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Recent Russian Material on Soviet Advisers in China: 1923–1927

  • Dan N. Jacobs

Abstract

China in the 1920s, in spite of the significant and painstaking study that has been devoted to it, remains very imperfectly researched and analysed. In large part this is to be attributed to the great number and complexity of forces involved—warlord, nationalist, imperialist and communist; operating alone or in rapidly fluctuating alliances.

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1 G. V. Efimov, “Problemy novoi i noveishei istorii Kitaya v Sovetskoi istorigrafii, 1964–1966” (“Problems of the New and Most Recent History of China in Soviet Historiography, 1964–1966”), Vestnik Leningradskovo universiteta, Vol. XXII, No. 2 (1967), p. 14.

2 It is not the intent here to list all of the material on the period under consideration that has recently appeared in the Soviet Union. Some of it, particularly that produced by the still-surviving glorified hacks of the earlier period, is, from a scholarly point of view, worth little more than their previous work. But the following do deserve attention: R. A. Mirovitskaya, “Pervoe desyatletie” (“The First Decade”), in Leninskaya politika SSSR v otnoshenii Kitaya (The Leninist Policy of the U.S.S.R. with Respect to China) (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo “Nauka,” 1968), pp. 2067. Relies heavily on the Archives of the Ministry of Defence and is rich in details on the Sun-Joffe negotiations and matériel aid to the Kuomintang (KMT). Also the same author's Dvizhenie v Kitae za priznanie Sovetskoi Rossii (The Movement in China for the Recognition of Soviet Russia) (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo vostochnoi literatury, 1962).Osetrov, A. F., Sovetskii narod—revolyutsionnomu Kitaya (The Soviet People—to Revolutionary China) (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo “Nauka,” 1967).

It is also to be pointed out that Soviet interest in the 1923–27 period does not appear to be at an end. For example, Novye knigi SSSR (New Books, U.S.S.R.), the Soviet bulletin which lists books about to go to press, anticipates in its 11 11 1968, issue (No. 46, p. 5) the publication during the second quarter of 1969 of Komintern i Vostok (The Comintern and the East) which, it is stated, “has been written as the result of a study of materials the largest part of which have remained unknown until this time.”

3 No. 35 (July–September 1968), pp. 18–39, with notes by C. Martin Wilbur.

4 Cherepanov, A. I., Zapiski voennovo sovetnika v Kitae (Memoirs of a Military Advisor in China) (hereafter cited as Cherepanov I) (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo “Nauka,” 1964).

5 Cherepanov, A. I., Severnyi pokhod natsional'no-revolyutsionnoi armii Kitaya (The Northern Expedition of the National Revolutionary Army of China) (hereafter cited as Cherepanov II) (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo “Nauka,” 1968), p. 21.

6 Reviewed by Eudin, Xenia J. and North, Robert C. in The China Quarterly, No. 26 (0406 1966), pp. 194196.

7 Primakov, who went by the code name Lin, was executed in 1937. But he published his memoirs of his 1925–26 exploits with Feng under the pseudonym of Lieutenant Henry Allen in 1930. Zapiski voluntera: grazhdanskaya voina v Kitae (Memoirs of a Volunteer: the Civil War in China) (Leningrad: 1930). In 1967 the book was reissued under Primakov's name, together with two speeches made by him while in China. The second of these, his remarks on Feng Yü-hsiang to Bubnov's group in February 1926, is of particular political interest (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo “Nauka,” 1967).

8 Kazanin had previously written another volume of memoirs relating to China: Zapiski sekretarya missii: stranichka istorii pervykh let sovetskoi diplomatii (Memoirs of a Secretary of Mission: A Brief Page from the History of the First Years of Soviet Diplomacy) (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo vostochnoi literatury, 1962), based on his experiences as secretary to the Far Eastern Republic mission to Peking, 1921–22.

9 The memorialists indicate that, in his own sphere, Blyukher was as influential as Borodin. But it was not necessary in the mid-1960s to revive the memory of Blyukher for he had already been handsomely praised comparatively early in the rehabilitation period and had been the subject of biographies. Only Cherepanov, and then obliquely, refers to the sharp differences that developed between Borodin and Blyukher.

10 Cherepanov II, p. 169. Cherepanov possibly escaped arrest during this period because he was in China (1938–39) as the chief military adviser to the KMT. Incidentally, Cherepanov's treatment of Chiang Kai-shek is far less harsh than that which one usually encounters in Soviet writing.

11 Vishnyakova-Akimova, op. cit. p. 55.

12 “Pod znamenami Sun Yat-sena” (“Under the Banners of Sun Yat-sen”), in Sun Yat-sen 1866–1966. K stoletiyu so dnya rozhdeniya: Sbornik statei, vospominanii i materialov (Sun Yat-sen 1866–1966. For the 100th Anniversary of His Birth: A collection of Essays, Reminiscences and materials) (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo “Nauka,” 1966), p. 316.

The preparation for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sun, who, like so many Soviet heroes, died opportunely enough to guarantee his ascent to the Bolshevik Valhalla, led to the release of a considerable amount of material touching on the activities of the sovetniki. The volume listed above, in addition to the piece by Cherepanov (pp. 310–321), includes memoirs by: Borodina, F. S., “Sovetnik Sun Yet-sena” (“The Advisor of Sun Yat-sen”), pp. 286–288. In writing this brief statement, Fanya, M.M.'s widow, is assisted by her surviving son Norman. On p. 316 of the same book, Cherepanov seems to definitely establish that Borodin never did write his own oft-promised story of what happened in China, even though there have in the past been allusions to the contrary. (Cf. J. Chesneaux and J. Lust, Introduction aux Études d'histoire contemporaine de Chine (Paris: Mouton, 1964), p. 72.); Dalin, S. A., “Velikii povorot. Sun Yat-sen v. 1922 g.” (“The Great Change. Sun Yat-sen in 1922”), pp. 255285. Dalin, who visited China at least three times, 1922–27, was very close to Radek and was the latter's “agent” on at least one of the trips. This is a revised and shortened version of his earlier V ryadakh kitaiskoi revolyutsii (In the Ranks of the Chinese Revolution) (Moscow: Moskovskii rabochii, 1926), for which Radek wrote the introduction; A. G. Krymov (Ting Sheng), “Poslednyaya poezdka Sun Yat-sena” (“The Last Trip of Sun Yat-sen”), pp. 289–309.

The volume also includes several other pertinent and important articles which rely heavily on archival materials: S. L. Tikhvinskii, “Sun Yat-sen—kitaiskii revolyutsioner-demokrat, drug Sovetskovo Soyuza” (“Sun Yat-sen—Chinese Revolutionary-democrat, friend of the Soviet Union”), pp. 5–36. M. F. Yur'ev, Ustanovlenie sotrudnichestva mezhdu KPK i Sun Yat-senom v 1921–1924 gg. K istorii obrazovaniya edinovo natsional no-revolyutsionnovo fronta” (“The Establishment of Co-operation between the CCP and Sun Yat-sen in 1921–1924. Towards the History of the Formation of the United National-Revolutionary Front”), pp. 146–169. A. I. Kartunova, “Sun Yat-sen i russkie sovetniki. Po dokumentam 1923–1924 gg.” (“Sun Yat-sen and the Russian Advisors. Based on Documents of 1923–1924”), pp. 170–189.

Other recent works on Sun that are useful for our purposes here include: Ermashev, I., Sun Yat-sen (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo TsK VLKSM “Molodaya gvardiya,” 1964). A popular, unannotated biography. However, it contains some generally unavailable information on the 1923–24 period. Kartunova, A. I., “Sun Yat-sen—drug sovetskovo naroda” (“Sun Yat-sen—Friend of the Soviet People”), Moscow: Voprosy Istorii KPSS, Vol. IX, No. 10 (10 1966), pp. 2738.Tikhvinskii, S. L., Sun Yat-sen: vneshnepoliticheskie vozzreniya i praktika (Sun Yat-sen: His Foreign Policy Views and Practice) (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo “Mezhdunarodnaya otnosheniya,” 1964).

13 Sovetnik Sun Yat-sena” (“The Advisor of Sun Yat-sen”), in Sun Yat-sen 1866–1966, p. 286.

14 Kazanin, op. cit. p. 122.

15 Ibid. p. 58.

16 One must wonder, however, about the negative response from those who were kept “outside” by their ignorance of English.

17 Cherepanov I, pp. 45–46.

18 Cherepanov II, p. 292.

19 Kazanin, op. cit. p. 125.

20 Cherepanov II, p. 101.

21 Ibid. p. 297.

22 Cherepanov I, p. 8.

23 Vishnyakova-Akimova, op. cit. p. 25.

24 Ibid. p. 160.

25 Sovetskie dobrovol'tsy, pp. 7273.

26 Vishnyakova-Akimova, op. cit. p. 149.

27 Cherepanov I, pp. 30–31.

28 Vishnyakova-Akimova, op. cit. p. 120.

29 Ibid. p. 25.

30 Ibid. pp. 220–225 passim.

31 Cherepanov II, p. 146.

32 Vishnyakova-Akimova, op. cit. p. 202.

33 Cherepanov II, p. 146.

34 Not followers of Martov, but from the Russian word for the month of March; indicating those who participated in the affair of 20 March or later came to support the anti-left position.

35 Some of the memoirs have considerable sections devoted to battle plans.

36 Vishnyakova-Akimova, op. cit. p. 249.

37 “Sun Yat-sen i russkie sovetniki. Po dokumentam 1923–1924 gg.” (“Sun Yat-sen and the Russian Advisers. Based on Documents of 1923–1924.”), in Sun Yat-sen 1866–1966, p. 174.

38 Cherepanov II, p. 4. He does not say which archive but it is most likely the Archives of the Ministry of Defence.

Recent Russian Material on Soviet Advisers in China: 1923–1927

  • Dan N. Jacobs

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