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Old 01-04-2010, 02:36 PM
 
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Actually Chamberlain did not seek peace at any price. Had he done so he would not have gone to war with Hitler in 1939. His logic until 1939 was that Hitler was a traditional European leader who simply wanted to reverse Versailles and reunite German minorities which seemed reasonable to many not just Chamberlain. It was not until the seizing of the rest of czechoslavakia that he realized this would not occur, at which time he reversed his policy entirely.

Anyone but me notice the parallels between Hitler and Chamblain and the Elves of Erigon and Sauron in the 2nd age
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:13 AM
 
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Originally Posted by noetsi View Post
Actually Chamberlain did not seek peace at any price. Had he done so he would not have gone to war with Hitler in 1939. His logic until 1939 was that Hitler was a traditional European leader who simply wanted to reverse Versailles and reunite German minorities which seemed reasonable to many not just Chamberlain. It was not until the seizing of the rest of czechoslavakia that he realized this would not occur, at which time he reversed his policy entirely.

Anyone but me notice the parallels between Hitler and Chamblain and the Elves of Erigon and Sauron in the 2nd age
Chamberlain and Hitler is a closer parallel to the European Union leaders who did nothing while Serbians massacred thousands in the name of a greater Serbia.



The successive agressive moves by Hitler trashing Versailles and St. Germain should have served as a warning, He sent troops into the Rhineland, (should have been the first roadblock like not allowing the Soviets to starve West Berlin), Then the Illegal Austrian Anschluss, followed by the Sudetenland, Kristallnacht, Czechoslovakia, Memelland, and finally he drew a phony line in the sand in Poland. There was not a strong rearmament program, because he didn't want to anger Hitler. There was little effort to mobilize as a deterent, becuase he didn't want to anger Hitler.

Why not a full mobilization and demand that Hitler leave Czechoslovakia? Had he takeneven that step Britain would have been prepared to attack Germany in 1939 rather than sit by and do nothing.

In September 1939 he finally had no choice but to go to war, but he did not take the steps necessary to prepare for it.
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Old 01-05-2010, 11:47 AM
 
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Because it was not obvious at the time, as it is now with historical hindsight, that Hitler was commited to war regardless. That he was entirely mad. That is a very unusual situation in world history and European leaders assumed instead that he was seeking limited goals and would be satisfied once he met those. Until the seizing of the Czech state Hitler had not actually demanded anything which had not been Germany's before 1919 (the Sudentenland was not part of Germany then, but it was part of another state Germany was associated with and in any case its population appeared to be firmly commited to being part of Germany).

We have the advantage of decades of historical research and the horrors of the death camps to realize Hitler's true nature. This was not the case before the Second World War. Leaders have to be judged on the evidence they had at the time, not later times.
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:53 PM
 
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There were those who saw through Hitler, saw the impending war coming and argued for action.
Chamberlain did not want to see what Hitler truely was, and When His actions and intentions became clear after the Czech invasion, He did little to prepare his nation to stop any further Advances. The Majority of Czechs did not want to be part of Nazi Germany. The majority of Austrians did not want to be part of Nazi Germany, unless you believe Hitlers polsters who stated 99.7% of Austrians approved of the Anschluss after it had taken place.
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Old 01-05-2010, 03:38 PM
 
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There are always visionaries, or simply lucky people who get it right. But in 1938 Chamberlain's views were seen as wise by most leaders and the public as a whole. He was greated with thunderous applause after he returned from the conference in England.

Its quite true that Chamberlain saw through Hitler after the invasion of the Czech state. Whether he responded wisely to the invasion of Poland is less clear. The British and French were not well prepared for war then. They would likely have gained on Germany after 39 particularly in the air. The same would have been true in the Soviet Union.

Its likely true that few Czechs wanted to be part of the reich. I suspect the majority of Austrians did, the Nazis appear to have been popular there. Austria was in dificult circumstances in 1938 and the loss of the Austrian empire still bothered many. Hitler seemed to offer economic recovery and pride.
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Old 01-05-2010, 08:21 PM
 
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There are always visionaries, or simply lucky people who get it right. But in 1938 Chamberlain's views were seen as wise by most leaders and the public as a whole. He was greated with thunderous applause after he returned from the conference in England.

Its quite true that Chamberlain saw through Hitler after the invasion of the Czech state. Whether he responded wisely to the invasion of Poland is less clear. The British and French were not well prepared for war then. They would likely have gained on Germany after 39 particularly in the air. The same would have been true in the Soviet Union.

Its likely true that few Czechs wanted to be part of the reich. I suspect the majority of Austrians did, the Nazis appear to have been popular there. Austria was in dificult circumstances in 1938 and the loss of the Austrian empire still bothered many. Hitler seemed to offer economic recovery and pride.
The Austrian Nazi movement was very strong, but there was not a majority consensus for integration with Germany.

You are right that it's easy to look in retrospect and claim a different policy should have been followed, but after the invasion of the Czech republic, Chamberlain should have confronted Hitler directly demanding withdrawl and mobilized the armed forces. The delay both in British and French mobilization allowed Germany the time to prepare for both Case White (Poland) and later France. Had Britain and France immediately mobilized after the Munich betrayal, they would have had the capability to take the war to Germany in 1939, rather than wait to be outmaneuvered and destroyed.
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Old 01-06-2010, 12:00 AM
 
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Without scientific polls its impossible to know, but my guess is that most Austrians wanted to be part of the Reich.

I dont think (ignoring the political realities) that the British and the French had the ability to force Germany to give up the Czech lands any more than they had to stop Germany from conquering Poland. The british had a very small military with no trained manpower behind it (they had no draft until the war started). Only ten divisions were fielded in 1940 in France. On paper France had a massive military, but the numbers were deceptive. The French army was led by generals in their sixties and seventies, its tanks were not organized generally into armored formations, it had no airforce to speak of. But even more important morale was low in the ranks, and they had no doctrine to support an effective attack. They did nothing to help Poland in 39 and would have been able to do nothing for Czecholavakia in 38.

There was nothing Chamberlain could do once Munich ruined the Czech defenses to protect them even if he had desired to.
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Old 01-06-2010, 02:53 AM
 
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Originally Posted by noetsi View Post
Without scientific polls its impossible to know, but my guess is that most Austrians wanted to be part of the Reich.

I dont think (ignoring the political realities) that the British and the French had the ability to force Germany to give up the Czech lands any more than they had to stop Germany from conquering Poland. The british had a very small military with no trained manpower behind it (they had no draft until the war started). Only ten divisions were fielded in 1940 in France. On paper France had a massive military, but the numbers were deceptive. The French army was led by generals in their sixties and seventies, its tanks were not organized generally into armored formations, it had no airforce to speak of. But even more important morale was low in the ranks, and they had no doctrine to support an effective attack. They did nothing to help Poland in 39 and would have been able to do nothing for Czecholavakia in 38.

There was nothing Chamberlain could do once Munich ruined the Czech defenses to protect them even if he had desired to.
Sorry but that is a copout. Chamberlain could have told Hitler unequiveqly, go no further, you have been given the sudetenland, but you will be permitten to go not further.
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Old 01-06-2010, 04:38 AM
 
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One of the enduring myths of history is that the policy of appeasement was the invention of Neville Chamberlain. There is no question he was it’s most visible proponent during a time when, at least from our view today, it seemed to be the exact opposite of what was needed. But in fact, appeasement was the basis of British foreign policy dating back to just after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. In 1921, Winston Churchill explained British foreign policy’s main goal to be “appeasement of the fearful hatreds and antagonisms that exist in Europe and to enable the world to settle down”. British policy makers were quick to acknowledge that one of the biggest issues they faced in accomplishing this was in how they dealt with Germany. The universal belief in the British government throughout the 1920’s and early 1930’s was that the Treaty of Versailles was too harsh and was seriously impacting the ability of Germany to recover from the war economically. That in turn was having a detrimental effect on the economy of Europe as a whole.

This was one reason why Britain was so willing to entertain the idea of and even allow revision of the Treaty of Versailles, especially if it redressed “legitimate” grievances. Another factor was the extreme anti-German sentiments of the French government. France wanted a permanently weakened Germany, which would allow the French to be the dominant power on the Continent. This was exactly counter to what the British wished to achieve; that being a return to some semblance of the balance of power that existed in Europe prior to the onset of the First World War. One event that hardened British attitudes against the French and increased sympathy for the German desire for revision of Versailles, occurred in 1923. Germany was struggling to make the reparation payments required of her under the treaty. In late 1922, Germany’s anemic economy caused them to default on the payments. Outraged, French premier Raymond Poincare, in direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles I might add, ordered the immediate military occupation of the Ruhr as a means of forcing Germany to pay up. This move almost caused a total break in British-French relations and created even more bitterness to grow in Germany.

German foreign policy during the Weimar Republic was very straightforward; negotiate as many revisions to the terms of Versailles as possible. Gustav Stresemann, who served as Germany’s foreign minister from 1924 to 1929, made repeated attempts to work with the French and British to accomplish exactly that. His overall strategy was to make it clear to both countries that Germany would never fully accept the new borders laid out by the treaty, particularly in the east. With the signing of the Locarno Treaty in 1925, the way seemed to be paved for Germany to be able to work more effectively for revision. Locarno allowed German entry to the League of Nations, which would in turn permit Germany to seek treaty revisions within that framework. Germany agreed to honor the western borders and give up claims to Alsace-Lorraine. In return, France would end her occupation of the Rhineland five years earlier than required by Versailles. The borders to the east were left an open question, which Stresemann felt was most beneficial to Germany. It seemingly gave Germany a free hand to resolve those territorial issues on her own without British interference.

When taken altogether, you can see just how closely British and German foreign policy objectives paralleled each other, even after the ascendancy of Hitler. History has led most to believe that Hitler’s “demands” were outrageous and should have been seen by the British (but more specifically, Neville Chamberlain) as a prelude to war. Instead, they were viewed at the time to be nothing more than a continuation of the foreign policy objectives first put forth by the Weimar Republic and Gustav Stresemann. This was a completely logical and reasonable deduction made by Chamberlain since it was based on a ten year record of diplomatic interaction between the two nations. But since this context is largely absent from the basic discussions one usually sees regarding appeasement, Chamberlain is almost universally characterized (wrongly) as at best, a naïve fool, and at worst, a coward.

It is also interesting that so many people today cling to the Treaty of Versailles as if it were some holy, inviolate document that should have been followed to the “T”, and which did not allow for any revision of terms on Germany’s part. This ignores some key facts. First and foremost, the architects of the treaty were well aware that it was a deeply flawed document. It had strayed considerably from Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points”, which the Germans had been led to believe would be the basis of any peace treaty they would be asked to sign. Many predicted the terms set down in the treaty would cause economic ruin in Germany and create longstanding acrimony between all the parties involved. The treaty enshrined the right of “self determination” for all peoples, but it then turned around and denied that right to the people of Austria and the German populations of the Sudeten, Memel, and Danzig. The restrictions on German rearmament were predicated on the disarmament of the powers that she fought against. Yet other than the “Washington Naval Treaty” and the “London Naval Treaty”, no serious disarmament agreements were reached on the part of the major European powers. The “World Disarmament Conference” that was held in Geneva from 1932 to 1934 was the last attempt to live up to the spirit of Versailles. Germany sought military parity with the other great powers. Britain was supportive of this move but France was dead set against it. It was the failure to achieve “equality” in military power through negotiation that led Hitler to withdraw Germany from the conference and the League, and set Germany on the path to unilateral rearmament.

As to the question of revision of the treaty, there is clearly a clause contained within it that allows for such an action, in this case “Article 19”. More specifically, since the covenant for the founding and operation of the League of Nations makes up part of the Treaty of Versailles, Article 19 actually gives the right to seek revision of ANY treaty through petition to the League. With Germany’s acceptance into the League in 1925, Versailles was fair game. Before Hitler ever arrived on scene, Versailles was in the process of being revised. The “Dawes Plan” of 1924 which sought to rework the structure of German reparation payments was the first revision. France leaving the Rhineland early was the next one. The first violation of Versailles was the previously mentioned French seizure of the Ruhr. The second was the Lithuanian invasion of the international protectorate of Memel. One of the most serious violations took place in 1935 with the signing of the Anglo-German Naval Treaty. By entering into this agreement with Germany, Britain essentially gave the stamp of approval to German rearmament plans and undercut the ability of the League to punish Germany in any meaningful way.

The other issue most often discussed is why the full might of the British military wasn’t brought to bear against Germany to stop Hitler’s aggressive moves. The truth is the existence of such power in the mid to late 1930’s was a complete illusion, and the lack of ability to deal with the growing German threat can be traced back to the same time period as the start of appeasement. The end of the First World War found Britain in command of a massive empire, yet they were in no real position to defend it. The economy was in tatters and the military was severely depleted. Rather than rebuild the armed forces, the British government instead undertook a program of reviving the economy which required serious cuts in defense spending. Ironically, the biggest proponent of slashing military budgets was Winston Churchill, who set out to do just that upon his appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1925. Churchill maintained that all British defense spending should be based on the assumption that Britain would not have to fight against a first rate naval power for the next 20 years. He further proposed that Britain should cut back on it’s defense posture in the Far East.

These moves by Churchill, plus the Great Depression, had a direct impact on Britain’s ability to conduct an effective foreign policy well into the 1930’s and found the country ill prepared to meet the rising militarism of Germany, Japan, and Italy. If there is any doubt to the position Britain was in, you need only look at the conclusion drawn by the Committee of Imperial Defense in 1935, one year before Germany remilitarized the Rhineland. The committee stated: “We cannot foresee the time when our defense forces will be strong enough to safeguard our territory, trade and vital interests against Germany, Italy and Japan simultaneously. We cannot, therefore, exaggerate the importance, from the point of view of imperial defense, of any political or international action that can be taken to reduce the number of our potential enemies or to gain the support of potential allies”. In other words, the British military was endorsing the policy of appeasement because it knew full well it provided the best hope of avoiding a conflict in which they felt Britain likely could not prevail.

It is easy now to sit back, criticize, and lay blame for the war at the doorstep of appeasement, and by extension, Neville Chamberlain. But these judgments are based in the knowledge of what happened after the fact, and don’t take into account what drove the policy in the first place. Chamberlain, Churchill, and all the others that served in the British government from 1920 onward, had no idea that the actions they were taking would lead to war. They simply believed they were acting in the best interests of Britain, going on what they knew at the time. Contrary to popular belief, appeasement was not about “peace at any cost” or “give Germany whatever she wants”. Instead, it was an attempt to use negotiation to eliminate as many reasons as possible that would cause countries to choose the path of war. Other than an outright invasion of Germany (which was not feasible) or the assassination of Hitler (an act that no country would have endorsed or undertaken), appeasement was the only option left. Those who argue otherwise are simply ignoring the reality of the times.
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Old 01-06-2010, 03:02 PM
 
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To add to TonyT's comments, the horrors of World War I had turned the British public heavily against future wars. This, and the lack of funding for the military because of the Depression, played a key role in diplomatic behavior of the British much as Vietnam long played a role in US decisions about wars after 1975. Formally, England had no defensive commitment to defend Czechoslavakia so it betrayed no one in not doing so (unlike the French who did have such a commitment). Formally the Czech situation had nothing to do with Versailles, which was not part of that treaty (the Austria-Hungarian state was disolved under an entirely seperate agreement) but in practice what TonyT stated above is precisely what occured. It should be remembered however, that the British Labor party broke cleanly with Neville Chamberlain over Munich as did a few Conservative members such as Eden and Churchill.

A key point that explains much of British policy is that the Soviet Union was seen as a great a threat, if not more so, than the Germans. Thus the lack of cooperation with Stalin.
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