The non-aggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union dated 23 on August 1939, signed by the heads of the foreign affairs agencies, V.M. Molotov and I. von Ribbentrop, became one of the main accusations personally filed by J. Stalin and the USSR. For the liberals and the external enemies of the Russian people, this pact is the theme by which they try to force Russia to repent, thereby including it among the aggressors, the instigators of the Second World War.
However, in most cases, critics of this agreement do not take into account the geopolitical realities of the time when similar agreements with Germany existed in Poland, England and other states. They look at the pact from the height of ours, still relatively good time. To understand the need for this agreement, you must feel the spirit of 1939 of the year and analyze several possible scenarios of actions by the Soviet Union.
For a start, we must remember that by 1939, there were three main forces in the world: 1) “Western democracies” - France, England, the United States and their allies; 2) Germany, Italy, Japan and their allies; 3) USSR. The inevitability of the collision in Moscow was well understood. However, Moscow had to delay the start of the Union’s entry into the war as much as possible in order to use this time to implement the program of industrialization and rearmament of the army. The worst scenario for the USSR was a clash with the German-Italo-Japanese bloc, with the hostile position of the “countries of democracy”. In addition, there was the possibility of a collision between the USSR and Britain and France, with the initial neutrality of Germany. Thus, during the Soviet-Finnish war, London and Paris actually decided to go to war with the USSR, planning to help Finland, landing an expeditionary force in Scandinavia and strike the southern borders of the USSR from the territory of the Middle East (plan for bombing oil fields in Baku).
Moscow, on the other hand, pursued such a rational policy that Germany initially struck at the Anglo-French bloc, weakening its position greatly. Only after the defeat of France, Berlin turned the Wehrmacht to the east. As a result, Germany and its allies were at war with two forces of global significance. This predetermined the outcome of the Second World War. The Anglo-Saxons hated the USSR and dreamed of its dismemberment as well as the German military-political leadership (if not more), but were forced to become allies of Moscow in order to save face during a bad game. The bosses of the USA and Great Britain gained a lot from the Second World War. But still the main goal was not achieved. The USSR not only was not destroyed and dismembered into national “Bantustans” controlled by the “world community”, but in the fire of war it became stronger, it gained the status of a superpower. The USSR was still building a fairer world order, backed by the status of the winner of the "brown plague".
Options for the development of events if the USSR had not signed a non-aggression pact
Scenario one. The USSR and Germany do not sign the non-aggression pact. USSR relations with Poland remain hostile. The military convention of the Soviet Union with England and France is not signed. In this case, the Wehrmacht trashes the Polish armed forces and seizes all of Poland, including Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine. On the western border of Germany, a "strange war" begins, when the British and French drop German troops and cities not bombs, but flyers and command, instead of organizing offensive operations, solves the task of entertaining the soldiers. Obviously, Hitler was given a "permit" to strike at the USSR.
Out on the border of the USSR, the Wehrmacht rests on the troops of the Belarusian and Kiev districts, which are on alert in connection with the war in the adjacent territory. Having no agreement with Moscow, given the anti-fascist statements of the Soviet leadership in the prewar period and Hitler’s statements about the need for "living space" in the east, the German military is forced to consider us number one enemy. It is clear that the German troops do not immediately rush into battle, it is necessary to regroup forces, develop an invasion plan, restore order in Polish territory, especially since there is a line of fairly strong fortifications in front of them.
However, the German command almost immediately can improve the strategic position of its troops - from the north-west Lithuania and Latvia hang over the Byelorussian SSR, which have minor armed forces. Their capture or “voluntary” accession made it possible to bypass our troops in Belarus from the left flank; as a result, it was no longer necessary to storm the fortifications. The Soviet command, when struck from the north, would itself have withdrawn troops from a possible ring of encirclement. In addition, German troops reached the Soviet border near Sebezh and found themselves in 550 kilometers from Moscow, where there were only two natural boundaries - Lovat and the upper reaches of the Western Dvina. Berezina and the Dnieper remained in the rear, which in 1941, in the Smolensk region, delayed the offensive of the Army Group Center for the Soviet capital for three months and forced the German command to spend 44% of its strategic reserve. As a result, the plan "Barbarossa" - a lightning war, received all the chances for implementation. If we take into account the fact that the German troops seized Estonia and the Wehrmacht reached the line to quickly capture Leningrad, the situation would have been disastrous even before the outbreak of hostilities. The USSR was forced to fight in even more stringent conditions than happened in reality.
No doubt, the USSR won in this situation, but the losses increased many times over. France and England retained their strength and resources in the integrity and with the support of the United States, at the end of the Second World War could claim control over most of the planet.
Scenario two. In this version, Moscow was supposed to stand on the side of Poland, as England and France wanted. The problem was that the Polish leadership did not want such help. Thus, in April 1939, the Polish embassy in London informed the charge d'affaires of Germany in the United Kingdom, Theodor Kordt, that "Germany can be confident that Poland will never allow any soldier of Soviet Russia to enter its territory." This was a firm position that Warsaw did not change even as a result of the political pressure of France. Even 20 August 1939, three days before the signing of the Soviet-German non-aggression treaty and eleven days before the start of World War II, Polish Foreign Minister Jozef Beck telegraphed Lukasiewicz’s ambassador to France that “no military treaties link the Poland to the Soviets and the Polish government does not intend to conclude such a contract. ” It is also necessary to take into account the fact that France and Britain were not going to give firm guarantees to the USSR and to sign a military convention.
In this case, the Soviet troops have to overcome the resistance of the Polish troops, to wage war on hostile territory, because the Poles do not want us to stand up for them. France and England on the Western Front lead a "strange war." Having entered combat contact with the Wehrmacht, with an approximate material and technical equality of forces and human resources, and in the absence of a sudden strike from both sides, the war will gradually acquire a protracted, positional character. True, the Germans will be able to flank attack through the Baltic States. The German command may try to cut off and surround the Soviet troops in Poland.
This scenario is also very unfavorable for Moscow. The USSR and Germany will deplete their forces in the struggle against each other, the “countries of democracy” will remain the winners.
Scenario Three. Warsaw, under the threat of complete liquidation of the Polish statehood, could break off allied relations with England and France, and join the German bloc. Fortunately, Warsaw already had experience of cooperation with Berlin during the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. Actually 18 August Warsaw declared its readiness to transfer Danzig, to hold a plebiscite in the Polish corridor and to a military alliance with the Third Reich against the USSR. True, the Polish leadership made a reservation; London had to agree to that. It must be recalled that Polish politicians had long ago dug into Soviet lands and were not averse to participating in the division of the USSR, pretending to Ukraine. But Warsaw wanted Germany itself to do all the dirty work - hitting the Baltic States and Romania through East Prussia. The Poles already wanted to share the skin of a dead bear, and not to fight with him.
In this case, the German-Polish forces delivered a blow to the USSR, i.e. Hitler received at his disposal 1 million. Polish army (with the possibility of increasing its number). England and France remain officially neutral. Reich by September 1 1939 had in the Wehrmacht 3 million 180 thousand people. The Soviet Union could then put 2 million 118 thousand soldiers (peacetime staff, the number was significantly increased by the beginning of the Polish campaign). It was the whole Red Army. Therefore, it was not necessary to forget that a significant grouping of Soviet troops was in the Far East - the Special Far Eastern Army. She stood there in case of a threat from the Japanese Empire. And the threat was serious - just before the beginning of the great war in Europe, military actions in Mongolia between the Soviet and Japanese armies were in full swing. USSR threatened war on two fronts. The Japanese leadership was considering the question of the main direction of the strike: the southern direction or the northern direction. The rapid defeat of the Japanese grouping (fighting at Khalkhin-Gol) showed the power of the Soviet army, so Tokyo decided to go south, ousting England, the USA, Holland and France from the Asia-Pacific region. But the USSR had to keep the whole Great Patriotic War in the east of significant forces in order to secure their Far Eastern borders.
The Leningrad Military District was solving the problem of protecting Leningrad from Finland; it was impossible to transfer considerable forces from it to the west. The Transcaucasian region also could not use most of the forces for the war with Germany - there was the likelihood of an attack by Turkey. He was supported by the North Caucasus region. Arkhangelsk, Odessa, Moscow, Oryol, Kharkiv, North Caucasus, Volga, Ural, Central Asian military districts could help the special Western and Kiev districts. Siberian and Transbaikal were focused on supporting the Far Eastern Front. In addition, it was necessary to take into account the time factor - the rear districts needed some time to mobilize and send reinforcements.
In the Western and Kiev districts, which were to withstand the first blow of the enemy, there were 617 thousand people. Thus, the correlation of forces in personnel was in favor of Germany. Berlin could concentrate almost all available forces against the USSR and expose the western frontiers.
We must not forget the negative attitude of the Baltic states towards the USSR. They could have been occupied by the Wehrmacht, or voluntarily go over to its side — by giving Berlin, in the case of 400-500 mobilization, thousands of people. And the most terrible were not these hundreds of thousands of soldiers, but the fact that the territory of the Baltic States could be used as a convenient base for a bypass maneuver and attack on the USSR.
Obviously, Moscow understood this no worse than we are now (rather, better). Stalin was a pragmatist and knew how to count. It would be very foolish to go to war with the German-Polish coalition in 1939. England and France remained neutral. Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Italy and Finland supported Germany. Having the geopolitical position that went to Soviet Russia after the revolution and the Civil War, when Bessarabia, Poland, Western Ukraine, Western Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland were alienated from our homeland, which sharply worsened the military-strategic position on the western frontiers, and fighting a strong enemy like Germany was an unacceptable risk. Moscow understood that the non-aggression pact was temporary, and that the Third Reich. Having solved its tasks in Western Europe, would again rush to the east. Therefore, in order to improve the military-strategic position in the western direction, Stalin made efforts to re-join Bessarabia, the Baltic States and parts of Finland to Russia. When it comes to the question of the survival of an entire civilization, the problem of choice for limiting states does not exist.
Was it possible to do without the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact?
- Alexander Samsonov