On 23 Aug 1939, Germany & the Soviet Union sign a non-aggression pact, stunning the world; the dictators were both playing to their own political needs. When Poland was threatened, Prime Minister Chamberlain made it plain that Britain would come to the aid of Poland, but he needed an ally. The only power large enough to stop Hitler was the Soviet Union. But Stalin was cool to Britain. Plus, Poland’s leaders were unhappy with the prospect of Russia becoming its guardian; to them, it was simply occupation by another monstrous regime. Hitler believed that Britain would never take him on alone, so he decided to swallow his fear of communism and cozy up to Stalin, thereby pulling the rug out from the British. Both sides were extremely suspicious of the other. But Hitler was in a hurry; he knew his invasion of Poland had to be done quickly, before the West could create a unified front. Agreeing to carve up parts of Eastern Europe-and leave each other alone, they signed the pact. The world’s supporters of bolshevism had their romantic view of “international socialism” ruined; they were outraged that Stalin would team with the fascist dictator—but Nazis are National Socialists. However, once Poland was German-occupied territory, the alliance didn’t last for long—Hitler invaded Russia on 22 June the following year. (Incidentally, Napoleon invaded Russia on 22 June, also, in 1812.) Morale: Beware of big countries with big, powerful central governments; power corrupts—and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Look out, America.
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