This week we introduce the man who led China’s war against Japan: Chiang Kai-shek. The reluctant military leader wanted no part of a war against the nation where he had trained, but the trends of the time forced him into a conflict that would eventually destroy not only Japan, but his own regime as well.
Listen to the episode
Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.
The Making of Modern Japan.
Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945.
General Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Chinese Nationalists (Guomindang) during the war against Japan.
Chinese soldiers durign the defense of Shanghai in 1937. Note the German Stahlhelm-type helmets; at this point, German influence in the Nationalist army was very strong, and Chiang continued to work for assistance from the Nazis against Japan.
Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong. The alliance between these two men served to temporarily halt China’s ongoing civil war in the name of national unity, but the end of the fighting brought a rapid breakdown of their relationship. This photo is from the final full year of that alliance in September, 1945.
Though the war in China stalled out strategically in only a few years, that did not mean that massive suffering did not continue. Air raids on the Chinese wartime capitol of Chongqing were constant; these civilians were casualties of one of those raids.
Dai Li, Chiang Kai-shek’s secretive spymaster.
The Surrender Ceremony at Nanjing by Chen Jian. This image is actually very exaggerated; the real ceremony was not so grand, but perhaps this vision better describes the momentousness of the occasion in the Chinese consciousness.
The actual surrender ceremony in Nanjing. Not quite as impressive as the painting.