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Nazi/Soviet pact

MARTINA CARR: I was brought up and educated in communist Czechoslovakia and many Second World War facts were completely unknown to us, they were hidden from us.  For example, we didn’t learn anything about the Nazi-Soviet pact and its’ secret protocol. I believe here in the West people learned about the cooperation between the Soviet and the Nazis leadership but had no idea about the full extent of it.  How did you view the information about this cooperation and to what extent were you surprised by it?

KIRILL ANDERSON: To be honest, I didn’t come across any sensational documents that would shed new light on the cooperation between the Soviet Union and Germany, especially between the NKVD and the Gestapo. They write a lot about it in Russia these days. But I haven’t seen the originals of such documents. For example – two years ago one of the Russian magazines published an ‘agreement for cooperation between NKVD and Gestapo’ – but today it’s clear that the document was a forgery.  However, today it’s also very clear that there was cooperation between the Soviet Union and  Nazi Germany and many aspects of it are still surprising. What I would say surprised me for example was when I read that the ex-leaders of the former Polish communist party that were hiding on the territory of the Soviet Union were handed over to the Germans after the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.  This fact is quite widely published by now but it still surprises me, because I know of Stalin’s fanatical belief in communism. How could he do such a thing to other comrades, to those that believed in same ideas? On the other hand, Stalin was a pragmatist and if his ideology stood in the way of his politics, he would close his eyes and follow what was needed for politics.

MARTINA CARR: So how would you then describe the cooperation between Soviet Union and the Nazis at that time? Do you believe that Stalin thought he would be able to avoid the war?

KIRILL ANDERSON: No, absolutely not. For him the Molotov – Ribbentrop pact was a necessary compromise and a temporarily compromise at that. Stalin and people around him clearly understood that there could not be some long lasting alliance – not even a long lasting peace with Germany at that time. There were too many differences between the principles on which both countries were built. Hitler couldn’t change his race theory, it would destroy his government. In the same way as Stalin couldn’t change his policies – so a long lasting alliance was impossible as they spoke in two politically completely different languages. But Stalin did want a temporary compromise that would win him some time, especially as he wasn’t the first one who tried to reach a compromise with Hitler’s Germany. It’s enough to mention the Munich agreement, for example. It was a period when politicians were looking for some compromise, for some alliance. And Stalin therefore decided to go for the compromise – he understood that the situation was not going to last for ever. In 1931 – ten years before the war at one of the conferences Stalin said: ‘we have been given 10 years to become strong – in our industry, in our defense. Ten years.’ So it looks like in 1931 he had already seen what was going to happen. It was a difficult time and his main task was to gain more time. Some kind of a real union or some real friendship – that couldn’t be there at all. It’s quite clear from Stalin’s correspondence with his comrades, from his speeches at the conferences, etc. Those around him understood that the situation was temporary only and that they couldn’t really avoid the war.