THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1928
In Russia on the 11th January 1928 Leon Trotsky was exiled to Alma Ata, a small town in Kazakhstan, a month after he had been expelled from the Communist Party by Josef Stalin. The following year he left the Soviet Union, never to return. He spent the next few years in various countries, Turkey, France, Norway and finally Mexico He continued to urge revolution in his writing, despite the threats on his life during his time in exile.
In China, the Jinan Incident which began on the 3rd May 1928, was a limited armed conflict between the Republic of China and the Imperial Japanese Army. Jinan is the capital of East China’s Shandong province and the Japanese had a force there ever since the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 primarily over control of Korea. Relations between the two nations were not very good and the Japanese commander moved troops into the Jinan area and in the meantime Chinese troops withdrew from the city on 30th April 1928. The situation remained tense but reasonably quiet until a minor clash occurred on the 3rd May 1928. Twelve Japanese civilians were killed and leaders on both sides agreed to a truce and ceasefire. Despite the Japanese consul general’s push for peace the Japanese military felt they could not let the “insult” to Japanese honour to go unpunished. When Japan issued a set of demands to China, they were so onerous the Chinese had no choice but to refuse and hostilities began. The Japanese forces pushed Chinese troops from the area and inflicted thousands of casualties as well as killing over 2000 civilians. The conflict ended on the 11th May 1928 with a Japanese victory and the Japanese army occupied Jinan until March 1929.
In China the Huanggutun Incident was a successful attempt by the Japanese Army to assassinate the Chinese Fengtian warlord Zhang Zuolin by blowing up his train. The assassination which occurred on the 4th June 1928 takes its name from the Huanggutun train station Shenyang where the attack took place in North West China. Following the 1911 Xinhai Revolution three cliques were supported by foreign powers in China. The Soviet Union backed the Kuomintang group which would later go on to rule all of China under Chiang Kai-shek. The United States and most of the European powers supported the Zhili faction. Japan threw its weight behind Zhang Zuolin’s Fengtian Army, where it had political and economic interests in the development of the region especially its almost untouched mineral wealth. The Japanese Army was responsible for the security of the South Manchurian Railway and with Japanese investment being increased in Manchuria Zhang guaranteed support. The Imperial Japanese Army also helped Zhang militarily including putting down an anti-Fengtian uprising. Japan hoped for a future in which it occupied Manchuria in partnership with Zhang. However, Zhang was only interested in gaining Japanese support to secure his grip on the territory he already controlled. Relationship between the two parties began to deteriorate. Zhang opened talks with both United States and Britain giving both nations a foothold in the economic and trade opportunities to be had in Manchuria. These opportunities had previously only been open to Japan. Unconvinced of Zhang’s ability to maintain control of Manchuria Japan chose to remove Zhang and replace him with a puppet leader. On The evening of the 3rd June 1928, Zhang boarded a train in Beijing, where he was closely guarded by loyal Fengtian troops. A bridge a few miles east of Huanggutun train station in the suburbs of Shenyang was selected for the assassination as it was particularly vulnerable to attack by outside forces. A bomb was placed on the bridge. Zhang’s train passed over the bridge at dawn on the 4th June 1928 at which point the bomb exploded. Several of Zhang’s staff were instantly killed and Zhang died of his injuries a few hours later. Zhang’s son, Zhang Xueliang, emerged as the surprise new leader of the Fengtian clique. Keen to avoid conflict with Japan the new leader began talks with Ching Kai-shek’s Nationalists. It was several more years before the Japanese Army was able to mount another attempt to establish a puppet leadership in Manchuria.
The Italo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1928 was a treaty signed between the Kingdom of Italy and the Ethiopian Empire (Abyssinia) on the 2nd August 1928. Emperor Zewditu I ruled Ethiopia at the time of the treaty. But it was 36 year old Ras Tafari Makkonnen who represented the government of Ethiopia. Tafari, while still in his minority, was heir apparent. Within two months, on the 7th October 1928, Ras Tafari was proclaimed Regent. A little over two years later, on 2nd November 1930, Zewditu died and Tafari was proclaimed Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia. In 1926 Italy and Britain attempted a joint economical exploitation of Ethiopia. The Italians planned to build a railway and the British hoped to construct mighty water works for irrigating the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. British public opinion turned against the water works scheme and it was cancelled. This left the Italians in the lurch. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini enlisted the aid of King Victor Emmanuel’s cousin, the Duke of Abruzzi, to bring his influence to bear and promote the railway scheme. In 1928 the Duke and his suite crossed the Mediterranean, sailed down the coast of Africa, and then headed inland to Ethiopia and its remote capital Addis Ababa. The Duke gave Raf Tafari a large Isotta Fraschini Limousine a luxurious Italian product. They declared a 20 year friendship pact between the two nations, access to the sea for Ethiopia, a road for Italy and an agreement to settle future disputes through the League of Nations. Both sides were at cross-purposes when they approached the Italo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1928. Mussolini wanted the treaty to be an economic access that allowed Italy to penetrate Ethiopia. Meanwhile, Ras Tafari never intended to allow the Italian road from the sea to be built. He considered the road from the coastal town of Aseb to be a natural invasion route.
In Paris on the 27th August 1928 the Kellogg-Briand Pact was signed by the major powers of the world including Germany, France and the United States of America. Most other states signed up soon after. Sponsored by France and the U.S. the treaty renounced the use of war and called for the peaceful settlement of disputes. The pact was named after its authors United States Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg and French foreign minister Aristide Briand. The pact was effective from the 24th July 1929.
The Soviet Union launched the first five-year plan with a list of economic goals, created by General Secretary Josef Stalin and based on his policy of Socialism. It was implemented between October 1928 and November 1932. The Soviet Union entered into a series of five year plans which began under Stalin’s rule. He launched what would be described as a ”revolution from above” to improve the Soviet Union’s domestic policy. More importantly it centred on the rapid industrialisation and the combined collection of all agriculture. His plan was to effectively industrialise the economy of the Soviet Union by concentrating on heavy industry. His planning was ineffective and unrealistic given the shortest amount of time to meet the desired goals. The central and most important part of the plan came between 1928 and 1932 which was the most crucial time for Russian industrialisation. The largest success of the five year plan, however, was the Soviet Union began its journey to become an economic and industrial superpower. Stalin declared the plan a total success at the beginning of 1933 by stating that the creation of several heavy industries, as proof, where none had existed before.