Churchill & Chamberlain I

Program Information

Series: A Moment in Time
Duration: 00:03:42
Year Produced: 2009
Description:

In the late 1930s, with the world lurching toward another global conflict, the clash of two personalities helped define Britain's response to the Nazi threat.

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Transcript

Lead: In the late 1930s, with the world lurching toward another global conflict, the clash of two personalities helped define Britain's response to the Nazi threat.

Intro: A Moment In Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Few men had more preparation for national leadership than Arthur Neville Chamberlain. He hailed from a family of prominent business-oriented politicians. His father was Joseph Chamberlain, a dominant figure in turn-of-the-century politics. Neville Chamberlain's blue chip resume included success in business, lord mayor of Birmingham, member of Parliament for three decades, postmaster general, minister of health, chancellor of the Exchequer and then, in 1937, prime minister. His view of the world never changed much from that of a west-country businessman. He despised communism, feared and loathed war because of the havoc it inflicted upon business and everyday life, and sincerely believed that rational people could sit down and work out their differences. Pity that he did not live in another time, for Chamberlain was ill equipped to face his great adversary. Adolf Hitler was neither a businessman nor was he rational.

Chamberlain's domestic rival was a different political animal entirely. Winston Spencer Churchill had aristocratic roots; his ancestor was the Duke of Marlborough. Churchill had been active in national politics since returning as a hero from the Boer War in 1900. All acknowledged him as a man of great talent and ability--even brilliance--but by the 1930s his frequent change of parties and occasional and spectacular lapses in judgment had created an impression of political instability. For a decade he nibbled around the periphery of political life. Waiting.

Next time: Neville Chamberlain and the Policy of Appeasement.

The producer of A Moment In Time is Steve Clark. At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.