Myth 2 – The Soviet Union Was Always an Ruthless Opponent of Nazi Germany


The Soviet Union Was Always an Ruthless Opponent of Nazi Germany

Maksym Maiorov

A.Uzulyas (Colonel Andre), The Sons of the Night

“An implacable opponent of Nazism was the Soviet Union who was a powerful factor in the struggle against German aggression.”

The Essence of the Myth

The USSR was always a consistent opponent to Nazism.

Fast Facts

During the interwar period, Moscow and Berlin sought to destroy the system that was created by the victors of the First World War. During 1922–1933, the Soviet Union helped restore Germany’s military capability. The Russian Bolsheviks wanted a global communist revolution and in 1923 did not shun support for the German Nazis. During 1933–1939, the Soviet Union and Germany treated each other as ideological enemies which allowed them to get support from the international community. The accumulated forces of Stalin and Hitler were used for the united outbreak of the Second World War.

Detailed Facts

After the end of the First World War in 1918, the victor states established a system of international relations based on the Versailles Treaty. This system involved discrimination against the defeated Germany.

The aim of the United Kingdom, France and their allies was to not let Germany revive its military potential. They set reparations and limits on the amount and types of weapons that Germany could have. They took all of Germany’s colonies and a large part of their European territory.

In addition, the victor states tried to isolate the Soviet Union economically and politically due to a fear of communist expansion. The newly independent states such as Poland, Czechoslovakia and others were regarded as a factor of stability in Europe.

Germany and the Soviet Union were equally unhappy with this post-war parade and tried to change it and this became the prerequisite for relations between them. The first step toward this direction was the Rapallo Treaty between the USSR and Germany in 1922.

Between 1922 and 1933, Germany was not yet a Nazi state. However, thanks to their cooperation with the Soviet Union, Germany began to recover its army (the Reichswehr). During 1926–1931, Germany became the Soviet Union’s largest trading partner.

In order to train German soldiers, the USSR organized Lipetsk (for pilots), Kama (for tankists), Tomka (for chemical weapons) educational and research centers. Future military commanders of the Third Reich completed internships in the USSR.

Cooperation between Moscow and Germany was not limited to government circles. In 1923, the Franco-Belgian occupation of the Ruhr in Germany caused the radicalization of the opposition in the country. The Soviet Union hoped that the wave of popular anger in Germany would lead to a communist revolution. Given the popularity of the nationalists and Nazi groups, Moscow demanded that the German Communist Party work with the right-wing extremists.

After Hitler came to power in January 1933, relations soured. The conflict based on ideological antagonism between Nazism and Communism escalated between the two countries. But behind the scenes of this ideological confrontation, both states maintained a common interest – the elimination of the Versailles system. In May 1933, Tuckhachevsky (a leading Soviet military theoretician) said to a visiting Reichswehr delegation:

“Do not forget, that our policies divide us but not our feelings, feelings of friendship between the Red Army to the Reichswehr… Germany and the USSR can dictate terms to the world, if we act together.”

In the summer of that year, the German General Staff held military-staff training along with the Red Army based on the defeat of Poland.

In the period from 1933 to 1939, the USSR had an active global propaganda campaign against the rise of the Nazi threat. Stalin’s antifascist course allowed the Soviet Union to attract many fans and managed to overcome international isolation.

At the same time, Germany proclaimed itself the main opponent of communist expansion. Hitler convinced the leaders of the Western states that he intended to fight the Soviet Union and even concluded an anti-Soviet treaty with Poland.

Britain and France believed in the German anti-communist orientation and therefore did not prevent it from reviving its industrial and military power. The former victors of the

Aerial view of the secret German flight school in the city of Lipetsk, Russia

First World War did not even protest against the territorial expansion of the Third Reich. The demonstrative opposition between Germany and the USSR was no less cooperative than in previous periods.

In 1939, Stalin decisively and knowingly destroyed attempts to organize an anti-Hitler coalition between the allied forces and the USSR. The Soviet leader demanded the right to occupy the eastern regions of Poland in order to join the alliance with France and Great Britain. This was an unacceptable condition.

Instead, secret German-Soviet negotiations began in April 1939, immediately after the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Hitler. The result of this was indicated in “Fall Weiss” (April 1939), the German plan of aggression against Poland. According to this plan, combat operations east of the Vistula River were not anticipated. Hitler was going to divide Poland between himself and Stalin.

The German “Fokker D.XIII” aircraft at the flight school in Lipetsk