To command the Allied forces in the Netherlands Indies, Mountbatten selected Lieutenant General Sir Philip Christison, one of the best generals of the Burma campaign. Christison was probably less than delighted with his new job. "Things look pretty rum in Java and Sumatra," Mountbatten's chief of staff, Lieutenant General F.A.M. "Boy" Browning, told him.
On September 19, 1945, a group of young Dutch former internees and Eurasians gathered outside the Oranje Hotel, where the RAPWI had established its headquarters. Some of these youths raised a Dutch flag on the building's flagstaff. In recent days, Dutch and Eurasian gangs had torn down Indonesian patriotic posters and ridiculed the Indonesian flag. This gesture was seen by many as the final outrage. A large crowd of Indonesians quickly gathered outside the hotel. Stones were thrown and several shots were fired. A few Indonesian students climbed to the hotel roof and managed to rip the horizontal blue stripe from the Dutch flag, converting it into the red and white flag of the Republic.
Japanese troops had been attempting in a rather desultory way to retake control of Semarang from the nationalists, but their mood abruptly changed after they captured the prison and viewed the scenes of horror inside. "Every Japanese soldier in Semarangwent fighting mad," reported a British RAPWI officer at Semarang. "They swept through the town regardless of danger or their own losses like one of the Mongolian hordes of Genghis Khan or Tamerlane." Truckloads of Indonesian prisoners with their hands tied behind their backs were driven into the countryside and never seen again. As the Japanese soldiers captured more weapons from the pemuda they armed Japanese civilians, who joined in the killing.
Altogether at least two thousand Indonesians were killed by the vengeful Japanese. They were still at it on October 19 when a battalion of Gurkhas from the 23rd Indian Division landed at Semarang. Neither the Gurkhas nor the Japanese troops were aware of the others' presence until some of their forces met near the center of the town. Both sides opened fire, but the Japanese quickly realized their mistake, apologized, and offered to cooperate with the Gurkhas as they were already cooperating with the RAPWI. The British would need all the help they could get, for the bloodiest phase of the revolution was just beginning.
Faced with the growing violence, many Dutch and Eurasians returned to there former war time camps and were joined by many Chinese, Ambonese, and other ethnic groups that feared that they would become victims of the pemuda. These "IFTU s" (Inhabitants Friendly to Us, in SEAC jargon) swelled the numbers in the camps far beyond what they had been during the war. Mountbatten estimated that there were about 147,000 IFTUs on Java. Despite the efforts of a small number of SEAC POW teams and a few Red Cross workers, conditions in many camps remained little better than during the time before the surrender.
In Surabaya, residents of the city knew that SEAC forces had landed at Jakarta bringing with them small numbers of Dutch military and colonial officials. In mid-October 1945, members of the numerous and particularly militant Youth of the Republic (PRI) began a wholesale roundup of Dutch and Eurasians in the city. Many were taken from their homes at gunpoint and loaded onto trucks that hauled them to local prisons. Some were killed by infuriated mobs who followed the trucks shouting "Kill the NICA dogs!" and "Filthy Dutch!" (William H. Frederick, Visions and Heat,1989, p. 239.)
The PRI had established its headquarters at the Simpang Club, in prewar days an exclusive "whites only" colonial gathering place. It was here that several hundred Dutch and Eurasians and a few Indonesians were brought for questioning. The detainees were ordered to strip to their underwear. Many were kicked or beaten and had "NICA" painted on their backs.
Neighborhood mobs attacked Ambonese and Madurese who were widely believed to be agents of the colonialists. In the midst of the rising hysteria a newly established radio station, "Radio Rebellion," headed by the young journalist and pemuda activist Sutomo, urged its listeners in several languages to prepare for a struggle to the death against all Europeans. That was the atmosphere in Surabaya when the first Allied troops came ashore on October 25.
Soon, hundreds of these leaflets had been dropped all over Java in the previous few days without causing any great reaction by the local people, many of whom most likely ignored them. Their reception in Surabaya, however, was explosive. The British were seen as having violated their recent assurances and to be intent on undermining the authority of the Republic. The people of Surabaya needed no persuading. In the late afternoon of the twenty-eighth they attacked the troops of the 49th Brigade everywhere in the city. The British claimed that the Indonesian forces numbered some twenty thousand veterans of PET A and other Japanese trained militia organizations with about one hundred forty thousand untrained but well armed and very determined youth groups, gangs, and ordinary citizens. The Indonesian military, now called the TKR, was not only well supplied with individual arms and ammunition but had inherited numerous mortars, artillery pieces, antiaircraft guns, tanks, and armored cars from the Japanese. Ibid. William H. Frederick, Visions and Heat, pp. 259-60. Frederick says that the attack by the mob surprised the TKR, who ended up having to try to protect the civilians, some of whom they hid in nearby stores and homes. The accounts by Christison and the historian of the 23rd Indian Division do not differentiate between the TKR and the mob. The survival of the refugees is attributed entirely to the efforts of the Indians of the 49th Brigade.
The 49th Brigade had about four thousand men, many scattered in platoon- and company size units throughout the city. All of these units were soon surrounded. Isolated officers or small parties simply disappeared.
A convoy of twenty trucks that had been carrying women and children internees to a hospital in the city for treatment was halted at a TKR roadblock. The TKR intended to block the entry of any more Europeans into the city and to take them into custody; however, the convoy was quickly surrounded by a large, angry mob, which opened fire on the four hundred civilians in the trucks.
Elsewhere there were equally bloody struggles. The scattered units of the brigade found themselves surrounded by vastly larger and sometimes better armed Indonesians. In one part of the city a Rajput soldier charged two tanks with grenades, all of which missed or bounced off Undaunted, he climbed onto each tank and dropped a grenade through the firing aperture.
In Jakarta, General Christison summoned National leader Sukarno and arranged for him to be flown to Surabaya with Major General D. C. Hawthorne, the Allied commander for east Java. Sukarno and Hatta reached the embattled city late in the morning.
Sukarno agreed to dividing Surabaya into three zones. The British would occupy the airfield dock areas and RAWPI camps south of the city while the city itself would remain in Indonesian hands. This brought Sutomo angrily to his feet. He was a veritable firebrand with fanatical protruding eyes which General Hawthorne told me rolled incessantly. He claimed that by this agreement his forces would be enclosed by ours. Finally General Hawthorne told him to shut up and that Mountbatten was perfectly willing to send his fleet and air force to reduce Surabaya to ruins unless he fell into line and agreed to the conference decisions. (General Philip Christison, "Life and Times," pp. 184-85.)
By the seventh of November most of the 5th Division was ashore together with their armor. "These tanks rolled down from the ships like the Angel of Death himself descending from the Sky." And on November 10 the British attack began. The battle that ensued equaled in intensity many of the battles of World War II. More than five hundred bombs were dropped on the city during the first three days of the battle. (Mansergh, personal, to Christison, 9 November 1945, WOl72/6965, Public Record Office, London.)
As they slowly withdrew, the nationalist fighters often set fire to the neighborhoods they were leaving. Thousands of refugees clogged the roads leading away from the burning city and were some sometimes attacked by Allied aircraft. A British officer who arrived in Surabaya midway through the battle found "conditions reminiscent of the Burma campaign, with heat, flies, dirt, mosquitoes and foully chlorinated water everywhere there is the sickening sweet smell of human bodies." (David Wehl, The Moon Upside Down (London: J. Barrie, 1948), p. 138.)
Thus Surabaya was a tactical defeat for the Indonesians and may have been a strategic setback as well, because many of the most capable weapons acquired from the Japanese, which might later have been better employed against the returning Dutch, were expended in the battle. Politically and psychologically, however, none of that mattered. Surabaya showed to the world that Indonesians were determined to fight for their freedom and that they were pretty good at it. "Native peoples, despite the inferiority of their weapons, are not overawed by those of modern warfare," concluded an American military observer, "for they have found that when in sufficient numbers they can maintain themselves against the British in local fighting. In addition the lack of organization and of any self-defined strategy in the guerrilla fighting of the Javanese and Annamese [Vietnamese] serves only to preclude the possibility of effective strikes at any concentrated points and to deprive British planes, artillery, and tanks of any worthwhile targets." (SSU, Kandy to War Department, 10 November 1945, National Archives Record Group 226, entry 53, box 3.)
Stories of the battle filled the international press. After Indonesian antiaircraft guns shot down a British plane, some British correspondents breathlessly declared that the flak over Surabaya was as bad as that over Germany. In Indonesia, November 10 is commemorated as Heroes' Day, and the battle is remembered as a symbol of sacrifice, dedication, and unity in the cause of independence. News of the fighting in Surabaya soon enflamed the nationalists all over central and east Java. Most immediately in danger were the large prisoner of war camps in central Java. These still housed thousands of former POW s and internees whose numbers had been swollen by an influx of Eurasians and other ethnic minorities fleeing the violence of the revolution.
Six Thunderbolt fighter planes continued to flew in to bomb and strafe the Indonesians. According to an American military observer, the Thunderbolts had difficulty identifying their targets, and some British and Japanese were also strafed. Nevertheless the air strikes were "a great psychological weapon against the Indonesians of whom thousands took to the fields at its inception." (Message, SSU, Kandy, 23 November 1945.)
November 21 an additional battalion of Indian troops was flown into Semarang,
and more troops arrived from Surabaya over the next few days. South of
Semarang, the camps at Ambarawa, their population swollen to more than ten
thousand, were under siege by the nationalists. The Gurkhas in the town,
supported by air strikes, managed to protect the larger camps, but people in
smaller or more isolated places often fell into the hands of the Indonesians.
Some of these isolated groups of internees, mostly women, children, and the
aged, were tortured, dismembered, or murdered by the Indonesian extremists. At
a convent near Ambarawa, the Indonesians found thirty internees, whom they
lined up against a wall and used as targets for hand grenades.
murders and his favorite pastime was torture."
As 1945 drew to a close, Dutch internees, Eurasians, Chinese, and H7 other ethnic minorities who found themselves outside the camps remained in the most precarious situations. "All the blood spilt in Java since the Japanese occupation will never be known," wrote one British officer. "In remote districts terrible crimes were committed that will never be disclosed-burnings, killings, torturings, enslavings. History in Java, like history in any other part of the world, is built upon unknown graves."
In December 1945, when a transport aircraft crashed near The town of Bekasi, not far from Batavia, the survivors were tortured and killed by Indonesian terrorists, "the Black Buffaloes." A column of Indian troops entered the town, killed all the Black Buffaloes they could find, and then burned the town of ten thousand people to the ground.
Whatever their attitude toward the Indonesians, the British and Indian soldiers were united in their dislike of the Dutch. "The British state that the Dutch are completely worthless with regard to the formulation of a policy and have shown themselves to be extreme cowards," wrote an ass officer. "This latter observation extends from division staff officers down to enlisted men."57 A British report on troop morale concluded, "There is a feeling that we are doing a job that should be done by the Dutch; the morale and behavior of Dutch troops, who are said to be 'trigger happy,' does not help."58 Christison considered that a "the majority of these Dutch people are temporarily mentally sick."
Even more so, Sumatra, the largest island in Indonesia, in 1945 was a patchwork of peoples and ethnic groups including Bataks, Acenese, Javanese, Malays, and Chinese. Aceh, the northern third of Sumatra, had been under colonial rule less than thirty years when the Japanese took the Netherlands Indies. Prior to that, the Dutch had waged a protracted and bloody war for over a quarter century to add Aceh to their empire. The Acenese, the most fearsome fighters in a land that produced many fierce warriors, fought mainly with traditional weapons against the modern Dutch colonial soldiers. The Acenese, wrote one colonial governor, possessed "a fanatical love of freedom reinforced by a powerful sense of race and hatred for the infidel ruler." (Anthony Reid, The Blood of the People: Revolution and the End of Traditional Rule in Sumatra (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1979), p. 9.)
From the beginning, the Dutch were faced with a serious guerrilla war in one section of Aceh, and the guerrilla leaders were still at large in 1941.
Conservative Indonesian members of the old colonial bureacracy and the local rajahs and their entourages had little fear of revolutionary nationalism in Sumatra, but saw as their main problem the task of explaining to the victorious Allies why they had cooperated with the Japanese and also of assuring the British and Dutch of their readiness to work with their returning European overlords.
On October 9, a crowd of more than a hundred thousand people, carrying banners and chanting slogans marched to the main square of Medan to demonstrate their support for the Republic. Everywhere street gangs, labor organizations, ethnic associations, and political groups mobilized to fight for independence-and occasionally with one another. Although they sometimes coalesced briefly into larger associations, these gangs fundamentally agreed on only one thing: that the Republic was in danger and needed to be defended.
The day after the mass rally, a brigade of the 26th Indian Division landed at the town of Belawan, near Medan, bringing with them a unit of the NICA. There had been no fighting in Sumatra, but Medan still showed the effects of four long years of war. The arriving troops saw "a city bright with tropical splendor of lush gardens filled with the deep scent of melatti of boulevards lined with fan palms," but it was also "a scarred and shabby town. Its streets were torn and gutted, its parks unkempt, its sidewalks littered with the refuse of an uprooted citizenry. It had become a town of beggars and tramps, of undernourished children and black-market profiteers. Postwar Medan emanated a curiously blended atmosphere of anxiety, adventure and social abandon." (Hendrik L. Leffelaar, Through a Harsh Dawn: A Boy Grows Up in aJapanese Prison Camp (Barre, Mass.: Barre Publishing, 1963), pp. 182, 190.)
The arrival of NICA along with the British forces added significantly to this anxiety and tension. Many saw it as evidence that the British were in league with the Dutch to suppress the Republic.(F. Woodburn Kirby, et a1., The War Against Japan, vo1. 5: The Surrender of Japan (London: HMSO, 1969), p. 357.)
Also the Japanese made the decision to join the nationalists for varied reasons. Some acted on principle, wishing to carryon the fight for Greater East Asia or believing that Japan owed Indonesia its promised independence. Some defected because they feared being apprehended as war criminals. Others had married Indonesian women or believed that economic opportunities would be better in Indonesia. (Report by Repatriation Office, 6 June 1946, microfilm reel K006, frame)
Although relatively few in number, the Japanese deserters were highly valued for their knowledge of weapons and tactics. Japanese soldiers were believed by the British to have played a key role in organizing and deploying the nationalist forces at Surabaya, and Japanese bodies had reportedly been found among the dead. In the highland town of Berastagi in the Karo area, trouble flared between the local youths and a company of British soldiers sent to establish an outpost and search for Japanese weapons. The Karas complained that the soldiers were annoying local women with unwanted attention and firing their guns unnecessarily within the town. A British officer replaced the Republican flag at the principal hotel with a Union Jack, sparking widespread protests. The troops were harassed by blowpipe darts fired from concealed locations, and two soldiers were injured. On November 25, when the British moved to occupy key points in the town, local youth gangs and the local TKR struck back using hand grenades and improvised bombs. The British, forced to withdraw from the town, fought their way back to Medan with the loss of two men. The Indonesians had five casualties. The relatively light losses on both sides after an all-day battle reflected the relatively primitive armament of the Indonesians and the reluctance of the British to become involved in a full-scale engagement.
Mountbatten impatiently asked London to "state unequivocally what HM government's policy is in the NEI so that we who carry out that policy will no longer be left in any doubt as to what our instructions are." (Peter Dennis, Troubled Days of Peace, New York, 1987 p. 162. Ball to Australian Legation, Washington, No. 1745, 16 November 1945, file 401/1/2/3, Foreign Office Records, National Archives of Australia.)
Finally British High Commissioner Sir Archibald Clark Kerr arrived in Batavia on February 1, 1946, a few weeks after the high-level talks between the British and Dutch prime ministers had produced only mutual recriminations. By this point the government of the Republic had been effectively transferred to Jogjakarta in south-central Java, far from the British military presence. (The government's relocation may have been encouraged by the fact that trigger-happy Dutch colonial troops not infrequently chose to use the houses of members of the Cabinet and their aides for target practice.)
wanted to pull British troops off Sumatra by June and begin closing out the
British role in Java well before December. London never approved Mountbatten's
plan, but the supreme commander persuaded Van Mook that in return for a
free hand to conduct any military operations they wished in the Indies, the
Dutch would assume responsibility for all areas outside the narrowly defined
military zones held by the British in Java and Sumatra by June.
As their troubles multiplied on Java and Sumatra, Mountbatten's staff could feel grateful that responsibility for the rest of the Netherlands East Indies, the large islands of Borneo (now Kalimantan), the Celebes (now Sulawesi), and other eastern island groups that together constituted two-thirds of the Dutch colony's territory were, at least for a time, the responsibility of the Australians. About fifty thousand Australian troops of the 7th and 9th Divisions and the 26th Brigade, veterans of battles in North Africa and New Guinea, had been fighting in Borneo since May 1945, when the 26th Brigade took the oil-rich island of Tarakan, close to northeast Borneo, in one of the bloodiest operations of the war. That was followed by large-scale landings on Borneo's northern coast at Brunei Bay in former British Borneo and at the city of Balikpapan on the east coast.
With the surrender of Japan, Australian forces found themselves responsible for disarming the Japanese and maintaining order in Borneo and the neighboring Celebes, across the Makassar Strait, plus all of the smaller islands of eastern Indonesia. "Peace has come at last," wrote Corporal William J. Gambier on Tarakan. "Being stuck in Borneo ... watching wounded men die it's hard to realize how gay everyone is at home. We still have plenty of work to do cleaning up the smashed towns, rounding up and guarding thousands of Jap prisoners.” (Papers of William John Gambier, Corporal, Wallet 2, PRO 4027, Australian War Memorial, Canberra.
Most soldiers never bothered with even these distinctions but referred to all Indonesians as "the natives" or, less politely, "the boongs." But things were becoming less simple, and the movement for Indonesian independence had a firm foothold in the eastern islands by the time the Australians arrived. Higher headquarters was not having any nonsense about that. Commanders were instructed that "any attempt on the part of the civil population to prevent [NICA's] orders being carried out will be treated as offenses against law and order. Processions and demonstrations will not be permitted." (Makassar Force Instruction No.4, 6 November 1945, AWM-54 639/8/9, Australian War Memorial, Canberra.)
The problem was, as the Australian official history noted, that "in the eyes of Indonesian leaders, Indonesia was already an independent state." Nationalists urged the Australians to deal directly with the Republican leaders in the islands and argued that their administration was perfectly capable of carrying on civil government functions without any help from the Dutch.
February 1946, the last Australian units left the Indies. The Australians had
suffered few losses and left behind few enemies. For the Indonesians there was
a less happy ending. The Dutch returned. Ratulangi went to jail in the spring
of 1946, to be joined by the local rulers who had supported the Republic.
Resistance to Dutch rule continued, and at the end of 1946, Captain Raymond
"Turk" Westerling, an early practitioner of the use of death squads
as a counterinsurgency measure, arrived with his special unit in South
Sulawesi. He is reported to have killed more than three thousand women and
children within a few months, his favorite pastime was torture." (Gavin
Long, The Final Campaigns (Canberra, Australia: Australian War Memorial, 1963),
Netherlands finally conceded independence to Indonesia in 1949, Ray Westerling tried unsuccessfully to sabotage the deal. Then he retired to the Netherlands and wrote a book about fighting terrorism.
In fact we can say with certainty now, and although largely unknown in Europe and the US, the collapse of Nazi imperialism on the European continent had its counterpart in East Asia. But, just as in Europe, the way the Asian war ended took an unpredictable turn and had unexpected results. In the fight with Japan, the Soviet Union was a neutral. Much of the Japanese army (more than a million soldiers) was stationed in China, to guard Japan's puppet regimes and grind down the resistance of the Kuomintang army. The American assault on Japan required a slow bloody progress from island to island, leading eventually (this was the plan) to a D-Day type landing on the main Japanese land mass. The part that China would play in the defeat of Japan and in the new peacetime order envisaged in Washing-ton shifted dramatically in the last year of the war. By late 1944 the disastrous performance of Chiang Kai-shek's army had convinced Roosevelt and Churchill that the Kuomin- tang would count for little in the assault on Japan. They turned their attention to persuading Stalin to attack Japan as soon as war ended in Europe. At the Yalta Conference in February 1945, they agreed in return that Russia should take back the territory lost in 1905 (the Kurile Islands and northern Sakhalin), its old railway rights in Manchuria, and (most astonishing of all) its old naval base at Port Arthur (now called Lushun) guarding the maritime entry into northern China. In this unceremonious way, the previous assumption that, in the post-war world, Kuomintang China would be one of the 'Four Policemen' (alongside the United States, the Soviet Union and the British Empire/Commonwealth), and America's great partner in the Asian Pacific, was quietly downgraded. As China sank into a subsistence economy, there was nothing to back the Kuomintang currency, which became virtually worthless. The extraction of taxes from rural producers became more and more brutal and more and more difficult.
So, when the Kuomintang government tried at the end of the war to destroy the parallel Communist state under Mao Tse-tung, it faced an uphill struggle. Mao's version of Communism appealed to peasant hostility against landlords and towns - the administrative base of the tax-gathering government. It promised rural self-help and the redistribution of land as an immediate cure for the desperate poverty of peasant communities.
The weather was cold, windy, and dreary when General George C.Marshall's plane touched down at Chungking airport just before Christmas 1945. The groups that welcomed Marshall at the Chungking airport representing the government, the American embassy, and the Communists all harbored varying views about Marshall's mission. Almost all of the Americans expected only failure.
Despite the fact that Mao believed he had been burned by Hurley's earlier blunders as a mediator, the Communist leadership welcomed Marshall's mission. Truman's recent statement suggested changes in U.S. China policy and appeared to signal a willingness to exert U.S. power to avert civil war. In contrast to the "reactionaries" like Patrick Hurley and General Wedemeyer, Mao saw Marshall as a representative of the "progressive" faction within the American ruling elite. The Politburo took a highly positive view, informing cadres, "Our resolute three month struggle has already brought about Hurley's downfall and caused Truman to issue his China policy statement of December 15." (He Di, "Mao Zedong and the Marshall Mission," in Bland, Marshall's Mediation Mission.Lexinton Va., 1987.)
On January 10 the Political Consultative Conference-the constitutional advisory body composed of representatives of the government, the Communists, and various minor political movements agreed to include Chiang's meeting with Mao in October-finally met in Nanking. On the opening day of the conference, the Generalissimo informed the delegates that the two sides had approved the cease-fire agreement. To implement the truce, the agreement provided for an "Executive Head- quarters" composed of one Nationalist, one Communist, and one American to be established in Peiping.
Marshall's aim was to reduce the size of the Chinese military establishment in order to make it less of an economic burden on the country and to incorporate Communist military units into a single integrated army. His plan called for the organization of the armed forces into armies composed of three divisions, each including at least one Communist or Nationalist division. The number of divisions and armies would depend on the ultimate size of the reorganized forces. Most important of all, the general believed, was to ensure that any new organization of the military would make it possible to free China from the grip of warlords and political generals. In lengthy sermons to Chou and Zhang he emphasized the importance of civil control of the military, using examples from British and American history. (Marc S. Gallicchio, "About Face: General Marshall's Plans for the Amalgamation of the Communist and Nationalist Armies in China," in Bland, Marshall's Mediation Mission, pp. 394-95.)
In Washington, Truman was jubilant. "I have just received another communication from General Marshall," he told a congressman, "and if things continue going as favorably as they are going now, I believe we can have all of our forces out of China before the year is out." (Truman to Representative Hugh de Lacy, 15 February 1946, PSF subject files, box 150, Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, Independence, Mo.)
Even the American embassy's China specialists were impressed. "When he [Marshall] pulled off the cease-fire, which nobody really thought he could do, we suddenly had this wild hope that maybe the great man can do it," recalled John F. Melby. "Then when he made the progress he did, which was done in an incredibly short period of time, toward a political settlement, again, it was, 'maybe he'll do it, maybe he really will.” Marshall himself was unaffected by the euphoria. At the conclusion of the signing, he observed, "The agreement, I think, represents the great hope of China. I can only trust that its pages will not be soiled by a small group of irreconcilables who for their own purpose would defeat the Chinese people in their overwhelming desire for peace and prosperity." (Forrest C. Pogue, George C. Marshall, New York, 1987, p. 95.)
The "small group of irreconcilables" was actually a sizable and very powerful faction of the Nationalists, the most visible of whom were the CC clique led by Chen Li-fu. They had the support of many in the army, who had no wish to diminish their wealth and prerogatives as war leaders and deal makers through any type of long-term settlement that might reduce the size and influence of the military. Chen Li-fu controlled the government's secret police and a network of spies, provocateurs, and thugs. He liked to describe himself to Americans as the Chinese equivalent of the head of the FBI and would tell all who would listen that the Communists could "be licked in three months." (John Robinson Beal, Marshall in China (New York: Doubleday, 1970), p..88.)
Throughout the period of the negotiations there was an increasing number of public disorders, fights, riots, and demonstrations instigated or organized by the CC clique. Members of the Political Consultative Conference, independent politicians, and intellectuals were roughed up or had their houses wrecked. Plainclothes police broke up meetings and demonstrations in favor of the Consultative Conference. The offices of the Communist Party newspaper in Chungking were looted. Marshall and other Americans in China had little doubt about who was responsible. "The Tai Li Organization [controlled by Chen Li-fu] operates continuously to suppress free speech and writing," Wedemeyer observed. "Among the youth there is the Kuomintang Youth Corps which employs violence against young people in the schools when they critically discuss conditions in the country."Marshall was angered and annoyed at the efforts of the right-wing intransigents to sabotage his mission, but he was determined to press on. At the beginning of March, the Committee of Three left for a three-thousand-mile inspection trip to northern China to sell the agreements and check the effectiveness of the cease-fire. The most significant stop was Yenan, where Marshall met with Mao Tse-tung. "It was extremely cold," recalled General Alvan C. Gillem,]r., who accompanied Marshall to the Communist headquarters. "It was zero or below. The winds were from the northwest desert and Gobi and the arctic. ... At that time [MaoJ occupied a very inferior type of dwelling-a typical Chinese house of the lower order .... We had our meeting first in this little anteroom with ... a couch and one or two chairs-one of the chairs occupied by Mao, and the general and myself, and I think Chou En Lai sat on the couch .... IV1ao had on a blue type of peasant uniform, a semi uniform with earmuffs, and Chou had on the one coat I had seen him wear all winter." (Wedemeyer to Marshall, 7 January 1946, FRUS, 1946, vol. 9, p. 40.)
Mao promised to abide by the agreements reached in Chungking and praised Marshall's efforts. "Mao's eyes were totally without any type of interest," noted General Gillem, "more almost those of a reptile ... no expression whatever." Mao hailed "the durable cooperation between America and China, the Communist Party and the Nationalist Party," but the most substantial thing Marshall took away from his meetings at Yenan was a cold. He believed it was the result of watching a lengthy performance of traditional Chinese music and dance in an unheated auditorium. (Alvan C. Gillem, Jr., Papers, U.S. Army Military History Institute, Carlisle, Pa.)
Even before departing on his swing through northern China, Marshall had told the president that he wished to return home in mid March to lobby for increased aid to China, which he saw as both vitally needed and a useful prize to hold out to the quarrelling sides in pressing them to reach agreement. On March 11, Marshall boarded his plane for a four-week visit to the United States and turned over ongoing negotiations to General Gillem, who would serve as his personal representative during his absence.
Then, in late March, the Soviets raised the stakes by pulling their troops out of Manchuria. Since the end of the war, Stalin had had three aims in China: to loot Manchuria of its industrial riches, to establish a dominant economic influence for the Soviet Union in northern China, and to undermine the Americans without risking conflict. The looting part had gone pretty well, but Chiang had stubbornly resisted any new economic concessions to Stalin and continued to stay close to the Americans. The long-overdue Soviet troop withdrawal was intended to win Nationalist goodwill, provide an opportunity for the Communists, and bring pressure on the Americans to follow the Soviet example by removing their marines from northern China. However sincere or insincere the Nationalists and Communists were in their desire for a cease-fire, Manchuria was a prize too great to resist. "The big jewel in the Chinese crown was Manchuria," observed a member of Wedemeyer's staff. "The Generalissimo felt compelled, even driven to recover [it]. To end World War II without recovering Manchuria was unthinkable."(Odd Arne Westad, Decisive Encounters: The Chinese Civil War, 1946-1950 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2003), p. 35)
For the Communists, Manchuria had become the keystone of their power. They had been forced to yield many areas in central and northern China to the Nationalists, but in Manchuria, the Russian occupation, which delayed and obstructed the arrival of the Nationalist forces, had given the Communists the opportunity to expand. (Westad, Decisive Encounters, p. 35.)
Though the Soviets were sometimes less than cooperative about making Japanese weapons available and continued to hold the large cities, the interregnum had enabled the Communists to move forces into Manchuria and recruit heavily from troops of the former Manchurian puppet army. "The CCP wants to cut off the northern four provinces from the central government," Chiang told one of his advisers. "If they openly continue to occupy this area, how can we say we are a united country. How can the goal of peace and unity be attained by a coalition government ... ?" ( Li Huang oral history, p. 771.)
In early April, the Nationalists pushed into Manchuria and attacked the Communist-held city of Sipingjie (Siping), a key point on the rail line that connected Mukden in Liaoning Province with the provincial capital of Changchun in Jilin Province. Mao ordered his troops at Sipingjie to hold the city and directed his commanders to occupy Changchun and the major industrial city of Harbin, both recently vacated by the Soviets, who helpfully left behind large stocks of captured Japanese weapons and military supplies. On April 18, the day Marshall returned to China, the Nationalists began a monthlong siege of Sipingjie and Communist troops moved into Changchun.
In the midst of all that, there was a financial crisis. The Chinese insistence that their money be accepted by the French and Vietnamese as legal tender had already led to economic dislocation, currency manipulation, and inflation. To make matters worse, the Chinese government demanded that the government of France assume responsibility for the expenses of the occupation of northern Indochina by providing loans and advances from the Bank of Indochina. On December 1, Jean Sainteny and the Chinese generals met at Gallagher's residence to try to reach agreement on financial matters. The most immediate problem was the boycott that was causing considerable hardship to the French civilians in Hanoi. The Chinese hinted that they could make the problem go away if the French would only be reasonable on the currency question.49 Declaring that the two parties "could not solve the banking problem by having women and children go hungry," Gallagher asked the approval of both the French and Chinese to allow him to meet personally with Ho Chi Minh to seek an end to the boycott.
With the financial crisis resolved, General Gallagher left Hanoi for China several days later. Most of the Chinese Combat Command staff had already departed, and the advisory headquarters was officially closed down on December 12. Unlike Gracey, Gallagher got no parades and no applause for his efforts. The French attitude was illustrated by an intelligence report that observed, "The evident sympathy and show of affection which the U. S. shows toward the Vietnamese will create ties between them. The role of moderator in this conflict has conveniently been assumed by the Americans who are especially interested in establishing future commercial relations. This is proven by the piaster incident." Meanwhile, the Chinese generals returned contentedly to exploiting their opportunities and enjoying their newfound affluence. However, those happy days appeared likely to come to an end in the not too distant future. On January 8, 1946, the French and Chinese governments officially opened talks on the withdrawal of Chinese troops from northern Indochina.
In Hanoi and throughout the north, Ho and his advisers were busy preparing for the national elections called for in the December agreement. "Tomorrow our compatriots will freely choose and elect worthy people to represent them in the management of state affairs," the Vietnamese president declared on the eve of the January 6 voting. To help the people with their choice, the Vietminh organization kept tight control of the election machinery.Finally on April 12, 1946 General G. C. Marshall left Washington once more for China. While meanwhile , soldiers of the Nationalist New First Army and Seventy-first Army were advancing slowly toward the city of Changchun, which the Communists had recently seized following the withdrawal of the Soviets. With the capture of Shanhaikuan the previous, November, Chiang Kai-shek had been able to assemble a formidable army in Manchuria supported by artillery and a small air force.
Many of Chiang's troops were American-trained, and lavishly equipped by Chinese standards. The men of the Seventy first Army had received "lined parkas, wind hoods, field jackets, mittens, mufflers, rubber snow boots, blankets and sleeping bags." Chiang's objective was to expel the Communists from the cities they had taken over in the wake of the Soviet withdrawal and establish national government control over all of Manchuria. By April, Nationalist forces controlled the main rail line from the Great Wall to Mukden. Farther north were Changchun, the former capital of Japanese-controlled "Manchukuo," and Harbin, terminus of the former Chinese Eastern Railway. Upon arrival Marshall stayed at Chungking only a few days, then moved with Chiang's government back to the former Chinese capital, Nanking, at the end of April. Here Marshall occupied the residence of the former German ambassador, which one of his aides described as the finest house in the City. ("Civil War in China, 1945-50" (a translation prepared at field level under the auspices of the Office, Chief of Military History, U.S. Department of the Army), in Donald S. Detwiler and Charles B. Burdick, eds., War in Asia and the Pacific, 1937-1949, vol. 15 (New York: Garland Publishing, 1980), p. 24.)
Built in the Chinese style but with a Western interior, it had a large room on the second floor that could be used for staff meetings and for watching evening movies, one of the general's only forms of relaxation. Marshall was angry and frustrated by the escalating conflict in Manchuria. He blamed the Communists for their violation "of the plain terms of the cease fire agreement of January," but also blamed the Nationalists for their insistence that the agreement did not apply to Manchuria. Above all he blamed the delay in allowing field teams into Manchuria. (Marshall to Harry S. Truman, 6 May 1946, quoted in Bland, Finest Soldier, pp. 540-42.)
Marshall's first move was to try to defuse the situation in Manchuria by persuading the Communists to withdraw from Changchun and discouraging the Nationalists from attacking it. During a period of thirty-one days the Communists repulsed ten major assaults. At one point Lin had reportedly "used all noncombatant political working staff ... local cadre and even high school students" to stem the Nationalist advance. "They literally just threw them at the Kuomintang's crack troops. It was a massacre; more than five thousand noncombatants, who had never had any military training, were killed or wounded.” (Liu Shaw Tong, Out of Red China (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1953), pp. 122-23.)
Early in May, General Tu Yu-ming (Du Yuming), who had been hospitalized for a kidney ailment, returned to the north to resume his post as commander in chief of the Nationalist armies in Manchuria. Tu arrived at the outskirts of Sipingjie aboard his special train and immediately held a conference with his commanders. The general, "in military uniform but wearing slippers and a scalp cap, presided over the conference while Mrs. Tu, who accompanied her husband in the train, constantly reminded him not to get excited." Tu was delighted that the Communists had decided to fight a set-piece battle. He promised to bring his American-trained New Sixth Army up from southern Manchuria to reinforce the attackers. (Liu Shaw Tong, Out of Red China (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1953), pp. 122-23.)
Marshall warned Chiang that "the continued advances of government troops in Manchuria in the absence of any action by you to terminate the fighting are making my services as possible negotiator extremely difficult and will soon make them virtually impossible." Marshall doubted that Manchuria was the key to a decisive Kuomintang victory over the Communists. Like other American generals who knew the Nationalists, he believed that the only alternative to a compromise settlement was a long and disastrous civil war giving rise to "utter chaos" in large areas of China. (Marshall to Truman, 6 May 1946, in Bland, Finest Soldier, p. 544.)
Chiang's advisers and generals "that the Communists can be quickly crushed" was, Marshall told President Truman, "a gross underestimate, of the possibilities as a long and terrible conflict would be unavoidable." (Marshall to Truman, 18 June 1946, in ibid., p. 599.)
Unable to dissuade Chiang from continuing his offensives, Marshall decided to bring pressure on the Generalissimo by indirectly arranging for a halt in certain types of aid to China. While the last remnants of the China peace agreements disappeared in the smoke of the battles in Manchuria and northern China, Ho Chi Minh was bringing his own peace agreement back to Vietnam, hoping to sell it to his increasingly skeptical countrymen. During the time that the negotiations were proceeding, the Vietminh at home had taken advantage of the departure of the Chinese troops to complete the destruction of rival political parties and their armed militias. Some of the opposition forces, including those in Mong Cai Province, retreated with their Chinese sponsors into China.