The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, colloquially named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939. It was a non-aggression pact under which the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany each pledged to remain neutral in the event that either nation were attacked by a third party. It remained in effect until 22 June 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union. In addition to stipulations of non-aggression, the treaty included a secret protocol dividing Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence, anticipating potential "territorial and political rearrangements" of these countries. Thereafter, Germany and the Soviet Union invaded, on September 1 and 17 respectively, their respective sides of Poland, dividing the country between them. Part of eastern Finland was annexed by the Soviet Union after the Winter War. This was followed by Soviet annexations of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina and Hertza region. Names
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact is commonly referred to under a number of names in addition to the official one and the one bearing the names of the foreign ministers. It is also known as the Nazi–Soviet Pact, Hitler–Stalin Pact, German–Soviet Non-aggression Pact and sometimes the Nazi–Soviet Alliance. Background
Main articles: Soviet–German relations before 1941 and Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact negotiations The outcome of the First World War was disastrous for both the German Reich and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. During the war, the Bolsheviks struggled for survival, and Lenin had no option except to recognize the independence of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Moreover, facing a German military advance, Lenin and Trotsky were forced to enter into the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which ceded some western Russian territory to the German Empire. After Germany's collapse, British, French and Japanese troops intervened in the Russian Civil War. On 17 April 1922, Germany and Soviet Russia entered the Treaty of Rapallo, pursuant to which they renounced territorial and financial claims against each other. The parties further pledged neutrality in the event of an attack against one another with the 1926 Treaty of Berlin. While trade between the two countries fell sharply after World War I, trade agreements signed in the mid-1920s helped to increase trade to 433 million Reichsmarks per year by 1927. At the beginning of the 1930s, the Nazi Party's rise to power increased tensions between Germany, the Soviet Union and other countries with ethnic Slavs, which were considered "Untermenschen" according to Nazi racial ideology. Moreover, the anti-Semitic Nazis associated ethnic Jews with both communism and financial capitalism, both of which they opposed. Consequently, Nazi theory held that Slavs in the Soviet Union were being ruled by "Jewish Bolshevik" masters. In 1934, Hitler himself had spoken of an inescapable battle against both Pan-Slavism and Neo-Slavism, the victory in which would lead to "permanent mastery of the world", though he stated that they would "walk part of the road with the Russians, if that will help us." The resulting manifestation of German anti-Bolshevism and an increase in Soviet foreign debts caused German–Soviet trade to dramatically decline. Imports of Soviet goods to Germany fell to 223 million Reichsmarks in 1934 as the more isolationist Stalinist regime asserted power and the abandonment of post–World War I Treaty of Versailles military controls decreased Germany's reliance on Soviet imports. In 1936, Germany and Fascist Italy supported Spanish Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War, while the Soviets supported the partially socialist-led Second...
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