The scenario in Crimea has already happened in world history. March 1938. Austria.
The events of those days will go down in history as the Anschluss of Austria– German for union or political annexation.
In its attempt to seize Crimea, Russia is repeating the methods that USSR and Nazi Germany tested 70 years ago. The seizure of the Crimea is strikingly similar to the Austrian Anschluss and the occupation of Finland.
Until the end of the war Austria remained the part of the Third Reich, and Finland lost its historical lands forever, though less than Russia expected to take over.
Ironically it was the Russian Professor Andrei Zubov who made the explosive analogy of Russia’s attempt to annex Crimea. Now he is going to pay for speaking out with the loss of his position at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
Mr. Zubov makes several important claims in his article.
Austria 1938. The Nazis wanted to expand the Reich with other German state. But the people in Austria were not very happy about it. However, the idea of Greater Germany appealed to the power hungry Nazis.
In order to decide the fate of Austria Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg decided to announce a plebiscite to be held on March 13, 1938. The only question in the ballot was a rather leading one:
“Are you for a free, German, independent and social, Christian and united Austria, for peace and work, for the equality of all those who affirm themselves for the people and Fatherland?”
Meanwhile the Nazis in Berlin and Vienna were not satisfied. There was the chance the citizens in Austria would vote against the Anschluss.
On Mar.10 in order to strengthen its influence in Austria, Nazi Germany forced Chancellor Schuschnigg to resign and replaced him with the local Nazi leader Arthur Seyss-Inquart.
In the meantime German troops were already in Austria. They came the day before the official invitation made by the new chancellor. The reaction of Austrians was mixed — some were warmly welcoming the Nazis, some were hiding at their homes and some were urgently fleeing to Switzerland.
On Apr.10 Germany and Austria hold a plebiscite regarding the Anschluss. According to official data, in Germany 99.08 per cent of the population voted for the Anschluss, in Austria – 99.75 per cent.
In fact there were a lot of Germans in these lands and many of them wanted to be a part of Hitler’s Reich. All in all the Austrians were jubilant, while the West was submissive.
We can see the same situation in Crimea now with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s dream to restore Greater Russia.
Once again there are Russian-speaking citizens in Crimea, but the question remains, are they discriminated against and considered second-class citizens?
Why must they be protected if nobody attacks them?
It looks as though discrimination against Russians in Crimea is a pretense for a Russian takeover just as it was in Austria in 1938.
The West needs to acknowledge that:
– The invasion of the territory of an independent country by foreign troops is aggression
– Seizure of the Parliament by people in unmarked uniform is despotism.
– The laws passed by Crimea Parliament in such circumstances are a political charade.
So, first the Crimea Parliament was seized and pro-Russian Prim Minister was placed instead of the previous one. Then, the new PM asked for help from Russia, when the Russian troops has already been there for a day taking over the peninsula.
It is the spitting image of the Anschluss in 1938, right down to the referendum held at gunpoint.
Now the world is left to watch whether Putin will reach his goal this time, or if the other world powers will be able and willing to stop him.
However, there is one more thing for the world to remember — the Anschluss of Austria was only the beginning.