In 1938, under great pressure, Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg scheduled a vote to determine whether his nation should unite with Germany. He expected his people to vote for autonomy. But the Austrian Nazi party executed a coup d’etat and invited Hitler’s Wehrmacht troops to enter the country to enforce Anschluss (Union) with Germany. In a plebiscite held in March under the watchful eyes of occupation forces, the people “ratified” the unification by 99.76%.
A few months later, Hitler takes the next step of his plan to unify all German people under his rule by targeting Czechoslovakia where ethnic Germans under Nazi direction in the Sudetenland, bordering Germany, agitated for separation from Czechoslovakia in order to join Germany. Civil unrest grew and Hitler ordered his troops to take up positions along the border. The Czech army mobilized to defend their country. In late September 1938, other nations, in order to prevent war, negotiated the Munich Agreement which gave the Sudetenland to Hitler’s Germany. Without any support from Britain, France and Italy, the Czech government was forced to capitulate to this land grab. British Chancellor Neville Chamberlain claimed to have achieve “Peace in our time.”
The appeasement didn’t work. Hitler wasn’t satisfied.
So in August 1939, the Nazis faked an attack by Polish forces, which provided the excuse to invade that nation as well. And World War II started.
Have you noticed some disturbing parallels to recent events?
Vladimir Putin sends Russian troops into Crimea and holds a referendum in which the ethnic Russian majority in that area approves the land grab by a vote of 97%.
Then Pro-Russian demonstrations erupt in the major Ukrainian cities. Russian troops line up along the Ukrainian border, while the outmatched Ukrainian forces dig in facing them.
What comes next in this perilous situation? Will the western nations again yield?
In his second inaugural address, Barak Obama used the phrase “Peace in our time.” The words were used in a different context, but the timing is rather spooky.
So what should our leaders do this time? Give an inch, so Putin can take a mile? Return to the Cold War? Send NATO troops?
The Bible tells us to pray for our leaders.
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 1 Timothy 2:1-2
Even more than usual, we need to lift them up to God and pray that He will give them wisdom, guidance, strength, and courage. And pray that those leaders will take God’s advice and not lean on their own understanding.