August 1939 - Hitler Seals a Non-Aggression Pact with Stalin

In August 1939 Henry Zguda renewed his driver’s license, swam in several water polo competitions, and got beaten up on a Sunday afternoon date with his girlfriend for ‘looking like a Jew.’ Henry wasn’t Jewish, but his friends were and he didn’t like Anti-Semites. The next day he went to the Krakow YMCA with his black eye and missing tooth. His friend Kazio, goal keeper for the water polo team, gathered other strong athletes and they went back to the same park to return the favor to those who would beat up Jews. 

If only Poland could have beaten back Germany with a few hooks to the left jaw. German troops were assembling en masse on her borders; German propaganda ranted about the ‘mistreatment’ of Germans in Poland and her allies Britain and France wavered in their military support.  
henry drivers license 1939 watermarkHitler was fairly certain Britain and France would not send troops to Poland when he invaded, but even if they did he knew he could not fight a two-front war against Stalin for Poland. Through some bold diplomatic wrangling, Hitler offered Stalin a deal. The two arch enemies, signed a non-aggression pact August 23, 1939 where they agreed to take no action against each other for ten years. Hitler was now free to invade Poland with no objection from Russia. 

In the photo Joseph Stalin stands between Nazi Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop on left, and Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov. (Yes – he is THE namesake of the Molotov cocktail.)

Photo and image of 1939 Driver’s License are courtesy of United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.