I was born in Czechoslovakia, when that young country was a thriving democracy. My dolls were Shirley Temple and Goofy, which my parents had brought back from the United States. Then, just as I was to start school, our familiar life came to an end.

Like millions of German descent, we lived in a part of Czechoslovakia that was handed over to Hitler in 1938, in the Munich “appeasement” accords. That fall, Hitler marched into what he called the “Sudetenland,” and annexed it to the German Reich. I was born a Czech citizen, and now I was, on paper, a citizen of the Third Reich. Hitler wasn’t interested in our “German” part of Czechoslovakia; he was after the country’s agriculture and industry: food and weapons, soldiers, and slave labor for his coming wars. The rest of the country followed in March 1939. Hitler’s troops occupied Bohemia and Moravia (the “Protectorate”), while Slovakia became a client state.

They say World War II began when Hitler’s tanks rolled into Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. I disagree: the war began in 1938, when Hitler annexed part of Czechoslovakia.

Just as Hitler was conquering his Grossdeutsche Reich, Putin intends to be the ruler of a 21st-century Russian Empire. His first victim is Ukraine, like Czechoslovakia with its wheat fields and industry. If the U.K. and France had supported Czechoslovakia, World War II would not have begun as it did.

We mustn’t make the same mistake again. By helping Ukraine fight for its democracy we are also protecting our future.


Lore Ferguson


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