The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (also known as the Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, German-Soviet Treaty Of Nonaggression, and the Hitler-Stalin Pact) was an agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union which stated that both countries would not engage in a war with each other. The pact was signed on August 23, 1939 by Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop.

In the years preceding World War II, Britain and France engaged in several security agreements against the rising powers of the Nazi regime. The Soviet Union also faced the threat of an expanding Germany, but Britain and France ignored its attempts to enter the security agreement on several occasions (most notably the Munich Pact). Ultimately, Stalin would fire Foreign Minister Maksim Litvinov, and replace him with Vyacheslav Molotov.

Molotov started negotiating with Nazi Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop. Stalin's strategy was to gain time for strengthening the weak Soviet army by keeping peace with Germany. Hitler was also interested in a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union to invade Poland with minimal forces, and maintain a low occupancy. This would then allow Hitler to use more troops against France and Britain, without having to fight on two fronts simultaneously.

The terms of the pact stated that the two countries would not attack each other, nor support a third power to attack the other party. Furthermore, the countries would consult each other with respect to their common interests, and to solve all differences between the two parties by negotiation or arbitration. The pact was to last 10 years, with an automatic extension of 5 years unless either party gave notice to terminate the agreement 1 year before expiration.

Appended to the public protocol was a secret protocol, dividing up the entire Eastern Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union. Both Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland shortly after announcing the pact (September 1, 1939 and September 17, 1939 respectively), thus marking the beginning of World War II. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was no longer honored after Operation Barbarossa, on June 22, 1941.

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. Should disputes or conflicts arise between the 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 proviso that, in so far as one of the High Contracting Parties does not advance it one year prior to the expiration of this period, the validity of this Treaty shall automatically be extended for another five years.

Article VII. 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.

Secret Additional Protocol.
(not published at the time the above was announced)

Article I. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement in the areas belonging to the Baltic States (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), the northern boundary of Lithuania shall represent the boundary of the spheres of influence of Germany and U.S.S.R. In this connection the interest of Lithuania in the Vilna area is recognized by each party.

Article II. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement of the areas belonging to the Polish state, the spheres of influence of Germany and the U.S.S.R. shall be bounded approximately by the line of the rivers Narev, Vistula and San.

The question of whether the interests of both parties make desirable the maintenance of an independent Polish States and how such a state should be bounded can only be definitely determined in the course of further political developments.

In any event both Governments will resolve this question by means of a friendly agreement.

Article III. With regard to Southeastern Europe attention is called by the Soviet side to its interest in Bessarabia. The German side declares its complete political disinteredness in these areas.

Article IV. This protocol shall be treated by both parties as strictly secret.

Moscow, August 23, 1939.

For the Government of the German Reich v. Ribbentrop

Plenipotentiary of the Government of the U.S.S.R. V. Molotov