23 August 1939 - The Soviet - German Pact that set the stage for WWII

Catahualpa

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In one of the most infamous Treaties of Modern Times the Dictators of Germany and the Soviet Union signed a Pact in Moscow that effectively divided Poland and gave large chunks of Eastern Europe over to each other to do with as they saw fit.

Given the subsequent Invasion of Russia in 1941 by Hitler the Russians have always been embarrassed by this Devils Pact.

But now they have decided to own up and see it as a necessary piece of Realpolitik

Perhaps that is the correct interpretation

- or maybe if they had joined with Britain and France in standing up to Hitler then he would have baulked at finding himself at War with three Great Powers?

Eighty years after the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed a non-aggression treaty dividing Europe into spheres of influence, Russia has put the original Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and its secret protocol on public display for the first time.

Above: Stalin, Molotov and Ribbentrop in happier times.
 


rainmaker

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In one of the most infamous Treaties of Modern Times the Dictators of Germany and the Soviet Union signed a Pact in Moscow that effectively divided Poland and gave large chunks of Eastern Europe over to each other to do with as they saw fit.

Given the subsequent Invasion of Russia in 1941 by Hitler the Russians have always been embarrassed by this Devils Pact.

But now they have decided to own up and see it as a necessary piece of Realpolitik

Perhaps that is the correct interpretation

- or maybe if they had joined with Britain and France in standing up to Hitler then he would have baulked at finding himself at War with three Great Powers?

Eighty years after the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed a non-aggression treaty dividing Europe into spheres of influence, Russia has put the original Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and its secret protocol on public display for the first time.

Above: Stalin, Molotov and Ribbentrop in happier times.
I think the treatment of the Soviets by the Nazis was the inevitable reward for trusting the ethics of such a regime.

It should also be a stark reality check to Pat Buchannan & the few on here who share his belief that Churchill & the Brits caused WW2 by refusing to accept Hitlers terms.
 

bormotello

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After Munich, it becomes obvious for Stalin that Britain and France are pushing Germany towards east against USSR
Just a few months before pact Poland and Germany were happy allies when they were together dividing Chzekoslovakia
img28.jpg
So Stalin had the following choice
a. wait until Germany together with Poland will invade USSR without any chances to win this war
b. eliminate Poland as a possible German ally and let Hitler start the war against the whole world and win some time
 

Fritzbox

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After Munich, it becomes obvious for Stalin that Britain and France are pushing Germany towards east against USSR
Just a few months before pact Poland and Germany were happy allies when they were together dividing Chzekoslovakia
img28.jpg
So Stalin had the following choice
a. wait until Germany together with Poland will invade USSR without any chances to win this war
b. eliminate Poland as a possible German ally and let Hitler start the war against the whole world and win some time
No, Stalin did not have that particular choice. Poland was not going to become an ally of Nayi Germany and invade the USSR - were did you get such an idea. At that time Poland served as a very useful buffer zone between the USSR and Germany - the Soviet Union did not share a border with Germany at that time. This was a luxury many other continental countries did not enjoy. Why can't we just accept the M-R Pact for what it was - a carve-up of an sovereign state by 2 of its bigger neighbours?
 

parentheses

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The Japanese were outraged by the Non Aggression Pact because it was signed just as Japan was losing a desperate battle against the Soviets in Manchuria. They felt Hitler had betrayed them.

In 1941, the Japanese signed a neutrality pact with the USSR and they gave Hitler no help when he invaded there a few months later.
 

bormotello

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No, Stalin did not have that particular choice. Poland was not going to become an ally of Nayi Germany and invade the USSR - were did you get such an idea.
Since Hitler came to power, Poland become one of the biggest friends of Germany and was one of the first countries who signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler. Polish FM Joseph Beck was spending more time in Berlin than any other country
beck.jpg
Hitler and Ribbentrop made a lot of offers to Poland to join Anti-Comintern Pact, but initially, Poland refused such offers, because of Germany couldn't offer enough
Upon taking over the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 4,
1938, Herr von Ribbentrop made some attempts to induce the Polish
government to join the pact. Beginning in March, 1938, these endeavors
lasted more than a year and came to an end when, following the March
crisis in 1939, Poland and Great Britain provided each other with
mutual guarantees. In order to get a full picture, it is worth while to
establish a chronological chart of Ribbentrop's actions:

March 31, 1938: on the occasion of a general exchange of opinion on
Polish-German relations, Ribbentrop suggested to the Polish Ambas-
sador that Poland join the Anti-Comintern Pact. 9

September 27, 1938: at the moment of the worst tension over the
Sudetenland problem, Ribbentrop reiterated to the Polish Ambassador
the question of Poland's attitude to the Anti-Comintern Pact. 10

October 24, 1938: Ribbentrop proposed to the Polish Ambassador a
broad Polish-German collaboration within the framework of the Anti-
Comintern Pact in connection with a general settlement of Polish-Ger-
man problems, the so-called Gesamtlosung offer. 11

January 26, 1939: in his conversation with Ribbentrop in Warsaw,
Minister Beck explained the reasons why the Polish government would
not be in a position to join the Anti-Comintern Pact. :2

Attempts to bind Poland more tightly to the Reich were not limited to
Poland's joining a multilateral pact. Even before such a concept arose,
beginning with 1935, the German side made a number of proposals,
such as military cooperation, alliance against Russia, an air pact, etc.

To all these proposals Poland's attitude was negative.
Diplomat In Berlin 1933 — 1939, by Lipski, Józef
So for Stalin was obvious that alliance between Germany and Poland was realistic, so the only chance to guarantee that it never will happen was to eliminate Poland from list of possible Hitler allies
At that time Poland served as a very useful buffer zone between the USSR and Germany - the Soviet Union did not share a border with Germany at that time.
Actually, it was more useful for Germany to have such buffer because it was Poland who prevented Red Army from help to Czechoslovakia
After that Stalin warned Poland that USSR can withdraw from non-agression pact between Poland and USSR any time
 

McTell

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No
The west could have effed up more if they'd declared war on russia, being germany's ally. By the time the russians invaded poland on 17 september, britain and france realised they had enough trouble on their hands.

A pact between germany, russia and japan would have been really hard to defeat. Luckily the germans' propaganda caused them to despise the mujiks.
 

parentheses

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The west could have effed up more if they'd declared war on russia, being germany's ally. By the time the russians invaded poland on 17 september, britain and france realised they had enough trouble on their hands.

A pact between germany, russia and japan would have been really hard to defeat. Luckily the germans' propaganda caused them to despise the mujiks.
I don't think the British ever had any intention of declaring war on the USSR over Poland. The Anglo-Polish pact specifically excluded Britain declaring war on the Soviets.

In fact, within a few weeks of the invasion of Poland being completed, Churchill was telling the Soviet ambassador that he thought Soviet occupation of Poland was a good development.
 

Catahualpa

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I don't think the British ever had any intention of declaring war on the USSR over Poland. The Anglo-Polish pact specifically excluded Britain declaring war on the Soviets.

In fact, within a few weeks of the invasion of Poland being completed, Churchill was telling the Soviet ambassador that he thought Soviet occupation of Poland was a good development.
The British were seriously mulling sending an expeditionary force to Finland to help the Finns against the Soviet Invasion in late 1939. They also had plans to bomb the Baku Oilfields to scupper the Soviets transport ability.

But by the time they were ready the war was over and the Finns capitulated in early 1940.
 

Ireniall

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If the Russians want to defend the behaviour of the Soviet state in the run up to open conflagration the only result will be the loss of whatever level of merit the Russian people are entitled to for having suffered what they did to repel Germany. I believe also that the Ukrainians suffered 8 million of the oft-repeated Russian losses of 26m as if Russia could possibly have any moral credibility now claiming those losses as their own .

It's quite obvious that for those caught on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain there was no victory at the end of the war as it would be hard to imagine that Germany would have been substantially worse for most of them than the Soviet Union. The huge and timely bloody nose that Finland inflicted on Stalin likely saved the little psychotic piece of poison from suffering what Hitler did in that the near defeat by a small country probably made him slightly cautious about similar adventures thereby surrendering the stage to the Hitler idiot who simply did an Isis, attacked everyone and suffered the inevitable consequences
 

Pyewacket

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There has been an attempt recently by the uber capitalist, tax dodger, money launderer and failed administrator Putin to pretend that the Pact of Steel was not just Russia looking out for itself, normal enough, but something they were forced into by the western powers. Cos they were really up for invading Germany in the name of human rights and dignity. LOL.
 

Degeneration X

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There has been an attempt recently by the uber capitalist, tax dodger, money launderer and failed administrator Putin to pretend that the Pact of Steel was not just Russia looking out for itself, normal enough, but something they were forced into by the western powers. Cos they were really up for invading Germany in the name of human rights and dignity. LOL.
Maybe, but "the Pact of Steel" almost dubbed "the Pact of Blood" was an agreement signed between Italy and Germany in 1939 - the Soviets had no part in that.

 

Degeneration X

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After Munich, it becomes obvious for Stalin that Britain and France are pushing Germany towards east against USSR
Just a few months before pact Poland and Germany were happy allies when they were together dividing Chzekoslovakia
img28.jpg
So Stalin had the following choice
a. wait until Germany together with Poland will invade USSR without any chances to win this war
b. eliminate Poland as a possible German ally and let Hitler start the war against the whole world and win some time
Poland becoming Hitler's client was basically out of the question when the Pact was being seriously mulled over in Moscow. When the Third Reich demanded Danzig and the right to build autobahn over the corridor and Poland refused war between Germany and Poland was inevitable.

Stalin would even at this juncture have prefered and alliance with the so-called "Democratic" countries but when he saw what "Admiral Nobody" and "General Inconnus" were offering compared to Ribbentrop the actual Reich foreign Minister, he knew the Anglo-French weren't serious and the Germans were. He and the other members of the politburo felt the British were trying to use the USSR as "hired hands" and then would refuse to pay them for the job.

The Pact had several advantages for Stalin - it re-opened trade opportunities with the Germans, it gave him a buffer zone of new territory and gave him time to re-build the armed forces after the purges. It also allowed him to sit back and watch the Capitalist countries fight each other whilst he was in position of arbiter of Europe.
 

Degeneration X

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The Japanese were outraged by the Non Aggression Pact because it was signed just as Japan was losing a desperate battle against the Soviets in Manchuria. They felt Hitler had betrayed them.

In 1941, the Japanese signed a neutrality pact with the USSR and they gave Hitler no help when he invaded there a few months later.
The Japanese were sore about it initally but soon so the advantages of being tight with the Russian Bear. After opting for a Southern Strategy in the wake of the astonishing German victories of 1940 the Yamato actually pleaded with the Germans to make peace with the Soviets from 1942 onwards so they could concentrate on fighting the Americans and their Western allies. They even hoped at one point that the Soviets would act as intermediaries between them and the Americans when the war went sour and defeat was imminent.

Eventually of course, the Soviets (acting in accordence with deal made with the Americans) crushed the Germans and then turned their eyes towards Manchuria and broke the Pact and invaded Japanese held territory in East Asia. The Kuriles (seized by the USSR from the Empire of Japan in August 1945) remain a point of contention between the Japanese and the Russians to this day.
 

yosef shompeter

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One thing that has always puzzled me is that on the one hand, many people say that Hitler's big mistake was to invade Russia without having finished the Brits off... and so left himself open to a two-front war.
On the other hand, he seemed to have everything going for him (at first) on the Russian front: Stalin purging all his top men, the (state planned?) famine in the Ukraine. When the Wehrmacht got to the outer metro stations of Moscow they say that Stalin by that stage had his bags packed and on the train but walked up and down for two hours trying to decide whether to stand and fight for Moscow or to "retreat" to Siberia. Something went right for the Soviets and something went wrong for the Germans. Was it the Soviet T55 tank? His use of rockets?
Wehrmacht overstretch?
The tide may have or may not have turned on the outskirts of Moscow, but it sure stopped advancing.
 

Degeneration X

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One thing that has always puzzled me is that on the one hand, many people say that Hitler's big mistake was to invade Russia without having finished the Brits off... and so left himself open to a two-front war.
On the other hand, he seemed to have everything going for him (at first) on the Russian front: Stalin purging all his top men, the (state planned?) famine in the Ukraine. When the Wehrmacht got to the outer metro stations of Moscow they say that Stalin by that stage had his bags packed and on the train but walked up and down for two hours trying to decide whether to stand and fight for Moscow or to "retreat" to Siberia. Something went right for the Soviets and something went wrong for the Germans. Was it the Soviet T55 tank? His use of rockets?
Wehrmacht overstretch?
The tide may have or may not have turned on the outskirts of Moscow, but it sure stopped advancing.
Not really, the Germans made major gains in 1942 after the reversal of Operation Typhoon in 1941.

The problem was basically one of manpower - the Soviets simply had far more. Hitler had hoped that the initial blow of invasion would lead to a gigantic collapse of the Soviet state, this didn't happen and put the Germans in a precarious position.

In the words of one German General the Wehrmacht in Russia was like a an elephant marching into a field of millions upon millions of ants - the Elephant might wind up killing enoromous numbers of ants but in the end it will be stripped to the bone.
 
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Degeneration X

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In one of the most infamous Treaties of Modern Times the Dictators of Germany and the Soviet Union signed a Pact in Moscow that effectively divided Poland and gave large chunks of Eastern Europe over to each other to do with as they saw fit.

Given the subsequent Invasion of Russia in 1941 by Hitler the Russians have always been embarrassed by this Devils Pact.

But now they have decided to own up and see it as a necessary piece of Realpolitik

Perhaps that is the correct interpretation

- or maybe if they had joined with Britain and France in standing up to Hitler then he would have baulked at finding himself at War with three Great Powers?

Eighty years after the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed a non-aggression treaty dividing Europe into spheres of influence, Russia has put the original Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and its secret protocol on public display for the first time.

Above: Stalin, Molotov and Ribbentrop in happier times.
When the pictures of Ribbentrop and Stalin were published in the German Press Hitler personally ordered Stalin's cigarettes to be expunged as he thought it "smacked of levity" to be smoking on such a solemn state occasion. Also he had his own personal photographer take special pictures of Stalin to see if his ear lobes were "separate and Aryan" or "ingrown and Jewish" - it was the former apparently.
 

APettigrew92

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There has been an attempt recently by the uber capitalist, tax dodger, money launderer and failed administrator Putin to pretend that the Pact of Steel was not just Russia looking out for itself, normal enough, but something they were forced into by the western powers. Cos they were really up for invading Germany in the name of human rights and dignity. LOL.
The Pact of Steel was signed between Italy and Germany, so unsure why Putin would claim it benefited Soviet Russia.

The Soviets were banking on an "American entry" into WW2. This consisted of waiting until the Allies/Axis exhausted themselves before declaring war at the eleventh hour and rolling into Berlin.

The Soviets had been rebuffed by the West for an anti-Axis pact as late as Summer 1939. The Allies distrusted him - rightly so, as the Comintern was essentially a tool to bring about Communist revolts abroad and Communism in France was a very real threat. They also were not keen on a Fascist Poland serving as a launchpad for the Germans, so they agreed to split that and call it quits with the Germans.

In return, they provide the Germans with all the grain and oil they desire. The Soviet Red Army was in tatters - the officer corps had been purged and the competence of those remaining was suspect. They needed time to finish the re-arming and re-training of a new officer corps, this time one seemingly devout to Stalin. Their embarrassing performance in Finland is testamount to how pathetic their state was.

The Soviets did not plan on France disintegrating so quickly - even German planners were anticipating a war lasting into 1942. On top of that, Germany captured immense amounts of Allied equipment which allowed them to expand their motorized capacity considerably.

All of a sudden, in June of 1941, the Germans have amassed the largest land army in history on the Soviet's border. The result of poor gambling, unfortunately.

One thing that has always puzzled me is that on the one hand, many people say that Hitler's big mistake was to invade Russia without having finished the Brits off... and so left himself open to a two-front war. Something went right for the Soviets and something went wrong for the Germans. Was it the Soviet T55 tank? His use of rockets?
Wehrmacht overstretch?
The tide may have or may not have turned on the outskirts of Moscow, but it sure stopped advancing.
The Germans failed in their strategic effort by August of 1941. What they should've done was the following.

1) Cease all front activity as of late September/early October. Cancel Operation Typhoon - Moscow could be captured but never held in Winter 1941. Dig in and await the inevitable Soviet Winter offensive which would no doubt have been an unmitigated disaster. Avoid 400,000 casualties and the loss of invaluable heavy weaponry/tanks due to the failure of Typhoon.

2) Divert the considerable reserves of men and material to Army Group South. Cut off Soviet Oil imports by taking the railhead at Stalingrad. The oil in Baku will never be exploited - the Russians sabotaged everything worth using in Grozny and the Germans who captured it said it would take at least a year to get the refinery functional once more. Pointless to advance into the Caucasus.

3) Launch main Summer Offensive to capture Moscow. This dismembers basically every major railway in European Russia. Dictate terms to Stalin. Revive the Treaty of Brest Litovsk which concluded the Eastern Front in 1917.

All of these were made impossible by the fanatacism and complacency of Hitler and the Wehrmacht. The German Army died in front of Moscow.
 


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