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The Truth About Port Arthur

The Truth About Port Arthur

The Truth About Port Arthur

Yazar: E. K. Nozhin
Yayınevi : Library of Alexandria
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  • | Barkod : 9781465629852 | Format : Epub

The siege of Port Arthur was the event of the late war in the Far East which most attracted the attention and interest of the rest of the world. There were other military operations, it is true, of equal if not of greater importance to the ultimate issue of the struggle; but, owing to their complexity, their slowness, and the absence of definite advance information, their progress and purport were not easily grasped by any save military students. The case of Port Arthur was different. The long drawn-out agony of the siege was continued before the eyes of the world for many months,[1] and, while the imagination was touched by its romantic side, the point at issue was at once apparent. Even so, there was much mystery about the conduct of the defence and the eventual fall of the Fortress; for, owing to its remote position and almost complete isolation by the enemy, the available information almost entirely consisted of that supplied by correspondents with the Japanese, and was, therefore, information from the outside, and more or less a history of results alone. In 1907, or between two and three years after the culmination of the siege, the inevitable disclosures—the aftermath of defeat—which sometimes help to an appreciation of causes began to be made in Russia. More than one book has recently been written by Russians who saw the defence from inside the Fortress, and who therefore claim to be in a position to give the inner history of the tragedy. 'The Truth about Port Arthur' was published in Russia last year. M. Nojine, the author, by whose permission this abridged translation has been made, was the accredited Russian war-correspondent in Port Arthur, and as such went through the greater part of the siege. He had exceptional facilities for collecting material for his work, for he was all through in close contact with the 'fighting' leaders of Port Arthur, and had access to official documents and diaries, and, having been an eye-witness of much, and possessing the trained observation of a journalist, his testimony should carry weight. His book is one long indictment of the then régime in Russia, and of some of the officials connected with the defence of Port Arthur. By the time that the English translation was completed, in the autumn of 1907, it was announced that some of the senior officers who conducted the defence were to be tried by court-martial. In fact, from the copy of the official indictment then published, it seemed as if it might almost have been framed upon material furnished by M. Nojine's book. It was therefore decided to delay publication whilst matters were sub judice. The trial is now over, the result is known to the world, and there seems no reason why the English version of the account by an eye-witness of what went on in the ill-fated Fortress should not be given to the public. The translator and editor disclaim all responsibility for the statements made and the opinions expressed, which are the author's own. If he has sometimes been carried beyond the limits of a strictly judicial impartiality, it is, perhaps, in the circumstances, comprehensible. His patriotism must have been again and again outraged by the existing maladministration, while his personal feelings were probably embittered by the treatment which he and those who bore the burden of the defence received. Though the author, as will be seen by a perusal of his book, is not sparing of censure and is distinctly outspoken in his conclusions, yet he is capable of giving praise when he considers it to be due. Indeed, it is a relief, amongst so much that is depressing, to read his opinion of Generals Smirnoff and Kondratenko amongst others, and his whole-hearted championship of the stolid, dogged Russian soldier who, weighed down by the incompetence of many above him, struggled through those weary months of defeat, privation, and suspense.


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