The Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact
German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop (far left) and Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav M. Molotov (far right) signed a pact on August 23, 1939, in which Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia agreed not to support any third party that might attack the other. Because Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin (second from right) had publicly condemned each other’s ideologies, the agreement came as a surprise to both Soviet and Nazi sympathizers. The pact was signed more for strategic reasons than peaceful ones, however. Specifications made public years later revealed that the leaders had divided Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres, allotting each side territory between the two. Just days after the signing, Germany invaded Poland, and by the end of September, both powers had claimed sections of Poland. World War II and Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union were just around the corner.
Image: National Archives