12-14 November 1940 , Molotov's visit to Berlin , Nazi-Soviet Friendship turns sour at least for Nazis

from wikipedia

In October 1940, Stalin requested that Molotov be permitted to discuss with Hitler the countries’ future relations. Ribbentrop responded to Stalin in a letter that “in the opinion of the Führer… it appears to be the historical mission of the Four Powers — the Soviet Union, Italy, Japan and Germany — to adopt a long range-policy and to direct the future development of their peoples into the right channels by delimitation of their interests in a worldwide scale.”

The delivery of Ribbentrop’s letter was delayed to Stalin, resulting after earlier press stories in the ideas no longer seeming “fresh”, causing Ribbentrop to lash out at the German Moscow embassy personnel. When delivering the letter, German ambassador in Moscow , Count von Schulenburg stated that the Berlin conference would be a preliminary meeting preceding a convening of the four powers.

Stalin was visibly pleased by the invitation for talks in Berlin. Stalin wrote a letter responding to Ribbentrop about entering an agreement regarding a “permanent basis” for their “mutual interests.”

On November 6, German military atteche in Moscow Köstring wrote that “since Göring has now put our military deliveries in balance with the Russian deliveries, one may hope that the negotiations will end in peace and friendship.” During the first two weeks in November, German and Soviet economic negotiators in Moscow enjoyed moderate success. German military economic negotiators had hoped for success in the negotiations, in part, because they felt this would strengthen their arguments against Hitler’s then increasingly anti-Soviet policy.

On November 1, German Army General Staff head [Franz Halder met with Hitler and wrote, “The Führer hopes he can bring Russia into the anti-British front.” (Halder either misread or over estimated Hitler’s intentions. Hitler’s main goal had always been destruction of Soviett Union and subjugation of Ukranie and Caucaus and entire Russian territory west of Urals to German rule since he described need for Lebensraum) After Franklin D. Roosevelt won the presidential election four days later after promising there would be no foreign wars were he elected, Nazi Propaganda Minister Goebbels noted “after his statement, Roosevelt will hardly be able to enter the war in an active capacity.” Meeting with Benito Mussolini , Ribbentrop explained the German view of the meetings, that the acid test would be the Soviets’ stand on the Balkans. With the Balkans and the Bosporus a potential “dangerous overlapping of interests”, if the Soviets backed away from it, it would be a peaceful and even preferable alternative to an invasion.(actually on August 1940 Hitler already ordered OKW German General Staff for preliminary planning for invasion of Soviet Union next year. Neither Ribbentrop nor Goebbels were inner circle of Hitler and they also misread the situation and confusing their wishes with Hitler’s vision)

Hitler revealed to Mussolini that he did not expect to accommodate the Soviets beyond forcing Turkey to yield to some guarantees on the Bosporus. Nor did he want Stalin taking a Romanian entry point to the Bosporus, stating “one Romanian bird in the hand is worth more than two Russians in the bush.” But Hitler stated that he was skeptical because he believed that Stalin was obsessed with the Danube and Bulgaria. Germany was aware, however, that the Soviets had attempted to extend guarantees to Bulgaria to become its ally and that Bulgaria had turned them down.

Stalin sent Molotov to Berlin to negotiate the terms for the Soviet Union to join the Axis and potentially enjoy the spoils of the pact. Molotov spent much of the trip to Berlin searching his rail car for listening devices. Molotov’s train arrived at 11:05 a.m. on November 12. It was a bad omen for success that German ambassador in Moscow , von Schulenburg, the architect of the meeting, was excluded. Molotov was greeted by Ribbentrop at the train station decorated with Soviet and Nazi flags above a large basket of flowers, with an orchestra playing The Internationale (song for workers and marxist movement) for the first time in Berlin since 1933. After a brief breakfast, the talks started immediately that day at the Schloss Bellevue Hotel. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union , a Moscow journal published certain selected correspondence revealing that Stalin was closely supervising Molotov’s talks via telegram.


At the outset, Ribbentrop stated, “England is beaten and it is only a question of time when she will admit her defeat. … The beginning of the end has now arrived for the British empire.” He further stated that “the entry of the United States into the war is of no consequence at all for Germany. Germany and Italy will never again allow an Anglo-Saxon to land on the European Continent. … This is no military problem at all. … The Axis Powers are, therefore, not considering how they can win the war, but rather how rapidly they can end the war which is already won.” He further stated that Germany and the Soviet Union had together “done some good business.”

Accordingly, Ribbentrop concluded that the time had come for the four powers (Germany, the Soviet Union, Italy and Japan) to define their “spheres of interest.” He stated that Hitler had concluded that all four countries would naturally expand “in a southerly direction.” Ribbentrop said he wondered if the Soviets might turn southward toward the sea, and when Molotov inquired rather a cold voice “which sea?”, Ribbentrop stated that "in the long run the most advantageous access to the sea for Russia could be found in the direction of the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea


Regarding the division of the world into four spheres of influence, Molotov stated the new idea was “very interesting” and worthy of a discussion in Moscow with Ribbentrop participating. Stalin became annoyed with a telegram to him from Molotov stating that the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact was “exhausted” with the exception of the Finnish issue, with Stalin stating that any future agreements would merely be added to it because it served as a fundamental basis for Soviet-German relations.

In the afternoon, Molotov visited Hitler at the Reichskanzlei. Hitler also spoke of striking that “final blow against England.” Hitler stated that “it is time to think about division of the world after our victory.” Regarding the “problem of America,” according to Shirer, he stated that it could not “endanger the freedom of other nations before 1970 or 1980.” A different account gives Hitler’s interpreter at the meeting, Paul Schmidt _(interpreter)). Citing Hitler, Schmidt tells in his memoirs (1950): “Hitler went on to call for battle against the United States, who ‘not in 1945 but at the earliest in 1970 or 1980 would seriously endanger the freedom of other nations’” Hitler and Molotov agreed that the United States had no business in Europe, Africa or Asia. Hitler stated that there were no fundamental differences between the two countries in their pursuit of aspiring for “access to the ocean.” Molotov expressed his agreement with Hitler about the role of America and Britain and Soviet participation in the Axis Pact in principle but only if the Soviets could participate as an active partner. That same day, Germany also postponed until the following year its plans to invade Britain because of failures in the air campaign against Britain.

Molotov agreed with Hitler that there were no unresolved problems between the countries, except about Finland. When Molotov returned to his hotel, he stated that he was “relieved at Hitler’s amiability.” In a telegram to Molotov that night, Stalin insisted that the security of the USSR cannot be ensured “without securing tranquility in the area of the Straits”, referring the Bosporus straits for entry into the Black Sea That was linked directly with the Soviet-Bulgarian agreement for passage of Soviet troops for “the defense of entry into the Black Sea.” Stalin added that “this question still bears current importance and does not allow any procrastination.”

Molotov and Hitler resumed their discussions the next morning. Molotov demanded to know why German troops were occupying Finland, while Hitler replied that they were traveling through Finland to Norway and wondered whether the Soviets intended to go to war over Finland. While Hitler agreed that Finland was within the Soviets’ sphere of influence, he also stressed that Germany had a legitimate wartime interest in Finland’s nickel and wood supply and that any new conflict in the Baltics would lead to a severe strain in relations. Molotov concluded that nothing good could come from further talks about Finland and stated that he saw no signs of any resumption of a Soviet-Finland conflict. According to Hitler, however, Molotov stated that “Russia felt herself again endangered by Finland, Russia should be able to liquidate Finland” which for him “was the first question which I found difficult to answer. But I could not do otherwise than refuse this”. According to Shrier and Schmidt Molotov was asking his inquiries so fast and one after another deliberately Hitler first time in a rare occasion accustomed to drowning others with his verbal barrage suddenly quitened up and unable to say anything else.


Molotov conveyed Stalin’s interest in reviewing the status of the Bosporus , and pressed for a guarantee for Bulgaria, at least in principle. Molotov later noted that Hitler became “markedly agitated” at the request to revoke guarantees to Romania. Molotov stated Stalin’s wish to grant a guarantee to Bulgaria similar to the one that Germany and Italy had granted to Romania. Hitler pointed out that the Soviets had entered Bukovina in Romania, which went beyond the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. (unlike Beserabia which was given to Rumania after World War I , Bukovina had never been a Russian territory at all) Hitler stated the parties had made a prior oral agreement that the former Austrian territories, such as the Balkan states within the Austro-Hungarian empire, were to fall within the German sphere of influence. Hitler pointed out that a primary goal of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was to restore the old empires of the countries. Stalin, still hopeful to get a draft agreement, was monitoring the conversations by telegram and sent a telegram to Molotov to remind Hitler of the importance of securing the Bosporus, explaining the events of the Crimean War in 19th Century). Hitler stated that he could not make decisions regarding Bulgaria without conversing first with Italian leader [Benito Mussolini (obviously German dictator was stalling for time here since in the past -and future- he acted without consent or care of Mussolini )

Hitler changed the subject to the larger matter of the opportunities available after the conquest of England. Hitler told Molotov that:

“ After the conquest of England, the British Empire would be apportioned as a gigantic world-wide estate in bankruptcy of forty million square kilometers. In this bankrupt estate there would be for Russia access to the ice-free and really open ocean. Thus far, a minority of forty-five million Englishmen had ruled six hundred million inhabitants of the British Empire. He was about to crush this minority. … Under these circumstances there arose world-wide perspectives. … All the countries which could possibly be interested in the bankrupt estate would have to stop all controversies among themselves and concern themselves exclusively with the partition of the British Empire. This applied to Germany, France, Italy, Russia and Japan. ”

Molotov told Hitler that “the time has now come to discuss a broader agreement between the USSR and Germany”, but first the Soviet government wanted to know the precise meaning of “the New Order in Europe” regarding participating countries and the ultimate aims of the pact. Molotov then was scheduled to meet with Ribbentrop that afternoon.

A telegram Molotov sent to Stalin on the meeting with Hitler underscored “Hitler’s great interest in reaching an agreement and strengthening friendly relations with the USSR with respect to spheres of influence.” Molotov stated that his talk with neither Hitler nor Ribbentrop produced the desired results, as the issues with Turkey and the Balkans had not been addressed.

On top of unpreceeding talks , that night RAF night air raids began (they had been raiding over Berlin since August with negligible damage on German capital city so far) and seriously distrupted both nature , mood and perception of talks between each party. British bombers showed up kind of early over Berlin that night while Ribbentrop was giving a reception for Molotov and Soviet delegation at Adlon Hotel. Just when Ribbentrop rose his glass for friendship between both countries , air raid sirens began to wail. William Shrier mentions how both German and Soviet diplomats hurried down air raid shelters in alarm. (Churchill later mentioned in his memoirs that they had known Grman-Soviet talks in Berlin made in advance. Churchill’s quote : "We were not invited of course but we did not wish to stay away complately either !)

Because of British aerial bombardment, Ribbentrop and Molotov conducted talks that night in an air raid shelter. Ribbentrop reiterated that the chief goal was to define the four powers’ interests and reach an agreement with Turkey on the Bosporus issue. Ribbentrop proposed several parallel steps the parties should then take including that Molotov should discuss the issues raised in Berlin with Stalin while Ribbentrop discussed them with Japan. Germany, Italy and the USSR would also pressure Turkey to acquiesce to Soviet demands on the Bosporus. Thereafter, the parties would negotiate and draft confidential documents bearing in mind that the final accord would be a Soviet entry into the Axis pact. What Molotov did not know is that, that night, Hitler issued secret “Instruction No. 18”, directing his forces to continue to prepare for war in the east "irrespective of the results yielded by these discussions.

In the air raid shelter, Ribbentrop gave Molotov a draft agreement with two parts. As had become the practice between the parties, one part was of the agreement that would eventually be made public, while the other contained the secret agreement. The public portion contained an agreement with a ten-year duration whereby the parties would respect each other’s natural spheres of interests, while Germany, Italy and Japan would affirm their recognition of existing Soviet borders.

The draft of the secret agreement included the obligation not to join any alliance directed at the four signatories and to assist each other in economic matters. The secret agreement contained a protocol defining the territorial objectives of the four signatories, with Germany laying claims to central Africa, Italy in northern and northeast Africa, Japan in southeast Asia and the Soviet zone to the ”center south of the national territory of the Soviet Union in the direction of the Indian Ocean.” A second secret protocol provided that Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union would “liberate” Turkey from its international obligations with Britain to guarantee its borders.

Molotov stated that the Soviet Union was concerned with several European issues, such as Turkey and Bulgaria, but also the fates of Hungary , Romania, Yugoslavia and Greece. In addition, the Soviets were also interested in the question of Swedish neutrality and passage out of the Baltic sea. Molotov also cuttingly remarked about why, if England’s fate was sealed, they were talking in an air raid shelter and who is dropping these bombs ? This acid remark complately shut Ribbentrop up.

The news that Molotov held talks in Berlin initially stunned world media, with the British press endeavoring to determine whether the Soviets were preparing to join the Axis pact. When Molotov returned, he noted that the meeting produced “nothing to boast about”, that Ribbentrop’s projected trip to Moscow was no longer mentioned but that the German draft proposal led to a complacent, rather than crisis, approach of continuing negotiations through “diplomatic channels.” The pro-“Continental Bloc” Germans in Ribbentrop’s entourage expected that Stalin would eventually yield given the weakness of the Red Army. German Foreign Minstry first attache Weizsäcker commented that “we can continue for a long time” and that “war with Russia is impossible as long as we are busy with England, and afterwards it will be unnecessary.” On November 14 Köstring also reiterated his conviction that the Soviet Union had no aggressive designs indeed, just the contrary: “Molotov’s trip (to Berlin) is for me just further proof of an idea that I have long held namely, that the Soviet Union wants to have peace with us, since it cannot expect any advantage from a conflict with us. … The decisive factor in [evoking] the Soviet desire for peace is and remains the demonstrated strength of our army.”

After his return to Moscow , Molotov in last week of November 1940 , drafted a counter proposal of Germans giving up supporting Finland militarily , establishment of Soviet military bases in Bulgaria , a mutual assistance pact between Soviet Union and Bulgaria , Soviet expansion towards Iran and Persian Gulf ansd Japanese renunciation of Sakhalin Islands to Soviet Union. The proposals came concurrently with massively increased economic offers from Soviet Union to Nazi Germany . The Soviets promised, by May 11, 1941 the delivery of 2.5 million tons of grain to Germany—1 million tons above its current obligations. They also promised full compensation for the [Volksdeutsche property claims in Baltic states which were annexed by Soviet Russia.

Meanwhile Hitler had already issued a secret directive to OKW on the planning of eventual attempts to invade the Soviet Union in August 1940. German dictator saw the Soviet territorial ambitions in the Balkans as a challenge to German interests and saw its plan as effectively making Bulgaria into an adjunct of the Axis pact. He had already decided to destroy Soviet Union and annex all Russian territory west of Urals which had been an obsession of his for more than 20 years since he mentioned it in Mein Kampf. On several occasions, Molotov asked German officials in Moscow for their response to Moscow’s counterproposals, but Germany never answered them. Germany’s refusal to respond to the counterproposal worsened relations between the countries. Regarding the counterproposal, Hitler remarked to his top military chiefs that Stalin “demands more and more”, “he’s a cold-blooded blackmailer” and that “a German victory has become unbearable for Russia” so that “she must be brought to her knees as soon as possible.”

On December 5, Hitler received military plans for the possible invasion, and approved them all, with a schedule to begin in May 1941.