His daughter, Iryna Bobrynskaya, reported this on her Facebook page.
Zubov’s article, titled “It Already Happened Before,” was published on Vedomosti.ru on March 1, according to Lenta.ru.
In his article, the historian compared the possible military occupation of Crimea to the Anschluss, Germany’s annexation of Austria to the Third Reich in 1938. “Actually, all this has happened before. Austria. Early March, 1938. The Nazis want to round off their Reich at the expense of another German state. The people do not really want this – nobody oppresses or discriminates against them. But the idea of a great Germany spins the heads of the radicals, the local Nazis,” Zubov wrote in his article.The full text of Zubov’s article appears below, translated from vedomosti.ru
“Friends, we are on the threshold. We are on the threshold not of introducing a new subject into the Russian Federation. We are on the threshold of total destruction of the system of international agreements, economic chaos and political dictatorship. We are on the threshold of war with our closest, dearest relations, the people of Ukraine; on the threshold of a sharp deterioration of relations with Europe and America; on the threshold of cold, and, perhaps, even hot war with them.
Alas, this has happened before. Austria. Early March, 1938. The Nazis want to round off their Reich at the expense of another German state. The people do not really want this – nobody oppresses or discriminates against them. But the idea of a great Germany spins the heads of the radicals, the local Nazis. To put an end to the dispute about Austria’s fate, Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg Alois announces a March 13 plebiscite. But the Nazis in Berlin and Vienna are not content with his decision. What if the people vote against the Anschluss? They force von Schuschnigg to resign on March 10, and promptly replace him with local Nazi leader Arthur Seyss-Inquart. While this political rotation took place, German divisions creeped into Austrian cities, invited by the new Nazi Chancellor. He himself learned of his invitation from the newspapers. Austrian troops capitulated; Austrian people either met Hitler’s army with joy; or stayed shut in their homes, wallowing in irritation; or fled urgently to Switzerland. Austria’s Cardinal Innitzer endorsed and blessed the Anschluss from the pulpit. March 13 was marked by an avalanche of arrests. Chancellor von Schuschnigg was the first to go. A plebiscite was held on April 10. In Germany, 99.08% of the population voted in favor of the Anschluss; in Austria, which became the Ostmark of the German Empire, 99.75% voted in favor. But it did not stop there. On October 1, 1938, Sudetenland was annexed to Germany. On March 22, 1939, Lithuanian Klaipeda was rechristened as German Memel overnight. It is true that Germans were the majority of the population in all these places, and that many of them were happy to join the Reich. And everywhere the annexation was happening against a fanfare of festive propaganda and the chauvinistic sentiments of the madding crowd, as the other Western European nations looked on indifferently.
“We must not try to delude ourselves, and, still more, we must not try to delude small weak nations, into thinking that they will be protected by the League [of Nations] against aggression and acting accordingly,” said Neville Chamberlain to the British Parliament on February 22, 1938, “when we know that nothing of the kind can be expected.”
In the meantime, Adolf Hitler drew a completely different picture. On March 23, 1939, he addressed the crowd from a balcony on Theater Square in the newly annexed Memel, two hours after sailing theatrically into Memel’s port aboard the brand new cruiser Germany. He said: “Germans are not here to hurt the people of the world, but to put an end to the suffering of Germans, which they have been forced to endure for 20 years at the hands of the world… Once the Germans of Memel were forsaken by Germany, when it succumbed to dishonor and degradation. Today, Memel’s Germans are reinstated as citizens of the mighty Reich, which will take back its destiny into its own hands, even if the rest of the world does not like it.”
And everything seemed so radiant. And the glory of Hitler shone from on high. And the world was in awe of Great Germany. Annexing countries and regions to the Reich without firing a shot, without spilling one drop of blood — is not the Führer brilliant?
Six years later, Germany was defeated, millions of her sons killed, millions of her daughters dishonored, her cities erased from the face of the earth, her cultural treasures, accumulated over centuries, turned to dust. Almost half of her territories were truncated, and the rest was divided between the winning allies. And shame, shame, shame was laid upon German heads. And it all started so radiantly!
Friends! History is repeating itself. Crimea is mainly populated by ethnic Russians. But are they really oppressed there? Are they second-class citizens, with no right to their language, their Orthodox faith? From whom must the soldiers of the Russian army protect them? Who is attacking them? Deploying troops and military equipment into another country’s territory without its permission is an act of military aggression. Occupation of the Parliament by uniformed people without insignia is an outrage. The decrees of the Crimean Parliament issued under these conditions are a farce. First, they violated the parliament, occupied it, and installed a pro-Russian puppet there to act as a prime minister, and then this puppet prime minister asked Russia to send help. The same help which installed the puppet and controlled the Crimean government. This is the Anschluss of 1938, or something very closely resembling it. Even the referendum-plebiscite under friendly bayonets. There, April 10. Here, March 30.
Did the Russian government calculate the risks of this incredible gamble? I am sure that they didn’t. Adolf Hitler didn’t in his time. If he had, he would not have had to pace his bunker in April 1945 while Russian bombs rained down, or guzzle a vial of poison.
If the Western powers do not take the road that Chamberlain and Daladier took in 1938, if instead they levy an embargo on Russian fuel and freeze Russian-owned assets in their banks? The Russian economy, already in agony, will collapse in three months. And the turmoil to follow will make Maidan look like the Garden of Eden.
And what of the Crimean Tatars, who are categorically against Russian authority, who remember very well what the Russians did to them in 1944 and how they did not let them return home until 1988? What if they request help from their Turkish brothers in faith and blood? After all, Türkiye is not across the ocean; it is just on the other side of that same Black Sea. And Türkiye was in control of Crimea for four centuries, much longer than Russia. The Turks are not Chamberlains and Daladiers: in July 1974 they protected their own, occupying 40% of Cyprus, ignoring the protests and installing their own “unrecognized state,” the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Maybe someone would like to have a Turkish Republic of Southern Crimea? After all, if Tatar hotheads rise to fight, Muslim radicals from all over the world will join them with joy, especially from the North Caucasus and the Volga. Will we bring the storm that ravages Crimean resorts to our own Russian house? Do we not have enough terrorism in Russia?
Finally, if we acquire Crimea, torn apart by inner strife, we will lose the Ukrainian people forever. Ukrainians will never forgive Russian betrayal. Do you believe otherwise, that everything will come right in the end? If so, you will be disappointed, my dear Russian chauvinists. In the 19th century, Serbs and Croats considered themselves one people, only divided by border, religious denomination, and alphabet. They wanted unification and wrote a lot of kind, smart books on it. Today you will not find two peoples who harbor greater animosity toward each other. How much blood was spilled between them, and all for some pieces of land, some villages and valleys where they could have lived together richly and happily instead? Could have, but failed to. Greed for their brothers’ land made them adversaries. And this sort of thing may also easily happen between individuals, in everyday life. Is it worth losing a brotherly nation to false desires? If that happens, the Church will split as well, and this will be the final split. Her Ukrainian half will secede from Moscow forever.
But a successful annexation of Crimea will be even more horrific for the Kremlin. If Crimea comes easily, tomorrow all Russian-populated lands will follow: parts of Kazakhstan, and, before you know it, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Northern Kyrgyzstan. Austria was followed by Sudetenland, Memel, Poland, France, and finally, Russia. It all started out small.
Friends! We have to stop and think what we are doing here! Our political leaders are dragging us into a terrible, terrifying gamble. History tells us that we will not emerge unscathed. We should not fall for their rhetoric, like Germans fell for promises of Goebbels and Hitler. For the sake of peace in our country, for the sake of its genuine renaissance, for real friendship and peace in historically Russian lands that today straddle many states, let us say no to this insane and, importantly, unnecessary aggression.
We lost so many lives in the 20th century that today our only policy must be the policy professed by Solzhenitsyn, the policy of preserving our nation. Preserving our nation, not gathering up lands! Land grabbing is only ever achieved with tears and blood.
We do not need to shed any more blood and tears!”
He expressed confidence that military action from Russia will significantly worsen relationships with the West for many years to come, and called on politicians to “stop and think.” Official representatives of the Institute were unavailable for comment on the possible connection between Zubov’s layoff and the article.
Andrey Zubov has a PhD in history. He has authored five books and about 150 papers in peer-reviewed journals. Zubov also edited two volumes of Russian History in 20th Century, and co-authored the Basics of Social Policy of Russian Orthodox Church.
On March 1, the Federation Council gave Vladimir Putin permission to use Russian military troops on the territory of Ukraine. Following this, Russian military took over several strategic assets in Crimea, including several military bases, where they did their best to provoke a Ukrainian military response. On March 4, Putin said that he sees no reason to deploy troops in Ukraine but he may resort to such measures “if worse comes to worst.”
Translated by Anna Palagina
Edited by Mariana Budjeryn and Robin Rohrback