August 23, 1939 is another date that should live in infamy. On that day, an agreement was made between Hitler and Stalin that sealed the fate of the 35 million free people of Poland. The Soviet Union (Communist-occupied Russia) was casting about trying to reach some sort of security deal with Britain or France against Nazi Germany. (It was no secret that Hitler believed that the center of communism, the USSR, had to be exterminated—along with millions of Jews and anyone else who got in his way.)

But Britain and France—at that time—were not interested in defending Stalin and his reign of terror against Hitler’s reign of terror.

The foreign minister of the USSR—V.M. Molotov—then secretly began negotiations with their arch-enemy Nazi Germany. The leadership of the USSR (i.e. just Stalin), wanted a deal in which they and the Nazis would agree not to attack each other for a number of years, thus allowing them time to build up their militaries for a future war of extermination. They also wanted to carve up the one nation that stood between them—Poland. Stalin had a special hatred for the devout, free people of Poland. They alone had saved civilization from the Russian communists by stopping them cold and turning them back in the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-1920. Stalin had been a leader in those communist armies, and he remembered the sting of defeat very well.

So, the world was astonished when two sworn enemies, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, announced that they had kissed and made up, and would establish trade with each other instead of exterminating each other (for now). They also promised not to attack one another for ten years. They also agreed to simultaneously attack Poland and divide it into a Nazi sphere and a Communist sphere.

Eight days later, on September 1, 1939, Germany invaded eastern Poland, thus beginning World War II in Europe. On September 17, 1939 the Soviet Union invaded western Poland, ensuring the enslavement of Poland.