War with Japan

On August 8, 1945, the Soviet Union began a war with Japan. Japan had maintained neutrality toward the Soviet Union since April 13, 1941, when Yosuke Matsuoka, the Japanese foreign minister, signed an agreement to that effect in Moscow.1 To stress the importance of the just signed Neutrality Pact, Stalin and Molotov personally went to Moscow’s Yaroslavskii Station to see off Matsuoka. Signing this pact allowed Stalin to order a month later a secret transfer of two armies from the Transbaikal and Siberian military districts to the regions near the western border for preparations for the war with Germany.2 However, the possibility of a Japanese attack against the Soviet Union existed until the first months of 1942, and by December 1941, as a result of a new draft in Siberia, thirty-nine Soviet divisions were deployed in the Transbaikal region and the Soviet Far East. But the war with Japan was inevitable, while for the Western Allies it had started on December 8, 1941.


On May 21, 1943, the GKO ordered the secret construction of a railroad from Komsomolsk on the Amur River to the Soviet Harbor in the Far Eastern Pacific.3 This railroad was crucial for the future movement of troops and military hardware to the Sea of Japan. With labor camp prisoners doing the construction work, completion was planned for August 1, 1945.

On November 1, 1943, after a dinner in the Kremlin, Stalin confidentially informed U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull that he planned to enter the war with Japan after the German defeat. Hull immediately cabled the news to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.4

In July 1944, after the Western Allies opened the Second Front in Europe, Stalin informed Marshal Aleksandr Vasilevsky, head of the General Staff, that he would be commander in chief of the war with Japan.5 The GUKR SMERSH started preparing an operational list containing the names of Japanese intelligence members and leaders of the Russian émigré community in Manchuria, which it completed on September 15, 1944.6 On February 11, 1945, the last day of the Yalta Conference, Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill signed a secret protocol, stating that after the war with Japan, the Soviet Union would acquire all of Sakhalin Island, the Kuril Islands, and a zone in Korea.7

On April 5, 1945, Molotov denounced the 1941 agreement in a diplomatic note to the Japanese ambassador to Moscow, Naotake Sato. The Soviet troops were already on the move to the Russian Far East. On June 28, 1945, Stalin issued an order: ‘All preparations are to be carried out in the greatest secrecy. Army commanders are to be given their orders in person, orally and without any written directives.’8 Marshal Vasilevsky was appointed commander in chief in the Far East under the alias ‘Vasiliev’ (previously he was ‘Vladimirov,’ Table 21-1), and other commanders were also given aliases.9 All preparations were to be completed by August 1, 1945.

On May 15, 1945, Abakumov appointed his deputy, Isai Babich, and Aleksandr Misyurev, an assistant, as coordinators of SMERSH units of the Far Eastern Group of Soviet Troops.10 They were transferred there with a staff of 150 experienced SMERSH officers. Experienced UKR SMERSH heads were put in charge of the Far Eastern fronts:





Far Eastern Group of Troops

I. Ya. Babich, Deputy Head, GUKR SMERSH


Primorsk Group of Troops

D. I. Mel’nikov, Head, Karelian Front UKR SMERSH


Transbaikal Front

A. A. Vadis, Head, 1st Belorussian Front UKR SMERSH


Far Eastern Front

I. T. Saloimsky, Transbaikal Front UKR SMERSH

Later, in August 1945 the Primorsk (or Maritime) Group of Troops and Far Eastern Front became the 1st Far Eastern Front and 2nd Far Eastern Front respectively when Stalin launched his war against Japan. At the same time, GUKR SMERSH in Moscow was not idle. On June 9, 1945, it updated its operational list of Japanese intelligence members and Russian émigrés in Manchuria targeted for arrest.11

On July 11, 1945, Ambassador Naotake Sato tried to persuade Molotov to establish long-term friendly relations with Japan. At the time, three groups of Soviet troops totaling about 1.5 million men had already been deployed at the Manchurian border. The Japanese Kwantung Army, stationed in Manchuria since 1931, was the first to meet the Soviet offensive. In 1945, this army consisted of 713,000 men, of whom, according to the Japanese sources, about half were poorly trained teenaged recruits and old men, since the elite troops had long ago been sent to fight the Americans and British.12 The Japanese troops had almost no fuel and as a result, during the ensuing battle with the Soviets not a single plane out of a fleet of 900 was able to take off, and all 600 Japanese tanks were seized by the Soviets before they were even used.

On July 25, 1945, Beria reported to Stalin, who was attending the Potsdam Conference in Berlin, that the construction of the railroad to the Soviet Harbor was complete.13 The next day Harry S. Truman, Churchill, and Chinese President Chiang Kai-shek signed the Potsdam Declaration stating that if Japan did not surrender, it would be destroyed. The Japanese government did not respond.

On the morning of August 6, Truman ordered the first atomic bomb to be dropped on the city of Hiroshima. Two days later, at 5:00 p.m., Molotov officially informed Ambassador Sato that the Soviet Union would begin the war the next day. In fact, Soviet troops had already begun the offensive under the code name Operation August Storm.14 On August 9, the Americans dropped the second atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki.

The next day the Japanese government informed the Allies that it wished to capitulate.15 On August 15, Japanese radio transmitted Emperor Hirohito’s speech of surrender to the nation, in which he agreed to all the demands of the Potsdam Declaration. In response, U.S. commander in chief General Douglas MacArthur issued Order No. 1, stopping the advance of American troops into Japan.

But peace was not what Stalin wanted. Soviet troops had occupied only a third of the Japanese territory Stalin had agreed upon with the Allies, and on August 17, 1945, he ordered Marshal Vasilevsky to continue the offensive.16 The next day, troops began landing on South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. The island of Hokkaido was not occupied only because the unexpectedly fierce Japanese defense of Sakhalin Island slowed the advancing Soviet troops.

New SMERSH Tactics

In Manchuria and other parts of China, SMERSH used new tactics. Groups of SMERSH operatives were parachuted in to Changchun, Mukden, Port Arthur (now Lüshun), and Dairen (Dalnii in Russian). These groups consisted mostly of SMERSH officers, followed by a landing force and additional forces bearing a flag of truce. In Changchun, on August 19 a group of SMERSH operatives and truce forces compelled General Otozo Yamada to order the surrender of his Kwantung Army.17 During this short campaign in Manchuria, Babich and Misyurev personally led two raids conducted by a group of SMERSH operatives. On September 21, 1945, Aleksandr Vadis reported to Babich:

From August 9 to September 18, there were 35 operational-search [SMERSH] groups in Manchuria. They conducted operations along with storm troopers, taking over cities, especially those in which, according to our intelligence information, there were [enemy] intelligence and counterintelligence organs.

In total, 2,249 people were arrested by September 18, 1945. Among them:

    1. Official members of the YaVM [Japanese Military Missions]


    2. YaVM agents


    3. Official members of the Japanese gendarmerie


    4. RFS [Russian Fascist Union] leaders and active members


    5. BREM [Bureau of Russian Emigrants] leaders and active members


    6. [Former] Red Army Intelligence men recruited by Japanese intelligence


    7. Traitors to the Motherland


Officially, the number of Japanese intelligence agents captured by SMERSH operatives in the Far East and Manchuria reached 50,000, which is hard to believe.19

As usual, leaders of Russian émigré organizations were special targets of SMERSH operational groups. After the Civil War in Russia, many White Russian troops as well as members of the Maritime Provisional Government (May 1921–November 1922 in Vladivostok) crossed the border with China and settled there on territories later occupied by Japan. Furthermore, from 1929 to 1931, many Russian peasants crossed the Chinese border to escape enforced collectivization. In 1921–45, Grigorii Semenov was the key leader (Ataman) of all Cossacks living in nineteen large settlements in China, in charge of the 20,000-strong Cossack Union. The goal of this extremely anti-Soviet group was ‘to free Russia from the power of the Comintern and to restore law and order.’20 In August 1945, Ataman Semenov, two of his sons, and his uncle, White Lieutenant General D. F. Semenov, were captured by a SMERSH operational group parachuted into Dairen. Abakumov informed Beria:

On August 25 of the current year [1945] the operational group of the UKR SMERSH of the Transbaikal Front captured in the suburbs of the town of Dairen the leader of the White Russian Cossack Troops, head of the White Russian Guards, who had been hiding in Japan, Lieutenant General SEMENOV, G. M., born in 1890 in the village of Durulguev in the former Transbaikal Region, a Russian, who served in the Czar’s Army as a Colonel of Cossack Troops.

During the arrest, documents were taken from SEMENOV that proved his anti-Soviet activity.

SEMENOV is en route to the Main SMERSH Directorate.21

A month later, Abakumov reported to Beria on the arrests of leaders of the Russian Fascist Party (RFP), which was very active in Harbin in Manchuria. In the 1920s, Harbin was a Russian-émigré cultural and political center, similar to Prague and Paris.22 The first Russian fascist organizations appeared in Manchuria in 1925, inspired by the example of Benito Mussolini. In May 1931, the first congress of Russian fascists formed the RFP, electing the charismatic Konstantin Rodzaevsky its general secretary.23 Born in 1907 in Blagoveshchensk on the Russian left bank of the Amur River, in 1925, Rodzaevsky fled to Harbin, where he entered the Law Institute. In 1928, his father, a lawyer, and a younger brother joined him in Harbin, while the OGPU arrested Rodzaevsky’s mother and two sisters who had stayed behind in Blagoveshchensk.

Rodzaevsky wrote the RFP program. The party’s goal was ‘to overthrow the Jewish Communist dictatorship in Russia and to create a new National-Labor Great Russia [like National Socialist Germany], Russia for the Russians.’24 According to Rodzaevsky, Russia would achieve the highest level of prosperity and social justice, and the greatest Eurasian Empire would be created after Finland, Poland, and the neighboring Baltic countries joined Russia in that union. Rodzaevsky called Stalin ‘a concubine of the American capitalists and the Jews,’ and the OGPU, ‘a Zionist net.’

Rodzaevsky was obsessed with the worldwide ‘Jewish-Masonic plot,’ which he imagined and described in Russian in a brochure, Judas’ End, and a book, Contemporary Judaisation of the World or the Jewish Question in the 20th Century. The latter was republished in 2001 by the current Russian nationalists.25 In 1934, Russian fascists formed an international organization, the Russian Far East Moscow, with its central office in Harbin and branches in twenty-six countries. But because of Rodzaevsky’s extreme anti-Semitism, the leader of the American-Russian fascists, Anastase Vonsiatsky, soon broke with the RFP.26

The creation of the RFP coincided with the Japanese occupation of Manchuria and the creation of a puppet state, Manchukuo. The Japanese established a Bureau on the Affairs of Russian Emigrants in Manchuria (BREM) to manage the huge Russian population in Harbin.27 A Russian needed BREM’s (i.e., Japanese) approval to be hired, to open a business, and even to visit relatives in another city. The staff of BREM consisted of Cossacks and monarchist émigrés. In 1943, Major General Lev Vlasievsky became head of BREM, while Mikhail Matkovsky, the son of another White General, Aleksei Matkovsky, was his assistant. In fact, Mikhail Matkovsky was a Soviet intelligence agent, and through him, the Soviets learned a lot about the Russian community in Harbin.28Despite his service, SMERSH arrested Matkovsky and later he was sentenced to a ten-year imprisonment in labor camps.

Between 4,000 and 20,000 Russians joined the RFP in Manchuria, while the total Russian population in Harbin was about 80,000.29 In 1939, the RFP changed its name to the Russian Fascist Union or RFS. The RFS widely used terror against members of the Russian émigré community and soon became part of the Japanese-Manchurian mafia. In October 1941, Japanese security arrested Richard Sorge, head of the Soviet spy ring in Tokyo, and then started vetting the Russian population in China.30 The Japanese detained and intensely interrogated Rodzaevsky and two other RFS leaders for a month. In 1943, the Japanese administration banned the RFS.

But in the 1930s, the Japanese enthusiastically supported the RFP’s anti-Soviet terrorist activity. In 1936, the Japanese assisted a group called ‘The First Fascist Unit for Saving Russia,’ under the command of Rodzaevsky’s bodyguard, Matvei Maslakov, in crossing the Soviet border.31The NKVD troops immediately discovered the group and killed forty of its members.

In 1937, General Yoshijiro Umezu, commander in chief of the Kwantung Army and, from 1939 to 1942, Japanese ambassador to Manchukuo, ordered the establishment of a special school to train Russian terrorists, appointing Rodzaevsky as its head.32 Soviet intelligence heard about the school’s activity through Ivar Lissner, a reporter for Völkischer Beobachter and a prominent anthropologist, who pretended to work for the Abwehr but was, in fact, a Soviet agent. In June 1940, the Japanese arrested Lissner on suspicion of espionage. He was released after the war. As for General Umezo, in July 1944 he was appointed chief of the Japanese general staff. In 1948, the International Military Tribunal in Tokyo sentenced him to life in prison and he died in prison in 1949.

The Japanese military leaders planned the active use of émigré Russian military formations in the coming war against the Soviet Union. In 1938, Ataman Semenov organized the first detachment, called the Asano Brigade after the Japanese Colonel Takashi Asano.33 Subordinate to the HQ of the Kwantung Army, the brigade fought against Korean partisans. In 1939, a unit of 250 men from this brigade participated in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol against the Red Army. In 1943, the brigade, renamed the Russian Military Unit of the Manchukuo Army, included infantry and Cossack cavalry units. From 1944 onwards, Cossack Colonel Smirnov commanded the formation, which had grown to 4,000 men by 1945.

Another Cossack corps, ‘Zakhipgapsky,’ formed under the command of General A. P. Baksheev in 1943, was subordinate to Japanese Lieutenant Colonel Takashi Hishikari, the Kwantung Army ambassador to Manchukuo. Three additional small units of approximately 250 men each consisted of young Russian volunteers in three Manchurian regions. While Japanese officers commanded these units, the junior officers were Russians.

Contrary to Japanese hopes, after the first Soviet paratroopers landed in several Manchurian cities, young Russians actively assisted them in capturing Japanese military commanders. Rodzaevsky and Vlasievsky, along with several loyal men, moved to the town of Tientsin, where they met with a group of NKVD representatives. The NKVD officers told the escapees that they would be pardoned if they went to the Soviet Union voluntarily. Vlasievsky flew to Manchuria, where he met with Marshal Malinovsky. After the meeting, he was brought to the Soviet city of Chita, where SMERSH operatives arrested him and sent him to Moscow.

On September 22, 1945, Rodzaevsky wrote a letter to Marshal Vasilevsky, who handed it over to the Soviet Embassy in Beijing (then known as Peking).34 After reading it, Soviet representatives brought Rodzaevsky to Changchun, the capital of Manchuria, where SMERSH operatives arrested him. Many other émigrés were arrested in Harbin and other cities. Prince Nikolai Ukhtomsky, a journalist and writer in Harbin, later told his fellow prisoners in the Vorkuta Labor Camp that a group of Soviet paratroopers had landed in the center of Harbin and immediately arrested him and several other White émigrés.35 In September 1945, Abakumov reported to Beria:

The SMERSH Directorate of the Transbaikal Front has found and arrested leaders of the anti-Soviet White Guardist movement in Japan and Manchuria:

RODZAEVSKY, K. V., the ideologue and leader of the ‘Russian Fascist Union,’ born in 1908 in the town of Blagoveshchensk, a Russian, former member of the VLKSM [Communist Youth Union], in 1928 escaped from the Soviet Union to Manchuria;

VLASIEVSKY, L. F., head of the anti-Soviet central ‘Bureau of Russian Emigrants’ in Manchuria [i.e., BREM], born in 1889 in the village of Chindan (Transbaikal Region), a Russian, escaped with the rest of the gang of Ataman SEMENOV to Manchuria, Lieutenant General of the White Army.

Therefore, at present we have arrested all leaders of the White Guardists in Manchuria: SEMENOV, G. M.; RODZAEVSKY, K. V.; VLASIEVSKY, L. F.; Ataman SEMENOV’s Deputy, Lieutenant General of the White Guard Army, BAKSHEEV, A. P.; leaders of the White Cossack and anti-Soviet organizations, generals of the White Army BLOKHIN, P. I.; DRUIN, F. B.; GARMAEV, Urain; MOSKALEV, T. P.; KUKLIN, M. V.; Prince UKHTOMSKY, N. A.; and others.

RODZAEVSKY and VLASIEVSKY have already been brought to the Main SMERSH Directorate, where they will be carefully interrogated.

I have already reported the above to Comrade STALIN.36

More arrests, especially of the ROVS representatives in China, followed. Later most of the above-mentioned arrestees were convicted in show trials.

Also arrested was Boris Bryner, a businessman with a Swiss passport and an affiliation to the Swiss Consulate in Tientsin (Tianjin), who was the father of the famous Hollywood actor Yul Brynner. Boris Bryner was a son of Jules (Julius) Bryner, a Swiss citizen who moved to Russia and became a successful businessman, and a Buryat (Mongolian) mother.37 Later Yul and his sister Vera added the second ‘n’ to the family surname after arriving in the United States. After graduating from St. Petersburg Mining Institute, Boris worked as a manager of the Tetyukhe Lead and Zinc Mines Company established by his father not far from Vladivostok. He married a Russian woman, Maria (Marousia) Blagovidova, who gave birth to Yul, the future actor (born Yulii Borisovich Bryner), and Vera. Boris maintained the rights to the family mines until 1931, which made his enterprise the longest-running private company in the Soviet Union.

In 1931, Boris was forced to leave Vladivostok for Harbin, where his wife Marousia had moved a few years earlier after Boris abandoned her and their two children; in 1934, they moved to Paris. Since the Soviets considered Boris a ‘Russian capitalist,’ in 1945 SMERSH operatives arrested Boris together with his second wife and their small daughter. Mr. and Mrs. Bryner were imprisoned and interrogated for six months. They were released after negotiations between the Swiss authorities and the Soviets.

SMERSH’s search for Genrikh Lyushkov, possibly the most wanted enemy among the Far Eastern Russians, failed because he was already dead. Lyushkov, State Security Commissar of the 3rd Rank, was the highest NKVD officer who ever defected.38 From 1931 to 1936, Lyushkov held high posts within the Special Political Department of the OGPU/NKVD. Later he headed the Azov-Black Sea NKVD Directorate, before Abakumov succeeded him. After this, in 1937, Lyushkov was appointed head of the NKVD Far Eastern Directorate. Stalin personally instructed Lyushkov concerning the necessity of arrests there. As a result, 250,000 people were arrested, of whom 7,000 were shot. Lyushkov also supervised the exile of 175,000 Koreans and 7,000 Chinese, considered potential Japanese spies, from that area to Central Asia.39 In June 1938 Lyushkov was ordered to Moscow, but fearing his inevitable arrest, he defected to Japan.

In Japan, Lyushkov took the name Toshikazu Yamaguchi, became a Japanese citizen, and worked for the Japanese General Staff in Tokyo. Based on Lyushkov’s information, the Japanese reorganized their army in Manchuria. Richard Sorge, the Soviet spy in Tokyo, microfilmed part of a German report on Lyushkov’s interrogations by the Japanese and sent the microfilm to Moscow. Lyushkov also gave numerous interviews about ongoing terror in the Soviet Union.

Lyushkov offered Japanese intelligence a plan to assassinate Stalin at his dacha in the Caucasus. In 1939, a group of White Russian terrorists headed by Lyushkov arrived near the Turkish–Soviet border. It is possible that there was a Soviet agent in the group, because when it reached the border Soviet Border Guards were already on alert and prevented its penetration into Soviet territory.40 Later Lyushkov made a second attempt to assassinate Stalin, but it also failed.

In July 1945, Lyushkov was transferred to the Special Intelligence Agency of the Kwantung Army in the city of Dairen. On August 19, during the Soviet offensive, Captain Yutaka Takeoka, a member of this agency, killed Lyushkov after the latter refused to commit suicide. Japanese intelligence was probably afraid that if SMERSH or the NKVD captured him, Lyushkov would release too much information.

On November 25, 1945 SMERSH operatives captured Takeoka.41 In Moscow Abakumov personally interrogated him about Lyushkov. In April 1946, Takeoka was used as a witness at the show trial of Ataman Grigorii Semyonov, Konstantin Rodzaevsky and the others. In June 1948, Takeoka was sentenced to a 25-year imprisonment. He was kept in Vladimir Prison separately from the other Japanese prisoners, until released and repatriated in 1956.

The arrested General Yamada, commander in chief of the Kwantung Army, was sent to Kartashov’s GUKR SMERSH department in Moscow. During the 1949 Khabarovsk Trial, Yamada received a prison sentence of twenty-five years for his culpability in testing biological weapons on POWs, carried out by the infamous Unit 731 that was part of the Kwantung Army.42

Among the other Japanese routinely sent to Kartashov’s department were Colonel Saburo Asada, head of the 2nd (Intelligence) department of the staff of the Kwantung Army; his deputies, Lieutenant Colonels Tamaki Kumazaki and Hiroki Nohara; Yoshio Itagaki, a son of Seishiro Itagaki, war minister from 1938–1939; Lieutenant General Genzo Yanagita, head of the Japanese military mission in Harbin; Major Kinju Ishikawa, head of a sabotage group of that mission; and Hadjime Kanie, head of the Sakhalin military mission. Senior Lieutenant Prince Fumitaka Konoe, a son of the former Japanese Prime Minister, and Funao Miyakawa, former General Counselor in Vladivostok and then in Harbin, as well as some others, were held and interrogated for eight months in a camp for Japanese POWs in Manchuria, before being sent to Moscow.43

As in Europe, mass killings of Japanese and even Chinese civilians, looting, and rapes continued in Manchuria, Korea, and South Sakhalin after they were occupied by the Red Army. Corporal Hal Leith, a member of the OSS team Cardinal parachuted into a location near Mukden in Manchuria in order to rescue American POWs, recalled: ‘All they [Soviet soldiers] do is loot and kill, and they don’t stick to looting from the Japanese. Some soldiers wear as many as 10 watches.’44 Another member of the same team reported that as an explanation of the atrocities, a Soviet general told the Americans that the soldiers who committed atrocities belonged to the ‘shock troops’ made up of men whose families had been butchered by the Germans; they were eager for revenge, he said, adding that after Germany those vengeful soldiers were dispatched to the Far East. The general claimed: ‘Not being normal in their minds, they were bent on looting, killing, and rape.’45 Even if that had been true (and it was not), the Soviet general did not explain why atrocities were not stopped by the high command, or by SMERSH.

The End of the War

On September 2, 1945, Japan signed a formal surrender in a ceremony on board the USS Missouri. General Douglas MacArthur, supreme commander of the Allied powers, directed the signing. The Soviet delegation of two generals and an admiral was headed by Lieutenant General Kuzma Derevyanko, the Soviet representative at MacArthur’s headquarters.46 Derevyanko spoke both English and Japanese. After the signing, Derevyanko spent several days in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, taking photos and making detailed notes about the destruction of the city. On October 5, he reported to Stalin, Molotov, Beria, Malenkov, and three military leaders in the Kremlin on Japan’s capitulation and on his trip to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.47 Nine years later, on December 30, 1954, Derevyanko died due to the effects of radiation exposure.

In the meantime, on September 3, 1945, the Soviet Union officially declared the defeat of Japan. Since then, the Western Allies and China have considered August 15 the day of the Japanese surrender, while the Russians consider September 2 the day of Japan’s defeat. In 2010, September 2 became a Russian holiday to commemorate the last day of World War II.

SMERSH and NKVD operational groups continued making arrests after the end of the war. The memoirs of some arrestees reveal that in October 1945, Soviet military officials called meetings with the leaders of Russian organizations in Harbin and in other cities in Manchuria.48 Once the émigrés had assembled, they were simply surrounded by Soviet troops and arrested.

In Mukden, an operational group arrested the last Chinese and Manchurian emperor, 39-year-old Henry Pu Yi, along with the members of his family and his court.49 In all, 225 paratroopers landed in this city, and thirty SMERSH officers took part in arresting the former emperor. He was later held in Camp No. 27 and in a POW camp near Khabarovsk in Siberia. He wrote several letters to Stalin thanking the USSR for saving his life. Pu Yi intensively studied Marxist-Leninist philosophy as well as the history of the Soviet Communist Party, which he even wanted to join.50The Soviets used Pu Yi as a witness at the trials of Japanese war criminals in Khabarovsk in September 1946 and in Tokyo in May 1946–November 1948. In July 1950, on Stalin’s order, officers of the GUPVI’s Operational Directorate turned over Pu Yi, along with fifty-seven of his relatives and former government members, to Chinese officials. Pu Yi wrote to Stalin: ‘I wish for the Soviet people to flourish forever and Generalissimo Stalin to be healthy and live for many years to come.’51 In China, Pu Yi was held in prisons and labor camps for ‘reeducation’ until 1959. After his release, Pu Yi worked in the botanical gardens of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and published his memoirs.52 He died in 1967.

In Moscow, many of the Japanese prisoners and Russian émigrés caught in China spent years in investigation prisons. In 1948–51, most of the Japanese prisoners were sentenced to twenty-five years in special prisons, where some of them died.53 Shun Akifusa, former head of the Japanese military mission in Harbin, died in Vladimir Prison in March 1949, while Funao Miyakawa, former Japanese general counsel in Harbin, died in 1950 in Lefortovo Prison, still awaiting trial. Prince Fumitaka Konoe, a son of the former Japanese prime minister, was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison in 1951. After spending four years in Aleksandrovsk and Vladimir special prisons, he died in a transit camp en route to Japan. General Otozo Yamada survived his imprisonment and returned to Japan.

About 640,000 of the Japanese servicemen taken prisoner, including 16,000 Chinese and 10,200 Koreans, were brought to the GUPVI camps on the Soviet territory and used for slave labor.54 This was a direct violation of the Potsdam Declaration of the western Allies, signed on July 26, 1945, the 9th point of which stated: ‘The Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives.’55 But the Soviets did not comply because Stalin did not sign this declaration. Japanese estimates reveal that approximately 250,000 Japanese POWs perished in the labor camps, while Russian officials claim that a much smaller number, 62,068 Japanese, died. It is possible that the real numbers of Japanese POWs held in Soviet captivity—and of related fatalities—will never be known.

Only on October 19, 1956, more than three years after Stalin’s death, did Japan and the Soviet Union sign the agreement ending the war. A peace agreement between the two countries has never been signed due to an unresolved dispute regarding the status of the southern Kuril Islands.


1. Details of negotiations and of the agreement in Boris Slavinsky, The Japanese-Soviet Neutrality Pact: A Diplomatic History, 1941–1945, translated by Geoffrey Jukes (New York: RoutledgeCurson, 2004), 32–60.

2. I. P. Makar, ‘Iz opyta planirovaniya strategicheskiogo razvertyvaniya Vooruzhennykh Sil SSSR na sluchai voiny s Germaniei i neposredstennoi podgotovki k otrazheniyu agressii,’ VIZh, no. 6 (2006), 3–9 (in Russian).

3. GKO Decision No. 3407ss, ‘The NKVD Construction Site No. 500,’ dated May 21, 1943.

4. Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers. The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943), 147.

5. Vasilevsky was summoned to Stalin’s office on July 9, 26, 28, and 29. Na prieme u Stalina. Tetradi (zhurnaly) zapisei lits, pronyatykh I. V. Stalinym (1924–1953 gg.), edited by A. V. Korotkov, A. D. Chernev, and A. A. Chernobaev, 437–8 (Moscow: Novyi khronograf, 2008) (in Russian); A. M. Vasilevsky, Delo vsei zhizni (Moscow: Politizdat, 1978), 507 (in Russian).

6. SMERSH, Istoricheskie ocherki, 246.

7. 1283. The text of the protocol at, retrieved September 9, 2011.

8. Cited in Volkogonov, Stalin, 493.

9. Ibid., 419–20.

10. Abakumov’s report to Beria, dated June 30, 1945, in SMERSH. Istoricheskie ocherki, 246.

11. Ibid., 246.

12. Takashi Nakayama, ‘Invasion of the Soviet forces,” Chapter 1 in The Japanese Internees and Forced Labor in the USSR after the Second WorldWar; The Excerpt Version, 1-49,, retrieved September 9, 2011.

13. Beria’s report to Stalin, dated July 27, 1945. Document No. 85 in Stalinskie stroiki GULAGa 1930–1953, edited by A. I. Kokurin, and Yu. N. Morukov (Moscow: Demokratiya, 2005), 250 (in Russian).

14. Details, for instance, in David M. Glantz, The Soviet Strategic Offensive in Manchuria, 1945: ‘August Storm’ (London: Frank Cass Publishers, 2003).

15. On the events in Tokyo see, for instance, Christopher Andrew, For the President’s Eyes Only: Secret Intelligence and the American Presidency from Washington to Bush (New York: Harper Perennial, 1996), 152–5.

16. Details in Tsuyoshi Heasegava, Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2005), 252–89.

17. Vladimir Vereshchagin and Nikolai Gordeev, ‘Voennaya kontrrazvedka Zabaikal’ya v razgrome Kvantungskoi armii i osvobozhdenie severo-vostoka Kitaya,’ Istoriko-ekonomicheskii zhurnal, no. 4 (1998) (in Russian),, retrieved September 9, 2011; A. Doshlov, ‘Zabaikal’tsy za Khinganom,’ VIZh, no. 5 (2005), 24–25 (in Russian).

18. Report of Vadis to Babich, dated September 21, 1945, quoted in SMERSHIstoricheskie ocherki, 248.

19. Ibid., 249.

20. Cited in Yurii Tsurganov, ‘I na Tikhom okeane svoi zakonchili pokhod,’ Posev, n. 9 (2005), 34–39 (in Russian).

21. A photo of Abakumov’s report to Beria, dated August 28, 1945, in SMERSH, 248.

22. Details, for instance, in N. I. Dubinina and Yu. N. Tsipkin, ‘Ob osobennostyakh dal’nevostochnoi vetvi rossiiskoi emigratsii (na materialakh Harbinskogo komiteta pomoshchi russkim bezhentsam),’ Otechestvennaya istoriya, No. 1 (1996), 70–84 (in Russian); G. Melikhov, Belyi Harbin. Seredina 20-kh (Moscow: Russkii put’, 2003) (in Russian).

23. On the Russian fascist movement see John J. Stephan, The Russian Fascists: Tragedy and Farce in Exile, 1925–1945 (New York: Harper & Row, 1978).

24. Cited in Anton Utkin, ‘Duche iz Blagoveshchenska,’ Sovershenno sekretno, No. 47 (2003) (in Russian).

25. K. Rodzaevsky, Zaveshchanie russkogo fashista (Moscow: FERI-V, 2001) (in Russian).

26. In June–August 1942, A. A. Vonsiatsky (1898–1965) and five of his co-defendants were convicted in a federal court in Connecticut (USA) on the charge of espionage for Germany. Vonsiatsky was sentenced to a five-year term in a federal penitentiary and assessed a fine of $5,000. Details at, retrieved September 9, 2011.

27. S. Onegina, ‘Buro po delam rossiiskoi emigratsii v Manchzhurii,’ Problemy Dal’nego Vostoka, No. 5 (1996), 141–6 (in Russian).

28. Vadim Abramov, Abakumov—nachal’nik SMERSHa. Vzlet igibel’ lyubimtsa Stalina (Moscow: Yauza-ksmo, 2005), 150–1 (in Russian).

29. N. A. Ablova, Istoriya KVZhD i rossiiskoi emigratsii v Kitae (pervaya polovina XX veka) (Moscow: Russkaya panorama, 2004), Chapter 4 (in Russian),, retrieved September 9, 2011.

30. Utkin, ‘Duche iz Blagoveshchenska.’

31. S. Onegina, ‘Pis’mo K. V. Rodzaevskogo I. V. Stalinu: Vstupitel’naya stat’ya,’ Otechestvennaya istoriya, No. 3 (1992), 92–96 (in Russian).

32. Chapter 4 in Ye. A. Gorbunov, Skhvatka s Chernym Drakonom. Tainaya voina na Dal’nem Vostoke (Moscow: Veche, 2002),, retrieved September 9, 2011.

33. Viktor Usov, Poslednii imperator Kitaya Pu I (1906–1967) (Moscow: Olma-Press, 2003), 193–200 (in Russian).

34. Onegina, ‘Pis’mo K. V. Rodzaevskogo.’

35. On the imprisonment of N. A. Ukhtomsky in Rechlag (Vorkuta) see L. P. Markizov, Do i posle 1945: Glazami ochevidtsa (Syktyvkar, 2003 [no publisher]), 101–12 (in Russian).

36. A photo of Abakumov’s report, dated September 28, 1945, in SMERSH. Istoricheskie ocherki, 248.

37. On the Bryner/Brynner family and its enterprises, see Rock Brynner [son of Yul], Empire & Odyssey: The Brynners in Far East Russia and Beyond (Hanover, NH: Steerforth Press, 2006).

38. Alvin D. Coox,’L’Affaire Lyushkov: Anatomy of a Defector,’ Soviet Studies 19, no. 3 (January 1968), 405–20; Alvin D. Coox, ‘An Intelligence Case Study: The Lesser of Two Hells: NKVD G. S. Lyushkov’s Defection to Japan, 1938–1945. Part I,’ The Journal of Slavic Military Studies 11 (1998), no. 3, 145–86; Alvin D. Coox, ‘An Intelligence Case Study: The Lesser Two Hells: NKVD G. S. Lyushkov’s Defection to Japan, 1938–1945, Part 2,’ ibid., 11 (1998), no. 4, 72–110.

39. Details in N. L. Pobol’ and P. M. Polian, Stalinskie deportatsii 1928–1953 (Moscow: Demokratiya, 2005), 80–97, and 101–4 (in Russian).

40. Yoshiaki Hiyama, ‘Plany pokusheniya na Stalina,’ Problemy Dal’nego Vostoka, No. 5 (1990), 109–11 (in Russian).

41. Boris Sokolov, Okhota na Gitlera, okhtta na Stalina. Tainaya bor’ba spetssluzhb (Moscow: Veche, 2000), 22–23 (in Russian).

42. On the trial, see, for instance, Boris G. Yudin, ‘Research on humans at the Khabarovsk War Crimes Trial: A historical and ethical examination,’ in Japan’s Wartime Medical Atrocities: Comparative Inquiries in Science, History, and Ethics, edited by Jing-Bao Nie et al., 59–78 (NY: Routledge, 2010).

43. V. A. Bobrenev and V. B. Ryazantsev, Palachi i zhertvy (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1993), 146–69 (in Russian).

44. Hal Leith, POWs of Japanese Rescued!: General J. M. Wainwright (Trafford Publishing, 2004), 76.

45 Major R. Lamar, ‘Survey of the Mukden Area Situation,’ September 11, 1945, quoted in Ronald H. Spector, In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia (New York: Random House, 2007), 33.

46. Vice Admiral Andrei Stetsenko and Major General of Aviation Nikolai Voronov were the other two Soviet representatives. L. Poritsky, ‘Na bortu linkol’na “Missuri”,’ Zerkalo nedeli, No. 36 (309), September 16–22, 2000 (in Russian).

47. Na prieme u Stalina, 463.

48. Innokentii Pasynkov, ‘Stalinskie “nabory” za granitsei,’ ‘Karta,’ no. 22–23 (1999) (in Russian),, retrieved September 9, 2011.

49. Usov, Poslednii imperator, 257–65; Vereshchagin and Gordeev, ‘Voennaya kontrrazvedka Zabaikal’ya.’

50. Usov, Poslednii imperator, 266–99.

51. Ibid., 297.

52. Pu Yi, The Last Manchu: The Autobiography of Henry Pu Yi, Last Emperor of China, translated by Kuo Ying Paul Tsai (London: A. Barker, 1967).

53. Bobrenev and Ryazantsev, Palachi i zhertvy, 137–69. Also, prisoner cards from Vladimir Prison of the Japanese diplomats Yoshio Higashi, Kumasaburo Nakamura, Toshio Hoshiko, and Saburo Asada, head of the 2nd Department, HQ of the Kwantung Army.

54. V. P. Galitsky, ‘Yaponskie voennoplennye i internirovannye v SSSR,’ Novaya i noveishaya istoriya, no. 3 (1999), 18–33 (in Russian).

55. See text at, retrieved September 9, 2011.

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