On August 23, 1939, the Soviet Union and Germany signed a non-aggression pact. The agreement is named after the two countries’ foreign ministers Molotov and Ribbentrorp. An additional part to the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement divided Europe into two. Which lands Germany and the Soviet Union had the right to take. In addition, which lands should be in the German and Soviet spheres. After the war, the Soviets tried to keep the agreement secret. It was not until 1989 that the Soviets admitted that such an agreement existed.
The agreement is the start of 2 world wars
The Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement is considered the start of World War II. Just after the agreement that in practice divides Europe in two between Germany and the Soviet Union, Germany invades Poland. Germany’s invasion of Poland begins on 1 September. The Soviet attack on Finland begins on November 30, 1939 in what is called the Winter War. Russia invaded Poland from the east two weeks after the signing of the agreement and Poland was divided between Germany and the Soviet Union under the agreement. Later, Germany and the Soviet Union supplied themselves with other lands and still annexed large areas in full accordance with the agreement.
Germany was in no hurry to reach an agreement on an attack with the Soviet Union. Plans for German occupation of parts of Poland were already clear and the country would try to avoid a conflict with the Soviet Union. Stalin clearly saw an opportunity to rebuild the old Russian Empire.
The Soviet Union one of the causes of World War 2?
In 2019, the European Parliament passed a resolution in which they put some of the blame for the outbreak of World War II on the shoulders of the Soviet Union. The resolution from 2019 states that the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement paved the way for the Second World War. Russia disagrees with this and has criticized the resolution.
Putin has also said that the agreement was necessary and good foreign policy. He then points out that the agreement between Molotov and Ribbentrop was necessary to stop Germany’s escalation to the east. Putin blames Poland’s leaders he believes prevented an alliance between the Soviet Union, Britain and France.
Stalin is said to have said that an attack on Germany is an attack on the Soviet Union. He also described Hitler as a friend and brother to the German and Soviet people.
The significance of the Molotov – Ribbentrop agreement
This is how I consider it an open question what would have happened in Europe without the agreement between the Soviet Union and Germany. What seems clear is that the war had not escalated in 1939-40. Perhaps Germany’s attacks on countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Denmark and Norway had come later? Maybe it had not happened. With the agreement, Germany was sure that they had an ally in the east with whom they had common interests.
Only when Germany broke the agreement with the Soviet Union and invaded the country did the Soviet side change. The problems of the Soviet Union in the winter war against little Finland told Germany about a country that had major problems with its own defense. The temptation to expand eastward became too great. Probably Germany’s plan was to invade the Soviet Union at some point. The Soviet Union’s problems in Finland caused it to happen as early as 1941.
Stalin must have believed in the agreement. Otherwise, the Soviet Union would not have taken control of other countries. Keeping control of countries such as Finland, Romania, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia required significant resources. Resources that would be good to have in the defense of one’s own territory.