The Changkufeng and Nomonhan incidents – The undeclared border war and its impact on World War II

Tobias Block, University of Texas at El Paso


Nomonhan and Changkufeng: Immediately following the Mukden Incident in 1931 and the founding of Manchukuo, the Japanese supported puppet state in northeastern China, the Imperial Japanese Army found itself again face to face with their old enemy Russia, now the Soviet Union. The border disputes between these two countries would soon become armed conflicts. The Japanese Korea Army as well as the Kwantung Army, stationed in Manchuria, would soon follow a policy of limited war against the Soviet Red Army, here in particular during the battles of Changkufeng, in 1938, and Nomonhan in 1939. These two battles proved to be groundbreaking, but neither of these battles received significant attention due to events in Europe and the outbreak of World War II. However, these battles showed serious implications for the Imperial Japanese Army and the Red Army of the Soviet Union. More importantly, these forgotten battles between the Empire of Japan and the Soviet Union became an important measuring point on military doctrine and the use of modern military tactics, such as the combined use of tanks with air support, an early version of the Blitzkrieg. Furthermore, the outcome of these battles helped decide the direction of further Japanese expansion and the adaptation of the so-called "Southern Advance Strategy." For the Soviet Union, these battles would ultimately give decisive indications for the upcoming battles fought in the Eastern European Theater during World War II, such as the use of Siberian troops during the battle of Moscow, and combined mobile warfare during the battle of Kursk and Operation Bagration.

Subject Area

History|Military history|Russian history

Recommended Citation

Block, Tobias, "The Changkufeng and Nomonhan incidents – The undeclared border war and its impact on World War II" (2014). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1557747.