Hi readers: I first saw this film on Netflix and it made a big impression on me. Unfortunately it’s been a while. I was in the hospital when I watched it first, so some of the details are vague to me now. But it’s probably the first movie ever to be filmed about Khalkhin Gol.
Khalkhin-Gol: The forgotten battle that shaped WW2
In August 1939, just weeks before Hitler and Stalin invaded Poland, the Soviet Union and Japan fought a massive tank battle on the Mongolian border – the largest the world had ever seen.
Under the then unknown Georgy Zhukov, the Soviets won a crushing victory at the batte of Khalkhin-Gol (known in Japan as the Nomonhan Incident). Defeat persuaded the Japanese to expand into the Pacific, where they saw the United States as a weaker opponent than the Soviet Union. If the Japanese had not lost at Khalkhin Gol, they may never have attacked Pearl Harbor.
The Japanese decision to expand southwards also meant that the Soviet Eastern flank was secured for the duration of the war. Instead of having to fight on two fronts, the Soviets could mass their troops – under the newly promoted General Zhukov – against the threat of Nazi Germany in the West.
In terms of its strategic impact, the battle of Khalkhin Gol was one of the most decisive battles of the Second World War, but no-one has ever heard of it. Why?
The Korean movie industry scored a big one with My Way. The theme or setting is two kids, one Japanese, the other Korean competing as runners in pre-WWII Japan. But when the Japanese Kwantung Army rubs up against the Soviet Army in Manchuria both are sent there in time for the earliest tank battle of WWII era. [Western thought about when WWII began places the battle pre-WWII]
So when the USSR kicks the ass of Japan in the battle, the two are captured and sent to a Soviet POW camp. Eventually they’re allowed to volunteer for slave labor on the front where the USSR is fighting German troops. And they’re captured, allowed to fight for the Germans next, because Japan, of course, was an ally to Germany.
As D Day approaches they find themselves on the beaches of Normandy constructing shore defenses.
One hell of a movie.
I see by the clips on YouTube a lot of people agree with me. Some even say it’s the best movie they’ve ever seen. Maybe you’ll find it absorbing.
Thank you for your service, all you young Soviets, Japanese and Koreans.