On August 23, 1939, nearly two years before the start of the Great Patriotic War, Germany’s foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and the USSR’s foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, signed “an agreement for mutual trade” and “a pact of nonaggression.” The pact contained a secret protocol that divided German and Soviet interests in Eastern Europe and split Poland between them. The agreement served the interests of both parties. Stalin needed time to strengthen his army and move his border westward; the Baltic nations, western Ukraine, western Belorussia, and parts of Romania (Bessarabia and Bukovina) were assigned to Soviet influence. Hitler needed access to Russia’s raw materials to supply his campaign in Western Europe; a common border also facilitated his secret goal of eventually conquering Russia and achieving Lebensraum, territorial expansion for the German people. Months before Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, numerous reports providing clear evidence of Germany’s preparation for war were submitted to Stalin; he dismissed them all. Soviet freight trains packed with supplies continued their deliveries into Germany even as the Wehrmacht launched its attack.