- Historical event:
- 23 August 1939
- The European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism (and other totalitarian ideologies) is observed on 23 August due to the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Stalin’s communist USSR and Hitler’s Nazi Germany, which was signed on this day in 1939.
The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was named after Stalin’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Molotov (also known as First Deputy Premier), and Hitler’s Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop.
Vyacheslav Molotov was born in Russia as Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Skryabin. He took the pseudonym “Molotov”, derived from the Russian word молот (molot, English: “hammer”). Namely, the Communists often took pseudonyms; for example Stalin took pseudonym “СТАЛЬ” (steel). Molotov was also called “Stone arse” because he could allegedly sit at his desk and work for a very long time. The Molotov cocktail (also known as petrol bomb) was named after Vyacheslav Molotov.
When the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed, Hitler and Stalin de facto divided Eastern Europe into “spheres of influence”. The eastern half of Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, and part of Romania were to be controlled by the Soviet Union, and the western half of Poland and Lithuania were to be taken by Germany. When World War II began, Poland was divided, and Soviet forces occupied the Baltic states, part of Romania, and part of Finland.
Only a week after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact had been signed, WW2 began. Hitler invaded Poland, and Communist Parties throughout Central and Eastern Europe couldn’t provide resistance to Nazism due to the mentioned pact. Even when Hitler conquered Yugoslavia, the Communist Party was not immediately allowed to provide resistance to the Axis (Stalin and Hitler were still “allies”). When Hitler attacked the USSR on 22 June 1941 and broke the pact, communist Partisan Detachments were formed and began a guerrilla war against the Nazis.