Archive for September 17th, 2008

17
Sep
08

On This Day: 9-17-2008: Poland Partitioned

September 17, 1939

Soviet Union invades Poland

On this day in 1939, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov declares that the Polish government has ceased to exist, as the U.S.S.R. exercises the “fine print” of the Hitler-Stalin Non-aggression pact-the invasion and occupation of eastern Poland.

Hitler’s troops were already wreaking havoc in Poland, having invaded on the first of the month. The Polish army began retreating and regrouping east, near Lvov, in eastern Galicia, attempting to escape relentless German land and air offensives. But Polish troops had jumped from the frying pan into the fire-as Soviet troops began occupying eastern Poland. The Ribbentrop-Molotov Non-aggression Pact, signed in August, had eliminated any hope Poland had of a Russian ally in a war against Germany. Little did Poles know that a secret clause of that pact, the details of which would not become public until 1990, gave the U.S.S.R. the right to mark off for itself a chunk of Poland’s eastern region. The “reason” given was that Russia had to come to the aid of its “blood brothers,” the Ukrainians and Byelorussians, who were trapped in territory that had been illegally annexed by Poland. Now Poland was squeezed from West and East-trapped between two behemoths. Its forces overwhelmed by the mechanized modern German army, Poland had nothing left with which to fight the Soviets.

As Soviet troops broke into Poland, they unexpectedly met up with German troops who had fought their way that far east in a little more than two weeks. The Germans receded when confronted by the Soviets, handing over their Polish prisoners of war. Thousands of Polish troops were taken into captivity; some Poles simply surrendered to the Soviets to avoid being captured by the Germans.

The Soviet Union would wind up with about three-fifths of Poland and 13 million of its people as a result of the invasion.

“Soviet Union invades Poland.” 2008. The History Channel website. 17 Sep 2008, 10:10 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6587

 

The Government of the German Reich and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics desirous of strengthening the cause of peace between Germany and the U.S.S.R and proceeding from the fundamental provisions of the Neutrality Agreement concluded in April 1926 between Germany and the U.S.S.R., have reached the following agreement:

ARTICLE I

Both High Contracting Parties obligate, themselves to desist from any act of violence, any aggressive action, and any attack on each other, either individually or jointly with other powers.

ARTICLE II

Should one of the High Contracting Parties become the object of belligerent action by a third power, the other High Contracting Party shall in no manner lend its support to this third power.

ARTICLE III

The Governments of the two High Contracting Parties shall in the future maintain continual contact with one another for the purpose of consultation in order to exchange information on problems affecting their common interests.

ARTICLE IV

Neither of the two High Contracting Parties shall participate in any grouping of powers whatsoever that is directly or indirectly aimed at the other party.

ARTICLE V

Should disputes or conflicts arise between the High Contracting Parties over problems of one kind or another, both parties shall settle these disputes or conflicts exclusively through friendly exchange of opinion or, if necessary, through the establishment of arbitration commissions.

ARTICLE VI

The present treaty is concluded for a period of ten years, with the provision that, in so far as one of the High Contracting Parties does not denounce it one year prior to the expiration of this period, the validity of this treaty shall automatically be extended for another five years.

ARTICLE VI

The present treaty shall be ratified within the shortest possible time. The ratifications shall be exchanged in Berlin. The agreement shall enter into force as soon as it is signed.

Done in duplicate, in the German and Russian languages.

MOSCOW, August 23, 1939.

For the Government of the German Reich:

V. RIBBENTROP

With full power of the Government of the U.S.S.R.:

V. MOLOTOV

http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/nazsov/nonagres.htm

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