Czechoslovakia: Anvil of the Cold War

By John O. Crane; Sylvia E. Crane | Go to book overview
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aggressive dictator in an effort to prevent war or to deflect it eastward against Soviet Russia. At Munich, it signified the selling out to Hitler of democratic Czechoslovakia's independence and liberties by the Great Powers, who did not consult Czechoslovakia's leaders, and would gain but another year of peace before the caldron of war ignited, engulfing them too.

In the post World War II epoch of Cold War, appeasement was twisted to focus against the USSR, which was erroneously equated with Nazi Germany. In our view, despite their many similarities, these states were basically different. Verisimilitude does not make for sameness. We find the comparison loose and inaccurate, also dangerous for its implication of the necessity to fight a war against the "evil Empire," which was justified in the name of humanity when the enemy was Nazism and Fascism. In the nuclear age, when the stakes have accelerated to menace all of civilization with destruction, the implication of appeasement is frightening and unacceptable.

This review of Czechoslovak history, in the light of Cold War pressures and forces, accords with those of other scholars of the Cold War, namely D. F. Fleming7 and André Fontaine,8 in tracing its origin to the Bolshevik Revolution. My objective is to distill the lessons of her history, which in the early years of the republic, I was privileged to witness at close range for several years, not merely to learn the truth for myself, but also to recount as a guide for the sake of historical accuracy and world survival.

JOHN O. CRANE Rome, January 1982

Charles R. Crane letter to Woodrow Wilson, May 8, 1918, Crane family archive.
Charles R. Crane to Tumulty, wire, May 30, 1918, Crane family archive.
Charles R. Crane to Woodrow Wilson, Woods Hole, June 8, 1918, Crane family archive.
John O. Crane Diary, November, 1922, Crane family archive.
D. F. Fleming, Causes and Origins of the Cold War, 2 vols. ( New York: Doubleday, 1961).
André Fontaine, History of the Cold War, 2 vols. ( New York: Random House, 1969).


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