There is War in Europe: Let us not Repeat the Munich Betrayal of 1938


On the anniversary of the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Hitler’s army and of Ukrainian Crimea by Putin’s, a group of over 100 Czech and Slovak intellectuals have called on world leaders to react properly to Russia’s aggression now

The letter is given below in full.  Signatories can be seen and the letter endorsed here:

It is addressed to UK Prime Minister David Cameron; French President France Hollande; President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker; German Chancellor Angela Merkel; US President Barack Obama and EU President Donald Tusk

There is War in Europe:  Let us not Repeat the Munich Betrayal of 1938

Dear Madame, Dear Sirs,

It has been a year since the citizens of Ukraine rose up and overturned a corrupted regime.  More than one hundred citizens of Ukraine perished under their national flag and the flag of the European Union, so that they could open for their country a path toward dignity and freedom.

It is also a year since the Russian army, without military insignias and armed as “green men”, occupied Crimea and, thus, violated the principle of the sanctity of borders upon which peace in Europe stood after the Second World War. Immediately following this, agents linked to Russia attempted to create unrest in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine and break up the country. In the Donbas, Russia unleashed a bloody war, which, with the help of massive shipments of Russian tanks, rocket launchers and other armaments, as well as tens of thousands of soldiers and Russian citizens, continues today. Today the bloody footprints of Russian agents, soldiers and arms are as evident in Ukraine as the poisonous traces of polonium were in the streets of London.

It troubles us that, although according to various sources anywhere from six to fifty thousand citizens of Ukraine and Russia have died in Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine, the democratically elected leaders of the West actually continue to engage in a policy of appeasement.  They refer to this aggression of a foreign state on the territory of another sovereign state as a “conflict” or a “situation” and to their clear deferral to the aggressor as a “diplomatic solution”.

In 1938 in Munich, while other democracies silently looked on, Great Britain and France – allies of Czechoslovakia – betrayed Czechoslovakia and, under the pretence of protecting the German minority, allowed Adolf Hitler to occupy an extensive piece of the territory of our country, eventually breaking it up and occupying it completely.  Then British Prime Minister Chamberlain celebrated this act of betrayal in London by waving a piece of paper and talking about “peace for our time”.  History has shown in all its nakedness the naïveté of such an approach.  But the industrial potential and human resources of (until then) democratic Czechoslovakia were already fully serving Hitler’s war machine.

It troubles us that almost 80 years after Munich the situation is repeating itself.  In 1994, Ukraine gave up its arsenal of nuclear weapons and, with the signing of the Budapest Memorandum, the United States of America and Great Britain became the guarantors of its territorial integrity and independence.  The insufficient military support from the USA and UK to an embattled Ukraine is a sad reminder of the failure of western democracies to defend Europe against Hitler and casts a shadow of doubt on the credibility of other international guarantees and agreements, including the security guarantees, which membership in NATO theoretically provides to the countries of Europe.

We understand the efforts of European leaders to strive for a peaceful solution via negotiations in the tradition of the values of European humanism and post-war development in Europe.  It troubles us, however, that these efforts are misused in service of a continuation and prolongation of aggression.  It was time to provide effective and extensive military and economic help to embattled Ukraine long ago: embattled because its citizens decided to strive for freedom, human dignity and membership in the European Union.

The citizens of Ukraine are endowed with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as well as a democratically elected political future.

No one has the right to hinder them in their efforts to achieve this.  The Russian war against Ukraine is an attempt to stop the spread of freedom and human rights with tanks, cannons and rocket launchers.

As a warning, let us remind parties on both sides of the Atlantic of the words spoken by the British leader Winston Churchill about the behaviour of democratic powers in the year 1938: “Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonour. They chose dishonour.  They will have war.”

We already have war in Europe. Donations of bandages and blankets to the ravaged people of Ukraine and continual concessions to a ruthless and cynical aggressor will not stop it.

Whether or not the democratic world leaves Ukraine to bleed to death and enables the aggressor to expand further rests in your hands – but history will be your judge.

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