As Moscow saw it, international events in the 1930s increasingly endangered Soviet security. In East Asia, Japan occupied Manchuria in 1931, and friction gradually mounted with Soviet forces stationed in Russia and Mongolia; sporadic clashes developed into serious border warfare in 1938. Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in 1933 resulted in an even more menacing threat. Stalin initially instructed Comintern and the German Communist Party to cooperate with Hitler, seeing him as a harmless ally against liberal and democratic socialist parties. Stalin reconsidered as it became clear that the Nazis’ plans for expansion through military force were in earnest. The Soviet Union began to seek alliances with other European powers, especially France and Britain, to counter the threat and in 1934 joined the League of Nations. The Soviet commissar of foreign affairs, Maksim Litvinov, repeatedly urged the members of the league to take concerted action for collective security against the successive aggressions of the several Fascist powers.
The USSR also encouraged the formation within individual countries of so-called united-front, or popular-front, governments, in which Communist, socialist, and centrist political groups would collaborate against Fascist movements.
In the summer of 1938 a grave crisis arose when Germany demanded the cession by Czechoslovakia of Sudetenland, a border area with a large German minority.
The Soviet Union offered to support the Czechoslovaks and called upon France and the United Kingdom to do the same. The French and British governments instead accepted Hitler’s assurance that Sudetenland was the final territorial acquisition he sought. The result was the Munich Pact of September 1938, providing for the transfer of the disputed land by Germany.
In March 1939 the Germans dismembered the rest of Czechoslovakia, occupying its capital, Prague, and creating a satellite state in Slovakia (the eastern part of the country). "USSR" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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