The EU must be strong against its own Sudetenland

When German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addresses Davos luminaries on Thursday, we hope he has a keen sense of history.

It was a former German chancellor, Adolf Hitler, who demanded the annexation of the Sudetenland, part of Czechoslovakia, in 1938. The land was ceded to him in a shameful Munich deal between Britain , France, Germany and Italy. The Czechs were forced to accept, although they were not allowed to sit at the negotiating table.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain said it was “peace in our time”. Adolf Hitler, Führer and Chancellor, told the Sportpalast in Berlin that this was “the last territorial claim I have to make in Europe”. Eleven months later, Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, starting World War II.

There are those laying the groundwork for a new Munich, chief among them 98-year-old Henry Kissinger, who told the World Economic Forum that Ukraine must cede territory to Russia for the war to end, and that a humiliating defeat for Putin would produce broader destabilization.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is seen on a screen as he addresses the kyiv audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week. Photo: AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

The only glimmer of hope he had for the oppressed Ukrainians was that the terms of the settlement should be a return to the status quo, meaning Russia would continue to formally control the Crimean peninsula and unofficially control Donbass. This echoed a New York Times op-ed last week. It places Ukraine in the role of a buffer state.

George Soros, 91, has warned that the conflict has “shaken Europe to its core” and blames Germany’s overreliance on fundamentally undemocratic states such as Russia and China.

“Europe’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels remains excessive, largely due to the mercantilist policies pursued by former Chancellor Angela Merkel,” he said.

Herr Scholz may wish to respond to those criticisms today, but from Mr. Kissinger’s advice of desperation to the Ukrainian people, the key question is, “Would it work?”

What is often forgotten is that Russia and Germany signed an alliance before the outbreak of World War II, a cynical position that is now reflected in relations between Beijing and Moscow.

Any sign of Putin dividing the West is dangerous. For this reason, Mr. Kissinger’s suggestions were of no help.

The German Chancellor must be careful not to add to a feeling of weakness today.

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