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tv   Richard Frank Tower of Skulls  CSPAN  April 28, 2020 12:10am-1:13am EDT

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please stand and be recognized if you could from any other era. [applause] >> we have an incredible group of friends with us tonight. c-span is here filming tonight's event. i want you all to be on your best behavior. c-span is forever. paul, stand one more time. [applause] >> and ted is here with our friends from california.
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>> he has been involved with the summer teacher institute and now the guy on the site for all things specific. graduating from the university of missouri after which he served four years in u.s. army during the vietnam war as a platoon leader of the 101st airborne division. then graduated from the georgetown law center. i met him on history channel shoot. i thought he was already pretty famous. i wasn't i thought he was 200 percent nice to me then he had to be. he is an expert in his field
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he make sure you become an expert in the field. he's a compelling speaker but also one of the nicest people anyone has ever met and that's the best thing of all. tonight he will be speaking about the intended trilogy of the asia pacific theater that is called tower of schools. volume one july 37 through may 42. it's my pleasure to call my friend to the podium. richard frank. [applause] >> thank you very much. thank you to the museum so one
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of our traditions is we like to tell stories. graduating from the united states naval academy in 1841, was a survivor of the uss arizona and awarded the navy cross for his heroism in 1945. and finally he says tell us about your days at the academy.
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actually i did very well. i was very strong in math and science. but my downfall was english. my parents were jewish. we lived in france i spoke french and then we moved to new jersey but they don't speak english they are. [laughter] so this is something we don't speak about which is the trilogy we have been talking about the asia pacific war. one of the greatest stories in human history that touches the estimated two.3 million human beings
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that is a long time arc of the trilogy how those events formulated what happened with all of these other nations which is now so instrumental in the world we live in today. the other thing with the arc of asia we don't know how many humans perished in world war ii, we use 60 million as a figure but i attempted to put together a number from scholars and sources, i think the total is about 25 million in the asia-pacific. only 6 million of those were combatants of soldiers or sailors or airmen. and those were 110,000 so that immediately tells you 19 million noncombat deaths. the japanese approximately 813,000, but for purposes of
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this discussion i colored about a 1 million or one.2 million. so that tells you for every japanese noncombatant who died in the asia-pacific war, between 17 and 18 other noncombatants died in fact if you take the total number of chinese death to do a linear projection 4000 chinese noncombatants are dying every single day over eight years. if you take the other part of asia after december 1941 it's about half the many half the time for 4000 deaths per day so the summer 45 there are 8000 non-japanese noncombatants dying every day and who knows 15 or 16 million have already died. so what i'm doing with this trilogy is to write back into a standard narrative
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, 85 percent of the deaths or more of asia-pacific witches 20 million people which is the total number and tie those into the 21st century. i like to think i'm gracious to answer challenges to my work but the one thing to i will not do quietly is that i lack ambition. there are four features of the trilogy that are present in the book the first is putting together the best scholarship i can gather from all over the world to be guided by a wonderful group of colleagues i met over the years frequently the top leaders in their field and guidance of other sources a lot of them have vetted the manuscript. i also drill down with
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us-japan diplomacy and other areas but fundamentally i would describe this as synthesis. the second feature is an attempt to patch together in a single narrative with all parties in all situations what we used to call the pacific war between the us and japan and the arc of asia. but what characterizes this work from president franklin roosevelt and was asked by the ambassador to japan 1944 guidance relationships between us and japan should be conducted in president roosevelt said the fundamental thing to remember events in africa and asia and europe are all part of one global war.
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so what i tried to do throughout the narrative is to look back-and-forth what's going on in europe and the asia-pacific region where they do or do not affect one another. the final thing is the chronology and military events provide the skeleton. this branches out to political and economic and social effects it is so critical how we get to the story how we ended up in the 21st century in this region. so tonight i want to take two instances to show how all these features linked together. so with china 1937 in 1938 to see that chronology of how that branches out so the first thing is that china 1937 is
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called the fractured state. at that time japan had occupied manchuria and dominated the provinces in the northeastern china. beyond that it was not simply as given to be divided between the nationalist of shang kai-shek and the communist it's a much more complex picture rest of china is one try and mosaic of power brokers and the most dominant is the nationalist party that occupies seven provinces in the lower yangtze valley the most prosperous to contain 170 million people which is somewhat over one third of
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450 million chinese at that time. once you get beyond what the nationalist told it is a crazy quilt of regional and local and at that time july 1937 the chinese communist party is primarily at its nadir off the long march and settle up and at that point to be controlled by mao in the chinese communist party is one.45 million people which is not 3 percent of china's population, it is three tenths of 1 percent of china's population. the chinese forces are likewise that they have 300,000 men under arms the best trained and equipped in china, one out of seven of the
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two.1 million of chinese under arms the chinese communists at that point have the roles of the red army with only 31000 have weapons or one.5 percent so looking at a china not only fragmented at the regional and local level but the armed forces also and not only as the commander-in-chief but the provider of the loose confederation that will take on japan. so that brings us to himself. so going through a roller coaster and what was particularly valuable or invaluable to me in the last 15 or 20 years, a great outpouring of fresh, new archival based history about china in this. and one of the most important
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aspects is the diaries were published in 2007. was difficult to understate how dramatically those were affecting people's attitudes. so quite basically one part of the narrative that he was never interested to fight the japanese but ultimately having a showdown battle with the chinese communist. in fact, after japan seized manchuria, they knew in order for china to ultimately gain its sovereignty, there has to be a showdown battle with japan. but he understood the soldier was a formidable task to take on imperial japan and he must seek unity before resistance which is part of the policy , and launched a great number of initiatives to prepare china for the moment they
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would take on japan and they have a documentary trail that is exactly what he was doing. to talk to senior nationalist leaders in which he said there are only 1000 days left for japan it was off the only 43 days with that statement. he also projected that basically when the war broke ou out, ultimately there would be a world war and china would gain allies to subdue japan which was beyond the basic capability at that time.
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no longer ask for forbearance in the policy of preparing for war, now he must make war and a for e looks and he looks at where the fighting first broke out as northern china which has turenne that he believes greatly favors the japanese and greatly disfavors the chinese said he believes the correct places in shanghai to maximize the numbers and minimize the mobility air support and other things like that. so there is going to be a tremendous battle in shanghai which goes on from august to november 1937 before it is over three quarters of a million are going to fight in and around shanghai. a quarter of a million japanese
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are going to fight in shanghai. this is by far the biggest battle in a city and what you have to understand when the battle breaks out is that the chinese central government has almost exactly a century been unable to sustain for advanced i hear usually less and most of the clashes have ended in a humiliating chinese defeats of the fact that it goes on for days and weeks and months even as they begin to slip away it's still establishing something about effective resistance to. it's sort of a moment a "new york times" reporter is talking
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to the japanese imperial army spokesperson and "the new york times" reporter basically is saying it's been going on an awful long time why haven't you routed the chinese buy no by nod the japanese spokesman says they don't know when to retreat. they eventually do have to notwithstanding the fact that they've held out the resistance against the japanese sort of isf like the battle of thunder hill we eventually lose the hill that are sustained in the notion we are ready to stand up and fight with the british, chinese and japanese and so it is also going to continue to go to one
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enormous period of pain and suffering in the next eight years and that's when they marchemarchto the nationalist ce they connect what is referred to as the rape of [inaudible] i have a chapter i'm not going to touch on that except to say of course they still haven't given so they continue up heading towards the city where they evacuated the government and headquarters at the time and 800 miles is navigable inland and there begins a huge battle that takes most of 1938.
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it's to continue the war and certainly the senior leaders began to believe if we just hang on and without a. of looks like they might be able to deliver a knockout blow and captured the city and also knockout the headquarters. he is convinced by his subordinates but the only thing to do to stop the advance is to breach the yellow river dikes and he gets the order end of june 1938 they are breached and preach a torrent from the provinces of china and tells and half kills tenhalf-million and 0
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chinese by the various counts. it's the greatest disaster in world war ii by the large margin and the other thing about this is can you imagine an event of this magnitude of this nature occurring in europe and you never heard of it. it's one of the most striking examples to me of how we've come to know or recorded our history about the asia-pacific war. the fighting continues through the whole summer. the japanese who were fire power and military craft have air support, naval support but they also use poison gas.
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the japanese finally closed in and captured them strangely enough rather than regarding it as an absolute disaster for the chinese, it's from the chinese side the reinforcement of the notion if we toug we tough it od hang on eventually we can prevail. we found that many years later in tokyo the imperial headquarters they recorded that point i and it now looks impossible to prevail against the military means alone. it's a quagmirit is a quagmire y success.
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now i want to get into what is happening domestically, politically, economically as a result of the campaigns. first thing we noticed the most open period is going to occur in the 20th century. there is the united front with publications across the political spectrum, no editor of any publication. also as a result of the advance is a vigorous debate but this is
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the biggest mingling so this is a seminal moment in history. there is this refugee as a result of the war in china. there is a wide range of estimates. i use 45 million which is literally 10% of the population being entered into the refugee state. the estimates are way above this and no one really knows for sure. the reasons are not hard to discern. the japanese are living off the land as they advance to candidate is going to stimulate refugees. the japanese are also not only executing the military prisoners at thbut at the end of the entir
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they are asked to hand over a number they present 56 individuals and also make a practice of looking around from the teenage years on up that they think could have been or might be a soldier and are executing them as well as the actual pow and finally there is a tremendous violence as they march across china. all of this is a tidal wave. this enormous tidal wave does an iimmense important moment in chinese history. up to this point in time the central government in terms of what we call social warfare has only two responsibilities that it carried out. one was the maintenance of the
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dikes. the second was in some instances maintaining the grain reserves against famine. for housing, education. this leads to something else when the war breaks out the national identification particularly in the interim and is very weak. it is primarily a i one roof in the local community and begins
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to percolate through the chinese population through the national identity. the it begins to a gets the imperial army in the waterways" this leads to further dramatic effects on china which are going to have an extremely important outcome.
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to sustain the war and the lack of resources it is a separate issue but the basic point is little outside support from the soviets and later some from us. the second thing the chinese were not self-sufficient in food at thof the time. they imported ten to 20% of the total food supply by import. and with this blockade because the import and the japanese army is feeding off the chinese population taking food out of the population to the japanese army. i'm sorry, i meant the japanese
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army. and this is going to have a dramatic effect throughout china after about 1941 and the food situation is quite satisfactory and begins to plummet down in a crisis level. the third thing it serves to do. the texas recruit and raise supplies for the army. it's also been severely damaged by the intimidation effect of the leaders in this position they have to get along with all these other powerbrokers and although they carry the imprint
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there's a very diffuse problem including a great deal of corruption touches throughout china and with the blockade does is the chinese central government had for more than a century depended upon the customs duties as its primary source of revenue of 48% in 1937. they also occupy some of the richest lands cutting further into the tax base. the central government has collapsed by two thirds and three quarters.
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they printed money to start inflation and of all the things that are going to undermine the cause over the course of the war is probably inflation is the most corrosive of all. it not only directly affects everyone's livelihood if you are a government employee the purchasing power has plummeted by two thirds or three quarters. how are you going to make ends meet if you have a family it is a tremendous incentive towards corruption. so now i've tried to show how we go from the military applications into how it merges into would have been politically, socially and economically. let me talk about one other
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feature and that's 1941 for the success of the declaration of the war but my view where it really becomes a fusion between the asian pacific and the european wars in july of 1941. the attack of the sovie on the n in june of 1941. the initial assessment in london and in washington is that the soviets were collapsed. the official it seems for the next several weeks as the best information "the new york times" published the communiqués. the only thing they can tell about what's going on are from these communiqués. it's no resemblance whatsoever
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to what is going on as that's what they do coincide with overtime is fighting taking place in. for the first time it looks like the soviets might surprise. it's almost impossible to overstate. the. if the japanese were to come into the war and joined the
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soviets. so the most important thing to do this to keep china type down and they receive important information on the mission for president roosevelt and was the principal advisor, certain combination of the national security adviser and chief of staff he'd gone to moscow and had an interview with stalin himself. stalin said i need aluminum. and he goes back with the message that obviously you can't use aluminum on the battlefield right-of-way.
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it reinforces the notion that in moscow they see it the same way. what are the japanese looking for at this point? they want out of the quagmire and they have two basic proposals. we should read what they are saying down to this. they want the u.s. to agree or pose a settlement or the u.s. would agree to on the assumpti
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assumption. there isn't much room for any room for compromise. but roosevelt is going to do is end advance after he's gone through the collaborations with churchill, harry hopkins. he realizes one of the most important thing they can do this cut off the supply of oil to japan while providing them between 75 to 80% of the petroleum. can you imagine what they would say if we had been providing 75 or 80% between 1937 to mid-1941? there is the strategic dilemma because he knows if we were to cut off the japanese oil price they would simply advance down to the reserves at this point he
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decides the restriction to japan won't be a total embargo. the. would think along rapidly to show what they are thinking at this time mackenzie king has a close relationship with fdr and after a meeting november 1941, they believe the break will lead to a greek and russian
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resistance showing the close connection. when churchill advises roosevelt the chinese collapse obviously if you go back to the state papers you will see it is very much in mind. that is when they become fused together. in the trilogy they created this end they now have about 516 or just under one fifth of the total population of the world.
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the narrative of the first volume ends with the forces on the island 1942. now the greatest life begins. volume two is going to continue through to august the ninth 1944 and volume three will pick up september 1944. but it's going to go and considerably to the discussion about what happens to the postwar period as i get back to the theme of what is going to happen when it influences literally where we are today. we have been very patient and appreciate your attention and i think we will now throw it open to some question. thank you.
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[applause] >> thank you. ladies and gentlemen if you have a question i will bring the microphone to you. my short answer would be i'm not sure that there were many that could have shortened the war. there were a lot that could have lengthened it without any trouble. i gave a talk about the canal
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into one of the things i emphasize is difficult it had been triumphant and at that point in time. >> we hav >> we have a question in the back. >> i want to ask about the soviet aid in the late 30s and early 40s.
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for the most couple of years he recognized the value of china in keeping japan type down. the soviet union became a principal suppliers such as it was of the chinese arms and equipment and you can find those numbers. the problem is they delivered some of the supplies they cut off the supplies to the chinese. this is the theme that starts and will continue on when you crunch the numbers it's really appalling throughout the war but they were the great supplier
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there for a while and 38, 39 and 40. >> the battle of shanghai one book, what are the similarities? >> it is a nasty urban environment and it's not like a european city with the roads and alleys they are very narrow. the buildings are very close together. it was identified as a battlefield and it was a place where it was a good place for them to fight as opposed to out in the open plain where they could outmaneuver them so from
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that standpoint it's similar to what happens. they have the power to win and for the duration of the war. >> can you comment on how effective that was her was a more symbolic effort flex
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>> the chinese opened up the road because it ran from the port in burma and then over to china. it wasn't a very effective and took a little gasoline just to navigate it. at one point the estimated you would have to put 15,000-ton to get somewhere between five, 6,000 tons into china. .. it.
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>> the road versus the airlift and call them the green eye shade guys to come back and say basically the airlift is more effective which was quite - - quite a revelation. and i will get into this in the later volumes so when they start to hit china that actually goes to support aviation activities with the american presence in china and those that go to chang kai
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check are about 3 pounds of every 100. >> the next question comes online did the japanese waste their force by not attacking allied merchants? >> they have their submarine forces a war fighting force with the fleet units. they did not engage in the commerce war into high gear with devastating effects with the japanese merchant marine and the economy. clearly he could've done more in that area but and with that switches to attack commerce we have a tremendous advantage of code breaking telling us where the ships would be and it's a very big ocean you can concentrate your submarines
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around and this is where the forces will be concentrated. and then to have norma success against commerce and then we half to do much more so than we ended up doing. >> the next question is in the audience to your right. thank you for your interesting presentation. you have a tentative date for the next volume? [laughter] >> you are not cleared for that information. [laughter] i will have to turn out the next one expeditiously. but what i will say mindful of you might be listening to this, this, this first volume
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took me a lot longer i had not done work in the 37 through 41. but now 42 is my wheelhouse. this is what i have done for decades. i 40 done a lot of 42 and some 43 and a heck of a lot faster. and to have this reasonably quick time and i can't give you exact date i have to kill you. did they provide as a nationalist but did they abandon them in the german support and those advisers
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brought in retired german officers. 1937 when he wonders what to do. and then the germans always tell you to attack to the east. [laughter] but then also acquired german arms and equipment tungsten and the supplies and then of course the whole issue of hitler's alliance with japan kicked in. at that point they had ordered the german advisers to be pulled out, many reluctantly, and then turn to soviet advisors that they would become prominent during world war ii but yes there is a time with those german advisers that it was very important in china.
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>> this might be the last question but it comes as a text from my buddy, like to let the crowd know and those watching online that he has been in charge of our social media here at the museum for over four years. this week is his final week and tonight is his final week texting me in the middle of these talks i would like to give everyone a round of applause for his great service and great work here at the museum. [applause] the battle that you covered in your book can you explain the overall strategic significance? >> the japanese imperial army the supreme enemy was russia or soviet union. they worked overtime and how they want to deal with the situation to be outgunned and
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outnumbered with the strategic doctrine how to fight and prevail against the soviets and from our perspective and then follow that doctrine throughout the asia-pacific war pledges any tactical operational program is to attack and to be entangled with the border and in manchuria and a long story short and with the wall mount a huge core counterattack with the japanese division and that was cited properly to instill tremendous caution and
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thereafter although it is quite clear it was clear in 1941 there was a significant opinion in the imperial army they should join to attack the soviet union. they don't have the means to sustain a war against the soviet union or they don't have oil. outside of a few specialist and it also ties into the doctrine and they had no bullets left and then to face each other with their bayonets
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and to wake up in the soviet hospital and because he has been captured and integral segregated although he is vindicated he is still guilty of being captured that's the imperial japanese army thank you all very much. [applause] >> if you signed in you are about to have your name drawn. possibly. >> john wilson. [applause] >> he is a regular that's what
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you get to be here regularly. you get a copy of richards book he will personalize it for you. then we will ask rich to draw one more name for a membership goodie bag. >> ted. we invite you to go to kilroy's please come back thursday night and on the exhibition on the ghost army thursday march 5th and also marh is our next meet the author on hitler's last that is on the artwork on - - artwork that hitler stole during the warmer less thinking for the presentation of his wonderful book. good night.
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telling the story the polish jewish refugees that escaped the nazis and settled in iran. >> we have a lot of things in common


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