Print Page | Close Window

...British Appeasement...??

Printed From: History Community ~ All Empires
Category: Regional History or Period History
Forum Name: Modern History
Forum Discription: World History from 1918 to the 21st century.
Moderators: Constantine XI, The Hidden Face, Pikeshot1600, Sparten, Leonidas, gcle2003
URL: http://www.allempires.net/forum_posts.asp?TID=17958
Printed Date: 29-Jul-2014 at 21:50


Topic: ...British Appeasement...??
Posted By: Act of Oblivion
Subject: ...British Appeasement...??
Date Posted: 18-Feb-2007 at 18:06
 
..Hello to you all….

 

…I was recently reading some material concerning Britain’s ‘appeasement’ policy adopted by Neville Chamberlain prior to the onset of war with Nazi Germany. Moreover, the obligatory criticism that seems prevalent when discussing this particular matter…I have been interested in this episode of British history for some time now and I have explored the matter with some degree of depth (only in an amateur capacity mind you!!)…and I have written up some material regarding the issue….However, as I was saying, mention British appeasement and a storm of condemnation quickly ensues…

 

…..on becoming Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain adopted a policy of appeasement to ensure ‘accommodation’ would provide the focus of all forthcoming negotiations with those powers that posed a threat to European stability. Nevertheless, appeasement has come to represent a foreign policy that discredited the Prime Minister and resulted in the outbreak of World War II. According to the pseudonymous ‘Cato,’ Neville Chamberlain’s foreign policy of appeasement provided unnecessary concessions by being ‘blind’ to the social and military objectives sought by Nazi Germany……

 

..So there is much condemnation of the policy, the bigger power browbeating smaller countries certainly raises a moral question mark; Czechoslovakia was forced into concessions. The policy at Munich gave Hitler further dominance in Europe and gave strategic importance and pre-eminence to Hitler. Chamberlain could have made use of the Czech’s as useful allies, after all the Czech army was not bad. It is possible that the relationship between Hitler and Chamberlain maybe flattered the Prime Minister? He might have felt bolstered by his self-belief in his ‘statecraft’. Afterall, Chamberlain was not a pleasant character being stubborn, opinionated, and arrogant. These traits could have over-ruled ‘serious’ judgement and political actions. Such arrogant nature is shown by the frantic waving of the ‘piece of paper’ after Munich, although the paper was nothing to do with the Munich settlement. It was only a draft concocted by Chamberlain that stated Germany would never go to war with England ever again. It was signed by Hitler but completely worthless….

 

..for me personally, history has been perhaps too severe with Chamberlain, and I have often taken a defensive position but by no means am I in full support of the Prime Minister’s actions, however,  I do think there is more than meets the eye when the issue is scrutinised and much more to discuss than the immediate flak that the words ‘Chamberlain’ and ‘appeasement’ seem to provoke…..is it possible that Chamberlain was maybe right with his policy, and realistically could not, given the circumstances, do anything else?

 

..so to a question for fellow forum members, despite such popular disapproval, does anybody think there were any credible and realistic alternatives to appeasement?…

 



-------------
"No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes"


http://www.mp3unsigned.com/Showband.asp?id=396 - on mp3unsigned.com



Replies:
Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 19-Feb-2007 at 04:12
I don't think it should be forgotten that Chamberlain did eventually take Britain to war. Appeasement only went so far.
 
In the meantime he rearmed, and Britain's military strength increased considerably, especially in the air with new aircraft and - defensively - radar. Would the Battle of Britain have turned out differently if it took place a year earlier?
 


-------------
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.


Posted By: Paul
Date Posted: 19-Feb-2007 at 05:21

I tend to think Chamberlain gets a lot of undue criticism, stalling for time until your forces are in a more advantageous positions is a sound military tactic.



-------------
Light blue touch paper and stand well back

http://www.maquahuitl.co.uk - http://www.maquahuitl.co.uk

http://www.toltecitztli.co.uk - http://www.toltecitztli.co.uk


Posted By: pekau
Date Posted: 19-Feb-2007 at 16:43
History always remember winners, not losers. It's true that Chamberlain tried many things to improve the British army after the Germans barged into Poland... (Or was it before that occured?), but he is seen as failure when the public saw his promise of diplomatic solution with Germany failed. Churchill came in, and promised the public that they will do everything necessary protect British interests from German invaders. He fulfilled it, when German's defeat was shown in public. All the sudden, he was a hero.  

-------------
http://swagbucks.com/refer/Malachi">      
   
Join us.


Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 20-Feb-2007 at 07:15
 
Originally posted by pekau

History always remember winners, not losers. It's true that Chamberlain tried many things to improve the British army after the Germans barged into Poland... (Or was it before that occured?),
It started well before.
but he is seen as failure when the public saw his promise of diplomatic solution with Germany failed. 
He wasn't actually generally seen as a failure until the success of the German blitzkrieg in the West in May 1940. That's what led to his dismissal and Churchill becoming prime minister.
Churchill came in, and promised the public that they will do everything necessary protect British interests from German invaders. He fulfilled it, when German's defeat was shown in public. All the sudden, he was a hero.  


-------------
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.


Posted By: Act of Oblivion
Date Posted: 20-Feb-2007 at 12:44
 
...sorry people for deserting the thread for a bit, i will be replying soon as i can.....have had to move house rather quickly and have unscrewed my 'history' head and replaced it with 'Mr DIY and Decorating'....
 
..in the meantime, thank you for your comments.....i will try and be back in several jiffy's....Thumbs%20Up


-------------
"No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes"


http://www.mp3unsigned.com/Showband.asp?id=396 - on mp3unsigned.com


Posted By: pekau
Date Posted: 20-Feb-2007 at 18:48
gcle2003, when was Chamberlain replaced as the vice by Churchill? Was it before Germans got into France... or before Paris, or...Confused


-------------
http://swagbucks.com/refer/Malachi">      
   
Join us.


Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 21-Feb-2007 at 10:19
 
Originally posted by pekau

gcle2003, when was Chamberlain replaced as the vice by Churchill? Was it before Germans got into France... or before Paris, or...Confused
It was actually the German invasion of Norway and Denmark that undermined Chamberlain.
 
He was replaced as prime minister in the evening of May 10 1940. The German blitzkrieg in the Netherlands and Belgium had started in the morning of the same day.
 
However, Germany had invaded Norway and Denmark on April 9, and the British expeditionary force sent to Norway to oppose it was badly beaten. That was what shook confidence in Chamberlain, who nearly but not quite lost a confidence vote in Parliament on May 7.
 
The invasion of May 10 was the last straw.
 


-------------
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.


Posted By: TheDiplomat
Date Posted: 05-Mar-2007 at 09:53
Originally posted by Paul

I tend to think Chamberlain gets a lot of undue criticism, stalling for time until your forces are in a more advantageous positions is a sound military tactic.

 
I agree... People believe that in international politics appeeasement is wrong, because Churchill told us so. But how realistic was Churchill's idea of Grand Alliance in the 30s?This article is a must read as far as British appeasement is concerned: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/churchill_gathering_storm_01.shtml - http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/churchill_gathering_storm_01.shtml


-------------
ARDA:The best Turkish diplomat ever!



Posted By: Act of Oblivion
Date Posted: 05-Mar-2007 at 17:49
 
..hello again…

 

..and first of all, apologies to gcle2003, Paul, pekau, and The Diplomat for taking so much time in replying to your comments…I have now successfully moved house and pretty much back in the saddle (apart from having to put up with dial-up internet service for a few more days!!!)…

 

....I must say I have been surprised at the general tone of the replies, insofar that most seem to hold at least some degree of understanding, if not sympathy for Chamberlains’ predicament….i am more used to a torrent of criticism and abuse when the subject is approached….

 

…gcle2003 noted that…

 

I don't think it should be forgotten that Chamberlain did eventually take Britain to war. Appeasement only went so far

 

..indeed, and this is something that A. J. P. Taylor would have probably agreed with, in fact Taylor viewed the policy of appeasement as successful in preventing a European war during the Anschluss and the incorporation of the Sudeten Germans into the Reich….. according to Taylor, Munich was “a triumph for all that was best and most enlightened in British life,”…..however, appeasement eventually broke down over the Polish issue in 1939…..

 

..Paul observed that…

 

I tend to think Chamberlain gets a lot of undue criticism, stalling for time until your forces are in a more advantageous positions is a sound military tactic

 

…this is one area which proves to be a little bit more trickier than others….such an opinion assumes and gives credit to a Chamberlain who was perhaps ‘holding out’ until the time was right to declare war?….however, Chamberlain was probably not stalling for time in a bid to ready England for war by building up reserves…it seems more likely that Chamberlain was looking for ‘The Appeasement of Europe’, to bring ‘total peace’ to the continent (possibly as a way of countering the believed threat of Communism, and maybe to drive Hitler east into the Soviet Union….this may have been thought but there is not a scrap of evidence to show this was planned)…

 

….the idea that Chamberlain may have accompanied his strategy of appeasement with a gradual build up of British forces in an effort to work towards peace while preparing for conflict, is a possibility….However, Horace Wilson declared that Britain’s foreign policy was never “designed just to postpone war…the aim of appeasement was to avoid war altogether, for all time.”

 

.... Chamberlain also had major concerns over weakness in defence…he maintained the belief that even if there was a war, Britain could not win….The UK’s defence was poor and the budget was limited…more significantly, there was the threat of the ‘tripartite alliance’ between Japan, Italy and Germany….A combination of threats threat that Britain could not defeat on her own (and remember, there was no sign of America’s willingness to enter the war)….

 

…In addition, Chamberlain believed that if war came to Europe, the political and military advantage would go to the Soviet Union (Correct! It did!)….it appears that he was maybe buying time to eventually conclude a ‘final, peaceful solution’ to the crisis… Munich would suffice for now, but this idea is more securely founded in that Chamberlain was looking for a long term peace settlement…..

 

…An earlier (or later) declaration of war also assumes that a substantial programme of rearmament had been conducted enabling Britain to produce the resources necessary to enter combat, and indeed, it is possible to suggest that a programme of rearmament could have provided a deterrent against German military and political aggression….. however, Chamberlain’s view was that an aggressive foreign policy should depend on the ability to deploy adequate military power, and he argued, “you should never menace unless you are in a position to carry out your threats.”…..moreover, the cost of major rearmament remained a sticking point for the fiscal minded Chamberlain, financial considerations were of importance to a Prime Minister who felt Britain’s strength lay in a stable economy and that foreign policy should be adjusted to take into account Britain’s circumstances…….as early as 1935 it was conceded by Foreign Office officials that Britain should at least attempt some form of ‘accommodation’ with Germany before Britain embarked on a substantial rearmament programme……. In addition, it was believed in some quarters that a European ‘arms race’ caused the First World War, and that any such policy in the late 1930’s would once again provoke German aggression…..

 

…gcle2003 notes that..

In the meantime he rearmed, and Britain's military strength increased considerably, especially in the air with new aircraft and - defensively – radar

 

…..Although Chamberlain did concede rearmament of certain aspects of the British armed forces, it was limited and insufficient with the exception of increases in the Royal Air Force, which only proved effective in the summer of 1940, as gcle2003 has correctly pointed out….however, for the writers of ‘Cato,’ Chamberlain’s limited military expansion did nothing to deter German occupation of Czechoslovakia and the outbreak of war in 1939….. Chamberlain appears convinced that he could avoid war, and any increase in defence forces only demonstrates a sensible precaution by a statesman who would have surely faced further contemporary criticism if this course of action were not taken. Even if substantial rearmament was possible, it is arguable whether this would have been enough to deter a confident, post-Anschluss Hitler, who with the help of the Sudetenland Nazi Party was coveting the Sudeten German’s……Moreover, it would have been geographically difficult to mobilise British forces to Eastern Europe…..to labour the point, even if Chamberlain had managed to balance the books and provide a substantial rearming of the British military it is unclear how any deployment of British forces could have prevented German expansion without the help of allies….???

 

….personally, having looked at some of the options available, I tend to agree with the opinion put forward by the historian John W, Young …..“it may have made no difference if Britain had chosen an alternative policy to appeasement, for it seems Hitler was bent on expansion regardless.”…..

 



-------------
"No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes"


http://www.mp3unsigned.com/Showband.asp?id=396 - on mp3unsigned.com


Posted By: Act of Oblivion
Date Posted: 05-Mar-2007 at 18:09
Originally posted by Paul

 
 
I agree... People believe that in international politics appeeasement is wrong, because Churchill told us so. But how realistic was Churchill's idea of Grand Alliance in the 30s?
 
..indeed, this is another area which adds some degree of support  to Chamberlain's policy of appeasement...
 

….the idea of ‘collective security’ in the form of global opinion against war became a fallacy once it was clear that Germany, Italy and Japan sought a foreign policy based on aggression…… pretensions of security under the banner of the League of Nations had also failed to produce effective results with regard to the conquest of Manchuria and the Abyssinian affair…..Chamberlian now sought peace away from the constraints of the League, possibly by international alliances, and hopefully by agreement with Germany….. However, how realistic these attempts were at abating the threat of war has to be seen in the context of Nazi determination, British political faith and the reliability of other allies…..

 

…Britain may have been able to secure an accommodation with Germany, but any agreement had to recognise Hitler’s desire to completely dominate Eastern Europe. In 1936, the Chiefs of Staff felt that the danger of an Anglo-German alliance that allowed Germany a “free hand in central and Eastern Europe” would end up “recoiling ultimately on our heads.” ….in 1935, it was suggested by some in  the Foreign Office that Britain could follow an alliance policy of ‘encirclement’ to contain Germany….. But in Chamberlain’s opinion, being ‘surrounded by enemies’ would provoke Italian and German justifications in their preparations for war…..misguided?…as for allies, Chamberlain had no faith in the Soviet military and believed the Russian’s lacked substance as potential allies. Moreover, Communist ideology was believed to be as distasteful, if not more so than fascism. One fear was an Anglo-Soviet alliance might be seen as an end to German concessions, inflating the risk that Germany might instigate war as the only alternative to achieving the country’s needs…….. Britain also showed concerns that an early alliance with France might encourage the French resistance to come to terms with Germany….. In addition, a union of British, French and Soviet interests would recreate the  ‘Triple Entente’ that was blamed for war in 1914….. still further, the Chiefs of Staff had already voiced concerns that Britain’s forces could not enter an early conflict “even if we were in alliance with France and Russia.”

 

… The United States appeared unwilling to play a role in Europe, and unlikely to intervene against Japan. It appears that Chamberlain paid lip service to the idea of the ‘special relationship,’ but he also felt that it was “best and safest to count on nothing from the American’s except words.” …….As late as January 1938, Chamberlain responded apathetically to a suggestion from Roosevelt to hold a conference of the major powers on disarmament and economic problems, which suggests that the Prime Minister remained doubtful of American commitment, and worried that the US might gain influence and increased interference in British policy. ….Ultimately, for Chamberlain and many of the days political thinkers, alliances and collective security faced a barrage of political and diplomatic problems that created doubt and wariness in such a policy’s ability not only to contain Germany, but also to prevent future war…..



-------------
"No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes"


http://www.mp3unsigned.com/Showband.asp?id=396 - on mp3unsigned.com


Posted By: jayeshks
Date Posted: 06-Mar-2007 at 17:30
There is a quote by Hitler calling Chamberlain, not Churchill, his greatest nemesis for having cheated him out of his chance for war in Munich.  War over the Rhineland might've been best of all but war in '39 (and effectively '40) was preferable to war in '38 for the UK and France.  By that point of course no one had any illusions about Hitler merely wanting to overturn Versailles.    

-------------
Once you relinquish your freedom for the sake of "understood necessity,"...you cede your claim to the truth. - Heda Margolius Kovaly


Posted By: Act of Oblivion
Date Posted: 07-Mar-2007 at 12:55
Originally posted by jayeshks

There is a quote by Hitler calling Chamberlain, not Churchill, his greatest nemesis for having cheated him out of his chance for war  
 

….that is a good point and brings into question Hitler’s motivation and logic during the period in question….….it is possible that Hitler could have continued to expand without interfering in non-German territories….. So why not? ….. Chamberlain’s ‘settlement’ tactics have sometimes been blamed for the ensuing crisis in Czechoslovakia and seen as responsible for Hitler’s next series of moves…….

 

…..However, it could well be that Hitler even at this stage, Hitler was starting to make diplomatic errors and mistakes, or that he was feeling self-confident, or just plain lucky in the events that had already unfolded? As pointed out, it could have been that Hitler was seething over the Munich settlement, having felt cheated by Chamberlain and denied his triumphant march into Czechoslovakia…..

 
......However, it could also be that Hitler had no choice but to take advantage of the situation……  Czechoslovakia was collapsing on its own accord, due to internal divisions, so its possible that the Nazi’s simply acted to gain benefit from the situation…… In addition, the Czech minister Hacha, was in Berlin being subjected to Hitler’s own brand of diplomatic bullying whereby Hitler was demanding that the Czech’s accept Nazi troops in their country or else face an ‘invasion’…..

 



-------------
"No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes"


http://www.mp3unsigned.com/Showband.asp?id=396 - on mp3unsigned.com


Posted By: TheDiplomat
Date Posted: 08-Mar-2007 at 03:16
Well, Hitler hold the belief that it was Chemberlain who stopped him at Munich, and therefore disrupted his plans for the final victory. However, once I read that, German Generals were ready to overthrown Hitler, If The Franco-British leaders had said to Hitler a NO in Munich.
 
Based on that, ıf the latter is correct, I tend to see Chemberlaina and his appeasement a big failure. If not, Chemberlain's contribution to the final Allied victory should never be ignored, and his credibility must be rehabilitated, in my humble opinion.
 


-------------
ARDA:The best Turkish diplomat ever!



Posted By: Ovidius
Date Posted: 08-Mar-2007 at 10:19
Originally posted by Paul

I tend to think Chamberlain gets a lot of undue criticism, stalling for time until your forces are in a more advantageous positions is a sound military tactic.



I think its a question of intentions etc.

People look at the issue with heaps of hindsight and say, appeasement was a failure and had Chamberlain acted earlier he could have stopped the war, blah blah.

Personally, I don't believe Chamberlain was trying to stall things for tactical reasons. I'm not sure there is any evidence for that either. That is, essentially what happened. But a speedier build up could have occurred. I'm much mroe traditional and believe its about values - and the specific value of peace during the period.

I agree, it shouldn't be forgotten that Chamberlain did take Britain to war. Nor should it be forgotten that Chamberlain was a Prime Minister, not a dictator.

As it has been stated. Chamberlain the failure, came with Hitler's success. I'm not even sure if he was seen as a failure by people at the time either.... except for the small circle surrounding Churchill. As always its the victors of struggles that write the History - literally in this case. Chamberlain was still the most popular leader of the time - his popularity actually INCREASED over the period.

The other thing that Chamberlain is forgotten for is his beliefs about the Treaty of Versaille. Modern Historians have looked back at the Treaty as one of the major causes of the 2nd World War. I think Chamberlain's understanding of Versaille as a agitator in Germany was certainly correct and trying to balance things out at this stage may have been out of place, but it was a thought out strategy.

But yes, I believe Chamberlain has been dealt a rather unfair hand when it comes to History, basically because of Churchill. I think his policies were a failure, but I don't believe that there could have been any other course of action. Taking Britain to War in the mid 30's? Having firm diplomacy and nothing to back it up? I don't see any other real solution.


Posted By: Act of Oblivion
Date Posted: 11-Mar-2007 at 18:27
Originally posted by Ovidius


I think his policies were a failure, but I don't believe that there could have been any other course of action. Taking Britain to War in the mid 30's? Having firm diplomacy and nothing to back it up? I don't see any other real solution.
 
....this, in the main, is what i now believe, and hence my relative support for the rehabilitaion of Nevillle Chamberlain's actions, and to some degree, the man's legacy.....
 

…for me personally, there appears to be consistent factor that underlies the argument over alternatives to appeasement in that Chamberlain was unswerving in his devotion to peaceful negotiation…… indeed, the apparent success of the Munich Settlement proved that Hitler could to some extent, be encouraged to favour negotiation instead of military aggression……… on the face of it, Chamberlain appeared to have the support of most MP’s, the press, and initially that of public opinion…it could be the  argued that rather than accepting personal responsibility, the Prime Minister adopted a policy of appeasement in tune with the majority of opinion?……

 

…. Chamberlain remained resolute in his actions and he declared in 1940, “never for one single instant have I doubted the rightness of what I did at Munich.” If this was truly the case, then it is fair to assume that the Prime Minister never doubted his foreign policy……

 
....to add a possible conclusion, I would suggest that there is some justification in agreeing with the historian Bernd-Jurgen Wendt’s sentiment that it would be “absolutely unhistorical to try today, with the benefit of hindsight, to construct alternative concepts to appeasement and to apply a yardstick oblivious to the needs of the 1930’s.” If this is so, then I think that there really were no realistic alternatives to appeasement……


-------------
"No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes"


http://www.mp3unsigned.com/Showband.asp?id=396 - on mp3unsigned.com



Print Page | Close Window