At the outbreak of World War II, China was immersed in a war of its own against Japan, whose Army invaded it already in the year 1937 and took control over parts of its territory.
This, in addition to the Manchuria Region, in the Country’s northeast, that had been conquered by the Japanese earlier yet, in 1931, and where they had established a separate State – Manchukuo. Manchukuo was controlled by a “Puppet Government”, headed by the last Chinese Emperor, Pu-Yi, while its real rulers were the Commanders of the Japanese Kwantung Army, which was posted in this Region.
The political developments inside China led to a situation in which two Governments were ruling. One was the Nationalist Government headed by General Chiang Kai-shek, the successor to Dr. Sun Yat-sen, China’s leader and head of the Kuomintang Party. The Party’s Headquarters was in Nanking at first and later moved to Chongqing, in southern China. This Government attained recognition by the international community as China’s sovereign Government.
Counter to that, another Government was formed and led by the Chinese Communist Party, headed by Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and others. This Government ruled over parts of northern China.
This situation was also reflected on the Chinese Military apparatus, as each one of the Governments maintained and operated an Army of its own. Both Armies, however, fought against the common enemy – Japan – with the goal of removing it from their Country.
When the Japanese invasion was launched, in 1937, the Nationalist Government had an Army that numbered about a million and a half Soldiers.
In the summer of 1941, this Army began receiving American Military aid through a path that became famous as the “Burma Road”. That went on until the road was blocked by the Japanese in early 1942, something that forced the Americans to continue the delivery of aid solely by air.
Additionally, the Americans assisted with Airplanes and with Pilots in order to rehabilitate the Chinese Air-Force, which had been destroyed by the Japanese.
The Chinese Government conscripted massive numbers of manpower that, by the year 1941, stood at 5.7 million Soldiers.
At the conclusion of the war there were approximately 300 Divisions in this Army, some of them still lacking in manpower.
On the other side, the Communists maintained an Army that comprised three components – a Regular Army, Local Forces, and a Militia.
The Eighth Route Army operated in the north and the New Fourth Army was raised in central China.
In the period between the year 1937 and the war’s end in 1945, the Regular Army component of this Force grew tenfold – from about 90,000 up to about 900,000 Soldiers.
In both Armies Jews were found fighting for the liberation of China from Japanese Rule.
Moshe Cohen (called Ma Con by the Chinese) became famous in Chiang’s Army. Appointed as General, he was responsible for Intelligence and training of the Forces.
Many Jews from the Jewish Communities in Harbin and Shanghai served in the Communist Army, and among them were numerous Refugees who had fled from Europe and joined to fight in its ranks.
In 1932, a Company of Jewish Fighters was raised in Shanghai within the framework of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps, a Force that had been established to protect members of the International Settlement living in the City. With the entrance of the Japanese into the City this Company surrendered its weapons to the invader, who – until the end of the war – refrained from harming the Jewish population. After the war many members of the Jewish population immigrated to Israel.