Did Franklin Roosevelt unintentionally agree to the creation of North Korea and Communist China?

Under terms of Yalta agreement, the Soviets declared war on Japan on the night of August 8, 1945, exactly three months after the defeat of Germany in Europe. Up until that time the Soviets had a neutrality pact with Japan.

The Soviets immediately invaded Japanese-held Manchuria and northern Korea and ended up occupying these areas after the war. The Soviet invasion started just before the dropping of the second atomic bomb and may have been a deciding factor in the Japanese surrender. Up until that time, Japan had hoped the Soviets would act to arrange a negotiated settlement to the war with the US, and the Soviets did not discourage that idea until the time of the actual invasion.

The US government was very anxious to get the Soviets into the war to reduce the likely casualties from an invasion of Japan, and the agreement to get the Soviets into the war with Japan came several months before the successful US test of the atomic bomb.

A result of the Soviet invasion was they ended up occupying northern Korea and northern China after the end of the war. The Soviets used the occupation to set up a Communist government in North Korea, and the Soviet areas of occupation in northern China became a base of operation for the Communist Chinese.

Do you think the Japan would have surrendered without the Soviet invasion?

At the time that Roosevelt made the agreement with the Soviets, the atomic bomb was still untested. Do you think that getting the Soviets to declare war would have prevented the need for a US invasion even if the atomic test had been a dud?

Did Roosevelt effectively agree to the creation of North Korea by getting the Soviets to declare war on Japan?

Did you think that the Soviet occupation of Manchuria was a deciding factor in the Communist victory over the Nationalist government in 1949?

For background see:

There was already a civil war raging between Mao and Chank Kai-shek throughout WWII and the communists won.

North Korea was taken by the communists with Russian and Chinese backing and left divided at the end of the war.

One of the main reasons we accelerated the use of the atomic bombs was specifically to keep the Russians from taking large portions of, if not all of Japan as a result of them invading and taking it.

At Yalta they basically agreed that when Germany surrendered that is where Germany would be divided and agreed to the same if the Russians assisted with the ground invasion of the Japanese mainland.

Truman and Roosevelt recognized the rising threat of the Soviets and wanted to keep them from taking any more territory than was necessary.

Russian backing of Mao is what kept him in the fight and once Manchuria was taken it was over for Chang and The People were so sick of war period he had basically nothing left to fight with.

1 Like

Some say that’s the real reason we dropped the atomic bomb, was to intimidate Russia. At least I have heard this theory or conspiracy floating around through the years.

There were quite a number of reasons why we dropped the bomb. Telling Russia we had it was certainly one of them.

That said the Russians already knew anyway. Soviet spy handlers had compromised several individuals involved in the Manhattan project. That is why Stalin was famously unsurprised when Truman mentioned the new bomb to him at Potsdam.

Yes, the Soviets were able to create a copy of the US bomb based on designs smuggled from the US.

My experience is that most American history books present the atomic bombs as the primary reason why the Japanese surrendered. The Soviet declaration of war is merely a footnote, and the collapse of Japanese forces in Manchuria as result of a massive Soviet invasion is not even mentioned.

My observation is that if the bombs really ended the war, then encouraging the Soviet Union to invade Japanese territory was a huge strategic blunder. Without the Soviet invasion, the Japanese forces on the mainland of Asia would have surrendered to the Nationalist government of China and/or US forces.

The US zone of occupation in Korea still corresponds to the borders of South Korea after over 70 years and the Korean War. The Soviet-Japanese War of 1945 is arguably the most important war that most Americans have never heard of.

1 Like

Excellent post!

It needs to be better focused upon. The soviet declaration of war made an enormous impact on the Japanese cabinet in those last few days.

Even then there were still members who wanted to keep fighting.

It’s not really a “conspiracy theory” in any way. Russia was the rising threat and the free world knew it. All that ever contained the Soviets was the threat of nuclear war and bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki demonstrated the potential threat.

Without it, we’d have had to split not only Japan with them but most of the rest of Asia as the lines would have been frozen wherever the advancing armies were at the time of surrender.

They knew we had it and their spies were feeding them information on the program but prior to the first uses it was all theoretical. Seeing that kind of destruction with your own eyes rather than reading about the theory changes your perspective completely.

Well said, very good points.

It changed the balance of power in the post war world significantly.

Before the end of WWII the allies (especially Britain) were worried that Stalin might renege on Potsdam and make a mad dash through what would be become West Germany. He had the manpower advantage; the Red Army outnumbered the Western (British, Canadian, American, and French) armies by a large margin and every day more American troops were being transferred to the Pacific for the expected start of Operation Downfall.

The Soviet advantage in armor was also overwhelming. The only area where the West had a marked advantage was in air power. But as everyone knows it’s the ground forces that ultimately win wars. It is the infantryman that takes and hold strategic targets. He suffers the largest burden because he has the most important task. And in terms of numbers the West was at a major disadvantage in infantry.

The West had two options. One was to maintain and expand the armies that had fought World War II in Europe to its conclusion. This was unpopular for several reasons that everyone in this thread knows and wouldn’t fly politically.

The other option was mass production of atomic weapons. This would give the West a major deterrent. If the Soviet’s threat against the West was mass numbers of tanks and battle hardened infantry rolling into Western Germany then the West would counter with atomic strikes.

Yep and the nukes were all that kept them from advancing into Western Europe through the end of the Cold war.

Through most of the post war era until their downfall the Soviets kept about a 10:1 manpower advantage over the western forces in Europe including tanks and artillery.

Our main strategy if they ever chose to advance was to allow their forces to concentrate in the Fulda Gap and then nuke it as soon as they started to roll.

They figured that would keep us from being pushed into the sea before reinforcements could start to arrive from the states.

Without them we had nothing to keep the Soviets at bay.

The really interesting question for me is this. How long would such a conflict had lasted? Both sides had SRBMs (Pioneer for the Soviets and Pershing II for NATO) that could hit tactical targets all over Europe in about five minutes, possibly less. Commanders on both sides would have had just moments to make decisions before tactical nuclear warheads obliterated their positions.

Then there was the strategic forces that were just mind bogglingly ridiculous in their destructive potential. The RS-36 carried 8 700kt warheads, the Minuteman III carried three warheads, the Trident 1 I believe carried something around six warheads, along with some older weapons that were still super potent in the 1980s like the Titan II and the UR series.

I read somewhere years ago that an exchange would have had somewhere around 5500mt detonated in CONUS, 6000+mt in the USSR, and at least 700mt being used in Europe. With those sorts of numbers I can see why so many military and civilian leaders on both sides couldn’t have slept very well at night knowing that such an event could happen with a moment’s notice.

That assumes a full nuclear exchange which would defeat the purpose of going to war in the first place. That was the whole point of MADD.

Once the Soviets had also built up a large strategic nuclear force we had basically checkmate as long as neither side ended up being lead by a suicidal maniac willing to kill half the planet for a “win”.

Absent such an exchange or prior to it being possible we were looking again at another 3-5 year ground war that we could not win without using nukes, the math just didn’t allow for it.

So basically NATO would have been on borrowed time. Holding off Soviet ground forces just long enough for negotiations to go somewhere. But ultimately NATO forces would have been overrun without tactical nuclear asssets being deployed.

How long could they have held out before the decision to use tactical assets been made?

Even using the Fulda Plan employing tactical nukes we figured we could hold out no more than 3 weeks without the RDF forces being deployed and no more than 3 months without a full mobilization of US and British Forces to the continent. Even at that we figured to be fighting for the beaches when they arrived.

Did you read general patrons diaries of the soviets at the end of ww2. If one gets past the antisemitism bits it’s interesting how he was wanting to confront the soviets right then when we had the bomb and troops in Europe.

Not saying he was right or wrong just interesting reading.

This was the book I was referring to General Patton by Hirshson

Patton had a lot of faults as all humans do but he was a tactical and strategic genius. He also recognized the Soviets for the threat they posed in the post war era.

He was completely right about everything except for the fact that the world was tired of war in 45 and there was simply no stomach on the part of the allies at the time to continue.

Europe was already in tatters with over 100 million military and civilian deaths and most of the infrastructure and industry destroyed.

Thankfully that war never had to take place, had it, the next war in Europe would have easily tripled the number of dead and left much of the continent a wasteland for thousands of years.

I hate to derail the topic, but out of curiosity do you think an Allied attack on Russia in 1945 could have succeeded? I agree it would have been a bloody war, but one could argue 100’s of millions died with the spread of communism after ww2 by the Soviets. Think about it, Mao, Pol Pot. The American dead in both Korea and Vietnam, Castro and countless other deaths came from the spread of communism by the Soviet Union.

Patton wasn’t to far off with this comment, at least in knowing that a war was coming with the soviets.

“I’ll say this; the Third Army alone with very little help and with damned few casualties, could lick what is left of the Russians in six weeks. You mark my words. Don’t ever forget them… Someday we will have to fight them and it will take six years and cost us six million lives.”