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Anti-Comintern Pact

The Anti-Comintern Pact was concluded between Nazi-Germany and Japan on November 25th, 1936. The pact was ostensibly directed against the Communist International (Comintern) but was specifically directed against the Soviet Union. In case of an unprovoked attack by the Soviet Union against Germany or Japan, the two nations agreed to consult on what measures to take "to safeguard their common interests". It also agreed that neither nation would make any political treaties with the Soviet Union, and Germany also agreed to recognize the Japanese puppet regime in Manchuria. In 1937 Italy joined the Pact, thereby forming the group that would later lead be known as the Axis Powers.

Italy's joining was more or less a reaction against the failed Stresa Front, the Franco-British initiative of 1935 designed to keep Nazi-Germany from extending beyond her borders, primarily the Anschluss of Austria, where the Nazis recently had assassinated the Italy-oriented dictator Engelbert Dollfuss. However, in June 1935 an Anglo-German Naval Agreement was signed, followed by mistrust from the unknowing France and Italy.

Meanwhile, Italy invaded the African State of Abyssinia, an act of unprovoked aggression. Nevertheless, Britain and France hashed out a secret agreement with Italy to give her two-thirds of Abyssinia. When this information was leaked to the public in Britain and France, their governments collapsed in scandal. Mussolini realized that future governments of France and the United Kingdom will be less accommodating. After Italy signed the Anti-Comintern Pact, the Franco-British initiative failed, and soon afterwards the Anschluss of Austria was realized.

Adolf Hitler broke the terms of the pact when he signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in August 1939. He did this because he was attempting to avoid a war on two-fronts. By 1940 Hitler once again began to consider invading the Soviet Union and the German foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, was sent to negotiate a new treaty with Japan. On September 25th, 1940, Ribbentrop sent a telegram to Vyacheslav Molotov, the Soviet foreign minister, informing him that Germany, Italy and Japan were about to sign a military alliance. Ribbentrop pointed out that the alliance was to be directed towards the United States and not the Soviet Union. "Its exclusive purpose is to bring the elements pressing for America's entry into the war to their senses by conclusively demonstrating to them if they enter the present struggle they will automatically have to deal with the three great powers as adversaries."

The Anti-Comintern Pact was revived in 1941, after Germany's assault on the Soviet Union, (Operation Barbarossa), and on November 25th its renewal for another five years was celebrated. This time the parties were: Germany, Japan, Italy, Hungary, Spain, Manchukuo, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Romania, Slovakia, and the Nanking regime in China.