Thomas Graham’s Diary – 23rd August 1939

On 23rd August 1939, the Soviet Union and Germany signed a non-aggression pact also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The contract essentially meant that neither Germany or the Soviet Union would ally, or aid, an enemy of either country.

For many, the announcement had come out of the blue. Just four months ago Stalin had suggested and alliance between the Soviet Union, Britain and France against Germany. As negotiations progressed slowly, the pact between Russia and Germany was announced.

In his diary, Thomas remarks that the ‘precise terms’ of the pact were not clear. Unknown to those outside Russia and Germany, the pact effectively had a promise that an invasion of Poland would occur and the two countries would the split the territories between them. This was beneficial for Stalin as it meant he could gain territory whilst not going to war and give his country time to rearm.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact would force Britain and France to sign a formal alliance with Poland just days later and guarantee war.


For Thomas, one of the main reasons for the upcoming war was the failure of the League of Nations. He believed that no such league would unless:

“1. ALL Nations renounce sovereignty

2. ALL join the league”

Thomas is also adamant there will be no quick war and ‘for an old man who hoped never again to see war it is a dreary outlook…I fear the die is as good as cast’. The threat of war hitting the United Kingdom was is also made apparent as he writes that he had just ‘received a message from the Police to enforce lighting regulations’.