Myth 9 – The USSR and the Third Reich were Not Allies from 1939–1941


The USSR and the Third Reich were Not Allies from 1939–1941

Serhii Horobets

The History of the Second World War in 12 volumes, Volume 3

“The Communist Party and the Soviet government tried to avoid moving the country to war. When it was resolved, the Soviet Union defined its attitude to the warring imperialist groups as neutral…[from November 1940] the Soviet government never returned to any negotiations with the Germans about the proposal of political cooperation, despite repeated reminders by Ribbentrop.”

The Essence of the Myth

The Soviet Union never was an ally of Nazi Germany and in those cases where joint actions took place, this was motivated by political and military necessity.

Fast Facts

This was not so much myth as taboo. The cooperation of the USSR and the Third Reich was not written about in Soviet textbooks or encyclopedias and was even circumvented in academic writings. However, the Soviet Union remained an ally of Hitler from September 1939 to June 1941, supplying him with whatever was necessary for the conduct of war in Europe including raw materials, produce and information.

Detailed Facts

In their joint aggression against Poland, the military cooperation of the Wehrmacht and the Red Army was primarily in sharing information about the deployment of Polish troops and joint actions for their defeat. The Poles repeatedly had to deflect strikes on both fronts.

When Germany launched their attack on England and France after their Polish campaign, the Soviet Union declared these countries aggressors and the Communist Party of Britain and France were instructed to criticize their government through the Communist International – though they were only protecting themselves from Nazi aggression.

In late 1939, the USSR attacked Finland, beginning the Soviet-Finish War of 1939–1940, during which it was declared an aggressor and expelled from the League of Nations on 14 December 1939.

This Soviet aggression in Finland was observed by Germany. Hitler did not allow the Finns to use German cables to communicate via radio to the United States for help. At the end of the war, when there was a chance of an Anglo- French landing in Scandinavia, Germany urged the Finns to make peace.

In 1939–1940, the Soviet Union officially recognized and established diplomatic relations with the Hitler bloc and supported their puppet governments: Slovakia, Manchukuo, and the Vichy Regime of Marshal Petain in France.

Soviet leaders exchanged congratulatory telegrams with their Berlin colleagues on the victorious wars against their neighbors, the Soviet press and propaganda justified the Nazi aggression and muddied the “Anglo-American warmongers.”

Signing the agreement on German-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Demarcation, 28 September 1939

The Soviet Union provided the German army with advantageous army-naval bases in the Kola Peninsula, from which the Wehrmacht attacked Norway in March 1940. The USSR supplied the Luftwaffe with weather reports during the bombing of the British Isles.

Soviet icebreakers made the difficult passage of the Arctic Ocean passable and the German auxiliary cruiser Komet passed through the Bering Gulf and managed to sink and capture several anti-Hitler coalition ships.

Active cooperation also took place during special operations. The NKVD and the Gestapo coordinated among themselves during repressive actions in Poland, created a joint training center and held a series of joint conferences in Krakow and Zakopane.

One form of cooperation was the transfer of German communists, who fled to the Soviet Union after Hitler came to power, back to the Gestapo. Most of them were killed by the Nazis.

Thanks to trade relations with the USSR, Germany successfully overcame the British economic blockade in the first phase of the Second World War, receiving useful raw materials for their war economy from Stalin.

“Friendship, sealed with blood” – words uttered by Stalin himself about the cooperation of the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany. “Pravda” Newspaper (29 December 1939)

German industry received the following from the Soviet Union until the 22 June 1941 aggression:

– 865 thousand tons of oil;
– 140 thousand tons of manganese ore;
– 14,000 tons of cooper;
– 3000 tons of nickel;
– More than a million tons of timber;
– 2,736 kg of platinum;
– 1.463 million tons of grain.

Strategic raw materials and food were transported through Soviet territory from the Pacific basin and the Middle East.

Moreover, many Soviet specialists managed to visit German aircraft factories and even bought several combat aircrafts and the newly constructed Lutzow cruiser.

From September 1939 to June 1941, the Soviet Union remained an ally of the Third Reich, supplying it with necessary raw materials, products and information to conduct an aggressive war in Europe.

Essentially, this meant that the conquest of France and the bombing of Britain occurred because of Soviet resources. The German bombers who flew to London were using Soviet fuel.

German auxiliary cruiser “Komet”. In 1940, it passed the Northern Sea Route to the Pacific Ocean with the help of the “Lenin”, “Joseph Stalin” and “Lazar Kaganovich” icebreakers