top of page

USSR 101: From Foe to Friend: An Ally of Nazi Germany


The USSR 101 articles intend to deepen the reader’s knowledge of the history of the USSR during the 20th century. The fundamental purpose of this series is to rebuild, from a historical point of view, the steps that have led to the creation of one of the main international actors during the 1900s, the relations with other countries and the factors that triggered its collapse.

URSS 101 will be mainly divided into the following chapters of content:

1. USSR 101: The Fall of the Tsarist and the Raise of Bolshevism

2. USSR 101: The New Russia in Europe After the World War I

3. USSR 101: From Foe to Friend: An Ally of Nazi Germany

4. USSR 101: Operation Barbarossa: The Turning Point of the World War II

5. USSR 101: The Building of the Eastern Block

6. USSR 101: The Age of Khrushchev and the Riots

7. USSR 101: From Competitive Coexistence to Détente with the US

8. USSR 101: From Gorbachev to Yeltsin: the Fall of the USSR

USSR 101: From Foe to Friend: An Ally of Nazi Germany

The assassination of French Foreign Minister Barthou marked the beginning of a shift in European relationships and the need for Stalin to rethink the security of the USSR.

Figure 1. An artwork representing the communism that fight against capitalism [Image] - Red Avantgard
Figure 1. An artwork representing communism fighting capitalism [Image] - Red Avantgard

Barthou argued that the era of collective security had finished, and that new instruments for France's security needed to be developed. A return to a strategy of balance had to accompany the slogan of collective security and peace. Barthou recognized the need and importance to form an alliance with the Soviet Union in order to safeguard and defend his allies against Nazi Germany; this policy, known as the Barthou Plan or Litvinov Plan, could only result in an alliance with the Soviet Union, which was showing its reliability (Chamberlin, 1943). It was thus required to create an Eastern security structure backed by France and the Soviet Union. The goal was to enlist the cooperation of the countries bordering Germany and the Soviet Union by signing military cooperation agreements that guaranteed mutual integrity and political independence. Obviously, the USSR, Germany, and all the other countries in the vicinity were involved (the Baltic, Finland, Poland and Czechoslovakia). The two major powers should have guaranteed this system, known as Locarno Orientale (Sakwa, 1999).

It was assumed that Germany would not support the development of a system that would freeze Eastern European spati