Putin's Crimea (2014) And Hitler's Sudetenland (1938) - Some Striking Similiarities
March 10, 2014
By EMERSON VERMAAT
Many of Hitler's speeches and proclamations between 1932 and 1945 have been published in a four volume book written by Max Domarus. This German author attended many rallies throughout Germany, collecting Hitler's speeches. He also provided insights into the mind of Hitler and his intentions – valuable critical comments. An American edition was published in 1992.
Hitler wanted to conquer Czechoslovakia in 1938. He found a pretext – the fate of ethnic Germans in the eastern and northern parts of Czechoslovakia, the so-called "Sudeten Germans." He claimed that they had been suppressed by the Czech government. He demanded that the Czech armed forces would evacuate the Sudeten German territories before a certain date. (See vol. II, page 1178.) British Prime Minister Sir Neville Chamberlain wanted to accomodate Hitler and wrote him on September 23, 1938: "It being agreed in principle that the Sudeten German areas are to join the (German) Reich, the immediate question before us is how to maintain law and order pending the final settlement of the arrangements for the transfer."
That same day, on September 23, Czech radio announced that Czech president Edvard Benes had ordered the mobilization of the army. Domarus: "For Hitler, the Czechoslovakian mobilization decree furnished a most opportune affirmation of his claim that the Prague government had never seriously considered a voluntary cession of the Sudeten German territories. He was completely certain now that he would be in a position to carry out his plan as scheduled and also have a good pretext for the launch of a military assault." (See vol. II, page 1179.) Hitler now planned to invade Czechoslovakia on October 2. He addressed a huge crowd of Nazi fanatics in Berlin's Sport Palace on September 26. Hitler said that he had given orders "to rearm the German Wehrmacht (=army) and to bring it to the highest level possible. Today I can openly admit: we rearmed to an extent the like of which the world has not yet seen." (See vol. II, pages 1183, 1184.)
Intimidating language meant for weak opponents and "appeasers" such as Neville Chamberlain. Hitler also said ominously: "Ten million Germans found themselves outside the boundaries of the (German) Reich… Germans who wished to return to their homeland." (See vol. II, page 1186.)
Today, Russian president Vladimir Putin similarly claims that ethnic Russians in Ukraine want to be part of his Russian empire, his Russian "Reich" again. Putin told the Russian parliament in April 2005 that the breakup of the Soviet Union was "a real drama" which left tens of millions of Russians outside the Russian Federation. Putin developed a dangerous doctrine of armed intervention on behalf of ethnic Russians in Georgia, Ukraine and other independent states. He claims that these Russians wish to return to their homeland. There is a remarkable rearmament program in Putin's Russia which now poses a direct threat to neighboring countries and NATO. Most NAT0 countries, including the United States, trimmed the defense budget; the Dutch do not have tanks anymore and F-16 fighter jets are outdated. Moreover, there is an undeniable Russian return to an assertive policy in the Middle East (Syria, Iran, Egypt, etc.).
Hitler: "I am the voice of three and a half million maltreated Sudeten Germans"
Hitler claimed back in September 1938 that his "leniency had reached limits" and that "the rights of three and a half Germans" and their "desires for self-determination" had been clearly defied by the Czech goverment. "I can only be the voice of my Germans," Hitler said to his ecstatic party followers in the Berlin Sport Palace. Mr. Benes "built up a regime of terror." "A war has been waged to exterminate the Germans," he lambasted. "In my speech before the Reichstag (=rubber stamp parliament) on February 20 of this year, I declared that there had to be a change in the lives of the Germans living outside of the borders of the Reich." "I am but the speaker of the Germans." "For them I spoke, as I asserted that I am no longer willing to stand by silently without intervening as this crazed man (=Czech president Benes) continues to believe that he can maltreat three and a half million people as he sits there in Prague." (See vol. II, pages 1187 through 1190.)
"And it is now that England and France have finally demanded of Czechoslovakia what is the sole solution, to release the German areas and to cede them to the Reich." (See vol. II, page 1190.)
Britain and France gave in to Hitler's demands back in 1938. This proved to be a very fatal error indeed. Even U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote an extremely polite letter to "His Excellency Adolf Hitler, Führer and Chancellor of the German Reich, Berlin." "There is no problem so difficult or so pressing for solution that it cannot be justly solved by the resort of reason rather than by the resort of force," Roosevelt wrote. (See vol. II, page 1197.) The problem with powerful dictators (Hitler, Putin and others.) is that they abhore reasonable solutions. The only thing they are really interested in is the expansion of their power – at the expense of other and usually weaker independent states.
That is why Putin wants to "liberate" the Crimea and eastern parts of Ukraine claiming he speaks for ethnic Russians living there – just like Hitler claimed he was speaking on behalf of three and a half million of ethnic Germans in Sudetenland whose rights, so he asserted, had been violated. Hitler said in 1938 he was "but the speaker of the Germans living outside of the borders of the German Reich." Today, Vladimir Putin makes a similar claim, the only difference is that he purports to defend the interests of ethnic Russians living in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine as well as those living in Georgia and Moldova.
There is another difference. Back in 1938 the West gave in to Hitler. Today the West does not condone Putin's military occupation of the Crimean peninsula and his threats to invade other parts of Ukraine should ethnic Russians need so-called Russian "protection." But the West's response has been rather weak so far. Poland, the Baltic States and the Czech Republic prefer a much tougher response, and rightly so. These independent states know only too well what the Nazi and Communist occupiers did between 1939 and 1989.
On September 27, 1938, Hitler wrote a long letter to Chamberlain announcing "a free vote under no outside influence", a plebiscite – a referendum. (See vol. II, p. 1195.) There would be no plebiscite at all, but the very fact that Hitler proposed such a referendum is highly interesting. Today the Russians and Putin also want a rubber stamp referendum in Crimea. Local militias and Russian occupiers massively intimidate opponents (Ukrainians, Crimean Tartars and others). Independent observers and not welcome, Western journalists have been harassed by armed militias.
By the way, there was also a dangerous militia in Sudetenland before the Germans occupied this territory in October 1938. The 15,000 men strong "Sudeten German Freicorps" was dissolved by Hitler on October 10, 1938, when the Sudetenland was incorporated into the Nazi German Reich. The Nazi dictator did not need them anymore. (See vol. II, pages 1219 and 1353 footnote 370.)
The infamous Munich Agreement (1938)
The infamous September 29 agreement between Nazi Germany, Britain, France and Italy only temporarily thwarted Hitler's plans to occupy the whole of Czechoslovakia. On his return to London the naive Chamberlain used the notorious phrase "Peace for our time." Hitler had been given the green light to occupy the Sudetenland only. He had even made lame promises that he would not conquer the remaining Czech territory. Thus in his September 27 letter to Chamberlain he wrote: "I can, moreover, only refer to my speech yesterday in which I clearly declared that I regret the idea of any attack on Czechoslovak territory and that, under the condition which I laid down, I am even ready to give a formal guarantee for the remainder of Czechoslovakia." (See vol. II, p. 1196.) However, already on October 21, 1938, Hitler made a directive for the German army, ordering the "liquidation of the remainder of the Czech state, should it pursue an anti-German policy." (See vol. II, pages 1229, 1287.) This would happen in March 1939. Once again, Hitler justified his latest conquest by claiming that "ethnic Germans" had been subjected to deprivations and harassment.
During several visits to the Sudetenland, Hitler made a number of speeches. For example, on October 3, 1938, he said: "Through me the entire German Volk greets you! At this moment, it not only greets you but the entire Sudeten German territories which will, in a fews days' time, belong to the German Reich in its entirety. There is great happiness in all of Germany these days. Not only you feel this, it is felt by the entire nation which rejoices with you." Your happiness is the happiness of the seventy-four million who have made up the Reich until now, just as your sorrow was their sorrow until a few days ago." (See vol. II, p. 1215.)
Vladimir Putin could use similar words with respect to the planned Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula today. Only Hitler's references to "Germany," "the German Reich" and "Sudetenland" would have to be replaced by "Russia" and "Crimea."
The Russians and their Crimean allies lamely claim that the real fascists have grapped power in Ukraine and Kiev. They intimidate Western journalists and non-Russian inhabitants of Crimea, saying, for example: "Piss off, go back to your own country and shut up, you dirty fascist!" Many of them put the blame on "the Jews" and "American intelligence services." Dangerous paranoia. Anti-Semitism in Putin's neo-Stalinist Russia is more rampant than ever. Influential Russian parliamentarians such as Vladimir Zhirinovsky refer to Russia's and America's Jews as "this small but troublesome tribe." Zhirinovsky, a dangerous lunatic and firebrand, also wants Russia to invade and reconquer Ukraine. "We will send all the Ukrainian refugees to Siberia, that frosty minus-60 degrees resort," he said earlier this year.
Hitler, Putin and Iran
The Russians are playing a nefarious role in the Middle East, especially in Iran and Syria. Just as they did during the Cold War they and their Chinese allies invariably block important resolutions in the U.N. Security Council. It is not very well known, but Hitler also courted Iran as early as November 1937. On November 5, 1937 Hitler had a very friendly conversation with Rader Arasteh, the new Iranian ambassador to Germany. The ambassador emphasized that there existed "sincere friendship" between Germany and Iran. Hitler, in turn, praised the Iranian government. The Nazi dictator also sent a number of congratulatory telegrams to the Shah of Iran.
Recently, Israel intercepted a shipment of Iranian/Syrian M-302 missiles destined for Hamas. The range of these missiles is 200 kilometers and they can reach Tel Aviv. "Iran was behind the shipment," said Brigadier General Moti Almoz, spokesman for the Israel navy.
Emerson Vermaat is an investigative reporter in the Netherlands. He published books on the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact and Auschwitz. Website: emersonvermaat.com.
Max Domarus, Hitler Speeches and Proclamations 1932-1945. The Chronicle of a Dictatorship, vol. I-IV (Wauconda, Il.: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 1992). Most quotes are from vol. II.
BBC News, April 25, 2005 ("Putin deplores collapse of the USSR").
De Volkskrant (Amsterdam), March 7, 2014, p. 1 ("Oekraïners belaagd op straat: ‘Rot maar op naar je eigen land en hou je bek, vuile fascist"'). "Het Westen is het kwaad, de Joden hebben overal de schuld van, in Kiev zijn de fascisten aan de macht en iedere journalist werkt voor de Amerikaanse veiligheidsdienst." "Ze hebben een hekel aan Oekraïners, aan Amerikanen, aan Joden en aan westerlingen in het algemeen" (page 5).
ADL outraged by Zhirinovsky's call for Jewish deportation, ADL Press Release, February 23, 1996.
The Daily Beast, February 4, 2014 ("Kremlin Analysts Push for Ukraine Annexation"). Zhirinovsky in favor of deporting Ukrainian refugees to Siberia.
Völkische Beobachter (Nazi Germany), November 5, 1937, p. 2 ("Empfänge beim Führer").
Breaking: Israeli Navy Captures Iranian Boat Loaded With Syrian Missiles Destined for Gaza, www.algemeiner.com, March 5, 2014.