The Nazi-Soviet Pact (Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact)

In August 1939, Nazi Germany and the USSR signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact (aka. Nazi-Soviet Pact), which was a non-aggression pact.

The German-Soviet Frontier Treaty was a second supplementary protocol of this pact which was amended on September 28th 1939, agreeing that the two powers would partition Poland between them.

How did this affect Poland?

Poland was shocked that Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, who had completely opposite political ideologies, had formed a pact together.

They felt cheated on as they had an alliance with Soviet Russia against Nazi Germany.

They were afraid because...

The Failure of an Anglo-Soviet Alliance

Stalin knew that Hitler’s end goal was to attack Russia. In 1939, he invited the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, to go to Russia to discuss an alliance against Germany. The British feared Russian Communism, and they believed that the Russian army was too weak to be of any use against Hitler and failed to agree on an alliance with Russia.

There are a number of reasons for this. 

One of these was the suspicion between the countries.

Firstly, Chamberlain did not trust Stalin as he was a communist dictator. Additionally, he did not wish to concede to Russia's demand of being allowed to control Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Secondly, Stalin thought that Britain wanted to trick them into a war with Germany to solve their problems of Hitler's extremism and the Soviet's communism. Furthermore, due to the policy of Appeasement, Stalin was convinced that Britain would break it's alliance promise to Poland and leave the USSR fighting Germany alone.  

Another reason concerned the invasion of Poland.

On the one hand, Stalin knew that Britain would not be able to send troops to fight in Poland, so they would have to fight a war in Poland on Britain's behalf. Meanwhile, on the other hand, an alliance with Hitler was promising him with peace (at least for the time being), half of Poland and a 'sphere of influence' over Eastern Europe. 

Finally, Stalin was put off by the British delay.

At first, Lord Halifax had refused Stalin's offer of a meeting, and when the British actually sent an official, he could not make any decisions. In the end, Stalin got fed up with the British delay.

Why did they sign the pact?

Hitler signed the pact because...

Stalin signed the pact because...

What was the impact of the pact?

(More information regarding the pact can be found on this IGCSE page)