Asked by AddieHistory 🕌

Why was the Nazi-Soviet pact a key factor causing the Second World War?

Profile picture

VERIFIED

Verified tutor tick

Usman Haroon

Medical Student at King's College London.

The Nazi-Soviet Pact (also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, after the representatives who signed it) was certainly a surprise when it was announced, but it had been in the works for longer than most people realise. The terms of the treaty were fairly simple–at least the terms the world knew about. Germany and the USSR pledged mutual nonaggression and peace for a period of 10 years. There was, however, a secret protocol, whereby the dictators Hitler and Stalin agreed to split up most of Eastern Europe and the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) between them. The most important division was a line drawn through the center of Poland, with each country taking about half. Neither Germany nor the USSR much liked the idea of an independent Poland, which was thrust upon them after World War I by the Treaty of Versailles. The Nazi-Soviet Pact intended to ensure that the Poles would never have control of their own destiny. Surprising as it was, the deal had a kind of logic to it. If Hitler was going to take over Poland–which was clear in the summer of 1939 that he desperately wanted–he had to make sure that his arch-enemy Stalin wouldn’t come in against him. On the other side of the table, Stalin needed the deal to buy time to arm himself against Hitler, who he was shrewdly certain would eventually attack him. Neither dictator had any expectation of keeping the treaty for very long. Hitler’s aim, as described in Mein Kampf in the 1920s, made a German attack on Russia inevitable. Some historians, such as Edvard Radzinsky, maintain that Stalin was planning to attack Hitler before Germany invaded the USSR on June 22, 1941. One thing was certain: the announcement of the Nazi-Soviet Pact lit the final fuse that led to the outbreak of World War II. Hitler’s troops were already on the move at the time he sent Ribbentrop to Moscow. Barely more than a week later, on September 1, 1939, they crossed the border and invaded Poland. Great Britain, pledged to defend Poland, had no choice but to declare war. Within ten days after the pact was signed, the Second World War was on.

Usman also answered

Asked in History 🕌

ASKED BY IVANNA

HISTORY 🕌

In the book things Fall Apart by China’s Achebe how was Okonkwo wrong in participating in the killing of Ikemefuna?

In “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo is told through Ogbuefi Ezeudu that the Oracle has decreed that Ikemefuna be killed. Ezeudu also ca...

ASKED BY SELINA

HISTORY 🕌

Why was Kristalnacht so significant?

Kristallnacht was the ‘Night of Broken Glass’ as Nazi party paramilitary forces and civilians destroyed Jewish businesses and synagogues in November...

ASKED BY RICHARD

HISTORY 🕌

In the early 1900s, what did it mean for cities to be "dry"?

The sale and consumption of alchohol was prohibited.

ASKED BY SARAH

HISTORY 🕌

What were some of Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms?

Deng Xiaoping broadly introduced market elements to the Chinese economy. He was particularly inspired by the economic model used in Singapore. More ...

ASKED BY TIM

HISTORY 🕌

Why did most of the combat on the Western Front in World War I take place in a relatively small area?

Hey Tim, Interesting this is actually a bit of a myth! World war 1 saw combat across the world with battles in Asia, Africa, Northern Italy, Russia ...

ASKED BY MAX

HISTORY 🕌

What action on November 11, 1918, brought World War I to an end?

An armistice negotiated between the Allied Powers and Germany. This was in the effect a ceasefire between the two sides - the conflict didn’t formal...

ASKED BY JOE

HISTORY 🕌

What was the first country to be founded?

San Marino a microstate within a state surrounded by Italy was founded in 301 AD. It founded originally as a monastery and sits on top of Monte Teti...

ASKED BY ABIGAIL

HISTORY 🕌

What are the similarities between the American Revolution and Vietnam war?

Hello Abigail, To start with both wars involved one side trying to use standard war strategies while the other side used the landscape and environme...

ASKED BY ELIZABETH

HISTORY 🕌

How did oliver feel at the Sowerberrys house (from the book oliver twist )?

Oliver is taken in by Mr Sowerberry who is a likeable man. Having moved out of the workhouse, this was sure to be a relief for Oliver. However, Mrs ...

ASKED BY ANNIE

HISTORY 🕌

What was SILENT CINEMA? Why was the term somewhat misleading?

It was a genre of film that had no audible dialogue and the term can be seen as misleading because a lot of the time, the films would not actually b...

Find me a tutor

We take your privacy seriously. View our policy.