125 years ago, 17 March 1891, Emperor Alexander III signed a rescript. “I now order the construction of a continuous railway across Siberia, which has to combine the abundant gifts of nature of the Siberian regions with a network of internal communications,” the monarch ordered.
125 is the anniversary of the greatest railroad of the planet of the Trans-Siberian Railway - an occasion to recall some facts of economic geography that made this road not only a guarantee of preserving the integrity of Russia, but also a factor of world importance.
Europe and Asia are the parts of the world that have the maximum "difference in economic potentials." This means that the international division of labor implies the greatest level of trade between them. Those who complain today that the flow of goods from the APEC countries turns off European production and does not allow to equalize the balance of trade balance with China, with Korea, it would probably be very surprised to learn that this problem is already more than two thousand years old. Even Pliny the Elder and Tacitus were indignant about "... the irrepressible outflow of national wealth in the insatiable East." Ancient Rome could not do without Chinese silk, oriental spices, but could not find a single product, just as needed by the Orient, except silver and gold.
In the XIX century, the historian Karl Vejle calculated the imbalance of the trade balance in ancient times: 100 million sesterces annually! And even translated the Roman currency into modern German marks for him: 22.000.000. "This led to a complete state bankruptcy and lack of precious metals in the last period of the Roman stories. All the national wealth of Rome lies in the land of the East. "
True, Vejle's contemporary, the British Queen Victoria, solved this problem in her own way. Indeed, in the 19th century, an even more serious product was added to silks, porcelain, and spices. Tea. The famous tea clippers opened the era of racing on the route Hong Kong - Liverpool.
What could the British give to China ?! Like Rome, they were forced to pay for growing purchases of Chinese goods with precious metals. Trying to restore balance, the British authorities sent trade delegations to the Chinese emperors, but ... the balance was not restored. In 1793, Emperor Qianlong told Ambassador George III to Lord McCartney: “We don't need anyone. Go back to yourself. Take your gifts. ” During the first third of the XIX century, of all foreign products, only Russian furs and Italian glass were in demand in China.
The solution to the “problem” for the British Empire was two “opium wars,” which Victoria had conducted in the “drug king” in alliance with France. Europeans fought in these wars for the right to settle with the Bengali opium on the Chinese - and won.
The time has passed. The physical content of Asian-European trade has changed, instead of silks and spices, gadgets and consumer goods have appeared, but the Asia-Europe vector has survived. The development of international trade has attached importance to all options for the construction of trade routes from Asia to Europe. Since the time of Vasco da Gama, and especially with the opening of the Suez Canal, the main route has been the sea route through the Indian Ocean. In connection with global warming, the chances of the Northern Sea Route are growing, but only Transsib can truly compete with the Indian Ocean, which has a much greater growth potential, now held back by a host of technical, organizational and social problems. A consistent solution of these problems will bring to the forefront of world trade the initial advantage of the Trans-Siberian Railway - it is more than two times shorter than the sea route: 11.000 km versus 23.000 km (figures depend on the choice of terminals in the APEC countries and Europe).
Emperor Alexander III, who signed the 17 Rescript of March 1891, understood: the failures in the Crimean War and the half-forced sale of Alaska showed that the level of communications development in the Russian Empire came into striking contradiction with the size of its territory. Preservation of the integrity of the empire depended on the economic development and settlement of Siberia. Without Transsib, the migrant peasants reached Primorye for three years (the term included the necessary stops for planting and harvesting in the intermediate territories). The second way of settling in 1879 was discovered by the Dobroflot society: several ships acquired after the end of the Russian-Turkish war 1877-78. for the export of the Russian army from near Istanbul, were given to transport people along the route Odessa - Vladivostok.
Indicative of the development level of the Siberian roads of the time is the fact: one of the first industrialists of Primorye, Otto Lindholm (coming from Russian Finland), chose the route by sea to San Francisco, by rail to New York and again by sea to St. Petersburg.
The construction of Transsib was preceded by the solution of the most important geopolitical task for Russia: the return of the Amur region, joined by Khabarov, but subsequently lost, and the acquisition of Primorye. Prior to this, the only access of the Russians to the Pacific Ocean 200 for years was a mountain path winding from Yakutsk to Okhotsk, through the Dzhugdzhur ridge, more than 1200 kilometers in length. For ships built in Okhotsk, the ropes had to be cut in Yakutsk, the anchors were cut to dimensions that allowed the load to be loaded on the horse, and then re-connected. Furs were delivered to Kyakhta in the north of China for two years. The first Russian round-the-world expedition of Kruzenshtern - Lisyansky (1803-06) was in fact the first successful attempt to bring furs from Russian Alaska to Hong Kong, and tea and silk purchased there to St. Petersburg. This was the first delivery to Russia of Chinese goods not in seams, but in the holds of ships! However, Alaska in such conditions was not to keep ...
The Russian imperial government, having decided to build Transsib, meant not only world trade, but also world wars, first of all the Crimean one. In one of my books I called it “the first logistic war.” When was the first steam railway built in the Crimea? By whom? That's right: in the 1855, English invaders landed in Crimea for transporting shells with which they filled up Russian troops from Balaklava to the outskirts of besieged Sevastopol. These details of the Crimean War became for St. Petersburg the main motive for the development of railway transport.
Shortly after the end of the Crimean War on the Aygunsky (1858) and Beijing (1860) treaties of the Amur region and Primorye, the domains of the Manchu Qing dynasty, in which the Han Chinese were forbidden to appear, were transferred to Russia without war, without any conflict. China, attacked in the "opium wars" by the British and French, and then threatened by Japan, actually invited Russia to counterbalance European expansion. And these plans came true, despite even losing the Russian war with Japan.
20 June 1860 was founded Vladivostok, an outpost at the turn, held by Russia as a result of all wars. "All powers look at our Vladivostok with envy." This apt phrase belongs to the military engineer and Colonel of the General Staff Nikolai Afanasyevich Voloshinov (1854-1893), ascetic works of which brought the beginning of the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Voloshinov’s expedition, undertaken jointly with Ludwig Ivanovich Prokhasko, an engineer and railway engineer, passed through the taiga, inspecting both routes from Angara to Amur - south of Lake Baikal and north, through the Baikal and Northern Muya Ridges to the Muya and Black Uryum Rivers. Voloshinov and Prokhasko chose the option south of Lake Baikal, and he was destined to turn into Transsib. The second route through 80 years will become BAM, the Baikal-Amur Mainline.
Steel spine of Russia
The value of Transsib, the steel spine of Russia, which allowed to keep the Russian geopolitical space through all the revolutionary storms of the twentieth century, was instantly estimated abroad.
English economist Archibald Kolkhun wrote: “This road will not only become one of the greatest trade routes the world has ever known, and will fundamentally undermine the British maritime trade, but will become a political tool in the hands of Russia, even hard to guess. will make Russia a self-sufficient state, for which neither the Dardanelles nor the Suez will no longer play any role, and will give it economic independence, thanks to which it will achieve an advantage that no other state has ever dreamed of stvu ".
The whole epic of the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway showed the world the ability of the Russians to rally around the great national goals, putting forward figures at the level of the tasks of their time.
The first in the series of these figures, of course, Alexander III. A few years before the start of the great construction, the emperor wrote in the margins of the Irkutsk governor-general’s report: “I must confess with sadness and shame that the government has so far done almost nothing to meet the needs of this rich but neglected land. And it's time, it's time. ”
The king could not help but realize that in the foreign policy of his predecessors on the throne several decades were spent on senseless romp in Europe: “Sacred Union”, aid to England, to German monarchs, Austria-Hungary. Under Alexander III, Russia was just “concentrated”, approaching the great breakthrough to Asia. Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleev, not only an outstanding chemist, but also a prominent economist, remarked on the reign of Alexander III: "... the best period in the history of Russian industry." In 1881-96, Russia's industrial production increased 6,5 times. Labor productivity - by 22%. Power of steam engines - by 300%.
“The Russian Empire literally shuddered at the hardships of industrial progress: the seismic station in Riga recorded a two-point earthquake when at Izhora plant in St. Petersburg the second in Europe in terms of power after Kruppsky in Germany, the press force in 10.000 tons bent the armor plates.”
The Tsar-Peacemaker was able not only to define national goals, but also to select people for the fulfillment of the tasks set. The Minister of Railways, then Minister of Finance Sergey V. Witte, who won the “tariff war” from Germany, found money for a nationwide project: thanks to the introduction of the vodka monopoly, the money taken from velvet dealers (24% of the state budget!) Went to a great construction project. .
Witte drew up a construction plan, dividing Transsib into six sections. At the same time, construction began on the West and Middle Siberian areas (Chelyabinsk - Irkutsk) and South Ussuriisky (Vladivostok - Grafskaya). The most difficult section was the Circum-Baikal Railway (Circum-Baikal Railway). Through solid rocks to the west of Baikal, tunnels made their way, demanding protection from rockfalls and avalanches.
The government understood that the international situation was in a hurry. The urgency of Circum-Baikal forced the hiring of Chinese, Albanian, Italian workers. Guides still show here "Italian wall". The new Minister of Railways, Prince Mikhail Ivanovich Khilkov, left Petersburg and lived for two years in the area of the Baikal Slyudyanka station, in the center of the construction of the Great Siberian Route.
The city of Sretensk in the Chita region Transsib forked. The future Amur area went through the mountainous terrain, bending around Manchuria in a gigantic arc, and also demanded the construction of a bridge across the Amur River near Khabarovsk (2,6 km, still the largest bridge in Russia, completed only in 1916 year!). An alternative branch - the Chinese Eastern Railway (CER) went through Manchuria to Vladivostok with a direct arrow, chord. She was on 514 versts (almost one and a half times) shorter, mainly passing through the steppes, with the exception of Big Khingan with its 9 tunnels. In the middle of the 1389-chord of the CER, Harbin was located perpendicular to the south: Harbin-Far - Port Arthur, another 957 versts. There was access to the Yellow Sea and the main theater of the future Russian-Japanese war.
The Trans-Siberian Railway marked the coincidence of the geopolitical interests of Russia and China. The CER, which remained 15 for years, was the only Transsib route to Vladivostok, was completed in 1901 and turned out to be a surprisingly strong acquisition. The road with the adjoining lands and the emerging cities was ironically called in Russian newspapers of the beginning of the twentieth century “Zheltorossiya” - by analogy with Novorossia. Even more ironic of history was that Zheltorossiya survived monarchical Russia for 12 for years, and its capital Harbin remained the main non-Soviet Russian city that survived the conflict on the CER in 1920's, the Japanese occupation, wars ... Only the Chinese "cultural revolution" 1960 wiped out the Russian trace here.
Incredible work, sometimes ingenious engineering impromptu ... The world's longest railway was built in 23 of the year. Somewhere Transsib and completely shook the world. While Krugobaykalka, one of the most difficult trails in the world, bypassed Baikal from the south, it was thought up to put the rails directly on the Baikal ice, in the summer they let in steam. Vladimir Nabokov wrote in the novel “Other Shores”: photo postcards with trains going over the ice were perceived in Europe as fantasy drawings. The throughput capacity of the ice section was only 2-3 times lower than the average trans-Siberian.
The through route to Vladivostok was opened, and already 1 on July 1903 of the year, even before the start of all official celebrations, the transfer of Russian troops to the east began under the guise of technical tests. Transportation of one 30.000 army corps with armed people took a month.
In St. Petersburg, hurried. In October 1901, the sovereign said to Prince Heinrich of Prussia: “Collision [with Japan. - I.Sh.] is inevitable; I hope it will happen no earlier than four years ... The Siberian railway will be completed in 5 — 6 years ”.
... The road was built on 32 a month before the plan, but only after 1 July 1903, those people in Russia who understood the meaning of what was happening could catch their breath. Before that, only the ironic salutes of Kaiser Wilhelm II in honor of "Admiral of the Eastern Seas of Tsar Nicholas" sounded. If Japan had attacked then, both Vladivostok and Port Arthur would have been in the position of Sevastopol in the Crimean War: an annual “march” without reinforcements, with ammunition limited by what soldiers could carry in their knapsacks and pockets.
A lot of bitter was said about the Russian-Japanese 1904-05 war, but neither the railwaymen nor the Baikal ice brought up that war. More than half a million Russian soldiers were transferred to Manchuria. The time of the military trains on the route Moscow - Vladivostok was 13 days (today - 7 days). Without Transsib, the Russian army in the Far East simply would not have been (except for the Cossack detachments and several garrisons), and Japan would have completed the entire military campaign with forces sufficient for an ordinary police operation.
Transsib and victory over Japan
The finale of the Second World War, which was the Soviet-Japanese war of 1945, requires studying not only with the cards, calendar, but also with the chronometer. On this depends the determination of the actual contributions of the USSR, the USA, and Great Britain to a common victory.
In Yalta, Stalin promised to go to war with Japan through 3 a month after the defeat of Germany. On the night of 8 on 9 on August 1945, the USSR began hostilities in Manchuria, and if we count from the capitulation point of Germany, introducing an amendment to the difference in time zones, we find the elegance of the Stalinist move: the Soviet leader kept the Yalta promise to within a few minutes.
The choice made by China for 90 years before and consisting in that in opposition to the Europeans who started "opium wars", and then and Japan to rely on Russia, justified itself to the full. The Soviet-Japanese war was the decisive factor in the liberation of China, the creation of the People's Republic of China. “The Red Army,” Mao Zedong, the chairman of the CPC Central Committee, said in August 1945, “came to help the Chinese people drive out the aggressors. Such an example has not been in the history of China. The impact of this event is invaluable. ”
To this we can add that one of the conditions for the entry of the Soviet Union into the war with Japan was diplomatic recognition by the Western powers of the Mongolian People’s Republic (MPR), which the West did not recognize until 1945, calling it a “Soviet vassal.”
The Americans, too, were preparing for war. Stettinius, the US Secretary of State, subsequently wrote: “General MacArthur and a group of military men laid out a certificate before President Roosevelt, a calculation of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, which claimed that Japan would capitulate only in 1947 a year or later, and defeating it could cost the lives of a million soldiers.”
The decisive role of the Soviet offensive in Manchuria is indicated by the existence of a plan in Tokyo with the code name Yashma Shattered, which, in the event of the Americans landing in Japan, evacuating the emperor to the continent and turning the Japanese islands into a continuous death zone for the American landing force through the use of bacteriological weapons.
The entry of the USSR into the war prevented the destruction of the Japanese population. Manchuria and Korea were the raw material, industrial base of the empire, here were located the main factories for the production of synthetic fuel. ... The commander of the Kwantung Army, General Otsudza Yamada, admitted: "The rapid advance of the Red Army deep into Manchuria prevented us from using bacteriological weapons." The swiftness of the throw of the Soviet troops was provided by Transsib.
The Commander-in-Chief in the Far East, Marshal Vasilevsky and the Chief of Logistics of the Red Army, General Khrulyov, calculated the time for the transfer of troops. The capacity of the Trans-Siberian Railway has again become a decisive strategic factor. Tens of thousands of tons of artillery were transported, loaded, tanks, cars, many tens of thousands of tons of ammunition, fuel, food, uniforms.
From April to September 1945, 1692 echelons were shipped via Transsib. In June, the 1945 of the year, daily in Transbaikalia, took place up to the 30 trains. In total, in May-July, 1945 of the year on the railways of Siberia, Transbaikalia, the Far East and on the marches in the areas of deployment concentrated up to a million Soviet troops.
The Japanese were also preparing for a fight. Marshal Vasilevsky recalled: “The Kwantung Army doubled its forces over the summer of 1945. The Japanese command held in Manchuria and Korea two thirds of their tanks, half of the artillery, and selective imperial divisions. ”
The actions of the Soviet army in Manchuria had all the features of the most beautiful by the canons of military art operations for the full environment of the enemy. In Western military textbooks, this operation is called the “August Storm”.
In a giant territory more than 1.5 million square meters. km., forcing the Amur, Khingan Mountains, it was necessary to split and defeat the Kwantung Army: 6.260 guns and mortars, 1.150 tanks, 1.500 aircraft, 1,4 million people, including troops of the puppet states of Manzhou-Guo and Mengjiang (Inner Mongolia region).
The role of Transsib was not limited to the transfer of troops in trains. During the fighting, the speed of the attack was absolutely decisive. The advanced Soviet units cut through the rear of the Kwantung Army, and here more than once there was a reason to recall how the Russian builders of the Chinese-Eastern Railway built soundly. The hero of the Soviet Union DF Loza (9-th Guards Tank Corps) told about one such case:
“The torrential rains formed something like an artificial sea on the vast Central Manchurian Plain. The roads turned out to be unsuitable even for tanks. In a critical situation, when the roads were every hour, the only feasible decision was made: to overcome the flooded area along the narrow railway embankment from Tongliao to Mukden, 250 kilometers. South of Tongliao, brigade tanks climbed railroad embankments. The march began on the sleepers, lasting two days ... I had to send one track between the rails, and the second - on the gravel bedding of the sleepers. In this case, the tank had a large lateral roll. Here, in such a pereosobosobennom position under the febrile shaking on the sleepers had to move more than one hundred kilometers ... The eleventh day of the operation was very productive: taken Changchun, Jilin and Mukden. "
During military operations, Soviet troops captured 41.199 and captured the surrender of 600.000 to Japanese soldiers, officers, and generals. At a meeting of the GKO USSR 23 in August 1945, Stalin said of the Japanese prisoners: “They were enough to manage the Soviet Far East during the Civil War. It's time to repay debts. Here they will give them away. ”
Another result of the swift campaign in the Far East was that “as a result of the defeat of Japan,” as Marshal A.Vasilevsky noted, “favorable conditions were created for the victory of the people's revolutions in China, North Korea and Vietnam. The People’s Liberation Army of China received huge stocks of captured weapons. ”
As for the lie spread in the West that “the Soviet offensive began when the second atomic bomb exploded over Nagasaki and Japan was demoralized,” many words are not necessary to refute it.
Soviet diplomat M.I. Ivanov, who was in Hiroshima, was among the first to Nagasaki after the bombing, wrote in the book “Eyewitness Notes”: “August August 7 stated that the atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima. Japanese experts did not believe in the existence of such a powerful weapon. Only a few days later, a government commission led by the General Staff intelligence officer General Arisou and Nobel Prize winner Nishin, the largest Japanese scientist, who visited Hiroshima, discovered the impact of the “atomic device dropped by parachute” ... For the first time, the commission’s report was published in an abbreviated form in 20- x dates of August ”... This information reached Manchuzhuria even later, and by August 14-17 the rout of the Kwantung Army was already completed!
The historian Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, in the monograph Racing the Enemy, wrote: “The entry of the Soviet Union into the war made a much larger contribution to Japan’s surrender than atomic bombs ... It deprived Japan and hopes of leaving the war with the mediation of Moscow. "
Terry Charman from the Imperial War Museum in London: “The blow that the USSR struck changed everything. Tokyo realized that there was no hope left. The "August storm" pushed Japan to surrender more than atomic bombs. "
Finally, Winston Churchill: "It would be a mistake to assume that the fate of Japan was decided by an atomic bomb."