…Minister compares Putin’s moves to Hitler’s in 1938
Russia’s moves against Ukraine were reminiscent of Adolf Hitler’s aggression in 1938 that led to the annexation of Germanspeaking regions of Czechoslovakia, Germany’s conservative Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Monday.
But Chancellor Angela Merkel quickly distanced herself from the comments from Schaeuble, a respected elder statesman in her rightleft coalition with 16 years of cabinet experience.
Schaeuble’s spokesman later denied that he had compared Russia to Hitler’s Germany, or Third Reich.
“We know all about that from history,” Schaeuble told a group of 50 students.
He was referring to the arguments that Russian President Vladimir Putin has used to annex Crimea. “Those are the methods that Hitler used to take over the Sudetenland,” Schaeuble said.
Putin justified sending forces into Crimea by saying he wanted to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine.
Even though German leaders rarely made comparisons with the Nazi era, Schaeuble said that it all reminded him of Hitler’s vows to protect ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia.
Merkel, asked at a news conference if she believed the annexation of Crimea could be compared with Sudetenland, said: “I regard the case of the annexation of Crimea as a standalone case” and a violation of internationalnal law.
File photograph of Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.