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The signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

On August 24, 1939, i.e. 70 years ago, the Soviet foreign minister Molotov and the foreign minister of the German Reich von Ribbentrop signed the Treaty of Non-Aggression Between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, better known as the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact or simply Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

Although the Pact was in form a non-aggression pact between two ideological enemies it committed the signatory powers to refrain from aggression against each other and to remain neutral if either became the object of belligerent action. Annexed to the Pact was a Secret Additional Protocol in which the two States agreed on the partition of Poland and the division of large parts of eastern Europe into their respective spheres of influence. As such the Pact enabled both parties to pursue imperialist and expansionistic foreign policy objectives, and hence paved the way for the outbreak of World War II and the eventual clash between the signatories.

The Pact violated numerous legal obligations of the signatories and especially the Secret Additional Protocol, the existence of which was denied by the Soviet Union until 1989, was an instrument that united two antagonistic States around the shared desire of forced reconstruction of eastern Europe. Yet still today, many Russians don’t want to interpret the Pact as a concerted attempt of the Soviet Union and the German Reich to forcefully reconstruct the European map.


  1. the facts the facts 25 August 2009

    To give the Russian credit, on 24 December 1989 the Supreme Soviet declared the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact invalid from the day of its conclusion (Congress of People’s Deputies Resolution on a Political and Legal Appraisal of the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Treaty of 1939 (1989)).

  2. Dominik Zimmermann Dominik Zimmermann 25 August 2009

    Indeed. Thank you for this additional piece of information. Yet it remains remarkable that the existence of the secret additional protocol was denied by the Soviets for so long. And of course for good reasons: the protocol showed more than anything else the willingness of the Soviets to not only accept Germany’s claims in the east, but to actively participate in the forced restruction of eastern Europe.

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