What’s the Russian Word for Anschluss?

Russia’s President (dictator) Vladimir Putin has seized on the recent political turmoil within the ex-Soviet satellite of Ukraine to tighten his grip on the eastern area of the country, specifically the Crimean penninsula at Ukraine’s southeast edge. On Friday, airports, government buildings, and other key locations in Crimea were occupied by small groups of heavily armed soldiers whose uniforms do not display the insignia of any nation. However, it has been confirmed through encounters with various reporters that they speak Russian and are almost certainly Russian Special Forces. To add to the drama, on Saturday morning Russia’s parliament formally gave Mr. Putin the authority to use Russian military force in Ukraine, and tens of thousands of Russian troops are currently staged along the Russian-Ukranian border. It seems only a matter of time until the these forces occupy at least the eastern areas of Ukraine. While this will be fully supported by many Ukranians, who are of Slavic ethnicity and consider themselves Russians, other Ukranians wish for their nation to become more aligned with Europe. Ukraine’s people have a right to self-determination through free elections; ther fate should not be decided by a diminutive thug like Mr. Putin.

This drama unfolding in Ukraine bears an eerie similarity to the late 1930s as Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany began to expand and take over Europe. In particular, Putin’s rhetoric about needing to occupy the Crimea to protect the interests of ethnic Russians in that region is exactly the way Hitler justified annexing Austria and especially Czechoslovakia in 1938. This is especially true of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia, which contained many ethnic Germans and played the role in the 1930s that the Crimea seems to be fulfilling today. One major difference between 1938 and 2014 is that in 1938, Hitler at least made a pretense of accomodating the wishes of other world leaders at the Munich Conference held in September 1938 (although he rapidly reneged on the promises he made in Munich). By contrast, Mr. Putin has not even publicly acknowledged Mr. Obama’s warning against further action in Ukraine. While it is obviously unlikely that Mr. Putin has plans to conquer the European continent, his extremely aggressive stance towards Ukraine is still a dangerous and troubling move, and a Russian-Ukranian war would be bloody, destructive, and destabilizing to the region. If we had not already done so much to damage America’s credibility abroad, the United States might have been better positioned to help defuse the tension in Crimea which currently seems to be nearing a breaking point.


-Paul F. Danyow 

  • marinead93

    Beautiful piece…

  • classicsmajor

    Great piece except for the Aeschylus bit… Kennedy was using a bad translation of Aeschylus. The lines he quoted were from a play about an act of matricide that is constantly defended as an act of necessary, good, and even divinely-sanctioned violence.

    The irony of what Kennedy says emerges once you look at a better translation, the Lloyd-Jones version of Aeschylus: "There drips before the heart instead of sleep pain that reminds [men] of their wounds; and against their will there comes discretion. There is, I think, a grace that comes by violence from the gods…"

    "Grace that comes by violence" — Hardly a paean to non-violent activism. Kennedy tore these lines out of context and made them politically expedient. His ultimate intention is laudable. But his literary analysis is laughable.

    It's too bad this piece argues for the "value" of the classics based on a faulty premise. Aeschylus' words were hardly resonating "across a seemingly insurmountable gap" that April night. Aeschylus' words, it turns out, were arguing a point that contradicted what Kennedy was trying to say. Aeschylus was commenting on the usefulness of violence. He was even suggesting that violence was ultimately a good, moral tool given to men by the gods. Kennedy, on his part, wasn't "consulting" the classics. He was twisting the classics.

  • princetonclassicsmajor

    This was a fantastic article. I was blown away.

    To "classicsmajor": I wish I could praise you for any kernel of worth in your comment… however you're completely misguided. Kennedy was not "using a bad translation of Aeschylus," although he did misquote it. Considering he was reciting from memory this is excusable. Here is the translation by Edith Hamilton (The Greek Way (New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 1930), 156.) he misquoted,:

    "And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget,
    falls drop by drop upon the heart,
    and in our own despite,
    against our will,
    comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God."

    Anyway, if you are in fact a classics major here is the Greek text to take a look at yourself:

    τὸν φρονεῖν βροτοὺς ὁδώ-
    σαντα, τὸν πάθει μάθος
    θέντα κυρίως ἔχειν.
    στάζει δ᾽ ἔν θ᾽ ὕπνῳ πρὸ καρδίας
    μνησιπήμων πόνος: καὶ παρ᾽ ἄ- 180
    κοντας ἦλθε σωφρονεῖν.
    δαιμόνων δέ που χάρις βίαιος
    σέλμα σεμνὸν ἡμένων.

    Notice that βίαιος modifies χάρις; thus more literally "a forcible/violent grace comes." This grace isn't achieved by means of violence, rather it receive it is to understand its force. It is in fact your "literary analysis" which is "laughable." I question whether you have even read Agamemnon in its entirety let alone the Oresteia. If you actually stood the sociopolitical context in which Aeschylus was writing. The prevailing theme of the plays is that the ancient custom of requiting murder with murder, set in motion by Agamemnon's sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia, is an unsustainable, destructive custom. Do yourself a favor and at least read the Oresteia Wikipedia page, you'll be a better Classics major for it.

  • princetonclassicsmajor

    If you actually understood the sociopolitical context in which Aeschylus was writing, you'd know that the prevailing theme of the plays is the unsustainable custom of requiting murder with murder, set in motion by Agamemnon's sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia, and the ultimate establishment of a just rule of law in the trial of Orestes.

    it's late and i'm done trying to form grammatical sentences but I think the point is clear. Once again I tip my hat to the author

  • ’14

    Great piece, thank you author

  • Winter

    Thank you authors for actually showing the intelligence that should come from being educated at a higher level of schooling. Frankly, the little homegrown terrorists that wrote this rediculous demand letter seem to be wasting their time and either their parent's or the government's money by being students there. They are a laughing stock, people with real intelligence can't help but NOT take them seriously when their demands are nothing more than child-like fantasies. Much like when my young child says, "if I were president, I would make sure everyone has a house and all the money they need to buy food and medicine!" Uhhh beautiful concept but just can't ever work.

    These goofballs demands are just as ignorant and irrational.

    Also, great answer from Prinstonclassicsmajor to Classicsmajor's unfair critique of President Kennedy.

  • Greg Williams

    This article is completely fascist. Fortunately, all you fascists are bound to lose!