Hitler’s Trump Card: Information Gaps and the Nazi-Soviet Pact
On August 23, 1939, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia signed a nonaggression pact, which secretly determined each nation's spheres of influence in Eastern Europe and paved the way for the outbreak of World War II. The Nazi-Soviet pact remains one of the most significant diplomatic events in the 20th century, for its conclusion both fostered World War II's outbreak and contributed to distrust of Soviet intentions during the Cold War. This chapter addresses some unanswered questions about the pact. It shows that the Nazi-Soviet pact did not result from a long-range, coherent plan, but rather in spite of the confused, chaotic system which governed Germany's foreign affairs. Scarcely more than three months prior to the outbreak of war, Hitler was not receiving important information regarding the shift in Soviet foreign policy. Although the final outcome might have been the same, the timing and nature of Hitler's decisions were limited by the lack of information.
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