History Route 2
In 1939, Adolf Hitler was preparing for war. Though he was hoping to acquire Poland without force (as he had annexed Austria the year before), Hitler was planning against the possibility of a two front war. Since fighting a two front war in World War I had split Germany's forces, it had weakened and undermined their offensive; thus, played a large role in Germany losing the First World War. Hitler was determined not to repeat the same mistakes. So, he planned ahead and made a pact with the Soviets - the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact.
On August 14, 1939, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop contacted the Soviets to arrange a deal. Ribbentrop met with the Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov in Moscow and together they arranged two pacts - the economic agreement and the Nazi-Soviet Pact. What was meant by the terms of the 2nd pact was that if Germany attacked Poland, then the Soviet Union would not come to its aid. Thus, if Germany went to war against the West (especially France and Great Britain) over Poland, the Soviets were guaranteeing that they would not enter the war; thus not open a second front for Germany.
In addition to this agreement, Ribbentrop and Molotov added a secret protocol onto the pact - a secret addendum whose existence was denied by the Soviets until 1989.
The Secret Protocol
The secret protocol held an agreement between the Nazis and Soviets that greatly affected Eastern Europe. For the Soviets for agreeing to not join the possible future war, Germany was giving the Soviets the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania). Poland was also to be divided between the two - along the Narew, Vistula, and San rivers.
The new territories gave the Soviet Union the buffer (in land) that it wanted to feel safe from an invasion from the West. It would need that buffer in 1941.
Impacts of the Pact
When the Nazis attacked Poland in the morning on September 1, 1939, the Soviets stood by and watched. Two days later, the British declared war on Germany and World War II had begun. On September 17, the Soviets rolled into eastern Poland to occupy their "sphere of influence" designated in the secret protocol.
Because of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, the Soviets did not join the fight against Germany, thus Germany was successful it its attempt to safeguard itself from a two-front war.
The Nazis and the Soviets kept the terms of the pact and the protocol until Germany's surprise attack and invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. The German invasion of Russia (Operation Barbarossa) began on 22 June, 1941.
Later on, the USA entered the War on December, 1941 as a result of Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (their naval base in the Hawaiian Islands).
The Nazi invasion of Russia marks the creation of the Grand Alliance which included the west and the Soviet Union. The Grand Alliance was an alliance made during World War II, which joined together the United States (led by Franklin Roosevelt), the Soviet Union (led by Joseph Stalin) and Great Britain (led by Winston Churchill). Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill are often known as "The Big Three" or the Allies of World War II.
It is often called the "Strange Alliance" because it united the world's greatest capitalist nation with the greatest Communist nation and the largest colonial power.
It was essentially an alliance of necessity; as all three needed to join together in order to defeat the threat of Nazi Germany.
There were tensions in the Grand Alliance, between "The Big Three" (Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin), although they were not enough to break the alliance during wartime.
There were essential ideological differences between the United States and the Soviet Union, with the former disliking the authoritarian regime of the latter.
Tensions between the two had existed for a long time, with the Soviets remembering the west’s armed intervention in the