6
   

Did Neville Chamberlain cause WW2?

 
 
BDV
 
Reply Wed 8 Jun, 2011 07:39 pm
Did the attutde of Neville Chamberlain (and his allies) towards the Germans cause ww2? Or was war unavoidable?
 
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Jun, 2011 09:10 pm
@BDV,
WW1 and the peace terms and the world wide depression all combined to set off WW2.

The weakness in handling of Hitler first moves did not help but to me WW2 was a lock after the WW1 peace terms was signed.

The German military was planning and looking forward to a rematch for many years and even have a long term arrangement with the USSR to secretly train for that rematch on their territory away from the eyes of France and England.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Jun, 2011 10:27 pm
@BDV,
Yes; fear invites aggression.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Thu 9 Jun, 2011 02:54 am
The war was inevitable. In the first place, your view is too centered on Europe. The war had already begun in Asia. In the second place, your question assumes that Hitler's actions were opportunist, and dependent upon Chamberlain's behavior. Hitler planned to go to war as soon as Germany was ready, Chamberlain or not.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Jun, 2011 04:52 am
@Setanta,
That 's true, qua Hitler's plans n wishes.
He was annoyed by Chamberlain's appeasement
in that it resulted in delaying the war that he intended.

However, I can 't help but wonder whether aggressive, meticulous n rigid enforcement
of the disarmament requirements of the Treaty of Versailles coud have stopped him peremptorily n pre-emptively.





David
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Thu 9 Jun, 2011 05:52 am
@OmSigDAVID,
One could argue that it might have done--but the problem went back further than Chamberlain. The United States occupied parts of Germany until Wilson screwed up the treaty in the Senate, and the French occupied a good deal of the Ruhr and the Saar until the 1930s. The lack of any real leadership in enforcing the terms of the treaty doomed the effort to prevent militarism in Germany.

Effectively, the German's avoided the lion's share of their reparations payments. The Weimar government had little incentive to cure the runaway inflation as that made reparations payments almost worthless, while satisfying the requirements on paper. As it was, most of Germany's reparations payments were forgiven. Only Bulgaria paid all of its reparations debt. It has often been alleged that France just wanted revenge for 1870--so what? Germany, which had started that war on a pretty flimsy pretext, imposed reparations of 700,000,000 gold francs--and France paid it off in under three years. Germany suffered scarcely at all from that war, while it did massive damage to Belgium and France in the Great War.

There are several historical myths, many of which survive to this day. The one most successfully exploited by the NSDAP was the "stab in the back myth," which held that the German army had not been defeated in the field (a lie--Ludendorf and Hindenberg asked for an armistice to prevent the invasion of Germany) and that the army had been betrayed by German politicians.

Another which remains very popular to this day, and even among a lot of people who should know better is that the treatry ruined the German economy. By the mid-1980s it was well accepted among German academics that the inflation which was eventually to cripple the German economy began in 1914, even before the war. It turned into runaway inflation with the disatrous Verdun offensive in 1917. As i've already mentioned, the Weimar government had no incentive to fight inflation since it meant they didn't really spend any real money paying off the reparations before those were finally forgiven. The bulk of reparations which were actually paid were in kind "payments" which resulted when the Allies simply seized German resources and property after the war--something which they deserved given the orgy of willful and wanton destruction in which they engaged as they retreated from France and Belgium.

A currently popular myth among American conservatives is that Hitle and the NSDAP were genuine socialists, true leftists. To believe that requires what is clearly partisan-motivated blindness. It's almost pointless to argue against it as it's based on ignorance, and an ignorance which the proponents have no motive to cure.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  2  
Reply Thu 9 Jun, 2011 08:41 am
By the Munich meeting with Chamberlain, all that could be done then was to buy time and use it to rearm & get ready for conflict. That the British largely did. The time time during which the allies could have enforced the Treaty of Versailles and aborted the career of Hitler and the NAZIs had by then lomg passed. There's a lot of evidence suggesting that, had the French and British acted forcefully earlier when German Troops reoccupied the Rhineland, the then chief of the General Staff General Boloomberg would have retreated and very likely might have joined a then growing group of officers in oveerthrowing the dictator. Some speculation here about what some who didn't act forcefully in real conditions might have done in more favorable ones - maybe, maybe not.

I think Setanta has traced the outlines of the passage from WWI to Versailles to WWII fairly accurately. There were significant post WWI new political developments in both Germany and France that influenced these events, including Leon Blum's popular front government in France during the 1930's.

So a process that started in the folly of WWI continued through the interegnum and fighting again emerged in 1939 (in fact it started much earlier in Asia with Japan's invasion of first Manchuria and then China. Their launch point was some former German posessions in China (on the Yellow Sea) that Japan took (as a "service" to the allies). At the urging iof Great Britain, whose naval forces were busy eleswhere, the Japanese also took all the German island colonies throughout the Southern Pacifis. These became bases from which Japan so rapidly expanded its ocean empire in 1941.

Also in the WWI - WWII interegnum the Soviet Revolution consolidated its takeover of Russia and proclaimed world revolution - an act later disputed by Stalin who was interested in "socialism first in one country". These forces were twemporarily subsumed by the conflicts with Japan & Germany in WWII, but quickly resurfaced at the end of WWII- as a continuum of destructive events launched in 1914 continued through what became known as the Cold War.

A major Anglo Franch campaign in WWI was the invasion and final destruction of the Ottoman Empire and the attempted colonization of its major parts. While America (finally in British eyes) put a million men on the western front in late 1917, the British withdrew 700,000 and put them in Egypt and what is now called Iraq and Jordan. They also promised Palestine to the Arab (Hashemite) then rulers of Mecca and Medina- in exchange for Arab help in overthrowing the Ottomans, and , almost simultaneously promised it to European Zionists, in exchange for favorable loans as a homeland for European Jews. We are still working out the consequences of that episode of greed, deceit and folly.
BDV
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Jun, 2011 11:45 am
Some great and very valid points, which makes you think that if Chamerlain did aggressively enforce the disarmament requirements, then world war would just have been delayed or maybe started in the far east rather than europe and when the allies where fighting Japan, Germany would have rearmed anyway and then attacked a more weakened west or Russia on its own, possibly changing the outcome of the war and creating a very different world history that we know today.

Do you think Britian would have went to war with the Japanese over Pearl Harbour if they had not already been at war and in need of US support? Surely Chamberlain would still be in power and being a PM reluctant for war, maybe even the taking of Singapore may not have been enough to start warlike action.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Thu 9 Jun, 2011 12:14 pm
Chamberlain only became Prime Minister in 1937. It was a little late then to stop Germany's rearmament. Law, Baldwin or McDonald would have had to have done something about it. You seem to be obsessed with Chamberlain, and making him the scapegoat. Hitler certainly always tried to manipulate others based on his judgment of their personalities, but who was PM in 1938 made no difference to his plans.
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Jun, 2011 12:29 pm
@georgeob1,
All it would had done is to delay the conflict at best as the terms of peace at the end of WW1 was the reason for WW2 and Hilter coming to power was a sympton of the desease not the desease.
0 Replies
 
BDV
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Jun, 2011 03:51 pm
@Setanta,
just stating a what if scenario, obsession would be abit extreme, its just nice to point out possible mistakes in history and wonder if it would have made a difference. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but would taking different actions actually have made a difference?
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Jun, 2011 04:16 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
Chamberlain only became Prime Minister in 1937. It was a little late then to stop Germany's rearmament. Law, Baldwin or McDonald would have had to have done something about it. You seem to be obsessed with Chamberlain, and making him the scapegoat.
That 's a good point; thank u.
History has done that.
Popular opinion has done that.





David
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Jun, 2011 04:22 pm
If England and France had listern to Churchill from the start the conflict still would had happen but on far better terms/conditions then it did happen for them.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Thu 9 Jun, 2011 05:57 pm
@BDV,
Quote:
Did Neville Chamberlain cause WW2?
I think we shoud blame the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.
Its THEIR fault.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Jun, 2011 06:44 pm
@BDV,
At the time of the Munich Conference Chamberlain was already very ill with the cancer that took his life little over a year later. There was no diarmament or reduction in armaments agreed to at Munich - only the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in complete defiance of the Versailles treaty. German rearmament was already well underway and was neither reduced nor accelerated by the agreement - the parties merely agreed to more time before the inevitable detonation over Poland. Immediately after Munich Chamberlain launched a fairly massive buildup in the British armewd forces. Hard to know whether he really believed his words, "peace in our time" when he said them on his return from Munich.

Britain recognized correctly, that, while Japan was a serious threat to their empire in Asia, it was not a serious threat to the United Kingdom itself. They declared war on Japan after the latter took Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaya and a very large British Army (much larger than the attacking Japanese force surrendered in Singapore. Ironically prior to and immediately after WWI Britain was a major supporter of Japan and provided both technical and operational support in the development of the Japanese Navy. At the time they saw the Japanese as a capable counter to Imperial German ambitions in Asia, and during WWI, they urged the Japanese to seize German islands in the Pacific and key German concessions in China. The former became the island bases from which the Japanese launched their lightening attacks in 1941, and the later was the launchpad for the Japanese invasion of China.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Jun, 2011 12:52 am
@OmSigDAVID,
I would only observe that popular opinion is not history--although certainly, popular opinion about what historical fact is carries more weight than sound, historical research.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Jun, 2011 12:59 am
@georgeob1,
In persuing their treaty obligations to England, Japan sent the cruiser Izumo to the Pacific coast of Canada, and then a Japanese cruiser task force (as we would call it) helped to hunt down the German cruisers of the Asiatic squadron in 1914. Izumo was later sent to the Med as flag of a destroyer squadron to convoy shipping and take part in ASW. Ironically, the Japanese learned their lessons so well that in 1941, the best destroyers in the world were Japanese, not British. In fact, in ship-building and design, England was to lag behind the Japanese and the Americans until after the war, when she came up with three innovations in carrier design and operation which did little to benefit the Royal Navy, but which immensely benefitted the U. S. Navy. Those were, of course, diagonal flight decks, the steam-powered catapult and landing light arrays.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Jun, 2011 04:11 am
@Setanta,
My point is that regardless of your having been correct in Post: # 4,634,647,
historical popular opinion has certainly treated Chamberlain as a scapegoat.

Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Jun, 2011 04:31 am
@OmSigDAVID,
Yeah, i understood that part. I was simply pointing out that history and popular opinion are two different things, and that people seem to prefer the latter to the former.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Jun, 2011 05:36 am
@OmSigDAVID,
I think there is some basis for the popular treatment of Chamberlain, and the realpolitic he practiced at Munich, as at least the symbol (if not the scapegoat) for Allied lassitude between Hitler's assumption of asolute power in Germany and the shameful surrender of Czechoslovakia's sovereignty (and territory) at Munich.

There is lots of anecdotal evidence suggesting that early firm acrtion by France and Britain might have, by calling Hitler's bluffs, emboldened reactionary forces in Germany and limited or even eliminated his power. There were, however, reasons for that apparent lassitude. European opinion (and fears) had long been divided over the relative dangers (and in some quarters, benefits) of two competing totalitarian alternatives - Soviet Communism and Hitler's Nazis. The long, bloody (Red White) civil war that followed the Bolshevic revolution may have dulled popular reaction to the Soviet atrocities attendant to the "harvesting of the bourgeois", various purges, and the imposition of collectivization on Ukranian peasants. Many throughout western Europe saw communism as an anecdote to economic & social inequality - hence the Popular Front government in France and widespread support for an increasingly Marxist Republican government in Spain. There were also widespread reactionary forces in Europe that saw Soviet Communisn and the world revolution it supported (to varying degrees) in the COMINTERN as the chief danger. Indeed that struggle was the dynamic that enabled Hitler's ascent to power in Germany. The Anglo French apparent lassitude in Hitler's early years should be seen in the light of the semi paralysis that attended these divisions within the Western powers (and, as well, their exhaustion after a very narrow victory in WWI).

On paper the combined Czech, French and British military forces outweighed those of Germany by a considerable margin, and that too feeds the popular conception of the Munich agreement. After Munich the British were clearly preparing for war with Germany, but public attitudes there and in France particularly were still divided by war weariness and the semi paralysis noted above - hence the phony war after Hitler's subsequent invasion of Poland.

Even these common speculations are subject to disagreement. The events of history are often clear in retrospect, but very muddy in prospect. The annals of history offer many, diverse lessons. There's usually one there to support the argument of every party in a dispute.
 

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