Moving Into The New Year With Molotov and Ribbentrop

In 1939, the Soviet Union formally allied with Nazi Germany and agreed on how to split up the countries located between them. Immediately after, Germany invaded Poland. It is generally thought to be the beginning of World War II. Russia did not acknowledge the existence of the secret protocol on dividing Europe until 1989.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is David-Low-Rendezvous.jpg
Cartoon by David Low in the Evening Standard depicting Hitler greeting Stalin after the invasion of Poland, 

But that is not what Vladimir Putin wants you to believe. No, it was dastardly France, United Kingdom, the United States, and others who joined up with Hitler first at Munich, leaving the poor Soviet Union with no choice! Putin has mentioned this in several speeches, and in the last several weeks, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has joined in.

And they’re dissing diplomats who disagree with them.

The nations Russia has accused of starting World War II are pushing back.

Even Germany…

And, of course, a lot more from amateur and professional historians on Twitter. If you ever wanted to learn more about the beginnings of World War II, this is your big chance.

It’s hard to know what is motivating this propaganda storm from Russia. Here’s a person I trust.

That’s a little unclear, but I think the second sentence is intended to say that when Russia wants to use WW2 to gain friends, it usually talks about its sacrifices rather than the war’s origins.

There is speculation, as you see in the Dalsjö tweet, that it’s in preparation for some sort of military action from Russia. I tend to doubt that – Russia doesn’t need that kind of trouble right now. OTOH, Putin has been feeling cocky about his new weapons designed to deter the United States.

Cross-posted to Balloon Juice


  1. The Blog Fodder · January 5, 2020

    Have you read Suvorov’s Icebreaker or The Chief Culprit? He makes a good case that Stalin knew exactly what he was doing and that if Hitler had delayed Barbarossa by two more weeks, the Red Army would have been on the English Channel by October.


    • Cheryl Rofer · January 5, 2020

      I have not read that, am currently reading Stephen Kotkin’s second volume of his Stalin bio, which goes only up to 1937. That seems a highly optimistic read of the Red Army.


  2. The Blog Fodder · January 7, 2020

    The Red Army was not as bad as it was made out to be. If you look at the logistics of the Winter War, they accomplished a miracle in three months. It was sold as a disaster to hide the fact it was not. Have you EVER heard of the USSR or Russia for that matter admit to being incompetent etc? That alone was a giveaway to me.
    The Red Army was building up on the Polish border with no defensive positions, it was stockpiling munitions and equipment to go on the offensive. When the Germans attacked, Stalin refused to allow the army to take up defensive positions or to retreat, thus guaranteeing the devastating loss of men and equipment in the first weeks of Barbarossa. He knew that the Germans were building up against the Polish border but did not believe the warnings that attack was imminent. The signs he was looking for – a jump in the price of wool, indicating Germans were making winter uniforms and a switch to lighter winter lubrications. These never happened as Hitler figured he could beat the Soviets in 4 months.
    The orthodox version we were taught and that was adopted by most historians follows the Soviet line, as of course, they were peace-loving people who were invaded by barbarians.


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