Stalin-Hitler pact papers displayed


in Moscow

For the first time since Hitler and Stalin carved up Eastern Europe in 1939, a map bearing the Soviet dictator's signature, and other long-classified documents, have gone on display in Moscow, the final act in Russia's tortuous struggle to come clean about the infamous "secret protocols" that underpinned its lost empire.

As part of an exhibition at Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery marking the 50th anniversary of Hitler's defeat, the material provides concrete evidence of Moscow's darkest and almost suicidal exercise in diplomatic realpolitik: the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 23 August 1939.

The exhibition adds little to what has long been known about Stalin's dealings with Hitler before the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. But it marks an important effort to open up Russia's vast historical archives for public display.

"This is really sensational," one of its organisers, Tatiana Pavlova, an official at the State Archive Service of Russia, said. "We all know what happened but we are so used to being deceived that we like to see everything with our own eyes and touch the facts."

Soviet leaders, including Mikhail Gorbachev, for decades denied there was a deal with Nazi Germany to divide Europe.It was not until 1989 that Moscow ceased stone-walling. In a statement to the Soviet parliament, Alexander Yakovlev, an aide to Mr Gorbachev, conceded the secret protocols did exist. The Supreme Soviet then declared the deal illegitimate, heralding the collapse of Soviet rule over the Baltic states.

The exhibition includes a map of Europe showing a divided Poland, signed by Stalin in blue crayon, and by Hitler's Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, in red ink. It is dated 28 November 1939.

Another map, captured from Nazi archives at the end of the Second World War, is labelled "Barbarossa" and outlines the German General Staff's plans for the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Soviet reports predicting an attack are scribbled with denials from Stalin, who refused to believe Hitler would attack.

Also on display are the diplomatic protocols signed in Moscow by Ribbentrop and Stalin's Foreign Minister, Vyacheslav Molotov. One protocol, agreed in August 1939, granted Moscow Latvia, Estonia, a large chunk of Poland and the Romanian region of Bessarabia.

A second, signed a month later, gave Moscow Lithuania. Mrs Pavlova said most of the documents had been held in "closed" archives formerly belonging to the Communist Party Central Committee.

Their release was organised by a special commission, set up last year by President Boris Yeltsin, to declassify documents ahead of the anniversary of the fall of Berlin in May 1945.

Roy Medvedev, a Russian historian, complained that many documents remain hidden in locked archives. "In our state, even documents relating to the Civil War 75 years ago are still secret," he said.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams' life story will be told in a biography written by a New York Times reporter
arts + ents
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Merger and Acquisition Project Manager

£500 - £550 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN TAWe are looking to recrui...

Technical Manager – Heat Pumps

£40000 Per Annum dependent on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: They ...

Test Job

TBC: Test Recruiter for iJobs: Job London (Greater)

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis