Today, August 23. 2015, is the 76th anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that paved the way for World War II to begin. The pact ensured peace between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, giving Hitler the freedom to roll out his program without worry over having to fight a two- front war, and giving Stalin a free hand in the areas he wanted. The secret protocol mapped out the spheres of influence of the two dictators–Western Poland to Germany, Eastern Poland to Russia, the Baltic states, Finland, and Bessarabia to Russia. On September 1 Hitler attacked Poland, and on September 17 the Red Army moved in and took the eastern half. In October, Moscow issued demands to the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and to Finland. Finland resisted, and the Soviet Union invaded Finland on November 30th. The result was the bitterly fought Winter War, the backdrop for my novel Lost Ground.
Here is a gallery of images including maps and documents connected with the pact.