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Introduction. 1939: Before the Pact.

Our readers from Russia are interested in signing Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact much more than other diplomacy events. The first reason for this is demonization of the said international treaty used by anti-stalinists and enemies of USSR during Cold War as evidence of Stalin's regime criminality and as evidence of aggressiveness of USSR. Secondly the Pact was chronologically "the last straw" which could break down European war prevention system. But the fact of drastic change in political and military situation (in European region and in Far East region) after signing Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is the last reason. But from Soviet leaders point of view this last reason could be the most probable one. And from their point of view in August 1939, to change the situation could be critical for USSR. So if Stalin's decisions were motivated by the interests of national defense, and if being motivated only by the interests of national defense this decisions should be the same, then other Stalin's motivation does not matter for us.

It would also be interesting to consider the consequences of signing Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. And bearing in mind all negative consequences of the Pact, it is important to understand its adequacy; i.e. we need to weigh positive and negative consequences. Also we have to compare possible consequences with the known consequences of signign the Pact. It would be helpful to understand whether it was possible to predict further developments.

And now we are starting analyzing Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, beginning with situation in international affairs before Ribbentrop's to Moscow. After that potential and actual alternatives for Stalin will be discussed. And then we will consider political and military strategic consequences of signing the Nazi-Soviet treaty.


Signing of Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Treaty (also known as Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, MRP) was a big surprise to international community, and it caused confusion and lack of understanding within the country (USSR) and abroad. The most consistent opponent of National Socialism suddenly enters into a friendly treaty with his enemy just before the start of World War II! It looked very strange. And since the war began shortly after singing the Pact, some hotheads call it a cause of the war in Europe.

Some people are trying to look for Stalin's motivation during negotiations with Nazis in sphere of ideology because they believe the Pact is absolutely illogical from the point of view of international politics or from the point of view of strategy. However, it could be proved that the MRP was absolutely logical just from the point of view of politics and warfare. But to do this we must take a closer look the background of the treaty and situation in international affairs in summer 1939.

Our analysis could be dated back as far as 1933. But history before 1936 will not be interesting to us because before 1936 A. Hitler behaved as a pragmatic national leader, not as unstoppable aggressor. But an important event occurred in 1936, and after that military power was the deciding factor in Europe during 9 years. This critical event was beginnig of Civil war in Spain. Causes of the war and outbreak of the war are not substantial for us. But it was substantial that external powers intervened in the conflict. The USSR was involved in the conflict on side Spanish Republic. Germany and Italy were allies of the rebels. So (to some extent) Spanish Civil War was the first Soviet-Nazi war.

Perhaps the Spanish Campaign was a test of technology of export of revolution. (It is impossible to prove the opposite.) But ultimately, this test was unsuccessful. And this failure should to reduce in 1939 the Stalin's desire to export revolution. So the position of those who argue that MRP was signed to provoke a war and a sequence of revolutions seems too weak.

But Franco's win in Spain meant not only political failure but also defeat of Soviet military power. But from Hitler's point of view (likely) result of the war loked like a drawn. However there was a strategic defeat of USSR. First, no reliable supply channels for the Republicans were established during all Spanish Civil war. Reasons: The USSR had no fleet in the Atlantic to protect sea shipping. After the Munich treaty France hindered the transit. Second, there was no uninterrupted front in Spain; fightind had focal format. So there was no military planning. Third, in general Soviet aviation lost the fight for the Spanish sky. So a technical and tactical weakness of Stalin's aviation had been revealed. Fourth, although Soviet armored forces were effective in Spain, the war showed obsolescence of tank fleet of Red Army. Thus Red Army was to be rearmed. And peace with Germany was required for Stalin to rearm his army. So all 1939 Soviet-Nazi agreements could be considered as peace treaty after Spanish war. (At least it was one of the functions of these agreements).

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