The successes of the intelligence services, the precautionary measures and the rapid offensive of the Red Army prevented the world from suffering a “bacteriological apocalypse” in 1945, esteem Alexander Zviágintsev, former prosecutor and historian of various international judicial processes of the 20th century. In his opinion, there was a “conspiracy against the world and humanity by the militaristic clique of Japan”, as witnessed by some of the recently declassified documents in Russia.
Following the creation of Squad 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army (founded in the invaded territory of Manchuria to prepare for bacteriological warfare), the tick carrying encephalitis appeared in the Russian Far East, “the so-called Japanese mite that later proliferated throughout the Soviet Union, now throughout Russia and reached our western border,” explains Zviágintsev. “We had never had it before,” he says, while attributing the spread of anthrax to the Japanese program of bacteriological weapons, due to the fact that the Japanese military released their strains in the tributaries of the Amur rivers.
The chairman of the Board of Directors of the Russian Historical Society, Konstantin Mogilevski, recalls that those most responsible for these actions were brought to trial in December 1949 in the Russian city of Khabarovsk. In fact, Mogilevski recalled these events in a press conference dedicated to the convocation this September of the commemorative forum ‘Khabarovsk Process: Historical Lessons and Modern Challenges’.
The Red Army, as reflected in historical documents, “avoided numerous casualties due to the work of the intelligence and other services, since vaccines were inoculated on time and the water supply had been organized that excluded the use of river water and local sources. “The Japanese themselves, Mogilevski recalled,” suffered the most from the use of these bacteriological weapons. “There were also several cases of use of the arsenal of dangerous bacteria against Chinese citizens.
The first use of these weapons was documented long before 1945, mid 1938, during the Battle of Jaljin Gol, known in Japanese historiography as the Nomonhan incident, when Mongolian and Soviet troops tried to drive the Japanese Army, which had invaded eastern Mongolia, to Manchuria.
According to Mogilevski, the spread of the contagious material occurred because the Japanese had to flee “while the bacteriological weapons had already been produced and were ready.” It was then that the bacteria ended up in the Jaljin Gol river.
Documents related to that Japanese military program were declassified last August by the Russian Foreign Ministry in response to a request from the Russian Historical Society, Mogilevski detailed. During the next forum, more documents will be made public, the publication of which will allow many people, especially young people, to learn about events of which practically no testimonies remain.
“Even after all the horrors of the Nazi camps of Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka, we can operate with the stories of some witnesses, the surviving people,” stressed the head of the Board of Directors of the Russian Historical Society. Likewise, he emphasized that “no one survived” in the similar facilities “where the Japanese executioners carried out experiments with people, with Soviet citizens, Chinese, our emigrants.” “There was not a single witness,” he stressed.
After the Japanese defeat
The Khabarovsk court focused on the special units of the Kwantung Army, which were engaged in the cultivation of strains of plague, cholera, anthrax, among others, as well as human experiments and bacteriological warfare preparations. Although Squad 731 was created primarily to wage such war against the Soviet Union, they were also among targets in Mongolia and China, historians claim.
Twelve Japanese soldiers accused of these actions contrary to international conventions were sentenced in 1949 to various prison terms, including the commander of the Kwantung Army, General Otodzoo Yamada. His statements in the process and the recollections of the personnel of the aforementioned detachment allowed to place the number of deaths during the tests of the weapons at about 3,000 people. However, a recently published book in China on Japan’s war crimes raises this figure. up to 10,000 fatalities.
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