Historical fiction: The tragic life of Albrecht von Haar in journal format
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Category — Japanese

Japanese lessons for German supernationalists?

I gave my lecture today on the subject of the Japanese situation. It was held at the British Imperial War College in Bracknell. The English, of course, have vast interests in the Far East, so the topic drew a crowd. My main thesis is that the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy view themselves as unabashedly imperialist. They see themselves as the leaders of a new Asia, marking the Asian continent as their own with no room for Westerners. The army’s assassination of Prime Minister Inukai in Tokyo initiated the shameless beginning of the militarization of Japanese politics. The military oligarchy was now in the process of taking over Japan.

Imperial Japanese Army Academy, 1907

Japanese Imperial Army Academy.

There has been talk of a Japanese Monroe Doctrine. If the United States can claim sovereignty over the Panama Canal, why can’t Japan do the same with Manchuria? The League of Nations is powerless to do anything about Manchuria or the China incursions. Europe is still shy of war after losing a generation in the Great War, not 15 years gone. The Japanese are essentially free to do as they wish with little repercussions. The only power they fear is the growing presence and might of the United States. The English looked a bit crestfallen at this assertion.

I finished the lecture by stating that the Imperial Army was now conducting seishin kyoiku, or spiritual training, of all its recruits. This involves instilling a deep, spiritual sense of serving the emperor into the troops and making each soldier realize that the army is the mother and father of them all. I noted that in Germany, since we no longer have an emperor, an increasingly popular and equivalent word to emperor is ‘Führer.’ As I closed the lecture, I could not help but share my wonder at how the German militarists were viewing this Japanese model of naked aggression and ‘spiritual’ training of war fighters.

March 19, 2012   No Comments

German and Japanese parallels once again, plus a non-secret?

I am writing another article about the Japanese situation for the Periodical of the Society for Geography. The Japanese seem to have taken my father’s geopolitical teachings to heart with their Shanghai and Manchurian adventures. The Japanese military hierarchy has displayed disdain for civilian rule – similar to the disdain the German Army has for the Wiemar republic, I might add – and is in the process of single handedly taking control of Manchuria from right under the noses of the Chinese and the Soviets (and apparently Japan’s civilian government). There is talk in Tokyo of a coup d’etat.

Japan learned a vital lesson in 1905 when it beat the Russians in fairly short order. Leading Japanese militarists of the time knew that Japan could not economically support a long war, thus they made bold strokes to end the 1905 conflict as quickly as possible. Geopolitics dictated this lightning-like denouement because the Japanese war planners and logisticians knew then and know now that total war means the entire nation and economy must back national war efforts. Japan’s problem is that it still does not have enough strategic materials (oil, iron and food) to wage total war with Russia, Britain or the United States. And it has not had this capability for decades. Where to get the strategic materials to conduct total war? Manchuria, of course. These are the same geopolitical land-grabbing tactics my father instilled into Rudolph Hess at the University of Munich in the 1920’s and Hess passed onto Hitler. I am convinced Hitler and his leadership have their eyes firmly pointed eastward to the vast, fertile lands of Poland, Russia, and Ukraine, not to mention the oilfields of Romania. Oil, food, minerals and other strategic materials are within Germany’s grasp. It is only natural that Germany, viewed as a living organism, should expand eastward. The defining question is what will happen to the millions of people already living in the east? Removal, slavery, extermination?  We have clues in Hitler’s writings and statements  and things do not bode well for ‘inferior’ races in the East. The Japanese, in turn, see the Koreans and Chinese as inferior races as well. The parallels between the actions and the planning of Germany and Japan are striking.

I have uncovered an important fact. A source this week informed me that the German government started rebuilding its military forces in secret back in 1928, permission for funding being given by a secret vote of the military council. This thrust for rearmament was in response to the Soviet’s first five year plan, which German intelligence believes has a huge budget for armaments, several billion marks. Hitler isn’t in power and yet our nation is already in a secret arms race with the great powers. Astounding! The right wing of our country is pushing the nation towards war. I should let my friends in Britain know that the present government, through internal pressures, has once again begun to build armaments, perhaps even an air force, which is banned entirely. Am I a traitor to reveal this information? I think not, for how is it possible that Britain and France aren’t already aware of this development and why do they not publicly react?

November 14, 2010   No Comments

I was wrong. Chinese hold off Japanese invasion.

It has been over three weeks now that the Chinese have fended off the Imperial Japanese Navy and Army.

I am mightily impressed and surprised. The Chinese have taken a beating, with thousands of civilians and soldiers dead in the streets and fields surrounding Shanghai. Despite superior guns, planes and training, the Japanese have failed to break the Chinese and have called for a “strategic retreat,” but have not left the Chinese mainland.

Japanese Admiral Shiozawa has been ‘disgraced’ and replaced by Admiral Nomura. Army General Ueda has been ‘disgraced’  and replaced by General Shirokawa. In the old days, the Japanese military Bushido creed would have required the disgraced officers to kill themselves. The Japapnese have obviously determined that such a practice would result in an unacceptable  loss of line officers and have instead come up with the ‘strategic retreat’ gambit to save face.

What can the German militarists learn from this Japanese debacle? I assume they are studying the results with typical Prussian thoroughness and come to the conclusion that the Japanese did not have enough firepower and troops focused  against the weakest points of the Chinese forces. Or they may conclude that there are just too many damn Chinese to win major land battles.

Instead of victory, the Japanese are licking their wounds and have succeeded in branding themselves as bandits by the international community. They have also strengthened the nationalist hand of Chiang Kai-shek, who is now seen as a hero.

My Chinese contacts in Berlin tell me that the whole reason for the invasion was the result of militant ultra-nationalist Japanese monks who purposefully attacked Chinese merchants and were shot and killed. This pretext of “killing Japanese citizens” by the Chinese was used as a ruse to invade Shanghai. I am guessing that a similar subterfuge was used in the Mukden incident. This kind of illicit sham by Tokyo will surely gain the attention of Hitler and his cronies. Mark my words. You cannot believe everything you read in the papers. There are Machiavellian forces at work in the world…. across the vast seas and right here in Germany.

May 27, 2010   No Comments

Japan attacks. Hitler watches.

Japanese naval flag
Image by futureatlas.com via Flickr

I finished my article about Japanese imperialism since the Russo-Japanese war and what happens? The Japanese are at it again! They continue to tweak the nose of China, Russia, and the world, for that matter.  The Japanese cruiser Oi with 500 marines and the 15th Japanese destroyer flotilla comprising Hagi, Susuki, Fuji and Kuru dropped anchor at the mouth of the Whangpoo river directly opposite the international settlement at Shanghai. The Japanese aircraft carrier Notoro and two others (unidentified) arrived from Chingwangtao. The fleet now comprises 37 ships.

Once the aircraft carriers arrived, I predicted to my father yesterday that an invasion was unstoppable when the Japanese ground forces had air cover. That’s precisely what happened. Hundreds of defenseless Chinese citizens are being slaughtered in the warrens of the Chapei section of northern Shanghai and the world stands by and does nothing.

Hitler’s men are watching keenly as U.S. Secretary of State Stimson and his British counterparts request “clarification” of Japanese intentions. Stimson indicates the U.S. Asiatic fleet may be used to remove American citizens from the international section of Shanghai. That’s the extent of the U.S. and British concern at this point. Clarification and evacuation. The great powers are responding to Japanese strength with plans to evacuate. Let the yellow races kill each other and what does the world care? The fact is, the world reels at Japan’s might in its own sphere of influence and there is nothing any other nation can or is willing to do about it.

Meanwhile, the League of Nations has been predictably paralyzed by Japan’s statement that the League Council “must bear a terrible responsibility if through its action a world conflagration should be precipitated.”

Sadly, the sole action of League of Nations in far away Geneva is a plan to send ten ambassadors to Shanghai to ‘ascertain the situation.’ This was announced only after the Chinese ambassador invoked articles 10 and 15 of the Charter. Quite frankly, the situation will be over in a few days, if not hours. Chang kai Shek has dispatched nationalist Chinese soldiers from Nanking by train to help the local Chinese police, but the northern train station in Shanghai has been destroyed. I am sure the Japanese will be in total control within 48 hours and will ask the Chinese to sue for peace. Combined with their recent actions in Mukden, the Japanese continue to show their aggression and total contempt for Chinese lives and culture. The Japanese understand that the  League of nations can do nothing but talk.

Hitler is taking notes while the British, Americans, Russians and Chinese wring their hands.

May 21, 2010   No Comments

My father the (retired) general’s German / Japanese fixation

Image by Okinawa Soba via Flickr

My father the retired general and I had a rather long discussion today, sometimes heated, about the Japanese situation.

He has long admired Japan and its ruling class. He has written a book and lectured on the topic.  He religiously compares Germany’s destiny in Europe to that of Japan’s undisguised determination in Asia.

The dissenting  point I made in our argument was that Japan’s long standing ambitions in Manchuria and other parts of China and Korea will inevitably bring it into conflict with the United States and possibly Britain. I also pointed out that if Germany continues to likewise cast its eye on the vast grain fields and oil fields to the East, as my father suggests it should, our Fatherland will run afoul of  Britain, France and the United States, not to mention Russia.

In this kind of war-gaming we frequently engage in ( I’m no military man, I’m an academic! )  I hold strongly to my conviction that Germany can never win a two front war. My father is not convinced. Even when I remind him that when the Bolsheviks sued for peace in the Great War and we were able to completely focus our military resources on the Western Front, we still could not win. Then I hear the usual shit from the general that the Great War was lost at home by traitors, not at the front. I never fail to point out that the German army lost the war when they failed to take Paris in the first few months of the conflict and the coup de grace occurred when a million fresh troops from the U.S. joined the fray in 1917.

Countering, my father argues  that he has no esteem for the United States. He feels it is too far away, is now isolationist and has no interest in European politics or war. I cautioned my father that Germany is currently in no condition to go to war over anything, much less lebensraum. The French have a sword hanging over our head with 200 divisions on the border and Russia is too vast to conquer, as Napoleon found out.

We both did agree that Britain is too war weary to care a whit about any German plans to expand in the East. They lost the flower of their aristocracy in the Great War and have no stomach to once again police German actions.

We have no standing army, navy or decent political leader, so my father the general’s geoploitical ambition for Germany to turn Eastward is nothing but poppycock. Talking about geopolitics does serve to get us through two excellent cigars.

Father warned  me to watch this Hitler fellow. Hitler could make things happen for Germany, he said. After all, ten years ago my dear  father the general had tutored Hitler’s closest friend, our good Rudolph Hess, about Germany’s destiny to rule central and eastern Europe. Hess had not been the brightest student, father has rued many times, but herr  Hess makes up for lack of intellect with ambition, drive, and now, the ear of Adolph Hitler. I tell my father I am watching Hitler and his minions and am particularly sensitive to their antisemitism. He glanced at my mother and nodded knowingly.

“If that son of a bitch can put Germany back on the map. I’ll be a happy man. But watch his cronies. I agree many of his advisors are dangerous to people like us.”

“What do you mean, ‘ people like us’, ” I asked.

“People who think for themselves.”

We closed our talk with some schnapps and agreed to discuss Japan again the next time I came south to visit. My brother Hans arrived in the evening and we had a late supper. Hans mentioned that the communists and Nazis are fighting violently in the streets of Munich. This is nothing new.  I return to Berlin in the morning.

April 17, 2010   No Comments

Lessons from Mukden


I am writing an article for my Periodical of the Society for Geography about the Mukden incident in Manchuria. My father is an expert in Japanese affairs and we spoke this evening about what Mukden may mean for Germany. First and foremost, the Japanese victory showed the total ineffectiveness of the League of Nations. The Japanese Army did precisely what it wanted and there have been no repercussions. Hitler has already expressed his disdain for the decrepit League and now it shows its impotence to the world. Herr Hitler is taking notes and the Mukden incident may embolden him in the future. Keep an eye on the Japanese – they are expanding in the Far East just as Hitler espouses similar plans here in central Europe.

September 23, 2009   No Comments