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Molotov/Ribbentrop was signed Aug 23, 1939 and Hitler invaded Poland Sept 1, 1939. Came as a bit of a surprise, considering how much Hitler hated both Communists and Slavic people. And the talks started only in early 1939 and really heated up from July on.

Do we have any documentation/memoirs on what the Nazis were intending to do if they had not gotten Stalin to sign that non-aggression pact?

The USSR had considered backing Czechoslovakia in 1938, but didn't have a way to get its troops there. It did for Poland. It had also backed the Republican side against Franco in Spain, opposing Germany. (And, yes, I realize Russian-Polish relations were not Russian-Czechoslovak in nature).

Since Germany was able to invade so soon afterwards, one can speculate that it was a risk Hitler was willing to assume anyway.

But it also means that plans must have been made for operations in late 1939/1940 without the non-aggression pact. Do we have any knowledge of what Germany was planning to do differently? We know they had covering forces on the Franco-German border, what did they plan to do with Russia?

Just to keep in mind - as I kinda figured out while writing this question - the extremely short span between the Pact actually getting signed and the invasion means that what happened at scale was likely substantially what would have happened anyway. I.e. Hitler did not put together a full-scale invasion in a week after getting Stalin's green light (although he might have held back given a big enough red light). However, they had to have planned for Russia's opposition and determined next steps in advance. What did that planning look like? You don't put together military plans at that level without some traces.

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  • 1
    The pending partition of Poland was an open secret for months. In the French Yellow Book, the archive of French diplomatic papers, is noted on May 7, 1939: "(1) By arriving at a more or less tacit agreement with the U.S.S.R. which would assure him of the benevolent neutrality of that country in the event of a conflict, perhaps even of her complicity in a partition of Poland." May 9 at 15:52
  • 1
    As is often likewise said about the wife of an adulterer: "Poland was the last to find out." May 9 at 15:54
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    @PieterGeerkens Why would it? this isn't a question about Allied intentions, it is only about German intentions before they knew they had sealed the deal and when they had reasonable expectations to doubt they would. May 9 at 15:57
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    Not a duplicate by any means. The Germans would know a "lot" more than the "West."
    – Tom Au
    May 10 at 11:30
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    Fall Gelb (invasion of France) went through several iterations before settling on the Ardennes gambit. But we have records of the previous Fall Gelbs. Do we know what the hostile/neutral USSR version of Fall Weiss looked like? Because they must have planned that throughout 1939. May 12 at 4:08
5

Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree: The Evolving Soviet-German Relationship in 1939

The short answer to the question as framed, seems to be that there is no known specific documented evidence of what the Germans planned to do in Poland in the absence of an agreement with the Soviet Union. The following quote from historian Norman Rich examines the significance of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in Hitler's decision to go to war in 1939:

"Another possible explanation of Hitler's decision to go to war in September 1939 was his success in arranging a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union on August 23, which, by freeing him from the danger of a major war on two fronts, gave him what amounted to a blank check for waging war against the West. Further, the economic agreements concluded with the Soviet Union in conjunction with the nonaggression pact assured Germany of vital supplies of strategic raw materials and would go far to free Germany from the throttling effect of an Allied naval blockade.

The treaties with Russia, however, do not appear to have had any more influence in fixing Hitler's decision to go to war with Poland than the Anglo-French guarantees. Neither the Germans nor the Western powers had any high regard for Russia's military capacity, which appeared to have been eroded still further by recent large-scale purges of the Soviet military leadership. Indeed British and French lack of confidence in the effectiveness of Russia's military co-operation was one of the major reasons for their lack of enthusiasm for an alliance with Russia. As for Hitler, Russia played a remarkably small role in his political and military calculations as he contemplated the prospect of war in 1938 and 1939, and there is every reason to believe that he would have resorted to military action even without the Russian treaty. In both the Austrian and Sudeten crises, while Russia was still openly hostile to Germany, Hitler had hoped and expected his opponents to give way, but in each case he seems to have been prepared to fight." (Rich, p.125)

Rich cites evidence that German intelligence had been monitoring British and French assessments of Soviet military capability during their negotiations with the Soviet Union between March and July 1939, and German archives contained files which included analysis by Allied military experts of the Soviet Army and Air force, and both were considered to be "very weak indeed", with "no ability to maintain an effective offensive", and British Foreign Office advice stating that "it was unlikely that on land [Soviet] military effort would be of very much effect". (Rich, p.293)

"Not until the first part of August 1939 is there reliable evidence that Hitler had definitely decided to attack Poland. At this time the Russo-German pact had not yet been concluded, nor had Hitler succeeded in neutralizing the Western powers. Important as the negotiations with Russia appear to have been in retrospect, Hitler seems to have attached far more importance to his efforts to isolate Poland from the West." (Rich, p.126)

Halder's War Journal on 14 August 1939 reports on a meeting between Hitler and his high command on that date and contains a number of relevant comments, which also serve as a very useful springboard for further exploring the issue of German considerations of the Soviet Union in her policy towards Poland in the pre-war period.

"Russia is not in the least disposed to pull chestnuts out of the fire. Has nothing to gain, but much to fear, War at the periphery not opposed to, perhaps even welcome, Not so in center, losing a war is as much of a threat to the Russian state as a victorious army, Interested in disruption of Western nations, access to Baltic." (Halder, Vol. I, p.7)

"The last weeks have brought increasing conviction of Poland's isolation."

"Primary prerequisite: Clearcut military decision must be achieved within measurable time. [Hitler] would expect Poland to collapse within a week or two. Final disposition might take longer."

"Second prerequisite: Resolution to fight every comer. Build-up in West must be completed to last detail."

"Relations with Russia: -- Loose contact, starting out from negotiations for trade agreement. Still under advisement whether a negotiator should go to Moscow, and, whether or not this should be a promin­ent figure. Russia does not feel under any obligation toward the West. Russians are sympathetic to dismemberment of Poland, On subject of Ukraine, promise has been given regarding delimitation of Spheres of Interest. -- Baltic States? The issue is Lithuania (not the Baltic States). Russians want to discuss subject more closely. Distrust. Want no common frontier. -- Fuehrer inclined to meet halfways."

It is clear that Hitler was determined to "fight every comer", although his contingency planning emphasis is clearly directed solely towards the possibility that Britain might fight, and that in such a case, the French would reluctantly join them. Halder's diary contains detailed descriptions of German military preparations in the West, and concludes that the limited time frame for a response will ensure that any Western intervention would be limited to basic mobilization plans, and German defensive requirements are meticulously calculated accordingly. There are no further operational plans for war with the West. As such it is not surprising to find no operational plans for the contingency of a hostile Soviet intervention either. The bulk of the German Army was already deployed in the East for operations in Poland, and in the presumed unlikely event of a surprise Soviet response, adequate forces to restore the situation would already be in place, and a major reassessment of the entire German war strategy on both fronts would be in order, before any offensive possibilities against the Soviet Union could be considered.

Given Rich's claim that the Russo-German pact had little impact on Hitler's decision for war in 1939, it is worth taking a few steps back, and looking at the evolution of German policy towards Poland in the post-Munich period, to see if any conclusions can be reached about how the Soviet Union actually figured into German decision making during that time.

Shortly after Munich, both Hitler and Ribbentrop made friendly advances towards Poland, offering new security guarantees in exchange for German acquisition of Danzig, and transit rights across the Polish Corridor. Hitler claimed a strong Poland in the East eased his own security concerns, and even hinted that their mutual opposition to Russia offered the possibility of future territorial expansion for Poland into the Ukraine (should the opportunity arise). His strategic outlook, at this time, was characterized by his belief that the West needed to be dealt with as the first military priority, and a friendly Poland in the East would secure his rear against a two-front war.

By January 1939, Germany's friendly policy towards Poland had broken down. German proposals had been repeatedly rejected, as Poland correctly determined that moving too closely to Germany would be seen as hostile by Russia, and this would destroy its ability to maintain its independence by balancing its relations with both Germany and Russia, and would result in Poland becoming a dependent vassal of Germany. Hitler concluded that this same attitude would also inevitably prevent Poland from accepting assistance from Russia, in the event that he adopted a more confrontational approach towards Poland.

On 12 February 1939, Hitler met with Slovak dissidents and set the wheels in motion for the dissolution of the rump Czecho-Slovakian state, by stating his support for Slovakian independence. A political crisis ensued in that country, which by early March 1939 had reached a culminating point.

Hitler & Stalin Cartoon

On 10 March 1939, at the height of the rising tensions in Czecho-Slovakia, Joseph Stalin gave a speech to the 18th Party Congress, which was widely seen as having major political significance. He denounced the unwillingness of the West to fully involve the Soviet Union in its collective security arrangements, and claimed the West was insincere, and was actually intent on dragging the Soviet Union alone into war with Germany. He declared that the Soviet Union had no reason for hostility towards Germany, and in fact saw prospects for enhanced economic engagement. He believed Germany would be crazy to try to take the Ukraine from the Soviet Union, as Western propaganda was suggesting, because the Soviets could and would defend their own interests vigorously, but he had no intention of pulling other's chestnuts out of the fire.

This speech by Stalin was understood as a declaration that the Soviet Union had lost faith in the Western efforts of collective security and would not involve itself further in confronting Germany unless their own interests were directly threatened. The reference to "chestnuts" in subsequent speeches by Hitler, and in Halder's diary, clearly shows the significance with which the Germans held this speech as an indicator of Soviet intent.

The following day, on 11 March 1939, Hitler ordered the preparation of an ultimatum to the Czech government, he presented a verbal ultimatum to the Slovakians on 13 March 1939 to enact their declaration of independence, and by 15 March 1939, Czecho-Slovakia had ceased to exist and was under German domination. The brutality of the dismemberment was later said to have been intended as a demonstration to the Poles, and the diplomatic fall-out was immediate, with Britain and France offering military guarantees to Poland, Romania, Greece, and Turkey, the effect of which was to stiffen Polish resolve and end any possibility of an amicable resolution of the German demands over Danzig and the Polish Corridor.

By 30 March 1939, when Hitler was finalizing his annexation of the Memel territory from Lithuania, he claimed he had come to the realization that Poland was too untrustworthy to rely upon in the German rear while war with the West was on the horizon. He reversed his previous policy and determined that Poland would need to be dealt with first, before Germany turned West. The formalization of the Memel transfer included a nonaggression pact between Germany and Lithuania, and a provision that neither party would allow a third-party to attack the other from its territory, a clear sign that Hitler's eyes were now turning pointedly towards Poland and the Soviet Union.

Just a few days later, on 3 April 1939 the Fall Weiss directive was drafted. It was formally issued on 11 April 1939. Norman Rich indicates that the wording of the directive was identical to earlier directives which had been issued before the annexations of Austria and the Sudetenland, and gave clear preference to a peaceful resolution, so his opinion is that war between Germany and Poland was not inevitable at this point, but clearly the changing attitudes of the Western powers had shifted the political climate dramatically. It is interesting to note, that the Baltic States were included along with Poland as the subjects of the Fall Weiss directive, and it was anticipated that they would submit to German military demands, resulting in Germany occupying territory up to the "old Courland line". Preparation of Fall Weiss was completed by 15 June 1939.

On 3 May 1939 Molotov replaced Litvinov as the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, which Hitler interpreted as an end to the Soviet "era of intervention".

On 23 May 1939, Hitler gave a brutal speech to his generals, which some have suggested left no room for any peaceful resolution of the Polish situation, although Norman Rich suggests the reporting of this speech is not entirely reliable, and prefers a later date in mid August when he believes all hope of another bloodless diplomatic coup was truly lost.

Which brings us back to Halder's diary on 14 August 1939, a week before the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed. He claims that by that date, the Soviets had already indicated their support of the partition of Poland. They had already agreed to spheres of influence, which had curtailed German ambitions in the Baltic States. They wanted Polish Ukraine, but did not want a common frontier with Germany, and there were unresolved issues with Polish Lithuania. Hitler preferred to meet the Soviets halfway. History shows us that even after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, these issues had not been fully resolved, and indeed adjustments were made to the delineation of spheres of interest while the military campaign was underway.

It is quite evident, that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was not in itself, the decisive moment in time it is usually held to be. German and Soviet relations were clearly evolving throughout 1939, and German policy towards Poland was evolving in tandem. If a decisive moment is sought, it seems to me to have been closer to the 10 March 1939, when Stalin made his "chestnuts" speech in Moscow. From that point on, there was little consideration given at all to the possibility that the Soviet Union would interfere, or intervene, to halt German encroachments on Poland, and indeed it was a sign for Germany that Russia would entertain improved relations at the expense of the duplicitous Western warmongers and their allies. The dramatic shift in the diplomatic scene in the days which followed, seems to support this view. As such the subsequent military planning, including Fall Weiss, can be seen as arising entirely within the era of Soviet-German harmony, and the question of military contingency planning towards Russia becomes somewhat redundant.

References (more to follow)

Hitler's War Aims: Ideology, the Nazi State, and the Course of Expansion (1973) - Norman Rich

War Journal of Franz Halder - Franz Halder

Letter Reporting on Stalin's Speech of 10 March 1939 - The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

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  • Well, had you answered just a bit earlier (about 30 minutes) you'd have gotten the bounty, but I was running out of time and didn't expect anyone else to chip in this late. But this seems solid and backed up by cited facts. Odd that "chestnuts and fire" is such a common metaphor, it exists in French ("tirer les marrons du feu") as well as English and apparently Russian and German too. May 26 at 23:47
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Curzon line problem

First of all, historically,planning for the German invasion of the USSR (Operation Barbarossa) didn't start before July 1940. The reasons for that are understandable: Before that date Germany had not yet defeated France and British troops in France. The Germans in general were not eager to repeat the situation from WW1 with a two-front war. Even Hitler mentions this in Mein Kampf. Also, in 1939 Germany actually didn't have allies that would go to war with them (Italy joined only on June 10th 1940 with the French defeat looming; the others followed after that). In 1939 other countries simply expected repeat of WW1 with Germany being blockaded and isolated.

Second thing to consider is what reaction could Germany have expected from other major powers in case of an invasion of Poland. During the planning for Fall Weiss, Hitler demanded that the whole operation last around six weeks, but OKH was more cautious and counted on 3 months. The reason for Hitler's haste was because he hpped that a quick conclusion of operations could perhaps deter armed conflict with both France and Great Britain. As we know, the campaign against Poland actually lasted only around five weeks, but nevertheless war with Britain and France was not prevented. Although the Germans hoped to avoid such a conflict, they were nevertheless prepared for this eventuality.

The situation with the USSR was somewhat different. As is well known, during the Polish-Soviet war of 1919-21, Poles utilized opportunity and Soviet weakness to grab some land east of Curzon Line, land that was ethnically not Polish but Belarusian and Ukrainian. Germans knew that Soviets lay claim to that land, and that in the case of a German-Polish war it was unlikely Soviets would stand idly and let Germans occupy those territories. The situation was only exacerbated by ideological animosity and thr recent Spanish civil war, where Soviet and German troops actively fought against each other, especially in the air. It should be noted that while secretly negotiating with Germans, the Soviets were also negotiating with British and French right until mid-August 1939 about joint action against the Germans. Negotiations did fail mostly because Poles did not want Soviet troops on their territory even in this dire hour, but it shows that Soviets were not willing to look the other way in case of a German attack on Poland.

Therefore, without the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, or hypothetical agreement with British & French, what Germany could expect would be the dreaded two front war . Either Britain and France would declare war first and the USSR join them, or the USSR would enter Poland to protect Belarus and Ukrainians there with the French and British joining. Therefore, without an agreement with either Western or Eastern powers, Germany would not have invaded Poland in 1939, let alone the USSR. Only after the total defeat of France and British ground forces in Europe, followed by other countries joining in with the Germans, they felt strong enough to tackle the USSR.

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  • Interesting that you took the opposite side of Tom yet I can't decide who's more likely to be right. At first sight, what you say makes more sense, as the risk of 2 front war should have stopped Hitler in his tracks. At the same time, I can't get over the fact that the attack was launched a week after the Pact. Either the Germans knew it was a done deal in advance or they just didn't care. For any rational person you'd be right, but AH was not necessarily rational, even as early as 1939. May 13 at 5:48
  • Add to it that the Curzon Line aspect that you cite could also be seen to work against your hypothesis - Russia was unlikely to shed many tears on Poland getting screwed, as long as the Germans didn't try to absorb that disputed territory. Seems odd that we know so little about what Nazi contingency plans were. May 13 at 5:51
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica USSR didn't care about Poland, but was not letting Germans occupy what is now western Ukraine and Belarus. Even in August of 1939 USSR proposed to UK that Soviet troops pass trough Polish territory to deter Germans. . Maybe I should add that to the answer.
    – rs.29
    May 13 at 8:49
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica As for Hitler, he never made completely irrational decisions. He did take some calculated risks, but as history shows he did postpone invasion of Poland for a few days , and invasion of France for a few months. Without Molotov-Ribbentropp pact it is unlikely he would risk war against practically everyone in the Europe.
    – rs.29
    May 13 at 9:05
  • how do you explain they were good to go just 1 week later though? May 13 at 16:53
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Fall Weiss, the plan for the invasion of Poland, had (mostly) been laid out by the German general staff years before 1939. The earliest draft took place in the late 1920s. The idea was that Germany would attack Poland from three sides, west, north, and south. converging near Warsaw in the center of the country. Only the "details" changed with the Non-aggression Pact with the Soviet Union.

If Germany was going to "bait the bear," the late 1930s was the time to do it while the Red Army was reeling from the purges of Tugachevsky (and many others). Therefore, while the Molotov-Ribbentrop plan was "helpful" for Germany's invasion of Poland, it probably was not "necessary."* By 1941, it was already late in the game, and much after that, "forgetaboutit."

*Edit: On thinking about it, it's possible that the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact was hurtful, rather than helpful to the Nazis. They might have done better to not cut a deal with the Soviet Union and gone all the way to the eastern border of Poland. This is, of course, said with the benefit of hindsight, given the rapid success of the campaign. But it might demonstrate that the invasion of Poland was viable without the benefit of Soviet suuport.

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    Existence of plans of an invasion does not guarantee that this invasion had to happen. Everything depended on the situation in summer 1939, rather than plans made years in advance.
    – Alex
    May 10 at 13:32
  • @Alex: That's why I put in the second paragraph, about the "Tugachevsky" purge (1937). Because a year or two after said purge was the time that the Red Army was least likely to respond effectively. It was a strategic consideration that the Germans must have noted.
    – Tom Au
    May 10 at 14:43
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    Striking directly after the purge might have been when the Red Army was weakest. On the other hand, the German military was not ready at that time either.
    – DevSolar
    May 10 at 15:46
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    @DevSolar: The way I see it, 1941 was kind of the "last call" for an invasion of the Soviet Union. But 1939 was a good time for a "first strike" (against Poland) with limited fear of Soviet interference. The German military wasn't (quite) ready for a full scale attack (against the Soviet Union) but certainly ready for a "dress rehearsal."
    – Tom Au
    May 10 at 16:22
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    First para seems almost unrelated to how I read the Q? (Neither wrong nor totally irrelevant—albeit 'not: target USSR') Was there concrete planning going on for 'howto: attacking SU prior to 39'? I guess that's what's required here more than anything? May 12 at 2:29
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+200

The war diary of Colonel General Franz Halder, the, then, Chief of Staff of the Army High Command, has some musings on the German-Russian situation leading up to the outbreak of the war and after.

-ooo-

14 August 1939

Political: Primary opponents: Poland Britain (active), France Others: Russia is not in the least disposed to pull chestnuts of the fire. Has nothing to gain, but much to fear. War at the periphery not opposed to, perhaps even welcome. Not so in center, losing a war is as much of a threat to the Russian State as a victorious army. Interested in disruption of western nations, access to Baltic.

-ooo-

[still 14 August 1939]

Relations with Russian, Loose contact, starting out from negotiations for trade agreement. Still under advisement whether a negotiator should go to 0Moscow, and, whether or not this should be a prominent figure. Russia does not feel under any obligation toward the West. Russians are sympathetic to dismemberment of Poland. On subject Ukraine, promise has been given regarding delimitation of spheres of interest. -- Baltic States? The- issue is Lithuania (not the Baltic States). Russians want to discuss subject more closely. Distrust. Want no common frontier. Fuehrer inclined to meet halfway.

-ooo-

In a meeting on 21 August 1939, Halder paraphrases the words of Abwehr chief Canaris:

Canaris: a) Present version of guaranty pact does not meet Russian wishes. Program: Ribbentrop will go (to Moscow) eight days after signing and publication of trade agreement (20 Aug.); would have to take with him draft of guaranty pact, covering all points of joint interest to Germany and Russia. Russian draft provides for exclusion of use of force against third parties and of support to aggressors arbitration in event of disagreements, and duration for five years from date of ratification.

-ooo-

22 August 1939, in a conference including Hitler and the commanding generals of the three services . . .

Russia will never be so out of her mind as to go to war for France and Britain. Developments in Russia: Dismissal of Litvinov marks end of interventionist era. Next the trade agreement. Even before that conversations were initiated by Russia on a non-aggression pact. German intervention in Russo-Japanese conflict, and Baltic States. Russians have Informal us that they are ready to sign the pact. Direct contact between Stalin and Fuehrer. ‘With this I have knocked the weapons out of the hands of this gentry . . . Poland Has been maneuvered into a position, where our military victory is assumed.’ Ultimate, effects cannot yet be predicted: New course! Stalin has written that he promises himself much for both sides. Radical chances in European political picture.

-ooo-

At the same meeting there is, perhaps a faint whiff of the future, but nothing specific as to from whom might the referenced protectorate be drawn, but included is that current operation (the pending invasion of Poland) are not to be influenced by these nebulous future matters:

New frontiers: Possibly incorporation of some areas into Reich, with protectorate to the east. Military operations need not be affected by regard for future frontiers.

-ooo-

26 August 1939

Treaty with Russia has secret clause: Ukraine and Baltic States exclusive of Lithuania, are thrown to the Russians.

-ooo-

28 August 1939

Conference at Reich Chancellery at 1730; Reichstag and several Party notables, Fuehrer accompanied by Himmler, Heydrich, Wolff, Goebbels and Bormann. Situation is very grave. Determined to have Eastern question settled one way or another. Minimum demands: Return of Danzig, settling of Corridor question. ‘Maximum demands: Depending on military situation.’ If minimum demands not satisfied, then war: Brutal! He will himself be in the front line. Position taken by IlDuce serves our best interests. The war will be tough, we may even fail, but ‘As long as lam alive there will be no talk of capitulation.’ -- Soviet Pact widely misunderstood in Party. A pact with Satan to cast out the Devil. -- Economic situation. ‘Applause on proper cues, but thin.’ Personal impression of Fuehrer: worn, haggard, creaking voice, preoccupied. ‘Keeps himself completely surrounded now by his SS advisers.’

So, war breaks out in four days. There does not appear to be an identifiable future action against the Soviet Union under any discussion at this point other than the obscure reference on the 22nd, at least not in Halder’s presence or that he was willing to put to paper, though as you read through the diary there is certainly enough other detailed discussion of plans or thinking regarding other countries. It does not appear that there was ever a thought that the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact was not going to go through.

Halder Diaries can be had here https://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/search/collection/p4013coll8/searchterm/War+journal+of+Franz+Halder/field/title/mode/all/conn/and

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  • +1 I like this answer, but Halder's diary runs from the 14th of August 1939. Pact is signed 9 days later. By then, yes, they probably knew that it was a just a question of divvying up the bones of Poland with the Soviets and Halder's general lack of concern is natural but it doesn't tell us all that much about what the earlier contingency planning consisted of. Still, at least this is based on actual sources. May 26 at 1:29
  • But you've just your assumption that plans were made. I'd point out that a lack of evidence is not evidence.
    – R Leonard
    May 26 at 2:17
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    Well, I am not going to accept this answer because Halder's take falls well within the time period by which they were pretty certain the USSR was going to go along. So Halder not recording anything about earlier plans isn't surprising, he's just remarking on the horse trading. However, you did go back to contemporary sources and actual books, rather than launch into a pure hypothesis-based answer. So, since I'm out of 200 rep anyway, it's all yours. May 26 at 15:09
0

No one knows what exactly would happen. Hitler's original goal was annexing Danzig and the "Polish corridor". The idea of partitioning of Poland and liquidating it as an state was the result of the German-Soviet pact. Also Polish resistance did not stop with the fall of Warsaw: Poland surrendered only after the Soviet invasion from the East which made all further resistance hopeless.

Ref. S. McMeekin, Stalin's war, Hachette Books, 2021.

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    Err... no. Hitler's goal was invading the Soviet Union. Operation Barbarossa was not an afterthought.
    – DevSolar
    May 10 at 15:44
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    To quote Hitler from May 23rd 1939 (a day after signing the Pact of Steel with Italy): "Everything I do is directed at Russia; if the West is too stupid or blind to understand this, I will be forced to reach an understanding with the Russians, defeat the West, and after their defeat turn with all my forces on Russia. I need the Ukraine, so we cannot be starved out like in the last war."
    – DevSolar
    May 10 at 15:50
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    @DevSolar: I was talking about immediate goal. Speaking of long term goal, Stalin's goal was establishing "socialism" (=Russian dominance) in the whole world. He spoke about this publicly and on record hundreds of times.
    – Alex
    May 11 at 1:29
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    Oh please. You're not going to call Barbarossa a "necessary preemptive strike", are you? Hitler had written about his plans to vanquish Russia as early as 1925...
    – DevSolar
    May 11 at 7:40
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    Lenin, Stalin and all other top communist leaders wrote and spoke about "world revolution" since 1917 at least. And in 1939-40 they demonstrated in practice what this means by attacking 7 countries (exactly the same number as Hitler attacked).
    – Alex
    May 11 at 11:14

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