they could reach prior to the Armistice:
1. Manchuria, which then provided the main base of operations for Mao's Red Chinese forces.
2. Sakhalin Island
3. Kuril Islands
4. Port Arthur/Dalian, transferred to the People's Republic of China in 1955.
5. Northern Korea

Thomas C Quinn: I think both of you are way off. The Soviet Union declared war on Japan, with whom it had signed a neutrality treaty with in 1940, after the atomic bombs had been dropped on Japan and it had been defeated, hardly a credible argument for the far-fetched idea that this conflict had been provoked by soviet intrigue in the first place. In actuality, the role of the Soviet Union in the Pacific Theater in World War 2 was entirely tangential.

While the the defeat of the Kwantung Army in Manchuria certainly aided the Chinese Red Army and the Korean communists, they had their own long standing locally based insurgent movements in resistance to the Japanese occupation and in support of ancient grievances with the semi-feudal status quo. In any event, those Japanese troops were going to be on the way out no matter what, so the soviet role in the outcome of the Chinese civil war, which had deep and long standing indigenous roots, was limited.

It also bears pointing out that Chiang and the KMT Nationalists had been consulted about the Soviet invasion of Manchuria beforehand and had agreed to it, naively believing that authority would be surrendered to them when the soviets withdrew. Then again, Stalin was not above sacrificing local communists when it suited his purposes as he had done in 1927 when he stood idly by while Chiang's forces massacred 100,000 of Mao's supporters at Shanghai and elsewhere and as he did in Spain in the 1930s when he became the liberal capitalists' main enforcer against the anarchists and Trotskyites; all for the greater good of the popular front. Chiang miscalculated this time though, the Chinese Reds were too strong for Stalin to control even if he had been inclined to do so.

Barbara Tuchman's excellent book "Stilwell and the American Experience in China" gives a good overview of this period in Chinese history.

JJ Murphy: Barbara Tuchman was Henry Morgenthau Jr's niece.THUD! She worked in the Institute for Pacific Relations, where Owen Lattimore THUD! the editor of the magazine, was tapped by Harry Dexter White THUD! to keep Chiang fighting Japan with infusions of American money until the Japanese had clearly lost the war. At that point, Lattimore turned against Chiang, Harry Dexter White cut off Chiang's credit, and Lattimore later made sure that the United States left South Korea open for a Soviet-backed invasion in 1950. Dean Acheson -- an anti-Communist but a dunce -- left the Korean door open after Lattimore had stripped Japan of machine tols and aluminum. By 1951, John Foster Dulles was asking the Japanese to re-arm themselves and invade Korea to help the Americans. No serious historian takes Barbara Tuchman seriously, and the Japanese, the Chinese of Taiwan and the South Koreans all know that Owen Lattimore -- Barbara's buddy -- stabbed them in the back one by one. Read Benn Steil's book on "The Battle of Bretton Woods." He substantiates Harry Dexter White's treason in detail. So does Laurence Rees in "Behind Closed Doors."

Tucson Tom: In response to Mr. Quinn's comment: "What an example of McCarthyite demonology and innuendo."

M. Stanton Evans fully addressed the slander against Senator Joseph McCarthy in his book "Blacklisted by History." Read it. In addition, read Diana West's "American Betrayal."

Also read: Ann Coulter's "Treason" in which she devotes more than one hundred pages to a demonstration of McCarthy's accuracy in revealing the extent of Soviet penetration of the U.S. government. [And in response to criticisms of Coulter's book that she uses no footnotes ... she used end notes ... as I recall, more than 900 end notes. So much research that she had to cut the size of the book down to a publishable 354 pages ... which led to yet another book.]

Both the FBI and Arlington Hall/NSA were closing in on the Soviet Communist moles in the U.S. government. It was just a matter of time ... which explains the rash of sudden deaths/illnesses/suicides/flights to the USSR on the part of so many of the principle agents.

R Miller: I read the following quote in a book entitled The death of East Prussia: "Roosevelt is also quoted as saying that he was convinced that the Russians were sincere in desiring a strong and independent Poland and that he believed that the Russians could be trusted to treat the Poles fairly." He must have been the only one to really believe that. Roosevelt is essentially a personality cult. He is deified. No one wants to discuss his blunders such as twisting Stalin's arm into invading North Korea and China, which in turn caused a war for us 5 years later. If you criticize, be prepared for the negative votes and howls from the Pod people.

More on history!

Today in History: Jan. 24, 2014.

1942: the Roberts Commission placed much of the blame for America's lack of preparedness for Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, unfairly, on Rear Adm. Husband E. Kimmel and Lt. Gen. Walter C. Short, the Navy and Army commanders. The blame should have been placed squarely on FDR and his pro-communist advisers, Harry Dexter White and Harry Hopkins.

FDR, Stalin and the Katyn Forest Atrocity!

Spies of the Cold War

1965: A true hero of the Anglo-American alliance and international freedom, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, died in London at age 90.