The Japanese Army Defeated the German-Austrian Army near Usri (Ussuri), Siberia


On August 24, 1918, Allied forces fighting in the Russian Civil War went on the offensive against Bolshevik forces at the Ussuri River north of Vladivostok. In the battle, the 12th Infantry Division of the Japanese Imperial Army and a contingent of Czechoslovak troops pushed the Red Guard back 15 miles (24 kilometers). Although the caption of this lithograph reads “The Japanese Army defeated the German-Austrian Army,” there is no evidence any German or Austrian soldiers were involved in the fighting in Siberia. There were, however, about 50,000 Austrian and German prisoners of war living in camps east of Irkutsk along the Trans-Siberian Railway. Japanese officials at the time feared that these prisoners were providing support to Bolshevik forces and identified the prisoners as the primary threat to Siberia. Between August 1918 and October 1922, the Imperial Japanese Army participated in the “Siberian Intervention,” an attempt by the Allied powers of World War I to support White Russian forces against the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War (1917–22). Soldiers from nine countries participated in the intervention, which began in August 1918. While the United States and the United Kingdom withdrew their forces in 1920, the Japanese army remained in the Russian Far East and Siberia for another two years. More than 70,000 Japanese troops participated in the fighting. To support the action of the Japanese military, in 1919 Tokyo-based publisher Shōbidō Co. Ltd. produced a series of patriotic lithographic prints depicting various scenes from the campaign entitled “The Illustration of the Siberian War.”

Last updated: November 14, 2017