Churchill & Chamberlain IV

Program Information

Series: A Moment in Time
Duration: 00:03:25
Year Produced: 2009
Description:

With the nation at war with Germany, Britain's Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain summoned an old political foe to join the war cabinet.

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Transcript

Lead: With the nation at war with Germany, Britain's Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain summoned an old political foe to join the war cabinet.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Despite his attempts to appease Adolf Hitler, Chamberlain had also begun a quiet policy of rearmament. If the Nazis could not be accommodated, Britain might have to fight them. When war thrust itself on the reluctant prime minister he turned for assistance to the man who had for most of the 1930s carried on a lonely crusade for confronting the Nazi threat, Winston Spencer Churchill.

Churchill's political shifts and occasional quixotic support for lost causes had sullied his reputation. No one trusted him and for a decade after 1929 he had danced on the periphery of national affairs. Yet, he was one of the first to recognize Hitler's threat to European peace and argued vigorously for resistance to the Nazi leader.

When war came Chamberlain returned Churchill to his old post as First Lord of the Admirality. In the spring of 1940 Hitler attacked France, Chamberlain resigned in disgrace, and Britain turned at last to Churchill. His first speech as prime minister reveals something of the character of the man and of the desperate circumstances facing the nation.

"Having received His Majesty's commission, I have formed an administration of men and women of every party and of almost every point of view. We have differed and quarreled in the past, but now one bond unites us all: to wage war until victory is won, and never to surrender ourselves to servitude and shame, whatever the cost and the agony may be."

At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.