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

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

September 1, 1939

Germany invades Poland under the phony pretext that their border forces were attacked by Poles. [The alleged "Polish army troops" were German concentration camp inmates who were forced to put on stolen Polish uniforms, then trucked to the border, given lethal injections, placed in the position of "attackers" and shot. This was Operation Canned Goods, conceived and directed by Reinhard Heydrich. The ruse succeeded in initially confusing the world as to which country had fired first. Two days later Britain and France declared war on Germany and a German submarine torpedoed and sank the British passenger liner Athenia; 28 American passengers were lost. A week later Americans were polled: Should we declare war and send our army and navy abroad to fight Germany? "NO" was the answer given by 94%.] (8-1)

September 17, 1939

The Soviet Union invades eastern Poland with 40 divisions. Some troops carry white flags and claim to be coming to help their Slavic brothers fight the Germans. [Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned Poland along the lines agreed upon in the vonRibbentrop-Molotov treaty.]

November 30, 1939

The Russians invade Finland to gain territory to protect the approaches to Leningrad. [The fascist government of Baron Mannerheim had been colluding with the Germans to fortify the Aland Islands located in the Gulf of Finland just in front of Leningrad, islands which they were treaty-bound not to fortify. World opinion was immediately on the side of Finland, especially when news was received that Stalin's air force had bombed civilian centers and then machine-gunned the fleeing citizens. FDR called for a world embargo on the sale of military planes to countries who bombed civilians. The League of Nations, which had refused to take any action on Japan's invasion of China nor Italy's invasionof Abyssinia, condemned the Soviet Union's action and expelled the country from the League. The Russians had expected to subdue little Finland within a month. However, Swedish cryptologists were able to decode the Soviet Union's military messages and forwarded the results immediately to Field Marshal Mannerheim who was thus able to anticipate every military move. (9) Many Americans felt more sympathy for "gallant little Finland" in its three-month struggle than for the combatants in the Sino-Japanese War or the conflict in Europe, as Finland had fully paid its World War I debts to the US, unlike the British and the French. In February, 1940 the House of Representatives came close to refusing to allocate funds for the US Embassy in Moscow--- which would have caused de facto severance of relations with the Soviet Union. (10)]

June 23, 1940

The Soviet Union completes the takeover of the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, territory that had belonged to the czars and became sovereign states after World War I. [FDR froze their financial assets. (11)]

Notes and Sources

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This site was last changed November 28, 2001. It was created on March 20, 1997.

© Janette Rainwater 1997-2001

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