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.
READ MORE: How a secret Hitler-Stalin pact set the stage for WWII
Hitler believed that Britain would never take him alone, so he decided to swallow his fear and hatred of communism and get comfortable with the Soviet dictator, thus ripping the carpet of British initiative. Both sides were extremely suspicious of the other, trying to discern ulterior motives. But Hitler was in a hurry; he knew that if he were to invade Poland it had to be done quickly, before the West could create a unified front. Fundamentally agreeing to carve out parts of Eastern Europe – and leave himself alone in the process – Hitler’s Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop flew to Moscow and signed the no-deal pact. – aggression with his Soviet counterpart, VM Molotov (this is why the pact is often called the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact). Bolshevism supporters the world over have seen their hitherto romantic vision of “international socialism” ruined; they were outraged that Stalin did not enter any sort of league with the fascist dictator.
But once Poland was a territory occupied by Germany, the alliance would not last long.