Molotov on the Meaning of the Soviet-German Pact

Viacheslav Molotov, The Meaning of the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact. August 31, 1939

 

… The conclusion of a pact of non-aggression between the USSR and Germany is of tremendous positive value, eliminating the danger of war between Germany and the Soviet Union …

The decision to conclude a non-aggression pact between the USSR and Germany was adopted after military negotiations with France and Great Britain had reached an impasse owing to the insuperable differences I have mentioned. As the negotiations had shown that the conclusion of a pact of mutual assistance could not be expected, we could not but explore other possibilities of ensuring peace and eliminating the danger of war between Germany and the USSR If the British and French governments refused to reckon with this, that is their affair. It is our duty to think of the interests of the Soviet people, the interests of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (Prolonged applause) All the more since we are firmly convinced that the interests of the USSR coincide with the fundamental interests of the peoples of other countries. (Applause) But that is only one side of the matter.

Another circumstance was required before the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact could come into existence. It was necessary that in her foreign policy Germany should make a turn towards good-neighborly relations with the Soviet Union.

Only when this second condition was fulfilled, only when it became clear to us that the German Government desired to change its foreign policy so as to secure an improvement of relations with the USSR, was the basis found for the conclusion of a Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact. Everybody knows that during the last six years, ever since the National-Socialists (Nazis) came into power, political relations between Germany and the USSR have been strained. Everybody also knows that despite the differences of outlook and political systems, the Soviet Government endeavored to maintain normal business and political relations with Germany …

Stalin declared … that the Soviet Union stands for strengthening business relations with all countries. But at the same time Stalin warned us against warmongers who are anxious in their own interests to involve our country in conflicts with other countries.

Exposing the hullabaloo raised in the British, French, and American press about Germany’s “plans” for the seizure of the Soviet Ukraine, Stalin said:

“It looks as if the object of this suspicious hullabaloo was to incense the Soviet Union against Germany, to poison the atmosphere and to provoke a conflict with Germany without any visible grounds.”

As you see, Stalin hit the nail on the head when he exposed the machinations of the Western European politicians who were trying to set Germany and the Soviet Union at loggerheads.

It must be confessed that there were some short-sighted people even in our own country who, carried away by oversimplified anti-fascist propaganda, forgot about this provocative work of our enemies. Mindful of this, Stalin even then suggested the possibility of other, unhostile, good-neighborly relations between Germany and the USSR It can now be seen that on the whole Germany correctly understood these statements of Stalin and drew practical conclusions from them … The conclusion of the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact shows that Stalin’s historic pre-vision has been brilliantly confirmed. (Loud applause).

Voices are now being heard testifying to the lack of understanding of the most simple reasons for the improvement of political relations between the Soviet Union and Germany which has begun. For example, people ask with an air of innocence how the Soviet Union could consent to improve political relations with a state of a fascist type. “Is that possible?” they ask. But they forget that this is not a question of our attitude towards the internal regime of another country but of the foreign relations between the two states. They forget that we hold the position of not interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and, correspondingly, of not tolerating interference in our own internal affairs … In our foreign policy towards non-Soviet countries, we have always been guided by Lenin’s well-known principle of the peaceful coexistence of the Soviet state and of capitalist countries …

August 23, 1939, the day the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact was signed, is to be regarded as a date of great historical importance. The Non-Aggression Pact between the USSR and Germany marks a turning point in the history of Europe, and not only of Europe. Only yesterday the German fascists were pursuing a foreign policy hostile to us. Yes, only yesterday we were enemies in the sphere of foreign relations. Today, however, the situation has changed and we are enemies no longer.

The art of politics in the sphere of foreign relations does not consist in increasing the number of enemies for one’s country. On the contrary, the art of politics in this sphere is to reduce the number of such enemies and to enemies of yesterday good neighbors, maintaining peaceable relations with one another …

Source: The Strategy and Tactics of World Communism (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1948), pp. 158, 160-63.

 

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