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Old 01-16-2010, 09:40 AM
 
Location: Peterborough, England
472 posts, read 832,791 times
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Either WW2 was avoidable or it wasn't. If it was, then it was Chamberlain's duty to try out every avenue to a peaceful solution. If that meant abandoning a treaty which many people now thought unjust and ill-considered, then so be it

It it wasn't, then we needed to get it clearly on record that the war was Hitler's fault, not ours, that he had been granted every halfway reasonable concession, yet still come back for more. This would ensure that Britain (and the Dominions, who as of 1938 were still doubtful) would enter the war as united as a democracy ever is, and ensure that any peace feelers Hitler might put it would be met with a belly-laugh, because the way of peace had already been tested to destruction.

As Chamberlain's successor put it "Herr Hitler protests with frantic words and gestures that he has only desired peace. What do these ravings and outpourings count before the silence of Neville Chamberlain's tomb?"

The remainder of Winston Churchill's verdict on his predecessor may be found at

Neville Chamberlain

It is an epitaph with which I should be well content.
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Old 01-16-2010, 11:55 AM
 
Location: Aloverton
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I'll never cop to the labeling of German demands for other people's territory 'just demands' or 'legitimate grievances'. The reparations burden was one thing; that I'll agree was unjust and unrealistic. (Of course, in that case one can simply stop paying. One doesn't have to rearm one's country, spitting all over the rest of the treaty, and then start taking territory.) But it seems to me like, to use a metaphor, Hitler went around committing rape and rather than call him a rapist, the Allied leaders decided to classify it as 'energetic libido.' I don't buy the redefinition, and I do not pardon Chamberlain for peddling it in the 1930s. I've just finished doing some more reading on the period and the modern view that finds excuses for Chamberlain and pardons him leaves me colder than ever. It's clear to me that the British leadership, under Baldwin and then under Chamberlain, thought it was more important to avoid annoying Adolf or telling the population what it didn't want to hear (that Round 2 was looming) than to recognize the facts before them and prepare for the defense of Britain.
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Old 01-16-2010, 08:52 PM
 
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Two points. First, the Czech situation had nothing to do with Versilles. It was not involved in that treaty which dealt with Germany not Austria-Hungaria. Germany had never controlled the Sudetenland.

There is no question that it was Hitler "fault" that war broke out. The question about 1939 was one of timing. He did not expect that move over Danzig or the Coridor would lead to war. The British and French had after all backed down in a much better position in 1938 than they had in 1939 over Poland. Moreover, unlike the Czech situation the lands Hitler was demanding in Poland had been part of Germany.

Someone who was not mad would have concluded in 1939 that England and France would back down, the change in Chamberlain was why they did not.
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Old 01-18-2010, 12:37 AM
 
Location: Turn right at the stop sign
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noetsi View Post
First, the Czech situation had nothing to do with Versilles. It was not involved in that treaty which dealt with Germany not Austria-Hungaria. Germany had never controlled the Sudetenland.
The Sudetenland refers to a rather broad geographic area totaling slightly more than 10,000 square miles and encompassing parts of Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. In this instance, the Sudetenland which Germany was referring to was the portion of Silesia that had been under some form of German rule from 1756 until the end of World War I. I'm not sure why you state that Versailles had nothing to do with Czechoslovakia, especially since the "Treaty of Versailles" had everything to do with Czechoslovakia. Articles 81-86 of the document dealt directly with establishment of the Czech nation and formalized the parameters of the territory (Silesia) which was to be removed from Germany and ceded to Czechoslovakia.

Two other treaties were also used to cobble together Czechoslovakia. The "Treaty of Saint Germain" signed by the new Austrian Republic in September 1919, stripped Austria of it's portion of Silesia, which it had controlled since 1742 and placed it in Czech hands. The "Treaty of Trianon" of 1920, set up the boundaries of Hungary after it was separated from Austria. Under it, Hungary lost 72% of the territory it once controlled, with the regions known as Upper Hungary and Carpathian Ruthenia being taken and given to Czechoslovakia.

As a side note, all of the treaties signed after the main Treaty of Versailles (Saint Germain, Trianon, Neuilly, and Sevres) contained within them the covenants which governed the founding of the League of Nations. By virtue of this, the aforementioned treaties were considered supplements to the Treaty of Versailles. In the interwar period, they became known collectively as the "Versailles Treaties". So whether referring to just the treaty signed with Germany or one of the others, use of the descriptor "Versailles" would be technically correct.
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Old 01-18-2010, 03:11 AM
 
Location: Peterborough, England
472 posts, read 832,791 times
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Originally Posted by noetsi View Post
Someone who was not mad would have concluded in 1939 that England and France would back down, the change in Chamberlain was why they did not.
Why "the change in Chamberlain" particularly?

Chamberlain and Daladier both acted with the support of solid majorities in their countries' Parliaments, and the mood there (certainly in the British House of Commons) changed at least as much as that of the individual Premiers.

Had 600 MPs and about 750 French Deputies all had a personality change between September 1938 and September 1939? Of course not. What had changed was the situation. In 1938, Hitler had made no claim to any territory not inhabited by Germans, and it was possible (albeit with fingers crossed) to hope that he would be content with "ethnographic" boundaries. After his occupation of Prague in March 1939 it was not. So, paradoxically, despite the fact that German claims to Danzig were if anything stronger than to the Sudetenland, the latter claim was dismissed out of hand where the former had been allowed, because such claims had ceased to be taken seriously. After Prague, they were just seen as pretexts, not as real issues.

If I might inject a personal note here: my father was in the RAF, and at age 13, his latest posting brought me to King's Lynn, Norfolk. On arrival, I performed my first action in any new town, and checked out the public library. This contained quite a few old books from 1938 on the Czechoslovak crisis, and I still remember my surprise on finding that most of them took the German side. I even learned my first (and for decades only) Czechoslovak joke.

By contrast, I don't recall a single book from 1939 supporting the Germans over Danzig. The mood had changed. In 1938 the Sudetenland had been the issue. A year later, the issue was not Danzig, but Hitler himself.
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Old 01-18-2010, 12:35 PM
 
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The historians I have read agree that the French simply did whatever the British decided, and that Chamberlain made the key decisions in 38 and 39. I believe, along with say A.Taylor one of the noted historians of the period, that what changed after 1938 was Chamberlain - who was outraged by being betrayed by Hitler and made the essentially emotional decision to commit to war with Hitler - a war England was totally unprepared to fight. Poland was far less defensible than Czechoslavakia, indeed there was virtually no way to could be defended without Russian help - which the allies did nothing to obtain.

Quote:
Two other treaties were also used to cobble together Czechoslovakia. The "Treaty of Saint Germain" signed by the new Austrian Republic in September 1919, stripped Austria of it's portion of Silesia, which it had controlled since 1742 and placed it in Czech hands. The "Treaty of Trianon" of 1920, set up the boundaries of Hungary after it was separated from Austria. Under it, Hungary lost 72% of the territory it once controlled, with the regions known as Upper Hungary and Carpathian Ruthenia being taken and given to Czechoslovakia.
This answers your question TonyT. In 1918 the vast majority of the area known as the Sudetenland did not belong to Germany, even if a very small piece did. The treaties you mention above, which were with Austria-Hungary, striped them away and from Austria-Hungary not Germany.
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Old 01-18-2010, 02:32 PM
 
Location: Peterborough, England
472 posts, read 832,791 times
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Originally Posted by noetsi View Post
This answers your question TonyT. In 1918 the vast majority of the area known as the Sudetenland did not belong to Germany, even if a very small piece did. The treaties you mention above, which were with Austria-Hungary, striped them away and from Austria-Hungary not Germany.

And in any case, the point was academic after WW1.

At the Peace to end peace, any number of territories had been transferred to states to whom they had never previously belonged. Slovakia (which itself had never existed before as an entity) had never been united with Bohemia, nor had Croatia or the Slovene areas any previous link with Serbia. Conversely, the Carpathian Mountains had been Hungary's natural frontier since the Tenth Century - about as long as the Sudeten ranges had formed Bohemia's border - yet were taken away in 1920 just the same. Southern Tyrol had not belonged to any Italian power since the early Middle Ages, nor had the Baltic States ever existed in any recognisable form.

In short, the Peace Treaties had made it the rule rather than the exception that ethnic or nationalistic considerations took priority over historical or geographical ones. Maybe it was a bad precedent and never should have been set, but twenty years on that was water under the bridge. When called upon to apply the same principle to the German fringes of Bohemia and Moravia, the ex-Allies had no ground for refusal except 'Because we say so' (or rather 'becase someone else said so a generation back'), a hopelessly inadequate reason for calling their people to arms again. Hitler provided better reasons the following year.
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Old 01-18-2010, 03:25 PM
 
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I think the treaties primary "rule" was the victors got to remake the map. Which is pretty much the norm for world history. The British prime minister in 1805 (Lord Pitt) said after the Austerlitz victory by Napoleon that they could roll the (existing) maps of Europe up as they would not be needed for the next ten years.

My previous point was simply that the situation in Czech was not, as sometimes claimed, an effort by Germany to regain territories it lost in WWI. Very few of the territories in that country had belonged to Germany in 1918. Hitler's justification for the conflict was the right of Germans anywhere to be united with Germany, regardless of past history.
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Old 01-19-2010, 02:28 AM
 
Location: Turn right at the stop sign
1,622 posts, read 2,800,046 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noetsi View Post
This answers your question TonyT. In 1918 the vast majority of the area known as the Sudetenland did not belong to Germany, even if a very small piece did. The treaties you mention above, which were with Austria-Hungary, striped them away and from Austria-Hungary not Germany.
Quoting me back to myself doesn't answer the question at all, it simply deflects it. Since I apparently stuttered when I asked it the first time I will try again. To start, let me quote you back to yourself:

Quote:
Originally Posted by noetsi
the Czech situation had nothing to do with Versilles. It was not involved in that treaty which dealt with Germany not Austria-Hungaria. Germany had never controlled the Sudetenland.
Versailles set up the nation of Czechoslovakia and stated which portion of Germany would be taken and given to Czechoslovakia. In this instance it was a portion of Silesia. Silesia contains within it part of the area commonly referred to as the Sudetenland. It doesn't matter whether that piece is the size of a postage stamp or a thousand square miles, it's still the Sudetenland by geographical definition.

Since I mentioned it in my post, I am obviously aware that the largest portion of the Sudetenland, not the totality of it, was taken from Austria and Hungary, separately, through the treaties of Saint-Germain and Trianon. With the Anschluss, and Germany and Austria being one, demands for the Sudetenland now meant the portions of that territory once controlled by Austria and Germany.

The "Sudeten Crisis" did have it's roots in the Treaty of Versailles, because it called into question the very means by which Czechoslovakia was created in the first place; namely, stripping land from nations that had controlled them for a hundred plus years and giving them to someone else. More importantly, it sought to address the issue of the "right of self-determination" that had been guaranteed by Versailles, but was denied to the ethnic Germans of the Sudeten. You see, it wasn't about the land as much as it was about the people who populated it.

So I will now ask again...How can you state that the Czech situation had "nothing" to do with Versailles?
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Old 01-19-2010, 02:43 AM
 
Location: Peterborough, England
472 posts, read 832,791 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noetsi View Post
I think the treaties primary 'rule' was the victors got to remake the map. Which is pretty much the norm for world history.
Which was all very well in 1919, when Germany was flat on her back and had to take what she was given. Not so good two decades later, when enforcing the treaty might involve quite a few military and civilian deaths. After the last bloodbath, doing that would require a pretty strong conviction that the treaty in question was worth enforcing. Just to turn round and say 'What we have written we have written' wouldn't do.

More was required, and in 1939 Hitler obligingly provided it.
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