The German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact and the Unfolding of World War II

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The German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact was signed by Hitler and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in August 1939, inciting a flurry of concern in London and Paris. The invasion of Poland, a nation to which Great Britain and France had guaranteed military support if Germany invaded, had long been planned by Hitler. The pact with Stalin meant that once he invaded Poland, Hitler would not face a war on two fronts and would have Soviet help in conquering and dividing the nation itself (, 2009). “On September 1, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland from the west; two days later, France and Britain declared war on Germany, beginning World War II.” (, 2009)


World War II Takes Shape

Soviet forces invaded Poland from the east on September 17. Poland came rapidly under attack from both sides and, according to a secret protocol appended to the Nonaggression Pact, Germany and the Soviet Union had divided power over the country by early 1940. The forces of Stalin then advanced to conquer the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) and, in the Russo-Finish War, defeated a resistant Finland.

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During the six months following the invasion of Poland, the lack of intervention by Germany and the Allies in the West led to a ‘phony war’ being debated in the news media. “At sea, however, the British and German navies faced off in heated battle, and lethal German U-boat submarines struck at merchant shipping bound for Britain, sinking more than 100 vessels in the first four months of World War II.” (, 2009) World War II was affecting the world, and now I will tell you how.

World War II Around the World

Germany simultaneously invaded Norway and occupied Denmark on April 9, 1940, and the war began in earnest. In what became known as ‘blitzkrieg,’ or lightning battle, on May 10, German forces marched through Belgium and the Netherlands. Hitler’s troops crossed the Meuse River three days later and attacked French forces at Sedan, situated at the northern end of the Maginot Line, an extensive chain of fortifications designed after the First World War and known as an impenetrable defensive barrier. Actually, with their tanks and aircraft, the Germans broke through the line and proceeded to the rear, making it useless.


At the end of May, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was evacuated by sea from Dunkirk, while a doomed resistance was mounted in the South of France. With France on the brink of collapse, Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini formed an alliance with Hitler, the Steel Pact, and on June 10, Italy declared war on France and Britain.


  1. (2009). German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact. Retrieved from
  2. (2009). World War II. Retrieved from
  3. (2009). German Invasion of Poland. Retrieved from

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The German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact and the Unfolding of World War II. (2023, Aug 14). Retrieved from

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