Author`s name Alexander Artamonov

The devil is in the detail: How the US stole USSR's victory over Japan

The Russians love to win. Unfortunately, other countries often take advantage of our victories, whereas we easily forget about our military prowess. Today, during the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, few people in Russia may remember that it was the Soviet army that put an end to the worst war in the history of mankind - World War II, or the Great Patriotic War, as it is known in Russia. It was on September 3rd, when it happened. 

September 3rd is the official date of the end of World War II in the Soviet Union. It used to be celebrated as a non-working day and had been officially called the National Day of Victory over Imperialist Japan until 1947. One can still find posters at history museums in the Far East of Russia that say: Victory Day over Japan - September 3rd.

The day of September 3rd was officially approved as the red date of the calendar by the decree from the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of September 2, 1945. USSR's first and, unfortunately, the only parade of victory over Japan took place on September 16, on the territory of Harbin, where the Chinese still take care of Soviet burials.

Interestingly, China still recognises the date of September 3rd as the official date of the end of the war. Regrettablly, the Celestial Empire has a much stronger memory than a whole cohort of Soviet and Russian politicians.

Who stole the date from Russia?

Historians will say that "the entire civilized world" marks the end of the war on September 2. Yet, this is just as tricky as the celebration of Victory over Germany on May 8. In both cases, the United States tried to endorse its reading of history on humanity, having stealing glory of victory from the USSR and Russia. Noteworthy, the Anglo-Saxons of the western front went for a real scam, when they hastily whipped Germany's first surrender in April of 1945 in France, but, as they say, the trick did not work. When it comes to imperialist Japan, they had managed to deceive both the Soviet and Russian society for many decades to come. It became possible due to a legal error, as the devil, as you know, dear reader, is in the detail.

On September 2nd, the act of complete and unconditional surrender of the Mikado empire was solemnly signed indeed. The ceremony took place on the deck of the US battleship Missouri. On the part of the Soviet Union, the historical document was signed by military intelligence officer, Lieutenant General Kuzma Derevyanko. His signature is the fourth on the list after the document was endorsed by representatives of the United States, China and Great Britain.

I deliberately chronicle the order of the signatories: needless to say that China's contribution to the victory was minimal, to put it mildly. The UK had nothing to brag about either. However, the fact remains: our straightforward ancestors had not attached importance to the diplomatic protocol, but they should have! After all, it was the fact that the ceremony took place on board the US vessel, the fact that Derevyanko's signature, unlike the American one, was far from being first, gave Washington an opportunity to announce that the main victorious power in the war was the United States. Therefore, the date of September 2nd was enshrined in all military encyclopaedias of the planet.

However, the medal "For Victory over Japan" has a date engraved on the reverse side - "September 3, 1945". The front side of the medal features Joseph Stalin's profile. This medal was awarded to 1 million 800 thousand participants of those battles. 

To crown it all, the Americans did not fight on the continent. They were jumping like frogs from island to island, and then, after the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they occupied the main part of the Japanese archipelago – this can hardly be referred to large-scale military operations on land.

What was our contribution to the victory over Japanese imperialism? In fact, it all began on August 8, 1945, when Vyacheslav Molotov, People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, handed the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Land of the Rising Sun, Naotake Sato, a note denouncing the treaty of neutrality. The note stated that in accordance with the decision made by Crimean and Potsdam conferences, the USSR, starting from August 9, would officially consider itself at war with the Japanese Empire. On August 7, 1945, USSR's Supreme Commander-in-Chief Joseph Stalin and Chief of the General Staff A.I. Antonov signed corresponding directive of Supreme Command Headquarters No. 11122.

In the period from 18 to 24 August, Soviet armed forces occupied Harbin, Port Arthur, Dalian-Dalny, Changchun, Jirin and, finally, Pyongyang. On August 25, the USSR liberated South Sakhalin, having neutralized the island grouping of the imperial army. However, driven by the samurai spirit of contempt for death, many Japanese units continued to fight for the glory of the Mikado until September 10th. It is extremely important to note that it was by September 3rd, when the Soviet troops had completely cleared the Kuril Islands of Japanese military units. 

And yet, justice eventually triumphed: on April 24, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law amending Article 1 of the Federal Act "On Days of Military Glory and Memorable Dates of Russia." The law was initiated by former commander of Airborne Forces, Hero of Russia, Colonel-General Vladimir Shamanov. Since last year, it is the date of September 3rd that is celebrated as the Day of the end of the Second World War. From now and until the end of time.

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