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British politician Neville Chamberlain was born in Birmingham,England onMarch 18th 1869. He was a successful businessman who began his political career in 1915 as mayor of Birmingham. In 1923, he became Chancellor of the Exchequer. He also served as Minister of Health. In 1937, Chamberlain became Prime Minister. Chamberlain is best known for the policy of appeasement because of his assent at Munich to the infamous "Munich Accords" that dismembered Czechoslovakia, and merely served to postpone by one year the beginning of World War II.
The Big Question: Was Neville Chamberlain really the failure portrayed by history?
Because the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War is coming up (it falls on September 3) and Chamberlain, Britain's bloodhound-faced, moustachioed, wing-collared, brolly-carrying Prime Minister at its outset, has become entrenched in popular legend as the man who fatally failed to stand up to Hitler in the approach to hostilities.
What did Chamberlain do?
A year before war was finally declared over Germany's invasion of Poland, general European hostilities nearly broke out over Hitler's wish to seize part of Czechoslovakia (the Sudetenland, a region which contained many German-speaking Czechs). In a vast blaze of publicity, the like of which had never been seen before, Chamberlain flew to Germany three times in September 1938 to stave off the conflict, and eventually, in a final meeting in Munich at the end of the month, succeeded. He got Hitler to sign a friendship agreement with Britain and flew back to wave it before cheering crowds on the Tarmac of Heston Airport (the Heathrow of those days) while declaring he had secured "peace in our time".
But wasn't that a good thing?
Not if you were a Czech. Chamberlain's plan was simple – to keep Hitler from causing trouble for Britain by giving him what he wanted – in this case, the Sudetenland (which six months later became all of Czechoslovakia). He and the French Prime Minister, Edouard Daladier, persuaded the Czechs not to make a fuss while a big chunk of their country was given away to one of history's vilest figures. Chamberlain had a name for his policy: appeasement. In his mind it seemed like a rational way of avoiding conflict. But the word has come to stand for cowardice of the basest kind, for a craven inability to stand up to bullies. Appeasement now seems dreadful, and it wasn't even any use – a year later, war came anyway. The term and Chamberlain's name have become virtually synonymous.
Is that a fair historical verdict?
Maybe. Maybe not. Historical verdicts are rarely the whole truth, are they? To see Neville Chamberlain as exemplifying appeasement and nothing else, to see him merely as the historical epitome of spinelessness, ignores two other factors. One is his earlier political career, and what he had done with it. The other is the question of whether or not, in September 1938, he had any choice but to act as he did.
What was interesting about Chamberlain's earlier career?
In many ways, it had been a monument to social reform – Conservative though he was. Chamberlain came from a famous political dynasty in Birmingham: his father, Joseph ("Joe") Chamberlain was Lord Mayor of the city and one of Britain's leading Liberal politicians in the late 19th century (though he later allied himself with the Conservatives over the issue of Home Rule for Ireland) his half-brother, Austen Chamberlain, rose to become Conservative party leader and Chancellor of the Exchequer (though never Premier). Although Neville Chamberlain himself was also Birmingham's Lord Mayor, he entered national politics late, in 1918, at the age of 49 but, by 1922 he was Minister of Health, a position he held twice over the succeeding years and used especially to bring in a raft of measures to promote social housing (which have now of course been entirely forgotten). He was far from being a typical Tory.
But what about appeasement? What do you mean, he might have had no choice?
We easily forget what a completely intractable problem the rise of Hitler presented other European states with in the 1930s. Just how were they to deal with a man controlling Europe's most militarised and warlike nation, who had an implacable will to dominate the whole continent? In the event, Hitler was only to be stopped by history's most titanic war, which may have cost 25 million lives in Russia alone. But who would choose such a solution? Memories were only too fresh of the Great War, the First World War of 1914-18 in which a whole generation was slaughtered. Furthermore, there was a terror of a new weapon: the bomber aircraft. In 1938, the Committee of Imperial Defence told Chamberlain that a German bomber offensive launched against Britain would result in half a million civilian deaths within the first three weeks. The armed forces felt Britain was not ready for conflict militarily. The general public – you and me, 70 years ago – were terrified of war, and as desperate to avoid it as Chamberlain himself was. You can argue that doing anything to put it off was, as he believed, a rational choice. Certainly, when he stood on the Tarmac at Heston waving the piece of paper bearing Hitler's signature, he was regarded as a national hero. Only a few voices, such as that of Winston Churchill, denounced appeasement as the sell-out it was. You and me were silent.
So why is Chamberlain now so reviled?
The answer, really, is because of his naivety. He was naïve in thinking that Hitler would keep his promise to make no more territorial grabs – der Führer gobbled up the rest of Czechoslovakia a mere six months later, and then turned to Poland, and even appeasement could not stop him then. But Chamberlain made a great parade of his naïve belief in Hitler's goodwill. The three eve-of-destruction flights he made to Germany were a wholly new event in international politics – the first shuttle diplomacy, if you like. He had never been on a plane before in his life, but he saw, quite rightly, that this remarkable démarche would capture the public imagination, and he basked in the brief hero status it gave him. Yet the momentum of hope and expectation it engendered was so enormous that the disenchantment was all the greater when within 12 months the hope was shown to be hollow. And there was one other area where he failed disastrously – at least in the verdict of history.
He lost the rhetoric battle. He might have had to do what he did, but his words carry a shameful echo. He spoke of poor Czechoslovakia as "a far away country of which we know nothing". He said he had achieved "peace in our time". He hadn't. Contrast that with Churchill, whose great achievement in the Second World War was his rhetoric. Whenever Churchill intervened directly in the conduct of military affairs, as he frequently did, the results were disastrous. But we have forgotten that. What we remember is We Shall Fight Them On The Beaches. We remember Never Has So Much Been Owed By So Many To So Few. We remember Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat. And with Neville Chamberlain, we remember Peace In Our Time (not).
Did Chamberlain have any choice but to appease Hitler in September 1938?
* He should have seen then that appeasement would not stop such a power-mad dictator
* A resolute show of force (with the French) might have persuaded Hitler to pull back
* His actions convinced Hitler of Britain's weakness and encouraged him in further demands
* There seemed to be no other option if full-scale war with a resurgent Germany was to be avoided
* Britain's military forces were not ready for war anyway and the government feared a bombing campaign
* Chamberlain was reflecting widespread public opinion at the time which wanted peace
Neville Chamberlain, born Arthur Neville Chamberlain (18 March 1869 – 9 November 1940) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1937 to 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the [[Sudetenland] region of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany. When Adolf Hitler continued his aggression, Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, and Chamberlain led Britain through the first eight months of World War II.
After working in business and local government and after a short spell as Director of National Service in 1916 and 1917, Chamberlain followed his father and older half-brother in becoming a Member of Parliament in the 1918 general election at age 49. He declined a junior ministerial position, remaining a backbencher until 1922. He was rapidly promoted in 1923 to Minister of Health and then Chancellor of the Exchequer. After a short Labour-led government, he returned as Minister of Health, introducing a range of reform measures from 1924 to 1929. He was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in the National Government in 1931. When Stanley Baldwin retired in May 1937, Chamberlain took his place as Prime Minister. His premiership was dominated by the question of policy towards the increasingly aggressive Germany, and his actions at Munich were widely popular among Britons at the time. When Hitler continued his aggression, Chamberlain pledged Britain to defend Poland's independence if the latter were attacked, an alliance that brought Britain into war when Germany attacked Poland in 1939.
Chamberlain resigned the premiership on 10 May 1940, after the failed Allied incursion into Norway as he believed a government supported by all parties was essential, and the Labour and Liberal parties would not join a government headed by him. He was succeeded by Winston Churchill but remained very well regarded in Parliament, especially among Conservatives. Before ill health forced him to resign, he was an important member of Churchill's War Cabinet, heading it in the new premier's absence. Chamberlain died of cancer six months after leaving the premiership.
Chamberlain's reputation remains controversial among historians, with the initial high regard for him being entirely eroded by books such as Guilty Men, published in his lifetime, which blamed Chamberlain and his associates for the Munich accord and for allegedly failing to prepare the country for war. Most historians in the generation following Chamberlain's death held similar views, led by Churchill in The Gathering Storm. Some recent historians have taken a more favourable perspective of Chamberlain and his policies, citing government papers released under the Thirty Year Rule.
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Neville Chamberlain - History
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain gave this speech to the House of Commons on September 1st, 1939, just hours after Hitler's troops had invaded Poland.
Chamberlain and others had spent years negotiating with Hitler in order to prevent another war in Europe, two decades after the Great War in which an entire generation of young men had been wiped out.
Negotiations with Hitler had included ceding the German-speaking portions of Czechoslovakia, amid promises by Hitler he would have no further territotial demands. Unknown to Chamberlain, Hitler yearned for war all along and was simply biding his time until his armies were prepared.
In September 1939, Nazis staged a fake attack on a German radio outpost along the German-Polish border and used that as an excuse for the invasion of Poland.
I do not propose to say many words tonight. The time has come when action rather than speech is required. Eighteen months ago in this House I prayed that the responsibility might not fall upon me to ask this country to accept the awful arbitrament of war. I fear that I may not be able to avoid that responsibility.
But, at any rate, I cannot wish for conditions in which such a burden should fall upon me in which I should feel clearer than I do today as to where my duty lies.
No man can say that the Government could have done more to try to keep open the way for an honorable and equitable settlement of the dispute between Germany and Poland. Nor have we neglected any means of making it crystal clear to the German Government that if they insisted on using force again in the manner in which they had used it in the past we were resolved to oppose them by force.
Now that all the relevant documents are being made public we shall stand at the bar of history knowing that the responsibility for this terrible catastrophe lies on the shoulders of one man, the German Chancellor, who has not hesitated to plunge the world into misery in order to serve his own senseless ambitions.
Only last night the Polish Ambassador did see the German Foreign Secretary, Herr von Ribbentrop. Once again he expressed to him what, indeed, the Polish Government had already said publicly, that they were willing to negotiate with Germany about their disputes on an equal basis.
What was the reply of the German Government? The reply was that without another word the German troops crossed the Polish frontier this morning at dawn and are since reported to be bombing open towns. In these circumstances there is only one course open to us.
His Majesty's Ambassador in Berlin and the French Ambassador have been instructed to hand to the German Government the following document:
"Early this morning the German Chancellor issued a proclamation to the German Army which indicated that he was about to attack Poland. Information which has reached His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the French Government indicates that attacks upon Polish towns are proceeding. In these circumstances it appears to the Governments of the United Kingdom and France that by their action the German Government have created conditions, namely, an aggressive act of force against Poland threatening the independence of Poland, which call for the implementation by the Government of the United Kingdom and France of the undertaking to Poland to come to her assistance. I am accordingly to inform your Excellency that unless the German Government are prepared to give His Majesty's Government satisfactory assurances that the German Government have suspended all aggressive action against Poland and are prepared promptly to withdraw their forces from Polish territory, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will without hesitation fulfill their obligations to Poland."
If a reply to this last warning is unfavorable, and I do not suggest that it is likely to be otherwise, His Majesty's Ambassador is instructed to ask for his passports. In that case we are ready.
Yesterday, we took further steps towards the completion of our defensive preparation. This morning we ordered complete mobilization of the whole of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force. We have also taken a number of other measures, both at home and abroad, which the House will not perhaps expect me to specify in detail. Briefly, they represent the final steps in accordance with pre-arranged plans. These last can be put into force rapidly, and are of such a nature that they can be deferred until war seems inevitable. Steps have also been taken under the powers conferred by the House last week to safeguard the position in regard to stocks of commodities of various kinds.
The thoughts of many of us must at this moment inevitably be turning back to 1914, and to a comparison of our position now with that which existed then. How do we stand this time? The answer is that all three Services are ready, and that the situation in all directions is far more favorable and reassuring than in 1914, while behind the fighting Services we have built up a vast organization of Civil Defense under our scheme of Air Raid Precautions.
As regards the immediate manpower requirements, the Royal Navy, the Army and the Air Force are in the fortunate position of having almost as many men as they can conveniently handle at this moment. There are, however, certain categories of service in which men are immediately required, both for Military and Civil Defense. These will be announced in detail through the press and the BBC.
The main and most satisfactory point to observe is that there is today no need to make an appeal in a general way for recruits such as was issued by Lord Kitchener 25 years ago. That appeal has been anticipated by many months, and the men are already available. So much for the immediate present. Now we must look to the future. It is essential in the face of the tremendous task which confronts us, more especially in view of our past experiences in this matter, to organize our manpower this time upon as methodical, equitable and economical a basis as possible.
We, therefore, propose immediately to introduce legislation directed to that end. A Bill will be laid before you which for all practical purposes will amount to an expansion of the Military Training Act. Under its operation all fit men between the ages of 18 and 41 will be rendered liable to military service if and when called upon. It is not intended at the outset that any considerable number of men other than those already liable shall be called up, and steps will be taken to ensure that the manpower essentially required by industry shall not be taken away.
There is one other allusion which I should like to make before I end my speech, and that is to record my satisfaction of His Majesty's Government, that throughout these last days of crisis Signor Mussolini also has been doing his best to reach a solution. It now only remains for us to set our teeth and to enter upon this struggle, which we ourselves earnestly endeavored to avoid, with determination to see it through to the end.
We shall enter it with a clear conscience, with the support of the Dominions and the British Empire, and the moral approval of the greater part of the world.
We have no quarrel with the German people, except that they allow themselves to be governed by a Nazi Government. As long as that Government exists and pursues the methods it has so persistently followed during the last two years, there will be no peace in Europe. We shall merely pass from one crisis to another, and see one country after another attacked by methods which have now become familiar to us in their sickening technique.
We are resolved that these methods must come to an end. If out of the struggle we again re-establish in the world the rules of good faith and the renunciation of force, why, then even the sacrifices that will be entailed upon us will find their fullest justification.
Neville Chamberlain - September 1, 1939
Post-note: On September 3rd, amid the continuing Nazi Blitzkrieg (lightning attack) against Poland, Chamberlain announced that a state of war now existed between Great Britain and Germany. Chamberlain remained Prime Minister until May 1940. Following Hitler's successful invasion of Norway and Denmark, Chamberlain was driven from the House of Commons amid the hoots and chants of even his own supporters. He was replaced on May 10, 1940, by Winston Churchill.
Since we last met, the House has suffered a very grievous loss in the death of one of its most distinguished Members, and of a statesman and public servant who, during the best part of three memorable years, was first Minister of the Crown.
The fierce and bitter controversies which hung around him in recent times were hushed by the news of his illness and are silenced by his death. In paying a tribute of respect and of regard to an eminent man who has been taken from us, no one is obliged to alter the opinions which he has formed or expressed upon issues which have become a part of history but at the Lychgate we may all pass our own conduct and our own judgments under a searching review. It is not given to human beings, happily for them, for otherwise life would be intolerable, to foresee or to predict to any large extent the unfolding course of events. In one phase men seem to have been right, in another they seem to have been wrong. Then again, a few years later, when the perspective of time has lengthened, all stands in a different setting. There is a new proportion. There is another scale of values. History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. What is the worth of all this? The only guide to a man is his conscience the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honour.
It fell to Neville Chamberlain in one of the supreme crises of the world to be contradicted by events, to be disappointed in his hopes, and to be deceived and cheated by a wicked man. But what were these hopes in which he was disappointed? What were these wishes in which he was frustrated? What was that faith that was abused? They were surely among the most noble and benevolent instincts of the human heart-the love of peace, the toil for peace, the strife for peace, the pursuit of peace, even at great peril, and certainly to the utter disdain of popularity or clamour. Whatever else history may or may not say about these terrible, tremendous years, we can be sure that Neville Chamberlain acted with perfect sincerity according to his lights and strove to the utmost of his capacity and authority, which were powerful, to save the world from the awful, devastating struggle in which we are now engaged. This alone will stand him in good stead as far as what is called the verdict of history is concerned.
But it is also a help to our country and to our whole Empire, and to our decent faithful way of living that, however long the struggle may last, or however dark may be the clouds which overhang our path, no future generation of English-speaking folks-for that is the tribunal to which we appeal-will doubt that, even at a great cost to ourselves in technical preparation, we were guiltless of the bloodshed, terror and misery which have engulfed so many lands and peoples, and yet seek new victims still. Herr Hitler protests with frantic words and gestures that he has only desired peace. What do these ravings and outpourings count before the silence of Neville Chamberlain’s tomb? Long, hard, and hazardous years lie before us, but at least we entered upon them united and with clean hearts.
I do not propose to give an appreciation of Neville Chamberlain’s life and character, but there were certain qualities always admired in these Islands which he possessed in an altogether exceptional degree. He had a physical and moral toughness of fibre which enabled him all through his varied career to endure misfortune and disappointment without being unduly discouraged or wearied. He had a precision of mind and an aptitude for business which raised him far above the ordinary levels of our generation. He had a firmness of spirit which was not often elated by success, seldom downcast by failure, and never swayed by panic. when, contrary to all his hopes, beliefs and exertions, the war came upon him, and when, as he himself said, all that he had worked for was shattered, there was no man more resolved to pursue the unsought quarrel to the death. The same qualities which made him one of the last to enter the war, made him one of the last who would quit it before the full victory of a righteous cause was won.
I had the singular experience of passing in a day from being one of his most prominent opponents and critics to being one of his principal lieutenants, and on another day of passing from serving under him to become the head of a Government of which, with perfect loyalty, he was content to be a member. Such relationships are unusual in our public life. I have before told the House how on the morrow of the Debate which in the early days of May challenged his position, he declared to me and a few other friends that only a National Government could face the storm about to break upon us, and that if he were an obstacle to the formation of such a Government, he would instantly retire. Thereafter, he acted with that singleness of purpose and simplicity of conduct which at all times, and especially in great times, ought to be the ideal of us all.
When he returned to duty a few weeks after a most severe operation, the bombardment of London and of the seat of Government had begun. I was a witness during that fortnight of his fortitude under the most grievous and painful bodily afflictions, and I can testify that, although physically only the wreck of a man, his nerve was unshaken and his remarkable mental faculties unimpaired.
After he left the Government he refused all honours. He would die like his father, plain Mr. Chamberlain. I sought permission of the King, however, to have him supplied with the Cabinet papers, and until a few days of his death he followed our affairs with keenness, interest and tenacity. He met the approach of death with a steady eye. If he grieved at all, it was that he could not be a spectator of our victory but I think he died with the comfort of knowing that his country had, at least, turned the corner.
At this time our thoughts must pass to the gracious and charming lady who shared his days of triumph and adversity with a courage and quality the equal of his own. He was, like his father and his brother Austen before him, a famous Member of the House of Commons, and we here assembled this morning, Members of all parties, without a single exception, feel that we do ourselves and our country honour in saluting the memory of one whom Disraeli would have called an “English worthy.”
Past Prime Ministers
Factories Act 1937: limited hours worked by women and children.
Holiday with Pay Act 1938: recommendation of week’s paid holiday which led to expansion of holiday camps.
Housing Act 1938: aimed to encourage slum clearance and maintain rent controls.
“This is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.”
Neville Chamberlain was born to a political family, being the youngest son of Joseph Chamberlain, a Victorian Cabinet minister, and the half-brother of Austen, a Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was educated at Rugby and Mason College, Birmingham.
When he was 21 Chamberlain left for the Bahamas to manage a 20,000 acre estate. The venture eventually failed, but he gained a reputation for being a hands-on manager, taking a strong interest in the day-to-day running of affairs. On his return he became a leading manufacturer in Birmingham, where he was elected a councillor in 1911 and Lord Mayor in 1915. Then, in 1916, David Lloyd George appointed him Director General of the Department of National Service, but personal bitterness between them led to his resignation within a year.
In 1918 Chamberlain was elected Conservative MP for Ladywood, but refused to serve under Lloyd George in coalition government. In 1922 he became Postmaster General under Andrew Bonar Law, where he proved his judgement and ability. He was made Minister of Health within months and, under Baldwin, Chancellor of the Exchequer all in little more than a year, and within 5 years of entering Parliament.
His Local Government Act of 1929 reformed the Poor Law, effectively laying the foundations of the welfare state, and reorganised local government finance.
In 1931 Ramsay MacDonald made him Chancellor in his national government, and Stanley Baldwin retained him in turn. During the economic crisis, he achieved his father’s protectionist ambitions by passing the Import Duties Bill in 1932.
In May 1937 he succeeded Baldwin as Prime Minister, and was elected Conservative leader.
War was brewing in Europe and had already exploded in Spain. Chamberlain was unwilling to go down in history as responsible for an inevitably destructive war, without doing everything possible to prevent it. Chamberlain, as with many in Europe who had witnessed the horrors of the First World War and its aftermath, was dedicated to restoring peace at almost any price.
He met German chancellor Adolf Hitler in Munich 1938, the result of which was an agreement that Britain and Germany would never again go to war. He declared on his return to the UK “I believe it is peace for our time”. However, the success of ‘appeasement’ was short-lived, as Hitler occupied Prague the following year.
The invasion of Poland forced Chamberlain’s hand, and he declared war on 3 September, 1939. He soon came under attack from all political sides after the disastrous first months of war, when Germany looked set for a rapid victory. Unable to form a national government himself, he resigned in May 1940 after the failure of the British efforts to liberate Norway.
Bowel cancer struck soon after his resignation, forcing him to leave Winston Churchill’s coalition government. On his death bed he gathered the strength to whisper “approaching dissolution brings relief”.
The following is the wording of a printed statement that Neville Chamberlain waved as he stepped off the plane on 30 September, 1938 after the Munich Conference had ended the day before:
"We, the German Führer and Chancellor, and the British Prime Minister, have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for our two countries and for Europe.
We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again. We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe."
Chamberlain read the above statement in front of 10 Downing St. and said:
"My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour.
I believe it is peace for our time.
Go home and get a nice quiet sleep."
A Conservative member of the House of Commons from December 1918, Chamberlain served as postmaster general (1922–23), paymaster general of the armed forces (1923), minister of health (1923, 1924–29, and 1931), and chancellor of the Exchequer (1923–24 and 1931–37). He became prime minister on May 28, 1937.
Neville Chamberlain was prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1937 to 1940. He is best known for his role in the Munich Agreement of 1938 which ceded parts of Czechoslovakia to Hitler and is now the most popular example of the foreign policy known as appeasement.
Munich Pact signed
British and French prime ministers Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier sign the Munich Pact with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. The agreement averted the outbreak of war but gave Czechoslovakia away to German conquest.
In the spring of 1938, Hitler began openly to support the demands of German-speakers living in the Sudeten region of Czechoslovakia for closer ties with Germany. Hitler had recently annexed Austria into Germany, and the conquest of Czechoslovakia was the next step in his plan of creating a “greater Germany.” The Czechoslovak government hoped that Britain and France would come to its assistance in the event of German invasion, but British Prime Minister Chamberlain was intent on averting war. He made two trips to Germany in September and offered Hitler favorable agreements, but the Fuhrer kept upping his demands.
On September 22, Hitler demanded the immediate cession of the Sudetenland to Germany and the evacuation of the Czechoslovak population by the end of the month. The next day, Czechoslovakia ordered troop mobilization. War seemed imminent, and France began a partial mobilization on September 24. Chamberlain and French Prime Minister Daladier, unprepared for the outbreak of hostilities, traveled to Munich, where they gave in to Hitler’s demands on September 30.
Daladier abhorred the Munich Pact’s appeasement of the Nazis, but Chamberlain was elated and even stayed behind in Munich to sign a single-page document with Hitler that he believed assured the future of Anglo-German peace. Later that day, Chamberlain flew home to Britain, where he addressed a jubilant crowd in London and praised the Munich Pact for bringing “peace with honor” and “peace in our time.” The next day, Germany annexed the Sudetenland, and the Czechoslovak government chose submission over destruction by the German Wehrmacht. In March 1939, Hitler annexed the rest of Czechoslovakia, and the country ceased to exist.
Who was Neville Chamberlain? Facts and Information
Here are some facts about Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of Britain from 1937 to 1940.
- Neville Chamberlain was born on 18th March 1869 in Edgbaston, Birmingham.
- He became a Member of Parliament at the age of 49 in 1918.
- Before becoming Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain was the Minister for Health and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
- Neville Chamberlain became Prime Minister in May 1937, taking over from Stanley Baldwin who retired.
- Chamberlain was Prime Minister at a time when Adolf Hitler‘s Germany was becoming increasingly aggressive. Germany had forced Austria into becoming a part of Germany, and the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia was the next target.
- Chamberlain thought that the best way to avoid war with Germany was to give Hitler some of the things he wanted. This strategy was called ‘appeasement’. In the Munich Agreement of 1938, Neville Chamberlain agreed to allow Germany to take over Sudetenland.
- People in Britain believed that Neville Chamberlain had managed to avoid a war and bring about peace. They celebrated the signing of the Munich Agreement and Neville Chamberlain was very popular.
- Some people, such as Winston Churchill, were more critical of the situation. They thought it would be likely that Adolf Hitler wouldn’t stick to the terms of the deal.
- Unfortunately, the appeasement policy didn’t work. Germany continued to be aggressive, and invaded Poland.
- Britain declared war on Germany on 3rd September 1939.
- Neville Chamberlain was Prime Minister for the first 8 months of World War 2.
- He resigned from office on 10th May 1940, following a failed military campaign to take northern Norway. took over as Prime Minister and Neville Chamberlain was praised for the dignified way in which he had handled the situation.
- Chamberlain was made Lord President of the Council and took part in the War Cabinet.
- In July 1940 Chamberlain started to experience constant pain. Surgeons found that he had terminal bowel cancer, but they didn’t tell him.
- On 22nd September, feeling weak and tired (due to having to sleep in an air raid shelter because of the German bombing of London), Neville Chamberlain resigned.
- Chamberlain died on 9th November 1940. He was 71.
- He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
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