Anti-Comintern Pact

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Signing of the pact by Joachim von Ribbentrop

The Anti-Comintern Pact in 1936 was an international treaty between the German Reich and the Japanese Empire with the main objective of combating Kom communist Intern ational (Comintern). It was later joined by other states, including fascist Italy.



The German Empire had since the seizure of power of the NSDAP a 1933 anti-Communist out line. The Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda under Joseph Goebbels had founded the General Association of German Anti-Communist Associations (GDAV) for the purpose of anti-communist propaganda . The GDAV was also known as the Anti-Comintern and, under the guidance of Adolf Ehrt, distributed anti-communist, anti-Semitic and anti- Soviet publications, both in Germany and internationally.At the same time, the National Socialists were careful not to risk a war against the Soviet Union too early. In 1934, when it looked like Japan might be encircled by a Soviet-Chinese coalition and soon under military attack, Ambassador Herbert von Dirksen was instructed not to give the slightest impression that Germany would in any way trap Japan want to support a Japanese-Soviet war.

The idea of ​​an alliance with Japan in the German ranks primarily came from the pen of Joachim von Ribbentrop and found sympathy with Adolf Hitler . Most of the career diplomats in the Foreign Office under Konstantin von Neurath , including Neurath himself, were instead opposed to joining Japan.The main Japanese rival, the Republic of China under Chiang Kai-shek , was an extremely important sales market for Germany and the most important trading partner in Asia. China exported tin and tungsten to Germany and bought German armaments and products of German heavy industry in the opposite direction.China also claimed the help of German military instructors under Alexander von Falkenhausen and equipped its army with German material. That is why both Neurath's diplomats and the German General Staff supported German-Chinese cooperation instead of a connection to Japan.

Germany left the League of Nations on October 14, 1933 , following the example of its future ally Japan, which had already left the League in February.


The Japanese Empire had repeatedly performed successfully on the world stage since the Meiji Restoration in 1868 . The Japanese defeated China in the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894 and even triumphed over the Russian Empire in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 . Then Japan annexed the Korean peninsula in 1910 and took part in the First World War against the German Empire from 1914 on the side of the United Kingdom ( allied with Japan since 1902 ) .

Although Japan had stood on the side of the victorious Entente powers in World War I , the war profits and the post-war world negotiated in the Paris suburb agreements had fallen short of Japanese expectations. The Western powers had rejected the racial equality aimed at by Japan in Versailles in 1919 and had also managed in the Washington Naval Agreement of 1922 to limit the Japanese ambitions for the Pacific by limiting the size of warships. This was seen as a massive national humiliation in Japan.

In the Japan of Emperor Hirohito , there was an internal power struggle within the military, in which the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy competed with one another on diplomatic, military and political issues, which also concerned the direction of military expansion of Japan, which in resource-poor Japan for development economic autarky was considered inevitable. The aim of the KJA was to ally itself with Germany against the Soviet Union and to invade Siberia in a pincer attack in order to secure the resources that Japan lacked. The KJM, on the other hand, did not see an alliance with Germany as useful, as it could hinder diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom and the United States and make a sea war in the Pacific that Japan could not win, in which Germany would be of no help, more likely. The KJM wanted to preserve the tradition of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902 at all costs and, with the help of the neutrality policy of the USA, secure a free hand for Japanese expansion in East and Southeast Asia in order to get the necessary raw materials.

Both the KJA and the KJM viewed the Soviet Union in the mid-1920s (Russia had been perceived as the most dangerous and likely opponent of Japan since the Russo-Japanese War in Japan, as evidenced by the rise of anti-monarchical and revolutionary communism and the Formation of the USSR had exacerbated), the Republic of China and the United States of America as the three most threatening opponents of the Japanese Empire. But with the Chinese Civil War since 1927 and American isolationism since 1918, the Soviet Union, as the last remaining active threat from these three states, once again became the Japanese focus target.In the early 1930s (before the great purges by Stalin ), the Red Army of the Soviet Union was one of the most modern and strongest armies in the world, it used battle tanks in large numbers , and impressed with the formation of the first military parachute formations . It was primarily the threat posed by the Soviet Union that motivated the Japanese to form an alliance with Germany, which Japan regarded as ideologically and diplomatically hostile to the USSR.

The Japanese government, including the Emperor Hirohito, was partly unable and partly unwilling to stop the escapades of the Japanese military in China. In 1931 the Kwantung Army was autonomously responsible for the Manchuria crisis and occupied northeast China independently and in the end without government intervention in Tokyo.The puppet state of Manchukuo was established there by the Japanese .Like almost all other states, Germany had not recognized Manchukuo. The world public viewed the region as being illegally occupied by Japan. While the Japanese Empire repeatedly violated the sovereignty of the Republic of China ( Battle of Shanghai in 1932 , incident on May 15 , pacification of Manchukuo ), the Western powers continued to be interested in a compromise solution. Neville Chamberlain , who later led the British appeasement policy towards the German Reich, tried in 1934 to negotiate a British-Japanese non-aggression pact .

The Japanese Empire withdrew from the League of Nations in February 1933 in response to the Lytton Report , which clearly blamed the Japanese for orchestrating the Mukden Incident .

The main proponent of an alliance with Germany within Japan was the KJA, which cultivated a long tradition of Germany-inspired military innovations and which employed hundreds of German experts and sent many Japanese officer candidates to study in Germany.Within the KJA, Hiroshi Ōshima , who had been the army attaché of the KJA in the Japanese embassy in Berlin since 1934 , was the main figure in the later negotiations that led to the formation of the Anti-Comintern Pact with Germany. The Japanese ambassador, Kintomo Mushanokōji , mistrusted the intentions of the Germans and feared that Japan might isolate itself if Tokyo should turn away from London in favor of Berlin and then Germany should decide in favor of Great Britain as an ally. Nevertheless, Mushanokōji carried out his mandate to negotiate the Anti-Comintern Pact. In addition, he set himself the goal of undermining the German-Chinese partnership.


Agreement against the Communist International in the German Reich Law Gazette

The first political treaty between the German Reich and Japan was signed on November 25, 1936 in Berlin by the Japanese special ambassador Viscount Mushanokōji Kintomo and Joachim von Ribbentrop for a period of five years. The fight against the Communist International should be promoted through the exchange of information , analogous to the Comintern . In additional secret agreements, the two states assured each other benevolent neutrality in the event of an unprovoked attack or a threat of attack by the Soviet Union . In addition, they undertook not to conclude any treaties with the Soviet Union that would contradict the “spirit of this agreement”. Japan invoked the corresponding secret supplementary agreement when it protested against the German-Soviet non-aggression pact in Berlin .


With the Anti-Comintern Pact, Hitler used political developments outside Germany to break out of Germany's political isolation. After leaving the League of Nations , National Socialist Germany was internationally isolated. Adolf Hitler was looking for allies for his revisionist and anti-Soviet foreign policy. At that time he tried to establish treaties with five states, which he assumed had an interest in pushing back or smashing the Soviet Union. The main partner in Europe should be Great Britain , plus Poland . Japan was to be added to East Asia, as was Chiang Kai-shek's national China . Japan had withdrawn from the League of Nations a few months earlier. After a military intervention in 1931 it had conquered Manchuria and on February 18, 1932 proclaimed the Manchukuo state, which was dependent on it . This put it in an acute conflict situation with the Soviet Union. It was now looking for a counterweight to the growing Sino-Soviet cooperation and offered the German Reich a cooperation. Hitler had not yet got beyond the German-Polish non-aggression pact of 1934; it was the only alliance up to that point. Now he saw the possibility of exerting two-front pressure on the Soviet Union with Japan. At the end of 1935, the German-Japanese treaty with its anti-Soviet orientation was already negotiated, but could not be signed until the end of 1936 due to internal political disputes in Japan. Hitler's campaign for an alliance with Great Britain was unsuccessful. Then he switched to a "world political triangle" Berlin-Rome-Tokyo as a substitute solution. After Mussolini visited Germany in September, Italy joined the Anti-Comintern Pact in November 1937, but was not informed of the existence of an additional agreement. Until 1939, the German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop tried in vain to develop the "World Political Triangle" into a German-Japanese-Italian military alliance aimed at the United Kingdom. Japan had invaded China in 1937 ( Second Sino-Japanese War ) and saw the pact as backing this expansion against the Soviet Union. At that time, his army remained predominantly anti-Soviet. Nothing changed that Hitler gave up his partisanship for China. The steel pact signed on May 22, 1939 , which was limited to the main partners Germany and Italy, finally made it clear that the desired three-way military alliance had failed.


Italy joined the pact on November 6, 1937 .On February 24, 1939, Hungary and the Japanese satellite state of Manchukuo joined the Anti-Comintern Pact.A little later, on March 27, 1939, Spain followed , whose civil war had just ended with the victorious invasion of Franco's troops in the capital Madrid.

After the German-Soviet War began on June 22, 1941, several new member states joined the treaty on November 25, 1941. These new additions were as follows:

Several countries were considered by Germany and Japan as candidate countries. These candidate countries were as follows:

Further development

Due to the German-Soviet non-aggression pact of 1939, which was concluded without any consultation or even informing the partners of the Anti-Comintern Pact Japan and Italy, this pact and the “world political triangle” had become meaningless. Japan, which at the same time as the conclusion of the German-Soviet non-aggression treaty was fighting a loss-making border conflict near Nomonhan with the Red Army, viewed the conclusion of the non-aggression pact as a violation of the Anti-Comintern Pact. The Hiranuma cabinet, which was taken by surprise, resigned and relations with Germany temporarily cooled. Spain also moved away from Hitler.

Significance in the further course of the war

Due to its expansion in the Far East ( Second Sino-Japanese War , Japanese-Soviet border conflict ) , Japan had come into conflict with Great Britain, the USA and the Soviet Union. Furthermore, in 1940 the balance of power between the three powers Germany, Japan and Italy had changed considerably. The Tripartite Pact now came about . This new pact did not affect existing relations with the Soviet Union. It was essentially a defense alliance in case the US intervened in the Asian or European war.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Lorna L. Waddington: The Anti-Comintern and Nazi Anti-Bolshevik Propaganda in the 1930s . tape 42 , no. 4 , 2007, ISSN  0022-0094 , p. 573-594 , JSTOR : 30036470 (English).
  2. Margaret Lambert, Paul R. Sweet, Maurice Baumont (eds.): June 14 to October 31, 1934  (= files on German foreign policy 1918–1945), Volume C-3. Vandenhoeck + Ruprecht, 1973.
  3. ^ Zara Steiner: The Triumph of the Dark: European International History 1933-1939 . Oxford University Press, 2011, ISBN 9780199212002 .
  4. ^ A b George John Stratman: Germany's diplomatic relations with Japan 1933-1941  (= Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers), Volume 2450. University of Montana, 1970.
  5. ^ A b c d Carl Boyd: The Role of Hiroshi Ōshima in the Preparation of the Anti-Comintern Pact . In: Journal of Asian History . 11, No. 1, 1977, pp. 49-71.
  6. a b Herbert P. Bix : Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan . HarperCollins e-books, New York City 2007, ISBN 9780061570742 .
  7. a b c Bernd Martin: On the prehistory of the German-Japanese war alliance . In: Science and Education . 21, 1970, pp. 606-615.
  8. ^ A b Michael A. Barnhart: Japan Prepares for Total War: The Search for Economic Security, 1919-1941 . Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY 1987, ISBN 9780801495298 . (English)
  9. ^ Earl F. Ziemke: The Red Army 1918-1941: From Vanguard of World Revolution to US Ally . Frank Cass, London 2004, ISBN 0203582454 .
  10. ^ A b c Carl Boyd: The Berlin-Tokyo Axis and Japanese Military Initiative . In: Modern Asian Studies . 15, No. 2, 1981, pp. 311-338.
  11. Prasenjit Duara: Sovereignty and Authenticity: Manchukuo and the East Asian Modern . Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Oxford 2003, ISBN 0742525775 .
  12. ^ A b Ian Nish, Yoichi Kibata (Ed.): The Political-Diplomatic Dimension, 1931-2000  (= The History of Anglo-Japanese Relations, 1600-2000), Volume 2. Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills 2000, ISBN 9781403919670 .
  13. Gerhard L. Weinberg (Ed.): Documentation: The secret agreements on the Anti-Comintern Pact in: Quarterly Issues for Contemporary History 1954, Issue 2, pp. 195 ff ( PDF ).
  14. ^ William L. Shirer : The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany , 1st. Edition, Simon and Schuster, Inc., New York 1960.
  15. a b Edmund J. Osmanczyk: The Encyclopedia of The United Nations and International Relations , 2nd. Edition, Taylor and Francis, Bristol 1990, ISBN 0850668336 .
  16. ^ A b Howard M. Smyth, Margaret Lambert, Maurice Baumont (Eds.): September 15 to December 11, 1941  (= files on German foreign policy 1918–1945), Volume D-13-2. Vandenhoeck + Ruprecht, 1970.
  17. a b c d Bernadotte E. Schmitt, Andrew MacLeish, Margaret Lambert, Maurice Baumont (eds.): Poland, Southeast Europe, Latin America, small and medium-sized states  (= files on German foreign policy 1918–1945), Volume D-5. Vandenhoeck + Ruprecht, Göttingen 1953.
  18. ^ A b c Gerhard Weinberg : The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany Diplomatic Revolution in Europe 1933-36 . University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1970, ISBN 0226885097 .
  19. ^ Wai-Chor So: The Making of the Guomindang's Japan Policy, 1932-1937: The Roles of Chiang Kai-Shek and Wang Jingwei . In: Sage Publications (ed.): Modern China . 28, No. 2, April 2002, pp. 213-252.
  20. ^ David John Lu: Agony of Choice: Matsuoka Yōsuke and the Rise and Fall of the Japanese Empire . Lexington Books, 2002, ISBN 9780739104583 .
  21. ^ Galeazzo Ciano: Hugh Gibson (Ed.): The Ciano Diaries . Simon Publications, 2001, ISBN 1931313741 .
  22. Tokushiro Ohata: The Anti-Comintern Pact, 1935-1939 . In: James William Morley (Ed.): Deterrent Diplomacy: Japan, Germany and the USSR, 1935-1940: Selected Translations from Taiheiyō sensō e no michi, kaisen gaikō shi . Columbia University Press, New York City 1976, ISBN 9780231089692 , pp. 1-112.
  23. Christoph Kleßmann (Ed.): September 1939: War, Occupation and Resistance in Poland ( German ). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1989.
  24. Wolfgang Michalka: Ribbentrop and the German world politics ( German ). Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich 1980, ISBN 3770514009 .
  25. ^ Spang, Wippich: Japanese-German Relations, 1895-1945: War, Diplomacy and Public Opinion . Routledge, 2006, ISBN 978-0-415-34248-3 , p. 13.


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