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History Questions Not Worth Their Own Thread VIII

Discussion in 'World History' started by Flying Pig, Jan 22, 2017.

  1. Dachs

    Dachs Emissary of Hell

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    There weren't that many Japanese-Americans in the prewar military. Recruitment stepped up in 1940 focusing on men who could serve as interpreters or military intelligence personnel, but numbers were still low before Pearl Harbor.

    Hawaii's territorial government raised a few home-guard units in the panic of 1941-42 that were partially recruited from Japanese-Americans, but the federal government was mostly interested in its internment program and not in recruiting Nisei, either as volunteers or draftees. For about a year, the Nisei of the Hawaiian 100th Infantry Battalion were pretty much the only serving combat troops, and they didn't even get to see combat.

    Eventually, the War Department and the White House decided to allow the Japanese-Americans to participate in combat to stave off Axis propaganda about Allied racism. Recruitment was obviously difficult among the denizens of the West Coast concentration camps, but Hawaii's Nisei were not rounded up and had, after a fashion, been on the front lines. They enlisted in significantly larger numbers. About 33,000 Japanese-Americans served in the US military by the end of the war, including over a hundred WACs and about 6,000 interpreters.

    Their combat formations were segregated, because this was the pre-Truman US military, and they were small: one infantry battalion (the 100th) and one infantry regiment (the 442nd RCT), with one (often) attached field artillery battalion (the 522nd). Eventually, the 100th was actually folded into the 442nd. Famously, the 442nd was the most-decorated formation in the history of the US military of its size and length of service. It was a crack outfit.

    However, that reputation (and those awards) were earned because of their dedication to completing missions regardless of casualties. A lot of that came from the soldiers themselves, who adopted "go for broke" as their slogan to prove everything that they could do. And a lot of it came from their white general officers, not necessarily because of anti-Japanese racism but because the 442nd fought in Europe's "forgotten theaters" - Italy and southern/eastern France - where higher commanders pushed men to try to accomplish increasingly difficult objectives to make up for strained resources and a relative lack of media attention. Combining those two things - young Japanese-Americans burning to prove themselves and officers disinclined to be overly concerned about long casualty lists so long as objectives were reached - was a great way to get lots of young Nisei killed...and to turn the 442nd into one of the best in the US Army.

    The fact that the unit was segregated meant that, when in Europe, the troops were...less concerned about racism than they might otherwise have been. I'm hardly an expert, but for the most part, 442nd memoirs and oral histories emphasize the awkwardness of segregated society in the continental US, in California and in Mississippi where they trained before going to Europe. And after the war, Nisei veterans played an important political role in trying to end the treatment of Japanese-Americans as second-class citizens. Many of them were elected to statewide and national office, especially in Hawaii. When they were in Europe, though, the pressures of combat and their universally acknowledged status as a top-notch outfit meant that a lot of them didn't really recount much nastiness - not compared to what it was like in America. The number of deferred military decorations handed out decades later, however, indicates that they still weren't necessarily treated as equals.

    Did the Germans notice them? Not on a macro level. One regiment - less than ten thousand men in an apocalyptic struggle of millions - didn't make much of a splash on a European level. The German battalion- and regimental-sized formations opposite the 442nd knew them as a crack unit, which they were - but that was about it.
    Aw, thanks. I miss those days, too.

    Yeah, the 442nd's most famous exploit was the rescue of the "Lost Battalion", during the course of which they took absolutely horrifying casualties. What a lot of people remember about the 442nd's attack was actually what came afterward, when the 36th ID's CO, MG John Dahlquist, berated 442nd officers for the small number of troops in formation before he was told to his astonishment that these were all that were left unwounded. The whole story was made into films as early as the 1950s.

    36 ID was a hard-luck unit for the first part of its career, but eventually, during Sixth Army Group's big offensive in the early winter of 1944, it shaped up into a formation that was on par with the rest of its stablemates.
    A lot of German officers liked to indulge in wishful thinking. It was, after all, the reason why they went to war.

    Some of them did manage to delude themselves into thinking that the Americans would join them against the Communists. I think most of them did manage to avoid that delusion. There was no serious prospect of the US fighting the USSR.
     
  2. innonimatu

    innonimatu Warlord

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    Yes, there was an amazing level of delusion among the germans. This document on a report from 1945 is quite interesting in what it tells about german feelings:

    There are lots of interesting documents on that site. Somewhere there is a transcript of the discussions, among german physicists held in the UK, about the dropping of the two atomic bombs. Several worry that their failure to produce the weapon for germany will lead to them being treated as traitors once they return to post-war germany, possibly executed.

    The generalized assumption among germans was that Germany post-ww2 would be much like the pre-ww2, and the outcome of the war something like the outcome of WW1: reparations, some time under foreign control, and then prepare to fight again because the world rules would remain essentially the same. ccupation had to last decades to (apparently) change this attitude.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
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  3. r16

    r16 not deity

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    "be forced to rebuild"

    must be because they were accustomed to slave labour . Despite the hard feelings of many a WW I veteran appalled to think what may have happened with the French or Polish or Russian labourers as there was nothing new on the Western Front .
     
  4. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish Boba Fett

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    I've done some more research and it appears to me that the biggest mistake that cost the axis powers the war was Japan spreading herself too thin (even BEFORE Pearl Harbor). If Japan properly collaborated with Germany and they did a two-pronged attack on Russia (with Japan almost entirely focusing on Russia, ignoring China and all these other places) they'd have knocked Russia out before America even got involved. That would have made for a very different war.
     
  5. west india man

    west india man Immortal

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    The Japanese really did not want to go to war with the Soviets after Khalkhin Gol
     
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  6. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    On a related noted, how central was Tojo to the Japanese regime? Western propaganda portrays him as the equivalent to Hitler and Mussolini, but it seems like the way Anglo-American propaganda had developed since the First World War assumed that the enemy was by definition some sort of despot, and that the propagandists were quire happy to appoint one if the enemy power had rudely neglected to do so.
     
  7. Imaus

    Imaus Chieftain

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    Japan had little in the way to fight any arctic or tundra war. Even fighting in Manchuria and Inner Mongolia was hell for them in the inter-war period. The Japanese wanted to fight on nice plains and nice seas, not jungles or wastes. The Japanese forces themselves were never anywhere near equipped to fight in Siberia, or transport anything across Siberia, or had any real desire to expand in that direction. The Metals, Rubbers, Foodstuffs, and other such resources they wanted were to the south and west, not North. The main transit link was still the Trans-Siberian railroad, Soviet Industry was in Central Asia and along the Urals and not Siberia or the Pacific, and basically nothing would had been gained going for it.

    The Aleutian Campaign was basically the nightmare of every Japanese strategist for over fifty years made manifest. When the Soviets invaded Manchuria, it became a reality; especially as most of the fighting was in August and September; if they had continued until Winter, everyone would had been butchered or starved out north and west of Hokkadio.

    If Japan was to attack the U.S.S.R, in co-ordination with the Nazis, it would had been better to get them to go through Shanxi, get the Mongols and Uigurs on their side and whatever Cliques are on that side of the border, and attack to Kazakhstan and the Plains; not Siberia. The Japanese Air Force might had bombed the railroad out of commission, but the Soviets would had sabotaged it for thousands of miles anyway if the Japanese even thought of using it. Vladivostok and some pacific towns might had been occupied, but other than that I imagine the Imperial forces would had continued to move like the Tang did.
     
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  8. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    @Imaus that was what I was thinking. Plus, Japanese needed resources now, not in a couple years once they got the mines and railways up and running. The already exploited resources were in the south in the European colonies, not in the Siberia.
     
  9. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish Boba Fett

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    Then they should have just done this. I'm thinking in the long term, not in the short term. With Russia knocked out (which would have been feasible if the Nazis and Japanese directly collaborated to make it an absolute priority) the odds of them knocking the Soviet Union out of the war would have been far from impossible. And once that happens, everything would have been very different. Germany would no longer have to fight on two fronts. It's even possible that they could have done it (or at least gotten close to it) before America's involvement in the war. If the only two important allies left are Britain and the United States, it would have been very different. A full-out invasion of the United States would have been next to impossible, one of Britain more plausible but still unlikely, but it could produced a stalemate thus eventually leading to a ceasefire or peace treaty.
     
  10. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Japan was already losing battles against the Soviets in Mongolia. Had they abandoned the idea of a Pacific War to fight in Siberia they would have a) lost. b) gained nothing in strategic objectives that were necessary to their other goals. c) At the very best, the Soviets could have played scorched earth land for time for over 4000 miles before the Japanese even reached any of the resources that they need to actually cross those 4000 miles.

    Japan's Pacific War aims was to gain control of oil specifically, and other resources generally, that they needed to keep their economy and war machine functional. They couldn't gain those in Siberia, even if they drove the Soviets back 1000s of miles. Which they couldn't have done anyways, as Soviet heavy land formations were simply better than those of the Japanese, and the territory to be covered was too inhospitable to cross.
     
  11. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish Boba Fett

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    Yes, but it would have forced the Soviets to fight on two fronts. Japan did not have what it took to single-handedly beat the Soviet Union, but they didn't have to. My point is they'd be fighting the Nazis the same time. If the Soviets were spread thin like that, rather being able to put 100% of their effort just to the Nazis, taking them out would have much more likely.
     
  12. Phrossack

    Phrossack Armored Fish and Armored Men

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    Seems to me like Japan was doomed to lose, unless mayyybe they didn't hit Pearl Harbor.

    They couldn't realistically hope to beat the US once that happened. They were hopelessly outmatched in land wars with the USSR, worse so in winter or in the vast and empty stretches of the Russian Far East. And they were firmly stuck in China--too weak to win, too stubborn to leave.

    Did Japan stand any chance of keeping America out of the war had they not hit Pearl Harbor and instead restricted the fight to the Philippines, or even had they not attacked America at all?
     
  13. west india man

    west india man Immortal

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    The Soviets still had an army of nearly 1.5 million men in the Far East in June 1942 in case of an attempted Japanese invasion
     
  14. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish Boba Fett

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    That's pretty hard to believe. They had the many soldiers not even being used to fight against the Nazis? Even in spite of the territory gains the Nazis were making and how much damage they were inflicting?
     
  15. r16

    r16 not deity

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    the Japanese were "enabled" by the massive and fast downfall of European Democracies . France knocked out , England kicked out . Vietnam fell to some signed papers , it wouldn't if France was still in the fight , backed by the Royal Navy and as a matter of fact , USA . Going South was a massive event of luck , with simultaneous operations against the British , the Dutch and Americans . Without Vietnam and Dunquerke before that , it wouldn't have been possible . Despite being far ahead of Italians , the Japanese were feeble industrially and they could not . Either against prepared Soviets or a prepared America . And Pearl Harbour in itself is a primary reason why the Japanese eventually lost . Round eyed Whites should have their parades and 10 battleships and 3 carriers and slowly and slovenly arrived off Philipinnes and roundly thrashed by the IJN , which could have happened , despite their battleship gunners were never as good as the Japanese claimed ... This way , some "Right Wing" coup could have happened in Washington and America occupied for a while , because they wouldn't want to fight their Nazi Brothers . 1944 : 2000 hp American fighters against 2000 hp Japanese fighters , but with the Japanese pilots still trained well . Maybe , just maybe the Japanese could then fight the Americans to a standstill , protected by the Nazi A-Bomb and Ju-290/390/490 delivery platforms ...
     
  16. SS-18 ICBM

    SS-18 ICBM Oscillator

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    Don't they at least have a training ground in Hokkaido?
     
  17. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    But why would they? Japan gains none of its war aims by an all out commitment to a war against the USSR. There's just nothing in it for them. Defeating the USSR, in and of itself, has no significance to them. They were in a war for empire and resources. Things the far eastern part of the USSR did not offer them.



    The Japanese thought so. The Japanese leadership, most of them at any rate, had a very low opinion of American war fighting ability, and political and military courage. They just expected the Americans to not have the intestinal fortitude for a major war fought to conclusions. They thought themselves so obviously the superior warriors that Americans just couldn't go head to head against them.

    Now Admiral Yamamoto knew better. And I'm sure there were some others as well. But they were given their marching orders, and they marched.
     
  18. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish Boba Fett

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    The significance is the long term gains. In the short term, you fight a costly war with not much strategical value. In the long term, it puts your other ally (other Axis powers) in a MUCH better position, so then Japan could then focus on expanding their colonial empire to the places they wanted in the first place (outside of attacking America). Supposing the Soviets really did get knocked out America entering the war would been inevitable, but by that point an allied victory might have been too late. The Japs would have been able to keep their newly acquired territory (the ones that matter to them, not just Soviet lands) and due to a stalemate with the allies, a peace treaty would have been inevitable. Which is not near as great (from their point of view)the the USA and Britain being properly defeated, but still MUCH better for them than the outcome that resulted.

    The USA would have had a significantly harder time taking on the Axis-controlled Europe if the Axis powers weren't fighting on two fronts (meaning the Soviet Union knocked out). Then if America retaliated by only going after Japan but not the Axis in Europe (which is highly unlikely, to begin with), Hitler would have his hands free to invade the UK and by that point there's no way in hell America would be able to afford to focus on Japan.

    Japan would have been able to have their colonial territories to themselves, unmolested by the Americans as the Americans would have already had their hands tied WAYYYY to much in Europe to possibly give them the time of day.

    My point is if they did it the way I'm describing then I'm willing to bet the result would have been what I am saying.
     
  19. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    This entirely ignores the point that Japan had no way in hell of defeating the US in a Pacific War.
     
  20. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish Boba Fett

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    It doesn't. The point I'm making is they wouldn't have had to.

    Yes if America put their efforts on Japan then they wouldn't have stood a chance, but the Americans would not have afforded that luxury to begin with. Even as it actually occurred, America had the "Europe first" attitude (especially for the purpose of keeping England safe from the Germans).

    If Russia was knocked out (thus allowing all the Axis in Europe to focus invading Britain) the odds of it really happening would have grown exponentially. The United States would not appreciate what the Japs were doing, at that point, with their colonial expansion, but it wouldn't have mattered.

    America would have had to make a choice between fighting the Japs and saving Britain (and hopefully, then, the rest of Europe) from the Nazis.

    Japan vs the USA means Japan losses 99 times out of 100 but the matchup wouldn't have occurred in the first place for the reasons I'm explaining.

    Knocking Russia out would have done them far more favors in the long run (including a war with America) then sucker punching America while leaving the Soviets in the war to wreak havoc for their allies, thus allowing the Americans to be able to afford to split more of their forces to the Japanese. Because of the resistance the Soviets were still fighting as a result of them still being in the war.

    The point is, I'm thinking in the long term and looking at the big picture.
     

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