History of Sakhalin island in the ÕÕ century was complicated and dramatic.
The Russian-Japanese War of 1904–1905, with its main battles taking place in Manchuria and the Liaodong peninsula (China), affected also the Sakhalin island. On August 20, 1904 Russian seamen of the second rank protected cruiser «Novik», which escaped from besieged Port-Arthur, fought a losing battle with the two Japanese heavy cruisers «Tsushima» and «Chitose» in the La Perouse Strait on the cruiser’s way to Vladivostok. The enemy ships retreated, but the cruiser’s crew had to sink the «Novik» off Korsakovsky post because of damages received in the battle, so the enemy could not get the ship.
Displayed for the visitors to see are the 47 mm gun from the Russian second rank protected cruiser «Novik», model of the cruiser, photographs of the cruiser’s crew and that of the half-sunk cruiser and coastal defence battery made up of the artillery guns removed from the cruiser.
In 1905 the JIA 13th infantry division was formed in the Japanese territory to invade Sakhalin. Armed forces of Sakhalin were guerrilla detachments made up of former convicts. The Japanese landed in the Mereya river area (the vicinity of the Prigorodnoye village) from the Aniva Bay on June 24, 1905. Badly armed and inadequately trained Russian detachments heroically fought superior enemy forces for more than a month.
The visitors will be able to see a map showing guerrilla detachments’ operations, genuine personal items of the guerrillas and weaponry items from the detachment commanded by a staff captain V. V. Grotto-Slepikovsky which valiantly fought enemy forces for 35 days in the Tunaicha lake area.
On July 24, 1905 the Japanese landed on the North of Sakhalin. Russian defenders of the island surrendered on August 17, 1905 following a series of stubborn battles. Per Treaty of Portsmouth, signed in September of 1905, Sakhalin was divided by a boundary across 50th parallel with the northern part of the island retained by Russia and the southern one ceded to Japan.
Renown political figures such as: À. Ò. Tsapko, G. P. Êîlbunov, V. Ya. Àboltin and others made great contribution to a struggle for establishment of the Soviet Power in the northern Sakhalin.
À. Ò. Tsapko became a Chairman of the Community Safety Committee created in Aleksandrovsk in March of 1917 following revolutionary events in Petrograd.
Displayed in the Exhibit Hall’s show case are the inscribed inkstand presented to À. Ò. Tsapko as a gift by his friends prior to his leaving for Sakhalin from Khabarovsk in 1916 and a copper plaque taken from the apartment’s door at leaving of Tsapko’s family from Aleksandrovsk-Sakhalinsky for Vladivostok.
The same show case displays personal items belonging to G. P. Êîlbunov: chess and the china tea cup with an inscription as follows: To G. P. Êîlbunov, a second place winner in a chess tournament for a good memory. VTSSPS (All-Union Council of Trade Unions) Health Resort, Tshaltubo. The cup was presented to the Museum by the G. P. Êîlbunov’s family in the 1960–1970s.
In 1920 Japan occupied the northern Sakhalin. The occupation-related and subsequent events are shown on displayed photographs, in particular by those depicting Soviet-Japanese negotiations on the issue of the northern Sakhalin completed in January of 1925. Displayed also is a portrait of V. Ya. Àboltin, Soviet diplomat, who presided over the USSR’s Central Executive Council Authorized Committee to receive the northern Sakhalin from the Japanese military authorities. In the spring of 1925 the Japanese troops were withdrawn from the North of Sakhalin. One of the photographs shows a rally of May 15 1925 for Aleksandrovsk-Sakhalinsky residents in honor of the northern Sakhalin’s liberation.
Following reinstatement of the Soviet Power an exploration for the natural resources of the island’s northern part and socialist construction were initiated.
Materials of the Local Communist Party Conferences show activities of the northern Sakhalin’s All-Union Bolsheviks Communist Party Committee. The First Sakhalin Regional Communist Party Conference took place in October 1928. It adopted the First Five-Year Plan for Development of the Local Industries and Culture, later approved by the First Regional Congress of Soviets (Soviet Power Councils).
In August 1928 the Sakhalinneft (Sakhalin Petroleum Trust) was established, V. A. Miller becoming its first Director. Oil of Sakhalin was vitally important for the Far-East and Eastern Siberia industry. At the beginning of 1930 Okha-Moskalvo railway was built to transport oil from the Okha oil field.
Among the exhibits are the pencil drawings by doctor Yakov Volovik who worked at Japanese oil production concession enterprises in the Okha area.
In 1929 work on agricultural collectivization started in the northern Sakhalin. Exhibits familiarize visitors with a «five-hundred centners (hundredweight) crop from a hectare» movement (K. S. Borodina pioneered the five-hundred centners movement on Sakhalin) and the coal industry restoration and development.
At a call of the Central Committee of Young Communist League (Komsomol), Komsomol members were coming to Sakhalin en masse. Photographs of the first Komsomol members to come, their personal items and the model of the barrack, where the Komsomol members working for the Agnevo Timber Felling Enterprise lived, show actual harsh working and living conditions the young people of pre-war Sakhalin had to endure. Most of the felled timber and other timber production were exported.
At that period of time air-traffic was being introduced to the northern Sakhalin. On January 9, 1930 M.Vodopyanov, famous Soviet pilot, made a first Khabarovsk Okha air flight.
Exhibits show materials testifying to the changes to have taken place in cultural life of Sakhaliners. Cultural clubs and movie theaters were constructed at that time and performers, both professional, and amateur and entertainment groups appeared. Set of photographs familiarizes with the northern Sakhalin indigenous people of the 1930s.
Southern Sakhalin during the Karafuto Governorship Period (1906–1945)
Upon signing of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty southern part of Sakhalin came under the Japanese control. In 1907, Karafuto Governorship was established in that territory. Toyohara was made an administrative center of the Governorship (since 1908). In August of 1925 the hereditary prince regent Hirohito visited the newly acquired possessions. Construction of new settlements, cities, ports, factories and plants was underway on a big scale in the Governorship. Koreans, started to be brought to the island since 1939, provided a cheap work force. Population of the Governorship had increased up to 300 thou. people. In 1937, The Karafuto Governorship Museum was opened, an amusement park started to operate. The Kurile islands (Chishima) and border areas of the Karafuto Governorship were militarized zones containing strips of strong concrete fortifications, military garrisons (19 thou soldiers and officers) and military equipment.
In 1936 Japan made an aggressive alliance with Germany and Italy (The Berlin-Rome-Japan Axis) which unleashed the Second World War in 1939.
SAKHALIN OBLAST IN THE YEARS OF THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR
In the evening of June 22 1941 Sakhalin island got the news about the fascist Germany’s assault on the Soviet Union and the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. During the whole war period Sakhalin was a remote rear area where people worked hard for the Victory.
Among the exhibits are the photographs of the Okha-Sofiisk-on-Amur oil pipeline built during the cold winter of 1941–1942. It played an important role in supplying the Far-East and Eastern Siberia with fuel. Other displayed photographs and documents of the period tell about hard and dedicated work performed by the Sakhalin oilmen, coalmen and fishermen. G. Ò. Podshivailov, N. Ò. Volkov, I. Ê. Êrasyukov and F. I. Ilyin were among the most recognized ones.
Women took men’s places at work. Kseniya Semyonovna Borodina worked as a leader of a field workers’ team at the Krasnaya Tym state farm. She saw husband and five sons off to the front line.
There is an exhibits’ collection in the museum devoted to the Sakhalin residents fighting at the Great Patriotic War fronts. Displayed are the documents, personal items, and front-line letters belonging to N. D. Grishenko, À. À. Borodin and P. D. Sosnin.
Liberation of the South of Sakhalin and the Kurile islands
In August of 1945 Sakhalin and the Kurile islands turned out into a battleground. Among the displayed exhibits are photographs and documents reminding about the Tegeran (1943) and Yalta (1945) Conferences. At the latter, the Soviet Union assumed an obligation to enter into a war with Japan. While main events of the war took place in Manchuria, South Sakhalin Army Group Offensive Operation and Kurile landing Operation became the closing stages in the War. Maps show assault directions of the Soviet Army troops as of August 9, 1945.
South Sakhalin Army Group Offensive Operation to Liberate South Sakhalin started on August 11, 1945 with attacks against Kharamitoga fortifications. Exhibited photographs and documents tell about sea borne troops’ landing in the Japanese ports of Esutoru, Maoka and Odomari and sanguinary battles on the islands. Displayed are the genuine personal items and documents belonging to participants of the battles – lieutenant-colonels D. T. Serdyuk and M. G. Dodonov and portraits of the Soviet Union Heroes such as: S. T. Yudin, G. G. Svetetsky, P. N. Sidorov, L. V. Smirnykh and A. E. Buyukly. Hostilities in Sakhalin completed on August 25 and the territory, lost in 1905, was taken back.
Topical exhibits’ set is continued with a collection devoted to the Kurile landing Operation, holding a specific place in the Soviet troops’ military actions in the Far East. Among displayed exhibits are maps showing military operations and weapons both Soviet, and captured. Japan had big garrisons on the Kurile islands. On August 18, Soviet troops landed on the heavily fortified island of Shumshu. Enemy forces outnumbered the Soviet ones. Soviet warriors demonstrated heroism on the mass scale in the intense battles lasting for five days. Displayed photographs show seamen N. A. Vilkov and P. I. Ilyichov, commander of a forward detachment P. I. Shutov, launch boatswain V. I. Sigov and many others. On August 23 enemy resistance was broken. By September 1 garrisons on the other Kurile islands surrendered without engaging into a combat and the whole territory of the future Sakhalin Oblast was liberated.
Exhibits’ set is complete with a photograph showing historic moment of Japan’s Unconditional Surrender Act signing on board of the US battleship Missouri on September 2, 1945. That’s how the Second World War ended.