Zubov’s op-ed was titled “This Has Already Happened.” An excerpt from his interview with Radio Free Europe:
Germans formed an ethnic majority in those territories. In all these places, they led perfectly normal lives. In Austria, they were the main ethnic group. In Sudetenland, they enjoyed self-governance, they had the right to use their own language, attend their own schools, publish newspapers. It was the same in Memelland, where they even had an autonomous status and their own parliament. These Germans were not repressed in any way.
But Hitler had a maniacal desire to restore the Reich, destroyed in the wake of World War I. This is precisely why these Anschluss were conducted. In all three cases, the local population did not strive for unification. But thanks to the activities of the secret services and of the Nazi party, public opinion gradually shifted. In the end, these territories were seized through unlawful annexations.
Exactly the same happened in Crimea. People without identification badges emerged, armed to the teeth and carrying brand new weapons. The main buildings, including parliament, were seized. Then the parliament, defended by special forces, chose a new prime minister. Everything was established retroactively and more troops were sent in. It’s exactly the same scenario.
Putin is pursuing different goals that Hitler. Hitler strove to expand [German] territory and chauvinistically brainwash his people. I think the main goal here is to make Ukrainians hateful to Russians, so that the Maidan is not perceived by Russians as their own experience. So that it is seen as the experience of an enemy that needs to be rejected.