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Origins of the Cold War, Part One,1917-1945

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16                              p.2

November 17, 1933

The United States recognizes the Soviet Union-- 16 years after its revolution. William C. Bullitt is appointed ambassador. [Recognition was finally achieved due to the rise in power of the Japanese Empire. (2) In the agreement the USSR agreed to protect the freedom of worship of American nationals in the USSR and to refrain from sponsoring revolutionary activity against the American political system. Russia had not recognized the infant USA until 33 years after its revolution. Catherine the Great, like many other European monarchs of her time, had feared the "republican virus" might be contagious.]

September 29, 1938

At the Munich Conference Hitler, Mussolini, Chamberlain (U.K.), and Daladier (France) agree: The Sudeten German areas of Czechoslovakia will be ceded to Germany in exchange for Hitler's pledge of no further German territorial demands. [Chamberlain felt he had won a victory of "peace in our time"; many others, including the future British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, charged "appeasement". The Czechs, who were not consulted, felt they had been sold out by the Allies. The Soviets were also not included in the conference despite the fact that they had offered to support the Czechs. A poll taken the week after the conference showed that a majority of Americans approved of the Pact. It was thought for many years that the Munich Agreement had given the Allies a badly-needed year in which to re-arm; later scholarship has shown that Hitler's war machine was not ready in 1938 and that the year's delay in the outbreak of war helped Germany more than Britain and France. (3) Joseph Kennedy, the US Ambassador to Great Britain, claimed credit for the treaty forhaving influenced Chamberlain to trust Hitler. (4) Actually Chamberlain was influenced by a report from his Secret Intelligence Service: "What Should We Do?" stated that a deal with Germany "might not prove to be uncongenial", as Hitler was proposing to "disintegrate" the Soviet Union and would guarantee Britain's supremacy overseas. (5) Prior to the conference FDR had assured Hitler that the US had "no political involvements in Europe". This declaration from the nation that had entered World War I "to keep the world safe for democracy" undoubtedly strengthened Hitler's hand in dealing with the Allies. (6) As in Austria Nazi agents had infiltrated the country and helped create a demand to join Germany; and as with the remiltarization of the Rhineland in 1936, Hitler's generals had advised against Hitler's threatened invasion: the Czech army was well-trained and well-equipped and the German army was not yet ready for all-out war.] (7)

Notes and Sources

August 23, 1939

Germany and the USSR sign a five-year non-aggression pact which contains a secret agreement in which they fix their two spheres of interest in Eastern Europe (8) including the partition of Poland. In an accompanying commercial agreement Germany extended the Soviets a credit of 200 million marks and Stalin guaranteed to ship huge quantities of grain, oil and metals. [The world was stunned; Britain was especially surprised by this von Ribbentrop-Molotov non-aggression pact, as Stalin had recently approached the British to make a defensive alliance with them and the French against Nazi Germany. That possibility was foundering because of British lack of enthusiasm and Polish antipathy for the Russians. France and Great Britain mobilized in expectation of war. Japan had not been consulted and now felt vulnerable to her old enemy, Russia. Britain announced that she would come to the defense of Poland. Chamberlain repeated his offer to mediate the German-Polish dispute about the alleged mistreatment of ethnic Germans living in Poland and the possible return of the Polish Corridor to Germany.]

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© Janette Rainwater 1997-2001

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