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Stephane GRIMALDI China's Contribution to the Victory in World War II
September 17,2015   By:CSHRS
China's Contribution to the Victory in World War II
Mr.Stephane GRIMALDI ,General Director of the Memorial de Caen,France
The war of aggression conducted by the Japanese Imperial army against China in particular took end on 15 August 1945, approximately 3 months and a half after the German capitulation on 8 may in Berlin.
I will try in my presentation to give meaning to this very classic concept in Europe’s ‘world war’, noting firstly that of the 65 million of victims in this war, schematically half was Asian and the other European.
It is also important to note that this war, in its entirety, has more civilians than military casualties - which distinguishes it from previous, often marked by front lines behind which civilians were sometimes safe - across its operating theaters, in total there are indeed 30 millions of civilian victims. Thus, in China, there are 14 to 20 million civilian deaths and 6 million dead soldiers, Communists and Kuomintang members combined forces.
In the spirit of my fellow Europeans or French, the “world war” is in fact a war whose narrative is essentially European, which naturally includes the former U.S.S.R. who has lost, let’s recall it, 26 million of his fellow citizens in a war of extermination by Nazi Germany.
The war in Asia is indeed strangely unknown in France or even Europe, taught very little, very little commented, even though extraordinary parallels are to be done and that a comprehensive understanding of this period is impossible without interest. For the man in the street, this war is engaged between Japan and the United States, with a highlight the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I will return for more detail on these parallels.
The war of “eight years of resistance” which starts with the 1937 Marco Polo Bridge incident, or, if one prefers, the “fourteen years of resistance”, which starts in September 1931, is to be put into perspective with, in Europe, the Spanish war which start in 1936. What I mean is that we are accustomed in Europe to think that World War II starts on September 1, 1939 with the German invasion of the Poland, while in China, as in Spain, humanity is already at war.
What I want to support recalling this dating, it is in truth, what we call - including the Memorial - “the territorial extension of the conflict” after Pearl Harbor in December 1941, would be infinitely more relevant from an Asian perspective.
We may naturally just consider, what is true, that the war becomes global from the time when we are witnessing the merge of the Sino-Japanese and European wars. But we cannot help observing that the main protagonists are present everywhere well before September 1939. Germany helps militarily the Kuomintang, the U.S.S.R. helps the young Chinese Communist Party, the United States provide steel to Japan. The world war, if not a fact, is a minimum germ.
In Europe, we need to understand that World War II, refer constantly to the First World War. In truth, everything is written during those four years of conflict mainly between the 3 major economic and colonial powers of that era; Britain, Germany and France.
The Treaty of Versailles signed on 28 June 1919 will be, as everyone knows here, a huge failure. The failure of peace written by the winners who, despite hopes of a League of Nations brought by U.S. President Wilson, will be the humiliation of a former Austro-Hungarian empire ruined and dislocated, as it was throughout Central Europe engulfed by war. This humiliation, the bloodless young German Republic, which does not consider itself beaten to the point of paying such repairs and to accept a French occupation of its territory, will be the breeding political and populist ground of Nazism. This is the “Diktat”.
Adolf Hitler is a man marked by the First World War, marked by the defeat, marked by humiliation, marked by his own failures and his life of misery in Vienna and it was sufficient at the bottom of the spark of the economic crisis of 1929 to trigger the coming disaster. It was sufficient to these cohorts of unemployed, to whom the German Republic couldn’t bring solutions or even hopes, to make the unthinkable happen in the land of Goethe.
Everything will chain: the Nazis in 1933 will legally take power, they will condition the German society, they will rearm Germany, and French and British democracies will let do including this shameful Treaty of Munich, which say to Winston Churchill, who had more than others the meaning of the formula: “the Government had to choose between shame and war, he chose shame and there will be war”.
Meanwhile, China is undergoing an aggressive war which only bore the name ‘incident’ for diplomatic reasons, which became under the Japanese word “a holy war” establishing the superiority of “Japanese race” and his right to conquer Asia. There is an amazing parallel here to the era between “Showa” - which establishes this superiority - and the nazi Aryan ideal which established a similar racial superiority in Europe. On behalf of this racial superiority, 6 million Jews, including 1.4 million children will be exterminated, and this will be called the “Holocaust”.
As on behalf of the same dogma of superiority of one race over another, we can observe a parallelism between the massacre of civilians in Nanjing in 1937 by Japanese soldiers (which the Memorial recounts in his new course) and those committed by the German army in the East.
We can also draw a parallel between the monstrous experiments committed by Unit 731 on Chinese civilians and those of Mengele at Auschwitz Birkenau.
Finally, we can draw a parallel between the ‘Three All Policy’ of the Japanese general Okamura, “kill all, burn everything, plunder everything”, and the genocidal path of the 4 Einsatzgruppen on the Russian front.
However geographically, what connects the Asian continent and the Western continent, is at the time the USSR led by Joseph Stalin. It is indeed interesting to observe the diplomatic double game of Stalin who, until 1941, is helping China to counter the Japanese expansionist designs on Siberia.
However, from 1941, to avoid a war on two fronts, he will sign a non-aggression pact with the ally of his mortal enemy, Germany, after which the Soviet military and logistic support will be removed from China. And it will then be the turn of the United States to bring its assistance, favoring however the Kuomintang in an attempt to isolate Mao Zedong’s forces.
We may legitimately ask this question: what would have happened if Stalin was unable to release its eastern divisions to repel the German advance on the Western front? Would he have been able to support two fronts, even though the outcome of the war faltered until Stalingrad and Kursk turns?
Basically, China, with its war effort, therefore probably kept Japan on the sidelines of the Western conflict, which certainly contributed to the victory of Stalin on Hitler.
It was only upon a promise of Yalta to the United States that the Soviet Union declared war on Japan on August 8, 1945, 7 days before the surrender of the empire crushed with shame and permanently wounded by the two dreadful US nuclear bombing announcing another time.
This terrible war, which is the greatest shame of humanity and a turning point in its history, has given way to another war which, for us Europeans, ended with the fall of the Berlin wall on 9 November 1989. I am of course referring to the ‘cold war’ that will oppose two worlds, two political conceptions and will cause other conflicts - in Korea, in Vietnam, in Africa.
Your great country, as your enemies of yesterday, endured the same sorrows and atrocities that we Europeans, have suffered. Your great country has endured a war of aggression of unprecedented violence due to the madness of men and this part of inhumanity which lies dormant within us.
Your great country has succeeded to face despite all, united in time of adversity, torn apart by a civil war before the great turning point in 1949.
May humanity and the Chinese people remember.
(The author is General Director of the Memorial de Caen, France)