Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

Nazi-Soviet Pact

Hitler secures Stalin’s loyalty and is assured he will be able to invade Poland without opposition from the east.

On August 23, 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union surprised the world by signing the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact.  The countries had been bitter enemies until just recently, and foreign powers looked at this with suspicion.  The two countries promised that they would not attack one another for 10 years. The pact contained a secret clause that detailed the partitioning of Eastern Europe between the Soviets and Germans.  This is significant because it confirms the international community’s suspicions that there was about to be war in Europe.  This also allowed Hitler to be certain that he could take Poland without any opposition.  

The Pact

Hitler was very much aware of the insurmountability of a two-front war – he had experienced this in World War I.  Unfortunately, the two powers of the Soviet Union and Germany were at complete ideological odds with one another.  This was not going to stop Hitler, though, and in the summer of 1939 Hitler began to try to thaw relations with Stalin.  The leader of the USSR was also eager to secure some protections in case of another World War.   This would allow both nations to avoid having too many enemies on their borders.

Spheres of Influence:

Eastern Europe would be divided between both parties. After Hitler conquers Poland, the Soviet Union would exert control over the eastern half of Poland; Lithuania; Estonia; and Latvia.

War

Hitler’s final decision was to invade Poland on the 1st of September, 1939.  He was still unsure if the British and French would even come through with their promises to Poland – but this time, he went too far.  After the years of appeasement – allowing Germany to take Austria; Sudentenland; and the Rhineland; – the western nations declared war on Germany on 03 September, 1939.