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 HaciendaPublishing.com on October 18, 2011. The article can be cited as: Faria MA. World War II (Part I) — The German strategic plan. HaciendaPublishing.com, October 18, 2011. Available from: http://www.haciendapub.com/randomnotes/world-war-ii-part-i-%E2%80%94-german-strategic-plan

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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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!

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.



Rumors continue 60 years after Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's death. Did he die as a result of a stroke or was he assassinated by a member or members of his inner circle?