Chamberlain’s Legacy, Hitler, Munich and the Path to War

Neville Chamberlain was a complex individual who acted from what he thought was a reasonable position, but could be considered an architect of WWII. Chamberlain was applauded when he returned from Hitler claiming Peace in Our Time, a claim that did not age well. – Highly Recommended.

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NAME: Chamberlain's Legacy, Hitler, Munich and the Path to War
FILE: R3108
AUTHOR: Nicholas Milton
PUBLISHER: Pen and Sword
BINDING: hard back
PRICE: £25.00                                                               
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War II, World War 2, World War Two, Second World War, 
Munich, Poland, appeasement, WWI legacy

ISBN: 1-52673-225-4

PAGES: 279
IMAGE: B3108.jpg
BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/t2kcmoy
DESCRIPTION: Neville Chamberlain was a complex individual who acted from 
what he thought was a reasonable position, but could be considered an architect of 
WWII. Chamberlain was applauded when he returned from Hitler claiming 
Peace in Our Time, a claim that did not age well. –  Highly Recommended.

The author offers a very interesting and well-argued assessment of Chamberlain's 
legacy. Some may agree with his conclusions and others may object. In his time, he 
was widely congratulated on his return to Croydon Aerodrome from his fateful 
meeting with Hitler, but in a short time he had to declare war on Germany, was 
replaced by Churchill as PM and allowed to keep his iron railings, by then iron 
railings were being taken and melted down for armaments, to protect him from an 
angry public.

Of course Chamberlain was a complex character, most of us are as the positive side 
vies with the negative side, leading to observers seeing a very different person. As a 
politician there were things that he did well and things he did badly but as a positive 
assessment, he meant well and thought he always acted in the country's best interests. 
Even the Munich agreement can be seen in different lights.

Chamberlain lost a brother during WWI, a fate that many a family experienced in 
Britain. In fact very few if any could claim never to have lost a friend or family 
member in that costly war. WWI was no better or worse than any war morally. It 
may have started because of a long list of misunderstandings between nations, but it 
is difficult to believe it was not caused by the territorial ambitions of Germany and a 
refusal to consider any other country. Seeing that it had been preceded by an arms 
race instigated by the German Kaiser and his government, it could be said that WWI 
was inevitable because Germany's neighbours would not accept defeat without firing 
a shot. The same can be said about virtually every war in history because war is just 
negotiation that continues after debate has broken down.

In fairness to Chamberlain, Britons had suffered so much in WWI that they were keen 
to do almost anything to avoid another war, so that his general view on negotiations 
with Hitler was in no way perverse in terms of the British national consensus. It could 
be said that he had persisted with the policy of appeasement long after experience 
should have determined another course. That in itself was a complex situation. 

Today we can look back and say that a hard stand in 1938 would have stopped Hitler, 
and then made him politically unpopular and vulnerable, but that ignores the state of 
British defences. Two decades of squeezing military budgets had left Britain 
extremely vulnerable. Delaying the war till 1939 enabled the Royal Navy to build 
some fine and much needed ships and for the RAF to re-equip frontline squadrons 
with Hurricanes and Spitfires, replacing obsolete biplanes, and allowing completion 
of the radar network and the advanced command and control system that made victory 
in the Battle of Britain possible. Success was less for the Army but, even there, new 
equipment began to arrive as WWII opened.

Chamberlain did speed up preparations for rearmament. He also oversaw a range of 
other related preparations including the Air Raid Precautions that saved many deaths 
when the bombing of British towns and cities began. Unfortunately, his legacy has 
been based on the Munich agreements and the period of appeasement. The author has
 offered fresh perspectives.