New Russian Documents on the Korean War, introduction and translations by Kathryn Weathersby



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New Russian Documents on the Korean War, introduction and translations by Kathryn Weathersby





New Russian Documents on the Korean War

Introduction and Translations
by Kathryn Weathersby

In the previous issue of the Cold War International History Project Bulletin (Issue 5, Spring 1995 pp. 1, 2-9), I described the collection of high-level documents on the Korean War that Russian President Boris Yeltsin presented to President Kim Young Sam of South Korea in June 1994. I also presented translations of six key documents from that collection that illuminate the decision-making behind the outbreak of full-scale war in Korea in June 1950. Since the publication of the Spring 1995 Bulletin, the base of documentary evidence on the Korean War has been enriched even more by the release of virtually the entire collection of high-level documents on the war declassified by the Presidential Archive in Moscow, which numbers approximately 1,200 pages. Through a joint project of the Center for Korean Research of Columbia University and the Cold War International History Project, these documents are now available to all interested researchers.1


The Presidential Archive (known officially as the Archive of the President, Russian Federation, or APRF) is the repository to which, during the Soviet era, the Kremlin leadership sent its most sensitive records for safekeeping and ready access. Its holdings are therefore more selective than those of the archives of the Soviet Foreign Ministry, the Central Committee of the Communist Party (CC CPSU), and the General Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces, the other major repositories used by historians of the Cold War. The release of a large portion of the APRF's documents on the Korean War consequently provides a critical addition to available evidence on the high-level decisions and deliberations of the communist side during this pivotal conflict.
This article presents translations of and commentary on a sizable portion of this recently-released APRF collection on the Korean War. It begins with most of the released documents covering February 1950 through January 1951, providing a close look at the Soviet role in Korea during the significant first months of the conflict. (Unfortunately, some key materials from this period, particularly the months immediately preceding the war, have not yet become available; for key documents from mid-September to mid-October 1950, covering events from the Inchon landing to China's decision to intervene in the war, see the article by Alexandre Y. Mansourov elsewhere in this issue of the CWIHP Bulletin.) It then offers a more selective sample of documents from spring 1951 through the end of the war, focusing primarily on Stalin's approach to the armistice negotiations. As the reader will quickly discover, these documents of high-level decision-making within the Soviet government and within the Moscow-Beijing-Pyongyang alliance shed light on many questions about the Korean War, the Sino-Soviet alliance, Soviet relations with North Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK), Soviet attitudes toward the United States, and the making of Soviet foreign policy in general in the last years of Stalin's life. In this brief commentary I will therefore not attempt to provide a close examination of these documents, as I have in two previous Bulletin articles (and a related article in The Journal of American-East Asian Relations).2 Instead, I will point out some of the most important questions these new sources address, provide additional background information drawn from my research in other Soviet archives, and offer some preliminary conclusions.
The documents presented below begin where the records published in the previous Bulletin left off, with Stalin's telegram to the Soviet ambassador in Pyongyang on 30 January 1950 informing Kim Il Sung that he would "assist" him in the matter of reunifying Korea by military means. Document #1 reveals that Kim Il Sung and Soviet Ambassador T.F. Shtykov interpreted Stalin's message as approval to plan an offensive campaign against South Korea. The North Korean leader received Stalin's telegram with "great satisfaction" and informed Shtykov that he would begin preparations for a meeting with Stalin at which the details of the campaign would be worked out. Shtykov's telegram to Soviet Defense Minister A.M. Vasilevsky on February 23 (document #4) supports accounts given by former DPRK military officers that Stalin began taking steps to strengthen the North Korean military forces even before Kim Il Sung's secret trip to Moscow in April, by appointing Major-General Vasiliev, a Hero of the Soviet Union and section chief for War Experience Analysis in the Soviet General Staff, to replace Shtykov as principal military adviser to the Korean People's Army (KPA).3
From Shtykov's telegram to Foreign Minister Andrei Vyshinsky on February 7 (document #2), we see how closely Stalin supervised events in North Korea, deciding whether the DPRK could issue a bond, form an additional three infantry divisions, convene the Supreme People's Assembly, or send textile workers to the Soviet Union for training. Documents #5-9 indicate the reason why the highly nationalistic Korean communists allowed such interference in their country's affairs. As I discussed in the previous Bulletin, prior to the Korean War, North Korea was dependent on the Soviet Union for the substantial quantities of goods and the broad range of expertise needed to construct a new socialist state out of an abruptly truncated portion of the former Japanese empire. From 1945-1950, the only place to which the DPRK could turn for this support was the Soviet Union. Though many North Korean communists had close ties to the Chinese communist party, the latter was not in a position to aid its Korean comrades. In early 1950, the new People's Republic of China (PRC) government in Beijing led by Mao Zedong was itself forced to turn to Moscow for economic and military aid. As documents #11 and #13 indicate, in the spring of 1950 Mao Zedong and Kim Il Sung were both interested in the possibility of developing wider trade and closer communications between the PRC and the DPRK. Close economic and military ties between Pyongyang and Beijing developed after the Chinese entered the Korean War; they were not in place prior to October 1950.4
At Stalin's insistence, after secretly receiving the Soviet leader's conditional green light for an attack against South Korea during a secret summit in Moscow in April (for which records still, alas, remain unavailable), Kim Il Sung traveled to Beijing in May 1950 in order to secure Mao Zedong's approval for the planned offensive. Documents #11 and #13 show that in his discussions with Kim Il Sung, Mao Zedong was considerably less worried about the possibility of military conflict with the United States than was the Soviet leadership, arguing that "the Americans will not enter a third world war for such a small territory." It also appears that in May 1950 Kim Il Sung, perhaps to counter the oppressive Soviet influence in North Korea, took a tentative step toward the strategy he later used so extensively of playing China and the Soviet Union against one another. He reported to Soviet Ambassador Shtykov that he had at first intended to ask Mao for ammunition for the Korean troops that had recently been transferred from China to North Korea (whose weapons were of Japanese and American manufacture rather than Soviet) but he decided not to raise the issue after all, since he was informed that the KPA had sufficient ammunition. Furthermore, he had no other requests to make of Mao "since all his requests were satisfied in Moscow and the necessary and sufficient assistance was given him there."
Shtykov's telegram to Vyshinsky on May 12 (document #13), reveals that before departing Pyongyang the following day for Beijing, Kim Il Sung reported to Shtykov that he had ordered the chief of the general staff to prepare his forces for the military operation against the South and that he wished to begin the operation in June, though he did not know if they would be ready by then. Unfortunately, the documents from the Presidential Archive in Moscow are quite sparse for the crucial period of April-June 1950 and prospects for gaining access to those records in the near future are not encouraging.5 Many important questions about how the North Korean offensive was planned thus remain obscure. However, a British Broadcasting Corporation documentary team that conducted research on the Korean War in Russia in 1994 has discovered a revealing report on the preparations for the attack and the first day of the operation. Written by Shtykov and addressed to the head of the special Soviet military mission sent to North Korea to oversee the operation, this report (document #14) reveals that troop concentration was carried out from June 12 to June 23, as prescribed in the General Staff's plan, and that Soviet advisers participated in reconnaissance and in planning the operation at the divisional level. However, Soviet advisers were apparently withdrawn from the front line before the attack began, with negative consequences for the efficiency of the operation. This accords with Khrushchev's recollection that Stalin pulled back Soviet advisers from the front at the last minute, out of fear that they might be taken prisoner and thus expose Soviet participation in the operation.6
Consistent with his withdrawal of Soviet advisers from the front, Stalin's queries to Shtykov on July 1 (document #15) indicate that he was agitated and nervous about the situation in Korea following the American entry into the war. Shtykov's reply (document #16) cautiously raises the question that was at the root of the Soviet leader's anxiety, namely the possibility that a disaster in Korea might draw Soviet troops into combat against American armed forces. Shtykov reports that Kim Il Sung and North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Hon Yong "understand the difficulties for Korea elicited by the entrance of the Americans into the war" and "are taking the necessary measures to stabilize human and material resources," though some in the DPRK leadership were inquiring about possible Soviet entry into the war.
We see that as early as the first week of July, Stalin began the strategy toward the war in Korea that he was to continue for the remainder of the conflict. In order to avoid committing Soviet troops to fight the Americans in Korea, he encouraged the Chinese leadership to take steps toward entering the war should the tide of battle turn against the DPRK. Chen Jian revealed in his recent book7 that the Chinese leadership decided on July 7 and 10 to send troops to the Korean border to prepare for possible intervention in Korea; discussion about sending troops to Korea thus began well before the UN advance into North Korea in early October. Stalin's telegram to the Soviet ambassador in Beijing on July 5 (document #18) reveals that in advance of those mid-July meetings, the Beijing leadership consulted with Stalin about the proposed troop transfer. Stalin informed PRC Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai on July 5 that he approved of the plan and also promised to try to provide air cover for the Chinese troops.
Stalin's rather rude message to Mao Zedong on July 8 (document #21) appears to have been a further attempt to prod the Chinese to move toward entering the war. Stalin was also quite brusque in his message to Mao on July 13, indicating that he had not been informed whether the Chinese had decided to deploy troops on the Korean border and offering again to provide air cover. He also informed Beijing that he intended to train Chinese pilots in two to three months and to transfer the necessary equipment to them, presumably for use in Korea. On August 27, Stalin informed PRC Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai (document #26) that he would send 38 air force and air defense specialists to China. These advisers and the large amounts of equipment that accompanied them were the first installment of what became massive Soviet support in constructing an air force for the PRC, a process which continued throughout the Korean War.
Stalin's message to Kim Il Sung on 28 August 1950 (document #27) is particularly revealing of the Soviet leader's approach to the difficult situation created by American entry into the Korean War. While North Korea was suffering saturation bombing by American planes, Stalin exhorted Kim Il Sung to take courage from the example of the Red Army's triumph against great odds in the civil war of 1918-20 and the great war against Germany of 1941-45. He offered to send additional aircraft for the small North Korean air force, but did not suggest sending Soviet air force units or ground forces. Avoiding military confrontation with the United States remained the Soviet leader's foremost concern.
Stalin's difficult and dramatic negotiations with the Chinese leadership in October 1950 over the entry of Chinese armed forces into the war in Korea is the subject of a separate article in this issue by Alexandre Mansourov. I have therefore omitted those documents from this selection, but will point out that the terms of Chinese entry--that the PRC would provide troops, the USSR materiel and advisers, and China would pay the Soviet Union for all military supplies--engendered considerable bitterness on the part of the Chinese leadership. Stalin's approach to the armistice negotiations, which will be discussed below, and his insistence on timely and high payments for military supplies to China during the Korean War, thus constituted an important cause of the eventual collapse of the Sino-Soviet alliance.
Resuming the story in late October 1950, document #31, the Politburo decision of 25 October 1950, suggests that the Soviet leadership worried that the United States might use the war in Korea as a pretext for rearming Japan. Stalin's continued fear of a resurgent Japan may seem surprising, but in 1947 the U.S. military had considered rearming Japan to buttress the forces available along the Soviet Pacific border, a move vigorously opposed by the Soviet representative to the Far Eastern Commission. Furthermore, two weeks after the North Korean attack on South Korea, U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur ordered the Japanese prime minister to create a "National Police Reserve" of 75,000 men, some of whom were, in fact, deployed to Korea. (At the same time, analogous moves toward constituting a West German military contribution to the Western alliance were stepped up.) We have no record of Japanese participation in the battles referred to in the Soviet statement cited here, but forty-six minesweepers with 1,200 Japanese military personnel were dispatched to the eastern coast of North Korea between 2 October and 10 December 1950, to clear the way for an amphibious assault by UN forces.8 Japanese participation never became a major issue during the Korean War, either militarily or diplomatically, but it does appear that one of Stalin's reasons for taking the risks associated with a North Korean offensive against South Korea was to eliminate the possibility that a resurgent Japan would be able to use southern Korea as a beachhead for an attack on the Soviet Union. (This argument also animates Stalin's arguments to Mao in early October 1950 in favor of Chinese entry into the war to save the North Korean regime; see documents accompanying Alexandre Mansourov's article.)
Despite Stalin's concern to avoid direct military conflict with the United States, he finally agreed to provide air cover for Chinese ground troops crossing into Korea. Given the intensity of American bombing, Chinese troops could hardly have entered the war without such cover and they did not have the means to provide it for themselves. On 1 November 1950, Soviet air force units first engaged American planes in air battles over the Yalu River bridge that was the route for Chinese People's Volunteers (CPV) entering Korea. Stalin's military envoy to Mao, S.E. Zakharov, reported on 2 November 1950 (document #35) on the results of the first day of combat between Soviet and American pilots. Zakharov's report also reveals that Korean pilots were still flying in November 1950, from bases in Manchuria,9 and that American planes were bombing air bases in Manchuria as well as targets in North Korea.
Soviet air force units in Korea proved to be highly effective against American bombers and fighter planes.10 On 15 November 1950 (document #38), Mao expressed his appreciation to Stalin for the heroism of the Soviet pilots guarding the Yalu crossings, who had shot down 23 American planes in the previous 12 days. Mao's message also reveals that Stalin reinforced Soviet air support by sending additional MiG-15's to China and creating a command apparatus for the air corps. Over the next few months Soviet air force involvement in Korea grew to quite substantial proportions.11 Nonetheless, Stalin continued to attempt to minimize the damage to Soviet interests that might ensue from the presence of Soviet pilots in Korea by ordering the Soviet Air Force to train Chinese pilots as quickly as possible so that they could be sent to the front to replace Soviet air crews (documents #68, 74, 76).
In addition to providing air cover against American planes along the Korean-Manchurian border, the Soviet Union also played the critical role of providing military supplies and advisers for the Chinese and North Korean war effort. In this selection of documents I have included the requests for supplies and advisers from November 1950 through February 1951 (documents #36, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 53, 62, 64), and then have limited the selection to only a few such requests for the remainder of the war (documents #72, 73, 91, 92, 106, 111). I should emphasize, however, that Chinese and North Korean requests for supplies and advisers constituted a large part of Stalin's correspondence with Mao Zedong and Kim Il Sung until his death in March 1953. It is interesting to note that Stalin himself negotiated with Mao and Kim over the amounts of the various supplies that would be delivered, the schedule of delivery, and the terms of payment. Stalin's personal attention to the supply issue probably reflects the severity of the burden this role placed on Soviet production capacity, which was still rebuilding from the devastation of World War II.
These documents corroborate the impression produced by recently-disclosed Chinese sources that Mao Zedong and Peng Dehuai played the central role in operational planning during the Korean War (e.g. documents #50, 54-57). They kept Stalin informed of the military situation and of proposed operations and asked his advice whenever a question of the "international situation" was involved, such as in planning the "fourth operation"--a possible offensive--in late January 1951 (document #56) or in general strategic planning in early June 1951 (documents #66, 67). The documents also reveal that Stalin offered advice on military planning whenever he wished, such as on 5 June 1951 (document #65), and that he intervened more often and more directly with the command of North Korean troops than with the Chinese (documents #19, 58, 59, 61).
While the Chinese leadership had primary responsibility for managing the battlefield, the Soviet leadership played the central role in formulating diplomatic strategy for the communist side during the war. We see that in November and December 1950 the Soviet Foreign Ministry advised Zhou Enlai regarding the best approach to take to the question of Chinese participation in the UN Security Council (document #37) and to a response to American proposals declaring China an aggressor in Korea (document #46). When UN representatives asked Chinese representatives in New York in December 1950 to inform them under what conditions China would accept a cease-fire in Korea, Zhou Enlai reported to Stalin his proposed terms and asked for the opinion of the Soviet government before responding (document #48).
Stalin's reply to Zhou and the Politburo directive the same day to UN Ambassador Vyshinsky suggest that the success of the Chinese People's Volunteers in turning back the American advance in November 1950 sharply altered Stalin's approach to the war. On December 7 the Politburo informed Vyshinsky (document #47) that his draft proposal for a cease-fire in Korea was "incorrect in the present situation, when American troops are suffering defeat and when the Americans are more and more often advancing a proposal about the cessation of military activity in Korea in order to win time and prevent the complete defeat of the American troops." With the unexpected and undoubtedly welcome sight of the supposedly fearsome American armed forces retreating before the troops of his junior ally, Stalin ordered Vyshinsky to propose instead terms that the Americans would surely reject. In the same vein, Stalin replied to Zhou (document #49) that it was not yet time "for China to show all its cards, while Seoul is still not liberated," and advised him to adopt the more cunning strategy of requesting US and UN opinions on conditions for an armistice. When the UN group presented its proposal on 11 January 1951, Zhou again turned to Stalin for "advice and consultation" (document #52), and in accordance with Stalin's recommendation the PRC rejected the UN proposal.
Stalin's telegram to Mao Zedong on 5 June 1951 (document #65) reveals the new attitude toward the war that Stalin adopted after Chinese successes on the battlefield removed the threat of an American advance toward Chinese and Soviet borders. He informed Mao that he agreed that "the war in Korea should not be speeded up, since a drawn out war, in the first place, gives the possibility to the Chinese troops to study contemporary warfare on the field of battle and in the second place shakes up the Truman regime in America and harms the military prestige of Anglo-American troops." We have no record of Mao's reaction to Stalin's enthusiasm for this costly "learning experience" for China and one may imagine that the Chinese leadership may have been less enthusiastic about the massive casualties suffered in Korea, which ran to many hundreds of thousands by the end of the war. At the same time, however, Mao's correspondence with Stalin indicates that the Chinese leader was in fact willing to continue the war until he obtained from the United States terms he considered acceptable. Russian records of Mao's correspondence with Stalin thus lend support to Chen Jian's argument that Mao Zedong intervened in Korea primarily in order to reassert China's place in the international order and to revive revolutionary momentum within China.12
Despite Stalin's interest in continuing the war in Korea, the serious losses suffered by Chinese and North Korean troops in their failed offensives of April and May 1951 forced the communist allies to consider opening negotiations with the UN command. On June 5 Soviet Ambassador to the UN Jacob Malik informed the American diplomat George F. Kennan that "the Soviet government wanted peace and wanted a peaceful solution of the Korean question--at the earliest possible moment" and advised the United States "to get in touch with the North Koreans and the Chinese Communists in this matter."13 A few days later Kim Il Sung and Gao Gang, a Chinese leader with close ties to the Soviet Union, went to Moscow to discuss the situation with Stalin (documents #67, 69-72). Mao Zedong considered it advisable to open negotiations with the UN command because for the next two months the Chinese and North Koreans would have to occupy a defensive position (documents #73, 74, 76). If the Chinese and North Korean forces could avoid facing an enemy offensive during this period, by August they would be strong enough to launch their own new offensive.
Stalin agreed with Mao that armistice negotiations were desirable at that time (see document #69) and instructed Moscow's ambassador to the United Nations to take the appropriate initiative.14 This evidence suggests that the "hawks" within the Truman Administration who opposed opening negotiations in Korea on the grounds that the enemy was only trying to buy time to build up its forces were, in fact, correct. From Mao's assessment of the condition of the Chinese and North Korean troops in the summer of 1951, it appears that if the UN forces had pushed their advantage in June and July 1951, before the Chinese had time to dig fortifications, they may well have advanced the line of the front, and hence the eventual border between the two Koreas. After August 1951 the CPV and PLA were sufficiently well dug in that the war remained a stalemate.
An examination of Chinese and North Korean strategy during the armistice negotiations, which lasted from July 1951 to July 1953, is beyond the scope of this essay, though the Presidential Archive documents provide extensive evidence on this subject. I will note only that it appears that while Mao Zedong opened negotiations in 1951 primarily in order to buy time to reinforce his position on the battlefield, his communications with Stalin in July and August 1951 (documents #84-88) suggest that if he had been able to secure satisfactory terms in the negotiations, he may have been willing to conclude an armistice. However, the documents reveal that Stalin consistently took a "hard line" toward the negotiations, advising Mao that since the Americans had an even greater need to conclude an armistice, the Chinese and North Koreans should "continue to pursue a hard line, not showing haste and not displaying interest in a rapid end to the negotiations" (document #95).
The evidence presented below suggests that as the fighting dragged on through 1952, the North Koreans became increasingly desirous of ending the war (documents #102, 106). The Chinese approach to the war, however, seems to have been contradictory. On the one hand, Mao Zedong was clearly anxious to avoid undermining the prestige of the PRC by accepting unfavorable armistice terms (document #108). As Zhou Enlai explained to Stalin in a conversation in Moscow on 20 August 1952 (the transcript of which is published elsewhere in this issue of the Bulletin), the Chinese leadership felt that as a matter of principle it could not yield to the Americans on the issue of repatriation of POWs. Zhou also reported to Stalin that Mao believed that the war in Korea was advantageous to China because it kept the United States from preparing for a new world war. Specifically, by fighting the Americans in Korea, China was helping to delay the next world war by 15-20 years. On the other hand, however, Zhou stated toward the end of this conversation that if America makes some sort of compromise on the POW issue, the communist side should accept it.
We need additional records from China in order to determine more clearly the Chinese leadership's thinking regarding the war in Korea during the long months of armistice negotiations. However, from an internal report on the Korean War written by the Soviet Foreign Ministry in 1966 (published in Issue 3 [Fall 1993] of the Bulletin), it appears that by the time of Stalin's death in March 1953, Beijing was eager to bring the war to an end. According to this report, during conversations held while Zhou Enlai was in Moscow for Stalin's funeral, the PRC foreign minister "urgently proposed that the Soviet side assist the speeding up of an armistice." As the tortuously worded USSR Council of Ministers resolution of 19 March 1953 (document #112) reveals, ending the war in Korea was also a high priority for the post-Stalin leadership in Moscow; in the midst of the great anxiety and confusion following Stalin's death, the new leadership drafted and approved this major foreign policy decision in only two weeks. The evidence thus suggests that Stalin's desire to continue the war in Korea was a major factor in the prolongation of the war; immediately after his death the three communist allies took decisive steps to reach an armistice agreement.
The timing of the Council of Ministers' resolution also suggests that it was Stalin's death rather than U.S. threats to use nuclear weapons that finally brought a breakthrough in the armistice negotiations. The Eisenhower Administration later asserted that it finally broke the stalemate at Panmunjom by virtue of its "unmistakable warning" to Beijing that it would use nuclear weapons against China if an armistice were not reached--a claim that had great influence on American strategic thinking after 1953.15 However, Eisenhower's threats to use nuclear weapons were made in May 1953, two months after the Soviet government resolved to bring the war to an end. The Russian documents thus provide important new evidence for the debate over "nuclear diplomacy."16
The final two documents presented below provide intriguing information about Mao Zedong's attitude toward the Korean War and the effect the war had on his relations with Moscow. In a discussion with Soviet officials in Beijing on 28 July 1953 (document #114), Mao was remarkably bellicose, speaking of the war as though it had been a great victory for China. He even commented that "from a purely military point of view it would not be bad to continue to strike the Americans for approximately another year." Mao may have been mainly posturing before the Russians, part of a larger effort to redefine his relations with Moscow following the death of Stalin; the Soviet documents need to be combined with the new Chinese sources before one can draw firm conclusions about Mao's thinking. It is clear, however, as the excerpt from a conversation with the Soviet ambassador in Beijing in April 1956 (document #115) suggests, that the Korean War profoundly affected relations between the PRC and the USSR. Stalin desperately wanted Mao Zedong to pull his chestnuts out of the fire in Korea, but the PRC's stunning success against the formidable American foe, combined with Moscow's tightfistedness toward its ally, made the communist government in Beijing much less willing to tolerate subsequent Soviet demands.
As is apparent from the documents presented below and the others from this collection published in this issue, the documents declassified by the Presidential Archive greatly expand our knowledge of the Korean War and of Soviet foreign policy in general in the late Stalin years, particularly Soviet relations with the new communist government in China. It will be some time before these new sources can be adequately analyzed and integrated with documentary and memoir evidence from other countries. In the meantime, readers may wish to consult the following recent publications using other new sources from China and Russia in order to place this new evidence in a broader context: Chen Jian, China's Road to the Korean War: The Making of the Sino-American Confrontation (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994); Thomas Christensen, "Threats, Assurances, and the Last Chance for Peace: The Lessons of Mao's Korean War Telegrams," International Security 17:1 (Summer 1992), 122-54; Sergei N. Goncharov, John W. Lewis and Xue Litai, Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao and the Korean War (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993); Michael Hunt, "Beijing and the Korean Crisis, June 1950-June 1951," Political Science Quarterly 107: 3 (Fall 1992), 453-78; William Stueck, The Korean War, An International History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995); and Zhang Shu Guang, Mao's Military Romanticism: China and the Korean War, 1950-1953 (Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, 1995).
1. Photocopies of these documents have been deposited at the National Security Archive in Washington DC, located in The Gelman Library (7th fl.), George Washington University, 2130 H St. NW, Washington, DC 20037 (tel.: (202) 994-7000). The National Security Archive, a non-governmental organization devoted to facilitating increased access to declassified records on international relations, is open to all researchers. Copies of this collection will also be available at Columbia University.
2. "New Findings on the Korean War," CWIHP Bulletin 3 (Fall 1993), 1, 14-18; and "To Attack or Not to Attack? Stalin, Kim Il Sung and the Prelude to War," CWIHP Bulletin 5 (Spring 1995), 1,2-9; and "The Soviet Role in the Early Phase of the Korean War: New Documentary Evidence," The Journal of American-East Asian Relations 2:4 (Winter 1993), 425-458.
3. See Sergei N. Goncharov, John W. Lewis, and Xue Litai, Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao and the Korean War (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993), 149.
4. Although Kim Il Sung secured Mao's approval before launching the attack on South Korea, he did not inform Mao of the specific plan for the invasion or the timing of the attack. The North Korean leadership informed Beijing about the military operation only on June 27, after the KPA had already occupied Seoul. See Chen Jian, China's Road to the Korean War: The Making of the Sino-American Confrontation (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 134.
5. Members of the Russian declassification committee for Korean War documents have reported that further records regarding the preparations for the military offensive against South Korea in the spring of 1950 are not in the Presidential Archive and have not been located.
6. Khrushchev recorded that when he asked Stalin about this "incomprehensible" order, the Soviet leader replied sharply: "It's too dangerous to keep our advisers there. They might be taken prisoner. We don't want there to be evidence for accusing us of taking part in this business. It's Kim Il Sung's affair." See Nikita Khrushchev (Strobe Talbott, ed.), Khrushchev Remembers (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1970), 370.
7. Chen Jian, China's Road to the Korean War, 135-141.
8. See Meirion and Susie Harries, Sheathing the Sword: The Demilitarization of Japan (London: Hamish Hamilton; Heinemann, 1989), 228-42.
9. This contradicts the widespread conclusion that the DPRK air force had been eliminated in the first weeks of the war. DPRK air units ceased to operate over North Korea after the first few weeks of the war, but it appears from this report that at least a portion of the air force was withdrawn to Manchuria. For a discussion of the role of the North Korean air force, see, e.g., Max Hastings, The Korean War (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987), 255.
10. I am grateful to Mark O'Neill, who is writing a dissertation on the Soviet air force in the Korean War based on records from the General Staff archive, for assistance in interpreting the documents on military operations.
11. Gen. Georgii Lobov, who commanded the 64th Fighter Aviation Corps in Korea, stated in an interview in 1991 that approximately 70,000 Soviet pilots, technicians and gunners served in the corps over the course of the war. See "Blank Spots in History: In the Skies Over North Korea," JPRS Report, JPRS-UAC-91-004, p. 3.
12. Chen Jian, China's Road to the Korean War , 211-223.
13. Kennan to Matthews, 5 June 1951, in U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), 1951, vol. 7 (pt.1), pp. 507-511.
14. See Malik's address over the UN radio network on 23 June 1951, ibid., 546-547.
15. James Sheply, "How Dulles Averted War," Life, 16 January 1956, 70-72; and Dwight D. Eisenhower, The White House Years: Mandate for Change, 1953-1956 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co., 1963), 179-180.
16. For discussion of the debate over the utility of nuclear threats in the Korean War see Roger Dingman, "Atomic Diplomacy During the Korean War," International Security 13:3 (Winter 1988/89),50-91; and Rosemary Foot, "Nuclear Coercion and the Ending of the Korean Conflict," International Security 13:3 (Winter 1988/89), 92-112.

NOTE ON TRANSLATION: In translating these documents I have retained the style of the Russian texts, which in most cases is the cumbersome, indirect, bureaucratic prose characteristic of official Soviet documents. The telegrams from Mao Zedong to Stalin in 1951 and 1952 are written in particularly poor Russian; I have kept as much to the original text as possible while still rendering the prose intelligible. The numbers of the ciphered telegrams are given when they are legible, but in many cases the "DECLASSIFIED" stamp obscured the number of the telegram. Personal names and place names are given in the standard English spelling wherever possible; otherwise they are transliterated from the Russian. An index of abbreviations and identifications of the most important persons mentioned are provided after the documents. Dates are given in the Russian manner: day, month, year. Note on archival citations: Those documents that were provided by the Russian Government to South Korea have a citation to the Russian Foreign Ministry archives (AVPRF) as well as to the Russian Presidential Archive (APRF); both archives are located in Moscow.--K.W.




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