Russian president Vladimir Putin on Wednesday followed in the footsteps of history’s most notorious power-mad dictators by formally endorsing the armed invasion and annexation of Crimea in the name of ethnic solidarity. Putin’s speech, which received fawning coverage from Kremlin propaganda arm Russia Today, was reminiscent of Adolf Hitler’s pre-World War II remarks justifying the military expansion of Germany into Austria and Czechoslovakia. See if you can tell the difference (answers below).
1. "[Russia/Germany] realised that it was not simply robbed, it was plundered. … Clearly, the people in those nations, where these events took place, were sick of tyranny and poverty, of their lack of prospects; but these feelings were taken advantage of cynically."
2. "It is with deep grief that, for years now, we have been witnessing the fate of our compatriots … who are not, of their own power, in a position to secure for themselves on our borders the right to general human, political, and ideological freedom."
3. "This country was going through such hard times then that realistically it was incapable of protecting its interests. However, the people could not reconcile themselves to this outrageous historical injustice."
4. "A regime totally lacking any sort of legal mandate … was rejected by the overwhelming majority of the [Crimean/Austrian] people—with the utterly brutal instruments of terror."
5. "Standards were imposed on these nations that did not in any way correspond to their way of life, traditions, or these peoples’ cultures. As a result, instead of democracy and freedom, there was chaos, outbreaks in violence and a series of upheavals."
6. "Time and time again attempts were made to deprive [Russians/Germans] of their historical memory, even of their language and to subject them to forced assimilation."
7. "Who could blame these unhappy compatriots that they focused their gaze longingly on [Russia/Germany]? On that very [Russia/Germany] that had been bound to their ancestors for so many centuries, with which it had once fought the worst war of all time shoulder to shoulder, whose culture was its culture, to which it had contributed its own highest values in so many areas?"
8. "Naturally, we could not leave this plea unheeded; we could not abandon [Austria/Crimea] and its residents in distress. This would have been betrayal on our part."
9. "I believe we can all be proud that, particularly by virtue of this referendum … we have been given the trust of the [Russian/German] people in such an indisputable fashion."
10. "First, we had to help create conditions so that the residents of [Crimea/Austria] … were able to peacefully express their free will regarding their own future."
11. "As a strong state, we are prepared, at all times, to negotiate with our neighbors. We do not place any demands on them. We desire nothing but peace."
12. "We will never seek confrontation with our partners … but on the contrary, will do everything we can to build civilized and good-neighbourly relations as one is supposed to in the modern world."
13. "[Russia’s/Germany's] foreign policy position on this matter drew its firmness from the will of millions of our people, our national unity and the support of our country’s main political and public forces."
14. "[Russia/Germany] is an independent, active participant in international affairs; like other countries, it has its own national interests that need to be taken into account and respected."
15. "Our western partners have crossed the line … acting irresponsibly and unprofessionally. [Russia/Germany] found itself in a position it could not retreat from. If you compress the spring all the way to its limit, it will snap back hard. You must always remember this."
16. "We will no longer tolerate any schoolmarm patronizing us."
Answers: 1. Putin, 2. Hitler, 3. Putin, 4. Hitler, 5. Putin, 6. Putin, 7. Hitler, 8. Putin, 9. Hitler, 10. Putin, 11. Hitler, 12. Putin, 13. Putin, 14. Putin, 15. Putin, 16. Hitler