In the summer of 1939, Soviet and Japanese armies clashed on the Manchurian-Mongolian frontier in a little-known conflict with far-reaching consequences. No mere border clash, this undeclared war raged from May to September 1939 embroiling over 100,000 troops and 1,000 tanks and aircraft. Some 30,000-50,000 men were killed and wounded. In the climactic battle, August 20-31, 1939, the Japanese were crushed. This coincided precisely with the conclusion of the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact (August 23, 1939) – the green light for Hitler’s invasion of Poland and the outbreak of World War II one week later. These events are connected. This conflict also influenced key decisions in Tokyo and Moscow in 1941 that shaped the conduct and ultimately the outcome of the war.
In August, as Stalin secretly angled for an alliance with Hitler, Zhukov amassed powerful forces near the front. When German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop flew to Moscow to sign the Nazi-Soviet Pact, Stalin unleashed Zhukov. The future Red Army Marshal unveiled the tactics he would later employ with such devastating effect at Stalingrad, Kursk, and elsewhere: a combined arms assault with massed infantry and artillery that fixed the enemy on the central front while powerful armored formations enveloped the enemy’s flanks, encircled, and ultimately crushed him in a battle of annihilation. Over 75 percent of Japan’s ground forces at the front were killed in combat. At the same time, Stalin concluded the pact with Hitler, Japan’s nominal ally, leaving Tokyo diplomatically isolated and militarily humiliated.
|Old Japan the Chrysanthemum kingdom: 100-year-old photos show a still-medieval Japan and the disaster of WW2|
Memoirs of a Geisha: Geishas enjoy a summer's day in a landscaped garden in this 100-year-old photo by Tamamura Kozaburo
Landmarks: The Imperial Palace, the main residence of the Emperor of Japan, was completely isolated 100 years ago
The past and the present: The Imperial Palace is now surrounded by modern skyscrapers in Tokyo
A bygone era: A lone fisherman is captured coming in to shore
Water under the bridge: The Kintai-kyo bridge, built in 1673, still stands today
Out at sea: A few fishing smacks are seen off the Japanese coast which later became an international port
Rural village: The black and white images taken by Kozaburo were painstakingly inked in by a team of 100 colourists
Country retreat: The Japanese are still renowned for their beautiful gardens 100 years on
These photos show Japan at a prosperous time, when it was starting to build itself into a dominating world power during a period of rapid economic growth and on the cusp of significant technological advancement.
But as Japan began to catch up with the rest of the world powers, it began to exert its brutal power by declaring war on surrounding countries such as China.
This provoked condemnation from the West and tensions with America began to further escalate over its control of Japan's oil resources, eventually leading to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbour and entry in to World War II.
But these hand-coloured prints show untouched Japan before its disastrous losses in World War II forced the country to surrender. They are mounted in an oblong folio within its original box and are expected to fetch £800 at auction through Woolley and Wallis auctioneers of Salisbury, Wiltshire.
Unspoilt: Mount Fuji looks much the same 100 years ago as it does today
Braving the rapids: Ladies travelling along a dangerous mountain river in a wooden boat
Tourism spot: Locals appear to be climbing over the Great Buddha of Kamakura, first built in 1252
Iconic: Great Buddha Kamakura is approximately 13.35 metres tall, weighs 93 tonnes, and is today one of the most visited landmarks in Japan
'This would appeal to anybody who has an interest in Japanese culture but it is also a really nice album to dip in and out of for anybody interested in photography or art.
'The geisha is emblematic of what Japanese culture was at that time and the photographer was a specialist at capturing it.
'Japan had been closed off and there was a huge interest in the country at that time and it was almost like the country was being discovered all over again.'
The photo album will go to auction at Salisbury on November 15.
Authentic: Japanese theatre was promoted to try and attract tourists
Back in time: A rural village street is completely untouched by machinery
The Japanese prostitutes held in CAGES and enslaved for decades to pay off family debt... unless they were plucked by a rich man and kept as a concubine
- Girls as young as seven were forced into sex work to pay off family debts with little hope of escape
- Many were put on display in wooden latticed cages in the notorious red light district Yoshiwara to entice men
- Wealthy men could free the girls by buying them from the brothels to keep them as their wife or concubine
- Men of all backgrounds and social class were welcomed and given equal access to the women in the districtThis haunting set of photos of women dressed in colourful kimonos staring out of cages provides an insight into the lives of the
- Japanese prostitutes of Yoshiwara who faced decades of enslavement.
First pictures of the Japanese occupation of Peiping (Beijing) in China, on August 13, 1937. Under the banner of the rising sun, Japanese troops are shown passing from the Chinese City of Peiping into the Tartar City through Chen-men, the main gate leading onward to the palaces in the Forbidden City. Just a stone's throw away is the American Embassy, where American residents of Peiping flocked when Sino-Japanese hostilities were at their worst. (AP Photo) #
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Japanese soldiers execute captured Chinese soldiers with bayonets in a trench as other Japanese soldiers watch from rim. (LOC) #
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A badly burned nuclear bomb victim lies in quarantine on the island of Ninoshima in Hiroshima, Japan, 9,000 meters from the hypocenter on August 7, 1945, one day after the bombing by the United States. (AP Photo/The Association of the Photographers of the Atomic Bomb Destruction of Hiroshima, Yotsugi Kawahara)
Memories of the 1950s geisha: Stunning photos celebrate how the ancient oriental art of the hostess found its place in modern Japan
- As early as late 600s Japan there have been 'female entertainers'
- Traditional geisha emerged in the 18th century
- These photographs of 1950s geisha show women in a more modern world
Others show geisha giggling coquettishly while hosting businessmen over sushi suppers, giggling and pouring sake. In a third photo a geisha is seen walking home in her platform flip-flops at the end of her shift, glancing back at the camera past a row of umbrellas being dried out in an alleyway.
Yujo, geishas and oiran: How the 'female entertainer' emerged in Japan
Yurts, hunters and trucks stuck in frozen lakes: Photographer spends 17 years capturing life in Mongolia - and the results are jaw-dropping
- Frederic Lagrange became interested in Mongolia after being told stories about the country by his granddad
- He first visited in 2001 and for 17 years he has travelled back and forth to document its people and landscapes
- The photographer's series of jaw-dropping landscapes and portraits has now been published in a new book