Churchill & Chamberlain III

Program Information

Series: A Moment in Time
Duration: 00:03:32
Year Produced: 2009
Description:

His policy of appeasement in tatters, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain called Britain to war.

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Transcript

Lead: His policy of appeasement in tatters, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain called Britain to war.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the late 1930s the leaders of Britain thought they could work with Adolf Hitler. They believed Germany had gotten a raw deal in the Versailles Treaty ending World War I and wished to accommodate Hitler to a certain degree. Chamberlain, from his business and political experience, thought he could sit down with the Nazi leader and craft a set of reasonable compromises that would satisfy German aspirations. However, Adolf Hitler was not a reasonable man nor were his demands easily appeased. Each time Chamberlain thought he had achieved parity, Hitler would turn up his requirements.

The ultimate disappointment was Hitler's repudiation of the September 1938 Munich Agreement allowing Czechoslovakia some measure of freedom--though to achieve it Chamberlain had had to give Hitler permission to annex the Sudetenland, the northeastern section of Czechoslovakia. When Hitler swallowed the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 and attacked Poland in September, the disappointment was clear in Chamberlain's call for war.

"You can imagine what a bitter blow it is to me that all my long struggle to win peace has failed. Yet I cannot believe that there is anything more or anything different that I could have done and that would have been more successful. Up to the very last it would have been quite possible to have arranged a peaceful and honorable settlement between Germany and Poland, but Hitler would not have it."

Next: A New Leader.

At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.