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Fighting Churchill, Appeasing Hitler: Neville Chamberlain, Sir Horace Wilson, Britain's Plight of Appeasement: 1937-1939

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Appeasement failed in all its goals. The kindest thing that can be said of it is that postponed World War II by one year. Its real effect was to convince Hitler and Mussolini that Britain was weak and afraid of confrontation, encouraging them to ever-greater acts of aggression. The turning point of the Czech crisis in September 1938 came when Wilson saw Hitler on his own Appeasement failed in all its goals. The kindest thing that can be said of it is that postponed World War II by one year. Its real effect was to convince Hitler and Mussolini that Britain was weak and afraid of confrontation, encouraging them to ever-greater acts of aggression. The turning point of the Czech crisis in September 1938 came when Wilson saw Hitler on his own and left him convinced that Britain was bluffing and would not go to war to defend Czechoslovakia. The dismemberment of Czechoslovakia that followed was not the end of appeasement. The Anglo-German Declaration was Chamberlain’s personal vanity project but both Chamberlain and Wilson believed that it genuinely brought "peace for our time." Chamberlain and Wilson blindly pursued bilateral friendship between Britain and the dictators and ferociously resisted alternative policies such as working with France, the Soviet Union, or the U.S. to face down the dictators. They resisted all-out rearmament which would have put the economy on a war footing. These were all the policies advocated by Winston Churchill, the most dangerous opponent of appeasement. Churchill was a hated figure for Chamberlain and Wilson. They could not accept Churchill’s perception that that Hitler was the implacable enemy of peace and Britain, and opposing him became an end in itself for them. Churchill and Wilson had been bitter adversaries since early in their careers because of an incident that Fighting Churchill, Appeasing Hitler reveals publicly for the first time. Chamberlain had a fraught relationship with Churchill long before appeasement became an issue. Neither Chamberlain nor Wilson had any experience of day-to-day practical diplomacy. Both thought that the dictators would apply the same standards of rationality and clarity to the policies of Italy and Germany that applied in Britain. They could not grasp that Fascist demagogues operated in an entirely different way to democratic politicians. The catastrophe of the Chamberlain/Wilson appeasement policy offers a vital lesson in how blind conviction in one policy as the only alternative can be fatally damaging.


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Appeasement failed in all its goals. The kindest thing that can be said of it is that postponed World War II by one year. Its real effect was to convince Hitler and Mussolini that Britain was weak and afraid of confrontation, encouraging them to ever-greater acts of aggression. The turning point of the Czech crisis in September 1938 came when Wilson saw Hitler on his own Appeasement failed in all its goals. The kindest thing that can be said of it is that postponed World War II by one year. Its real effect was to convince Hitler and Mussolini that Britain was weak and afraid of confrontation, encouraging them to ever-greater acts of aggression. The turning point of the Czech crisis in September 1938 came when Wilson saw Hitler on his own and left him convinced that Britain was bluffing and would not go to war to defend Czechoslovakia. The dismemberment of Czechoslovakia that followed was not the end of appeasement. The Anglo-German Declaration was Chamberlain’s personal vanity project but both Chamberlain and Wilson believed that it genuinely brought "peace for our time." Chamberlain and Wilson blindly pursued bilateral friendship between Britain and the dictators and ferociously resisted alternative policies such as working with France, the Soviet Union, or the U.S. to face down the dictators. They resisted all-out rearmament which would have put the economy on a war footing. These were all the policies advocated by Winston Churchill, the most dangerous opponent of appeasement. Churchill was a hated figure for Chamberlain and Wilson. They could not accept Churchill’s perception that that Hitler was the implacable enemy of peace and Britain, and opposing him became an end in itself for them. Churchill and Wilson had been bitter adversaries since early in their careers because of an incident that Fighting Churchill, Appeasing Hitler reveals publicly for the first time. Chamberlain had a fraught relationship with Churchill long before appeasement became an issue. Neither Chamberlain nor Wilson had any experience of day-to-day practical diplomacy. Both thought that the dictators would apply the same standards of rationality and clarity to the policies of Italy and Germany that applied in Britain. They could not grasp that Fascist demagogues operated in an entirely different way to democratic politicians. The catastrophe of the Chamberlain/Wilson appeasement policy offers a vital lesson in how blind conviction in one policy as the only alternative can be fatally damaging.

35 review for Fighting Churchill, Appeasing Hitler: Neville Chamberlain, Sir Horace Wilson, Britain's Plight of Appeasement: 1937-1939

  1. 4 out of 5

    Thomas George Phillips

    An excellent account of the history at that time. It is well worth reading.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel Stein

    Excellent This is a second excellent book by Adrian Philips (the first was about the Abdication Crisis). When I studied Modern History at Stockholm University in the 1970s, one of the books we had to read was Gilbert & Gott 'The Appeasers'. Phillips has made ample use of sources that have become available since, and produced a work which will be the standard work on appeasement for years to come. Above all, he conclusively shows that the argument that appeasement was a policy aimed at Excellent This is a second excellent book by Adrian Philips (the first was about the Abdication Crisis). When I studied Modern History at Stockholm University in the 1970s, one of the books we had to read was Gilbert & Gott 'The Appeasers'. Phillips has made ample use of sources that have become available since, and produced a work which will be the standard work on appeasement for years to come. Above all, he conclusively shows that the argument that appeasement was a policy aimed at gaining time to build up Britain's strength, is a post-facto justification. The appeasers aimed at avoiding war at any cost, and were determined to go to any length to achieve this, regardless of the consequences. It was a shameful, dishonourable and counterproductive policy then and it remains so now.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mark

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    Ian Moyes

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    Stuart Elliott

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    Jennifer

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    Gianluca Marcellino

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    Lisa Wilkinson

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    S.M.

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    Happy2 Bits

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  35. 5 out of 5

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