The Nazi-Soviet Pact & Responsibility for the War

The Nazi-Soviet Pact & Responsibility for the War

An Agreement takes Place

Nazi-Soviet PactAnother result of the Sudetenland Crisis and the invasion of Czechoslovakia was the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 1939, an agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union not to attack one another that included secret plans to jointly occupy Poland. Given that until this moment the these two countries were one another’s main enemies, the Pact may seem bizarre. But, fearing Germany, the Soviet Union had by this time lost any belief that Britain or France would stop Germany, and so saw the Pact as its best hope of avoiding war with Germany.

War Declared

This plan was put into action on 1st September 1939, first with Germany invading from the West, followed by the Soviet Union attacking from the East on 17th September. As German soldiers rolled into Poland, Britain declared war on Germany.

Who was Responsible for the Outbreak of War?

There’s one very obvious answer to this question: Germany and Hitler. And it’s certainly not an incorrect answer, as we have seen from Hitler’s increasingly aggressive actions in the face of attempts to discourage him.

However, we need to bear a couple of other things in mind when answering this question.

* Appeasement was a terrible way to stop Hitler – Hitler acted fairly moderately for the first few years of his rule. Some people believe that, had Britain and France been more firm with Germany at this time, and especially before it had made progress in re-arming, things wouldn’t have reached the crisis point that they did in 1939. In other words, Hitler could have been made to behave. Of course, we can never know for sure how Hitler would have responded in this situation.

* The League of Nations was ineffective – Likewise, it could be argued that, had the League of Nations been more effective in dealing with powers such as Italy and Japan, Hitler would not have been encouraged to become so aggressive.

* The Treaty of Versailles created the conditions for war – This was a point of view that some far-sighted people put forward way back in 1919, and it’s difficult not to disagree with them. The Treaty created an enormous amount of anger in Germany; one of the main reasons for the success of the Nazis in gaining power was that they tapped into this anger.

* The Soviet Union gave Germany the go-ahead for war – The USSR was a massive country, which Germany would have struggled against in a war. With it committed to not attacking Germany, invading other parts of Europe suddenly became a lot more attractive to Hitler.