I wonder sometimes at the irony of history. Yesterday marked the 75th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland. It began with the bombardment of key installations in Gdansk (Danzig as it was then known) by the pre-dreadnought battleship KS Schleswig-Holstein, actually berthed in Gdansk on the grounds of 'protecting' the German 'minority' living there. Her 12 inch main armament did enormous damage, and her secondary 5.9 inch guns did even more, while in a co-ordinated thrust the army overran border posts and stormed into Pomerania and Poland's western provinces.
My local newspaper yesterday published photographic representations of the front page headlines of several newspapers published that day, and ran editorials pointing out how the propaganda of the period had mislead everyone. Thus, the irony. Reading some of the opening statements beneath those headlines (my abilities with the Sütterlin-style script make it a challenge!), one could be reading the pronouncements currently being made by Mr Putin concerning the 'obligation and need to protect Russian minorities' in former vassal states of the USSR. One could be excused for thinking they were written by the same speech writer.
History has a nasty habit of repeating itself, though not necessarily in the same places, or with the same outcomes. There is almost a feeling of 'here we go again' as western governments desperately try to ignore the rearmament that has been going on in Russia since Putin first came to power, and the naked aggression he has shown in 'reclaiming' parts of the so recently freed countries. Georgia was a trial run, the Crimea showed him just how toothless we have become. Now he's after the eastern half of Ukraine - with almost all the industrial development and the oil, gas and minerals. His air force makes an almost daily habit of entering Finnish airspace, and there are indications he's got his eyes on 're-absorbing' the Baltic States.
All of it using the same excuse used by Hitler in 1939 - to 'protect' the interests of his 'people' living as a minority in a 'hostile' country. The fact that his 'people' are being stirred up by his own agents to provoke a response, and that many of the 'leaders' of their 'popular resistance' movements are officers from the Russian Army is, of course, never mentioned.
That forces me to wonder; if the Ukraine/Crimea is to be Putins 'Südetenland', what will be our 'Poland' trigger to respond? What will be the likely outcome? Mr Putin has already openly warned that he will not back down, and that he will use his nuclear arsenal. Have we the guts to call his bluff? Or will the 'better Red than Dead' mindset hold sway and lead us into a spineless surrender?
Not a pleasant thought at this time of tension ...