Friday, September 13, 2019

Moscow Signed Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in Part Because It Feared a Joint German-Polish Attack, Newly Released Documents Suggest

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 9 Moscow has long argued that Russia was forced to sign the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in August 1939 because Britain and France were not willing to join an anti-Hitler coalition. Now, it is offering an additional explanation: it says the Kremlin feared that unless it made a deal with Hitler, Germany and Poland would jointly attack the USSR.

            That is the substance of documents the Russian defense ministry has released online under the title “A Fragile Peace on the Brink of War” (, a collection that also includes Soviet reports about the enthusiasm of Ukrainians and Belarusians in Poland about the chance to live in the Soviet Union.

            On the one hand, this is nothing more than yet another attempt to muddy the waters about Stalin’s crime in making an alliance with Hitler that opened the way to World War II in Europe. But on the other, it reflects Moscow’s longstanding anti-Polish attitudes and its desire to justify the revision of borders in Eastern Europe the secret protocols of Molotov-Ribbentrop allowed.

            According to one of the documents produced, Moscow had good reason to fear a German-Polish alliance because it would have given Berlin even more arms and personnel to invade the Soviet Union. By reaching agreement with Hitler, Stalin thus prevented a Polish invasion.

            The admittedly selective nature of the documents put online makes this argument convincing only to those who are prepared to accept anything the Kremlin claims or who are as anti-Polish as many Russian officials have often been.  But this “trove” is already being exploited to make the points want about 1939.

            And as such, it is less interesting as an historical source than as an indication of the direction of Moscow’s propaganda line now (e.g.,  and

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