Visual History of the World

(CONTENTS)
 

 


HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION & CULTURE

From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Photography
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
Prehistory
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists

 






The World Wars and Interwar Period 

1914-1945


 


The first half of the 20th century saw the world entangled in two global wars, conducted with an unprecedented brutality. The First World War developed from a purely European affair into a conflict involving the colonies and the United States. It altered Europe's political landscape and shifted the power balance worldwide. In World War II, the nations of Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Africa were drawn into the conflict through the aggressive policies of an ambitious Nazi Germany. The war was conducted with the most up-to-date weapons technology and cost the lives of more than 55 million people. The Holocaust, the systematic annihilation of the European Jews, represented an unparalleled moral catastrophe for modern civilization.


 



Pablo Picasso "Weeping Woman", 1937

 

 

 


The Soviet Union
 


1917-1939
 

 

see also:
Socialist Realism

 

The Russian czar was deposed in 1917, even before the end of World War I. The radical left-wing Bolsheviks emerged victorious out of the dispute between the democratic transitional government and the revolutionary Soviet Council of Soldiers' and Workers' Deputies. They came to power in the October Revolution in 1917 under the leadership of Lenin, ended the war, suppressed counterrevolutionary uprisings in a civil war, and constituted the first Communist-ruled state in the world: the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). After Lenin's death in 1924, the Soviet Union became an increasingly centralized personal dictatorship under Stalin in the 1930s. Stalin oversaw a massive industrialization program and forcibly collectivized agriculture, while millions fell victim to the regime's repression.

 


The Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact
 


German Foreign Minister Joachim Von Ribbentrop (left), Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, and his
Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov (right) sign the pact in the Kremlin on August 23, 1939.

 

 

German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact



Molotov signs the German–Soviet non-aggression pact.
Behind him are Ribbentrop and Stalin.


Germany-Union of Soviet Socialist Republics [1939]
also called Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, German-Soviet Treaty of Nonaggression, Hitler-Stalin Pact, Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Main
(August 23, 1939), nonaggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union that was concluded only a few days before the beginning of World War II and which divided eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence.



Molotov signs the German–Soviet non-aggression pact, 1939
Behind him are Ribbentrop and Stalin.


The Soviet Union had been unable to reach a collective-security agreement with Britain and France against Nazi Germany, most notably at the time of the Munich Conference in September 1938. By early 1939 the Soviets faced the prospect of resisting German military expansion in eastern Europe virtually alone, and so they began searching about for a change of policy. On May 3, 1939, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin fired Foreign Minister Maksim Litvinov, who was Jewish and an advocate of collective security, and replaced him with Vyacheslav Mikhaylovich Molotov, who soon began negotiations with the Nazi foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop. The Soviets also kept negotiating with Britain and France, but in the end Stalin chose to reach an agreement with Germany. By doing so he hoped to keep the Soviet Union at peace with Germany and to gain time to build up the Soviet military establishment, which had been badly weakened by the purge of the Red Army officer corps in 1937. The Western democracies’ hesitance in opposing Adolf Hitler, along with Stalin’s own inexplicable personal preference for the Nazis, also played a part in Stalin’s final choice. For his part, Hitler wanted a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union so that his armies could invade Poland virtually unopposed by a major power, after which Germany could deal with the forces of France and Britain in the west without having to simultaneously fight the Soviet Union on a second front in the east. The end result of the German-Soviet negotiations was the Nonaggression Pact, which was dated August 23 and was signed by Ribbentrop and Molotov in the presence of Stalin, in Moscow.

The terms of the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact were briefly as follows: the two countries agreed not to attack each other, either independently or in conjunction with other powers; not to support any third power that might attack the other party to the pact; to remain in consultation with each other upon questions touching their common interests; not to join any group of powers directly or indirectly threatening one of the two parties; to solve all differences between the two by negotiation or arbitration. The pact was to last for 10 years, with automatic extension for another 5 years unless either party gave notice to terminate it 1 year before its expiration.

To this public pact of nonaggression was appended a secret protocol, also reached on August 23, 1939, which divided the whole of eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence. Poland east of the line formed by the Narew, Vistula, and San rivers would fall under the Soviet sphere of influence. The protocol also assigned Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland to the Soviet sphere of influence and, further, broached the subject of the separation of Bessarabia from Romania. A secret supplementary protocol (signed September 28, 1939) clarified the Lithuanian borders. The Polish-German border was also determined, and Bessarabia was assigned to the Soviet sphere of influence. In a third secret protocol (signed January 10, 1941, by Count Friedrich Werner von Schulenberg and Molotov), Germany renounced its claims to portions of Lithuania in return for Soviet payment of a sum agreed upon by the two countries.

The public German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact caused consternation in the capitals of Britain and France. After Germany invaded Poland from the west on September 1, 1939, Soviet troops invaded Poland from the east on September 17, meeting the advancing Germans near Brest-Litovsk two days later. The partition of Poland was effected on September 29, at which time the dividing line between German and Soviet territory was changed in Germany’s favour, being moved eastward to the Bug River (i.e., the current Polish-Soviet frontier). The Soviets soon afterward sought to consolidate their sphere of influence as a defensive barrier to renewed German aggression in the east. Accordingly, the Soviet Union attacked Finland on November 30 and forced it in March 1940 to yield the Isthmus of Karelia and make other concessions. The Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia were annexed by the Soviet Union and were organized as Soviet republics in August 1940. The Nonaggression Pact became a dead letter on June 22, 1941, when Nazi Germany, after having invaded much of western and central Europe, attacked the Soviet Union without warning in Operation Barbarossa.

The Soviet Union’s borders with Poland and Romania that were established after World War II roughly follow those established by the Nonaggression Pact in 1939–41. Until 1989 the Soviet Union denied the existence of the secret protocols because they were considered evidence of its involuntary annexation of the Baltic states. Soviet leaders were initially unwilling to restore prewar boundaries, but the transformations occurring within the Soviet Union in the early 1990s made it virtually impossible for Soviet leaders to combat declarations of independence from the Baltic states in 1991.

Encyclopaedia Britannica



Ribbentrop and Stalin at the signing of the Pact
 

 


German and Soviet soldiers meeting
in Brest


Common parade of Wehrmacht and Red Army in Brest at the
end of the Invasion of Poland.
At the center Major General Heinz Guderian and Brigadier Semyon Krivoshein





Soviet and German soldiers in Lublin



German and Soviet soldiers at the so-called Border of Peace established by the pact



Ribbentrop welcoming Molotov in Berlin, November 1940
 


Last page of the Additional Secret Protocol of the
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact
 


"Second Ribbentrop–Molotov Pact" of 28 September 1939.
Map of Poland signed by Stalin and Ribbentrop adjusting
the German–Soviet border in the aftermath of German and
Soviet invasion of Poland.

 


 Foreign Minister Molotov and Hitler in Berlin, 1940
 

 


German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact


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.

 

[The next section was not published at the time the above was announced.]
 

Secret Additional Protocol.

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


 

[From: Nazi-Soviet Relations 1939-1941. Documents from the Archives of the German Foreign Office (Washington D.C., 1948) p. 78]

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact
 

The Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact (日ソ中立条約, Nisso Chūritsu Jōyaku?), more extensively known as Japanese-Soviet Nonaggression Pact (日ソ不可侵条約, Nisso Fukashin Jōyaku?) as well as German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, was a pact between the Empire of Japan and the Soviet Union signed in 1941, two years after the brief Soviet-Japanese Border War (1939).

In September 1939, with the outbreak of general war in Europe between Nazi Germany and Poland, the United Kingdom, and France, the Soviet Union needed to mend its diplomatic relations in the Far East in order to concentrate on the growing threat to European Russia in the west. On the other hand, Japan, bogged down in a seemingly interminable war with China and with diplomatic relations with the United States rapidly deteriorating, sought an accommodation with the Soviet Union that would improve its international standing and secure the northern frontier of Manchukuo against possible Soviet invasion.

The treaty was signed in Moscow on April 13, 1941, by Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka and Ambassador Yoshitsugu Tatekawa for Japan and Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov for the Soviet Union.

On the same day, the same people also signed a declaration regarding Mongolia and Manchuria. The Soviet Union pledged to respect the territorial integrity and inviolability of Manchukuo, while Japan did the same for the Mongolian People's Republic.

Later, in 1941, Japan, as a signatory of the Tripartite Pact, considered denouncing the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact, especially after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa), but made the crucial decision to keep it and to expand southwards invading the European colonies in Southeast Asia instead.

On April 5, 1945 the Soviet Union denounced the pact, informing the Japanese government that "in accordance with Article Three of the above mentioned pact, which envisaged the right of denunciation one year before the lapse of the five year period of operation of the pact, the Soviet Government hereby makes known to the Government of Japan its wish to denounce the pact of April 13, 1941." Formally, the pact itself remained in effect until April 13, 1946, but the Russian Foreign Commissar's tone indicated that Russia might go to war with Japan soon.

On August 8, 1945 the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and invaded Manchuria, keeping their promise to the Allies at the Yalta Conference to enter the war with Japan two to three months after the end of World War II in Europe.

 


Stalin and Molotov on the signing of the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact with the Empire of Japan, 1941
 


PACT OF NEUTRALITY BETWEEN UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS AND JAPAN

The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, guided by a desire to strengthen peaceful and friendly relations between the two countries, have decided to conclude a pact on neutrality, for which purpose they have appointed as their Representatives:

the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics -

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars and People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics;

His Majesty the Emperor of Japan -

Yosuke Matsuoka, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jusanmin, Cavalier of the Order of the Sacred Treasure of the First Class, and

Yoshitsugu Tatekawa, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Lieutenant General, Jusanmin, Cavalier of the Order of the Rising Sun of the First Class and the Order of the Golden Kite of the Fourth Class,

who, after an exchange of their credentials, which were found in due and proper form, have agreed on the following:

ARTICLE ONE
Both Contracting Parties undertake to maintain peaceful and friendly relations between them and mutually respect the territorial integrity and inviolability of the other Contracting Party.

ARTICLE TWO
Should one of the Contracting Parties become the object of hostilities on the part of one or several third powers, the other Contracting Party will observe neutrality throughout the duration of the conflict.

ARTICLE THREE
The present Pact comes into force from the day of its ratification by both Contracting Parties and remains valid for five years. In case neither of the Contracting Parties denounces the Pact one year before the expiration of the term, it will be considered automatically prolonged for the next five years.

ARTICLE FOUR
The present Pact is subject to ratification as soon as possible. The instruments of ratification shall be exchanged in Tokyo, also as soon as possible.

In confirmation whereof the above-named Representatives have signed the present Pact in two copies, drawn up in the Russian and Japanese languages, and affixed thereto their seals.

Done in Moscow on April 13, 1941, which corresponds to the 13th day of the fourth month of the 16th year of Showa.

V. MOLOTOV
YOSUKE MATSUOKA
YOSHITSUGU TATEKAWA

 

 

 

 

 

Katyn Massacre

Main
Polish history

mass execution of Polish military officers by the Soviet Union during World War II. The discovery of the massacre precipitated the severance of diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the Polish government-in-exile in London.

After Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union concluded their Nonaggression Pact of 1939 and Germany invaded Poland from the west, Soviet forces occupied the eastern half of Poland. As a consequence of this occupation, tens of thousands of Polish military personnel fell into Soviet hands and were interned in prison camps inside the Soviet Union. But after the Germans invaded the Soviet Union (June 1941), the Polish government-in-exile (located in London) and the Soviet government agreed to cooperate against Germany, and a Polish army on Soviet territory was to be formed. The Polish general Władysław Anders began organizing this army, but when he requested that 15,000 Polish prisoners of war whom the Soviets had once held at camps near Smolensk be transferred to his command, the Soviet government informed him in December 1941 that most of those prisoners had escaped to Manchuria and could not be located.

The fate of the missing prisoners remained a mystery. Then on April 13, 1943, the Germans announced that they had discovered mass graves of Polish officers in the Katyn forest near Smolensk, in western Russian S.F.S.R. A total of 4,443 corpses were recovered that had apparently been shot from behind and then piled in stacks and buried. Investigators identified the corpses as the Polish officers who had been interned at a Soviet prison camp near Smolensk and accused the Soviet authorities of having executed the prisoners in May 1940. In response to these charges, the Soviet government claimed that the Poles had been engaged in construction work west of Smolensk in 1941 and the invading German army had killed them after overrunning that area in August 1941. But both German and Red Cross investigations of the Katyn corpses then produced firm physical evidence that the massacre took place in early 1940, at a time when the area was still under Soviet control.

The Polish government-in-exile in London requested that the International Committee of the Red Cross examine the graves and also asked the Soviet government to provide official reports on the fates of the remaining missing prisoners. The Soviet government refused these demands, and on April 25, 1943, the Soviets broke diplomatic relations with the Polish government in London. The Soviets then set about establishing a Polish government-in-exile composed of Polish communists.

The Katyn Massacre left a deep scar in Polish-Soviet relations during the remainder of the war and afterward. For Poles, Katyn became a symbol of the many victims of Stalinism. Although a 1952 U.S. congressional inquiry concluded that the Soviet Union had been responsible for the massacre, Soviet leaders insisted for decades that the Polish officers found at Katyn had been killed by the invading Germans in 1941. This explanation was accepted without protest by successive Polish communist governments until the late 1980s, when the Soviet Union allowed a noncommunist coalition government to come to power in Poland. In March 1989 this government officially shifted the blame for the Katyn Massacre from the Germans to the Soviet secret police, the NKVD. In 1992 the Russian government released documents proving that the Soviet Politburo and the NKVD had been responsible for the massacre and cover-up. In 2000 a memorial was opened at the site of the killings in Katyn.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 


Katyn Massacre


Katyn Massacre

 

 


Katyn Massacre


Katyn Massacre

 

 


Katyn Massacre


Katyn Massacre

 

 

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