Marian Miner Cook

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Faustian Bargain: The Soviet-German Partnership and the Origins of the Second World War

Thu, October 21, 2021
Dinner Program
Ian Ona Johnson '09

Immediately after World War I and continuing for more than a decade, the German military and the Soviet Union—despite having been mortal enemies—entered into a secret partnership designed to overturn the order in Europe. Centering on covert economic and military cooperation, their arrangement led to the establishment of a network of military bases and industrial facilities on Soviet soil. Through this alliance, Germany gained the space to rebuild its army. In return, the Soviet Union received vital military, technological, and economic assistance. Though Hitler ended their partnership in late 1933, he and Stalin would renew it in 1939. The result was the German - and then Soviet - invasion of Poland. Drawing from twenty archives in five countries, including new collections of declassified Russian documents, Ian Ona Johnson ’09, professor of history at Notre Dame University, offers the definitive exploration of a shadowy but fateful alliance that led to the outbreak of the Second World War.

Ian Johnson ‘09 is the P.J. Moran Assistant Professor of Military History at the University of Notre Dame. A historian of war, diplomacy, and technology, his research focuses on the origins and conduct of war, and the maintenance of peace. His first monograph, The Faustian Bargain: Secret Soviet-German Military Cooperation in the Interwar Period was published in 2021 by Oxford University Press. He has also edited the memoirs of a Russian veteran and revolutionary for publication, “The White Nights: Pages from a Russian Doctor’s Notebook.” He is currently working on a new manuscript exploring the military history of the early Cold War, with a focus on collective security and plans for an international military force.

Johnson received his Ph.D. from the Ohio State University in 2016, with a dissertation that explored secret military cooperation between the Soviet Union and Germany in the interwar period. During graduate school, he was the recipient of a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, as well as the OSU Presidential Fellowship. He graduated in 2009 from CMC where he studied history and government.  

From 2015-2016, Johnson was a predoctoral fellow with International Security Studies at Yale University. Thereafter, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Clements Center for National Security and a lecturer in the department of history at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2017, he returned to Yale University as the Associate Director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy and lecturer in the department of history.

 Johnson’s writing has also appeared in the National Interest, the Claremont Review of Books, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the Global Military Studies Review, the Journal of Global War Studies, Technology and Culture, and the Journal of Slavic Military Studies, among others.

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