News Brief

AP News Agency Bows to Russian Pressure Over Moscow’s WWII Pact with Nazi Germany

The Associated Press news agency has acceded to a Russian request to delete the term “former ally” from an article mentioning the Soviet Union’s pact with Nazi Germany during World War II, according to a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

It’s the latest example of Russia and a rising number of other countries around the world seeking to rewrite or change accounts of their histories, both at home and abroad.

The original article, which was published earlier this month in media outlets worldwide, including Haaretz, was about a Ukrainian city marking the 75th anniversary of the destruction of its Jewish community. It included the sentence that “in June 1941 Germany attacked the Soviet Union, its former ally.”

Earlier this week, 1o days after the article was published, the U.S.-based news agency issued a correction amending the text. The AP explained that the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, signed by Moscow and Berlin on the eve of World War II, did not make Germany and the Soviet Union allies, on the grounds that it was “a non-aggression pact.”

A cartoon lampooning Hitler and Stalin’s 1939 pact in the “Washington Star” newspaper, October 1939

“That pact was never formally recognized as an alliance,” the AP said, “and in 1941 Germany attacked the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union, in coalition with allies including Britain, the United States and other nations, fought for four years to defeat the Nazis.”

Haaretz reported that it had also received a request from the Russian embassy in Israel, asking that it amend the article it had published, in line with AP’s corrective statement.

The newspaper said a Russian embassy secretary had described the “former ally” phrase as “a vivid example of attempts to rewrite history, distort the truth.” In a letter sent to Haaretz office, the diplomat said: “The USSR had never been an ally of Nazi Germany.”