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Seventy-Five Years Ago: The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

On August 23, 1939, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed a nonaggression treaty in Moscow, paving the way for the Nazi and Soviet invasions of Poland the following month and the beginning of World War II. Known colloquially as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, after Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, the agreement gave Adolf Hitler a free hand to attack Poland without fear of Soviet intervention. At the same time, Hitler and Josef Stalin established a secret protocol dividing Central and Eastern Europe into "spheres of influence."