Germany, Soviet Union sign non-aggression pact

Germany, Soviet Union sign non-aggression pact

On August 23, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact, stunning the world, given their diametrically opposed ideologies. But the dictators, despite appearances, both played to their own political needs.

After Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia, Britain had to decide to what extent it would intervene if Hitler continued German expansion. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, initially indifferent to Hitler’s capture of the Sudetenland, the German-speaking region of Czechoslovakia, suddenly came to life when Poland was threatened. He made it clear that Britain would be obliged to come to the aid of Poland in the event of a German invasion. But he wanted and needed an ally. The only power big enough to stop Hitler, and with a vested interest in doing so, was the Soviet Union. But Stalin was cool with Britain after his efforts to forge a political alliance with Britain and France against Germany had been pushed back a year earlier. Moreover, Polish leaders were not thrilled with the prospect of Russia becoming its guardian; for them it was simply an occupation by another monstrous regime.

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