When World War 2 ended, young Susumu Noda and his family were living in Japanese-occupied Dalian, Manchuria, where he had grown up. After the Red Army arrived in the former Russian colony, the Communist Party organized the locals into workers’ collectives. Noda’s collective was run by one of the many Japanese in Dalian who spoke Russian.
In the dire circumstances after the war, collective bosses were in a position to exploit their status and influence, heaping further misery to their compatriots.
The Russian soldiers were absolutely the worst.
At least with the Japanese military, if someone gets to be an officer, then they can speak English, or if they can’t speak, you could write things down and they could be understood.
Those Russian soldiers who arrived without shoes, they could barely write their own names or count past five.
The Russian military organized the Japanese people into workers’ collectives as was done in the Soviet Union. So instead of being ordered about by the military, our orders were coming from the party through our collective.
The head of our collective was always sucking up to the Russians, giving them things so that in turn he could boss everybody around. He wanted to kill him because of how he treated us. He was evil, and that’s why in the end he got lynched. That was what our life was like, but you don’t read in the books.
Because our status as Japanese was now very low, because we lost, we couldn’t do anything about what the Russian soldiers did. And so, we had a very low opinion of the workers collective.
Workers collective held a peoples’ tribunal. And the head of the collective stood up on a mikan crate. They called out the people who had contributed to Japan’s war effort and most of them had all their possessions taken. The collective went into their homes and took everything.
The collective was run by the Russians who took all the best stuff.
When it started, the collective was supposed to be the body that heard the voice of the Japanese. But in reality, all it did was squeeze things out of us, rob us of our possessions. They stole the best things. We held a grudge because of that.
They were communists, professors, some people who had studied in Russia. Through them the Russians controlled us. There was a Russian language school in Harbin, Manchuria. That school was set up because a war with Russia was considered inevitable and so Russian speakers needed to be trained. In retrospect, it might have been better if we were under the direct control of the Russians without the collective leaders, who victimized us.