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world war ii began on 1 september 1939, when nazi germany invaded
poland, and ended six years later, on 2 september 1945, with the
unconditional surrender of germany抯 ally, japan. the surrender
ceremony took place on board the uss missouri in tokyo bay and was
attended by delegations of the victorious allied powers, including
the united states, britain, the soviet union, france, china,
australia, canada, the netherlands, and new zealand.
soviet union was engaged in world war ii from its outbreak. in
september 1939 the red army entered poland; from 30 november 1939 to
12 march 1940 soviet troops waged war against finland; and on 22
june 1941 the ussr itself became a victim of aggression by germany.
from the moment of the german invasion and up to the final victory
over germany in may 1945, the soviet people fought their great
patriotic war for liberation from the german occupation. by
courageously defending their country, they made a decisive
contribution toward the final defeat of germany. in may 1945 their
four-year struggle was crowned by the seizure of berlin. three
months later, implementing the agreements with its war allies, the
soviet armed forces contributed to the routing of japan.
the end of the war, soviet official propaganda did everything to
amplify the heroic liberation struggle of the soviet people
following the german invasion on 22 june 1941 and to efface the
uncomfortable fact that the day of the german attack had been
preceded by nearly two years of 揻riendly relations?between
communist russia and nazi germany. their cooperation had been
officially established by a nonaggression pact, signed by joachim
von ribbentrop, the german foreign minister, and vyacheslav molotov,
the people抯 commissar for foreign affairs, on 23 august 1939 in
the news of the molotov-ribbentrop pact, as it became known,
came as a great surprise to the soviet public accustomed to the
antifascist rhetoric of the soviet media. it also caused grave
concern in the west, for only a few weeks earlier, in the summer of
1939, soviet-british-french talks had been held in moscow intended
to work out an international security agreement that would restrain
germany抯 aggressive aspirations. the talks ended on 2 august 1939
with a draft agreement on mutual assistance by the three powers. the
soviet nonaggression pact with germany followed three weeks later
and clearly signaled a major change in soviet foreign policy.