Chapter 3 - The Cold War Builds From the Hitler-Stalin Pact to the Iron Curtain 1939 to 1950

In the part of the Pact made public, the parties: “obligate themselves to desist from any act of violence, any aggressive action, and any attack on each other, either individually or jointly with other powers.” “Should one . . . party become the object of belligerent action by a third power . . . [the other party] shall in no manner lend its support to this third power.” This clause signaled that if, as expected, Germany were to act against Poland, based on a German claim of “belligerent action” by Poland against Germany or against Germans living in Poland, Moscow would “in no manner” aid Poland.

Secret Protocols and Invasions. In a Secret Additional Protocol and other related secret agreements that followed over the next weeks, the National Socialist and national Communist totalitarians divided areas of Nazi and Soviet occupation throughout Eastern Europe including the Baltic nations. In the case of Poland, German forces invaded from the west on September 1, 1939, while the Soviets waited for the Germans to bomb and occupy the Polish capital of Warsaw before the Soviet Union’s Red Army, in turn, invaded Poland from the east on September 17. Poland surrendered on September 27.

Brest-Litovsk Again. The Soviet and Nazi military forces had a well-documented celebratory meeting at Brest-Litovsk, Poland, the same town where Lenin had similarly betrayed the Polish people and Russia’s Western democratic allies in the First World War with his separate peace of March 1919 with Imperial Germany (Chapter 2). Some twenty years later, Stalin went beyond Lenin’s betrayal as he joined Hitler in the destruction of an independent Poland and actively entered the Second World War on Hitler’s side. The Protocols provided that the Red Army was to occupy more than half of Poland—some 78,000 square miles of territory with a population over thirteen million. As agreed with Hitler, the Soviet Union in the next weeks also overran the independent Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and deported or immediately liquidated their national leadership groups. In November 1939, Soviet forces invaded neighboring Finland, an act of war opposed by Germany and for which the Soviet Union was expelled from the League of Nations on December 14, 1939.

Molotov’s Toast and Stalin’s Speech. Lenin’s logic at Brest-Litovsk also presaged that of Stalin’s Foreign Minister Molotov’s toast to Hitler at the signing of the 1939 Pact in Moscow and Stalin’s reported speech to the Politburo, which delighted in the prospect that the Soviet Union’s German National Socialist ally would surely destroy the “capitalist” powers of France, Great Britain, and their democratic allies. Marx and Lenin had equated all Western parliamentary democracies as irredeemable, anti-Communist, “capitalist,” and “imperialist” enemies that would oppose Communist ideological claims and would resist Soviet historical momentum. In Stalin’s twisted logic, German forces he had for a time opposed in the Spanish Civil War were now seen as useful tools in initiating history’s coming war of destruction between capitalist societies. Not coincidentally, the Communist and Nazi partners well understood each other’s common ground in distrusting “bourgeois” and “capitalist” enemies of the state, and shared the view that they must liquidate “finance capital” (often more specifically identified by both as Jews).

Comintern Orders, a Crisis of Communist Faith. Communist Party faithful throughout the world were commanded by Moscow’s Communist International organization (the Comintern, founded by Lenin in 1918) to fully support the Hitler-Stalin Pact and all related Soviet actions. Yet the Pact disillusioned many Communist faithful in nations across the globe. It brought on a severe existential crisis of faith in the Soviet Union and the larger Communist cause from which many believers never recovered, including leading members of the American Communist Party. Yet, even after seventy-five or more years, the Kremlin’s current leaders still try to evade and lie about this unforgivable example of Nazi-Soviet collaboration that so directly contributed to millions of deaths during the Second World War.

The Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact—April 1941. In addition to the notorious Hitler-Stalin Pact, a second very serious, but far less well-known, Soviet betrayal of the democratic cause was the “Pact of Neutrality between the Soviet Union and Japan,” generally known as the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact of 1941, signed on April 13, 1941. This Pact freed Imperial Japan from concerns on its vital northwestern front facing the Soviet Union in the case of a Japanese war with the United States. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the “day of infamy” fully aroused the American “sleeping giant” but not the Soviet Union. In a chain of events facilitated by the Soviet-Japanese pact, Japan’s Pearl Harbor attack was accompanied by Japan’s declaration of war on the United States, followed by Japan’s invasions of the Philippines and other countries throughout Southeast Asia. On December 8, the U.S. Congress endorsed Roosevelt’s Call for a Declaration of War on Japan, and because Japan was party to the September 1940 tripartite “Axis” Pact with Nazi Germany (and fascist Italy), this triggered Germany’s Declaration of War Against the United States on December 11,

[Book pg. 49]