Neville Chamberlain- unfairly condemned?

Discussion in 'History' started by JoeB131, Oct 9, 2011.

  1. JoeB131
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    JoeB131 Diamond Member

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    We all got this lesson in history class. Neville Chamberlain went to Munich, and cravenly sold out Czechoslovakia to Hitler. In hindsight, since war inevitably came anyway, it seems that his actions were cowardly.

    However, I offer a different view. Chamberlain played the hand he was dealt, and made the only calls he could.

    First, it was impossible for the United Kingdom and France to do much of anything to help Prague in case of a war. After the union of Austria and Germany, the western half of the country was surrounded on three sides. France had invested most of its infrastructure into fixed defenses like the ones that got it through World War I, and not tanks and planes. Hungary and Italy's alliances with Germany made it impossible to help Czechoslovakia from the South.

    Second, Czechoslovakia itself was a polite fiction. The country was made up of 6 million Czechs, 3 million Germans in the Sudetenland, who really wanted to be part of Germany, and 1.5 million Slovaks who would have preferred independence. There were also large amounts of Hungarians who wanted to be part of Hungary again.

    Finally, the united Kingdom wasn't ready for a war. Not yet. They were in the midst of a rearmorment program and the political classes hadn't accepted another war might be needed.

    So really, all Neville could do at Munich was keep the peace... because war was an impossible situation.
     
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  2. Sallow
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    Sallow The Big Bad Wolf. Supporting Member

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    Good points.

    Add in after WWI the world was loathe to fight another big war.
     
  3. JakeStarkey
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    JakeStarkey Diamond Member Supporting Member

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    Nope, not at all. The French could have launched a spoling attack into the Reich, the Czechs would have seriously damaged the Germans as they went down, the British would send what it had to the Continent, and the Poles would have overrun East Prussia.

    Neville made the wrong call, and so have you.
     
  4. Ringel05
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    Ringel05 Diamond Member

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    Yup, unfortunately for his reputation the crystal balls of the time weren't any better than they are now.
     
  5. Ringel05
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    Ringel05 Diamond Member

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    He made the wrong call but specifically with the pressure from home he really had no choice and like I said above his crystal ball was defective.
     
  6. JoeB131
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    JoeB131 Diamond Member

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    This would be the same Polish Army that would attack German tanks with horses and got wrapped up in six weeks a year later.

    Were they super competent in 1938 and then turned sort of dumb in 1939?

    For France, again, they didn't have the ability to launch a major offensive into Germany. When war broke out in 1939, they did launch "spoiler attacks" into Germany. And they never stretched more than 20 miles in, outside the fixed range of artiliery pieces on the Maginot Line.
     
  7. Sallow
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    Sallow The Big Bad Wolf. Supporting Member

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    For some strange reason..everyone seems to forget WWI.
     
  8. Dr Grump
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    Dr Grump Gold Member

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    People tend to forget that Chamberlain was the one who declared war on Germany...
     
  9. barry1960
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    barry1960 VIP Member

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    I strongly disagree with this position. I will say that in his incompetence and inability to read Hitler and the political situation Chamberlain was not alone. The French premier Daladier also went along with the Munich agreement even the French, not the British had a treaty with the Czechs. Chamberlain received thunderous aplause in London following the Munich agreement. When Churchill warned on the disasterous consequences of this agreement, he was shouted down.

    At the time of the Munich agreement the Czeches could field 35 well trained Divisions behind formidable fortifications in the Sudenland. It is doubtful the Germans could have breached those defensives, their generasl and Hitler said as much when they inspected them after they marched unopposed into the Sudenland.

    In the West, the French had 100 divisions available against only five German divisions and seven reserve divisions. The Germans vaunted west wall was only a contruction site in October 1938. Even the timid General Gamelin would have marched in and overwhelmed the pitiful German defenses. That changed in the ensuing eleven months when the Gertman western fortifications were completed.

    The Czechs had a treaty with France. The Soviet Union had a treaty with France and Germany that obilgated the Soviets to side with the Cechs should the french honor theitr treaty with the Czechs. Therefore the Soviet Union would also come in on the side of the French, British and Czechs in October 1938 had the Munich agreement not been signed. If no Munich, all these countries would have opped Hitler when he attasched the Czechs on 10/1/38.

    In addition the German generals, led by former army commander in chief Beck planned to overthrow Hitler in a coup before he marched into Czechoslovakia. In on the plot was the general controlling the armies in Berlin. If these vacilliating German generals had acted the coup might have been successful. Munich spoiled their plot since they could not launch against a victorious Hitler since their motive was to prevent a disasterous war.

    If Munich had not been signed Hitler might have been overthrown from within, or he most certainly been defeated in a matter of weeks by overwhelming forces. Such a defeat would have been the end of the Third Reich and would have avoided the bloodshed of a world war. Hitler was already starting to show the signs of meglamania that spelled his doom and was taken off the hook by Chamberlain's appeasement.

    Munich worsened the position of France and Britain greatly. It also led Stalin towards Germany since France refused to include the Soviets in Munich and did not honor their treaty with the Czechs. After Hitler violated Munich Chamberlain overcompensated by giving a guarantee to Poland that resulted in war with Germany. Poland could not be helped in 1939 as the Czechs could in 1938. In the meantime Germany greatly improved their Panzer forces (30% of the tanks broke down within 30 miles on the unopposed trip into the Sudenland) and built the West Wall to deter the timid French.

    Chamberlain goes down as a well meaning man and one of the worst diplomats of the 20th century and deservedly so.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 9, 2011
  10. zzzz
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    zzzz Just a regular American

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    Appeasement is not the way to peace but the way to conflict or oppressive states.

    If Neville had stood up along with the French during the invasion of Czechoslovakia things may have been different. The French army was fully capable of attacking and defeating the German army at this time. The British, although having a smaller army was fully motorized while the Germans were not. Hitler's rise to glory had not come to fruition and a war with France and Britain at this time may have been his undoing. Remember the German war machine was just starting to form at this time. It was not yet the Blitzkrieg army that invaded Poland and far from the Army that invaded Russia and France.
     

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