The Nazi-Soviet Pact

The world was shocked when Hitler and Stalin signed the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact.

They hated each other! Stalin hated Nazism and Hitler hated Communism.

In the end, the countries turned on each other, but why did they sign the pact in the first place?

  • Stalin distrusted the West.

- He felt threatened by the capitalist countries of the West, fearing that they would form an alliance against the Soviet Union.

- He joined the League of Nations, but soon lost faith as they did not act on German rearmament or stop Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia.

- Stalin had become disillusioned with Britain's policy of appeasement, believing that it encouraged German aggression.

- Stalin had begun to believe that Britain and France wanted to solve their problems by making the USSR and Germany destroy each other.

- However, Stalin realised that he needed to protect his country from invasion, so he tried to form an alliance with Britain.

  • Why did Britain and the USSR not form an anti-German alliance?

- The Soviet Union wished to negotiate a military alliance with Britain and France, which agreed that they would defend Eastern Europe together if the Germans attacked.

- However, it took Britain six weeks to reply to this offer from the Soviets, so Stalin began to believe that the countries were not serious about an alliance.

- One of the terms of the agreement was that the Soviets placed soldiers in Poland to better defend Eastern Europe. Poland and Britain were worried about this offer as they believed that after the troops had been stationed there, they would never leave.

- Overall, the British and Soviets thought each other were unreliable. The British did not believe that the Soviets were strong enough to fight the Germans and the Soviets thought that the British would not protect Poland and the USSR would be left to defend Eastern Europe on their own.

  • Why did Hitler and Stalin sign a non-aggression pact?

- Stalin knew that he would eventually need to fight Germany, but his Army was not yet ready. He wanted to use the pact to gain time to build up his armed forces.

- Stalin was interested in a secret protocol (or clause) in the agreement, which meant that Germany and the USSR, starting from Poland, would divide the territory of Eastern Europe.

- Hitler believed that as Britain and France did not have the USSR as an ally, they would not declare war on Germany if they invaded Poland. However, this gamble of Hitler's failed when they declared war on Germany.