The historical interpretation of Otto von Bismarck and Bismarckian Germany has undergone extensive transformation, as historians have had access to a wider variety of sources and evidence, and have held….
What can you learn from source A about Chamberlain’s policy towards Germany?
Source A tells me that Chamberlain did not want to go to war with Germany because he thought Germany was a power to be reckoned with, especially since she had Italy’s support. He feared that if it came to war Italy could take advantage of its position in the Mediterranean to attack British territory there (such as Gibraltar) and more importantly stop British shipping to and from her empire, which was very important to Britain. It also shows that Chamberlain thought that if it came to war, Hitler could hurt France where she was weakest.
Because the source is an unofficial, private document it can accurately show us Chamberlain’s opinion, and though it gives us a good idea of his intent, it does not properly show us his official policy. The source shows that Chamberlain did not think Britain’s armaments were strong enough to stand against Germany’s, and that therefore they must buy time to build up arms, just in case. It also tells me that Chamberlain felt that the dictators could still be reasoned with and were not devoid of any honour or reasonableness, and that he still held some hope of coming to an agreement to suit everybody.
He thought that if he appeased Hitler and Mussolini by helping to fix their grievances, they would be happy and the peace of Europe would be assured. 2) Study A and B. In what ways does source B add to your understanding of Chamberlain’s foreign policy? (6) Source B shows me that Chamberlain genuinely believed that even if Britain and France did act, nothing could save Czechoslovakia from being taken over by the Germans if they wanted to do it.
He knew that Czechoslovakia was hemmed in on 3 sides by Germany and believed that Germany had every tactical and military advantage around Czechoslovakia, and Russia could not help either because she was too far away. Source B supports source A in that Source B shows me that Chamberlain still thought that Germany was too strong for Britain and France to take on, and that to protect Czechoslovakia would be tantamount to declaring out-and-out war on Germany, which he was strongly against because he thought that Britain had no chance of an easy and quick victory.
The source shares with source A the idea that Chamberlain was unwilling to risk going hastily into a war against a major power, which would cost British money and lives and if, as he thought, Britain was not ready, it could mean a repeat of the extended conflict of the first world war, which everyone was keen to avoid. Chamberlain makes it clear in his diary (source B) that he did not think that it was all worth it over one small country that he thought could probably not be saved anyway.
Source B like source A is private and unofficial and therefore shows just what Chamberlain is really thinking, more so than A because it is his diary, presumably intended at the time only for him. 3) Study C and D. In what ways does the evidence of these sources help you to understand Chamberlain’s attitude towards Hitler? (10) The author of Source C was a British ambassador and Chamberlain’s main source of information in Germany, and as such Chamberlain must have trusted his views as a high-ranking British dignitary who had been living in Germany probably some time.
However, it is possible that Henderson had come around to the German point of view from living there so long and is writing his own opinion, which is biased, as is apparent from his comment in C about how he dislikes the Czechs. If he really had come round to the German point of view, then it is possible that he felt for Germany and like many Germans, considered that Hitler could ‘make Germany great again’.
If this were true, it would mean either that Henderson actually believed that Hitler was reasonable, or that he deliberately misled Chamberlain about Hitler’s intent. Alternatively, officials he had spoken to in the German government may simply have misled Henderson. The Germans knew that he was Britain’s main source of information and they may have decided to use him to convince Chamberlain that Germany was stronger than she was and that Hitler was open to options other than going to war, thus encouraging him to put off war by appeasement.
In source C Henderson leads Chamberlain to believe that Hitler does not really wish to go to war if he has to, as war would help the opponents of Hitler and Nazism, but it would be disastrous for Germany. He implies that Hitler is reasonable and open to negotiation. If Henderson had not been corrupted by Hitler, then source C contains Henderson’s genuine idea of what Hitler must have been thinking, but as it turned out, his assessment of the situation was wrong.
Henderson’s reports, whether genuinely what he thought or not, must have influenced Chamberlain to think that Hitler was a reasonable man who did not want war any more than Chamberlain himself. This would have simply built upon the view Chamberlain already had that Hitler had some sense of honour. Chamberlain was from a business background in Birmingham and must have found it hard to believe that the leader of a nation could be so duplicitous as Hitler eventually revealed himself to be.
Source D shows us this exact trust Chamberlain had in Hitler – even though he did not like the look of him, Chamberlain still had faith that Hitler’s word meant something and that Hitler’s policies were only directed towards uniting all the German speaking peoples, not just getting all the territory he could. Because Chamberlain believed what he said in source D, and believed Hitler when he said he would be satisfied with the Sudetenland and not ask any more territory in Europe, he convinced France and Czechoslovakia to submit to the German occupation of the Sudetenland. )
Study E, F, G and H. What can you work out from these sources about: i) The demands made by Hitler (6) The very fact that Britain and France were willing to agree to Hitler’s demands at all shows that his first demands (Czechoslovakia handing over to Germany the parts of the Sudetenland comprised of over 50% Germans) were not perceived by the governments of Britain and France to be altogether too much to ask, and that they believed that he was genuine in his insistence that it was all he would take from Europe.
The fact that they were so eager for a reply to the statement in source E and were so ready to give up Czechoslovakia to Germany shows how insistent Hitler was that he got his way. This is corroborated by the fact that Germany put a lot of pressure on Czechoslovakia to agree to Hitler’s demands; this could be the “unheard of pressure” of source F. Chamberlain was so convinced that giving in to Hitler’s demands was the way to peace that Britain and France even refused to support Czechoslovakia at all if she didn’t capitulate completely in the matter of the Sudetenland. However, source G shows us that Hitler was not to be trusted and as soon as Chamberlain had got Czechoslovakia and France to agree, he changed his demands to more unreasonable ones, which Hitler hoped would ultimately insure the disintegration of Czechoslovakia, by taking large amounts of land from her.
These demands were completely unreasonable, even for the peacemaker Chamberlain, and only when Britain and France threatened to go to war did Hitler reduce his demands a little, although his demands mentioned in source G are so unreasonable it could almost be said he was deliberately aiming high so when he was forced to compromise he would get the better deal. Source H shows that Hitler could feel confident about making these demands as Chamberlain was still set upon peace despite all he had seen Hitler capable of.
Chamberlain makes clear in this speech that he thinks all Hitler is after is Czechoslovakia and that Britain will not go to war just to protect one small country. ii) Relations between Britain and Czechoslovakia in September 1938? (6) When Hitler made his first demands of Chamberlain, Chamberlain agreed and then informed Czechoslovakia (source E), even though it would severely weaken Czechoslovakia (a state that Britain had helped to set up). Britain and France practically forced her to agree to Hitler’s demands, going so far as to refuse to support her if she did not.
The Czechoslovak government was not even consulted in the future of its own country, which as source F shows was hurtful to the Czechs. Czechoslovakia could not even defend herself from her enemy because she had been let down by her friends. Czechoslovakia must have felt pressured into agreeing and very disillusioned with and even betrayed by France, its so-called ally; and Britain, France’s ally and one of the upholders of the Treaty of Versailles.
As source G shows, when Hitler came up with his next outrageous demands, Czechoslovakia balked and refused point blank to agree, and the feelings of the Czechoslovak government are expressed to the British government in source G in no uncertain terms. Czechoslovakia may have had some hope in Britain’s support when she promised to support France in a war against Germany, although this soon faded after the Munich agreement.
Source H shows that Chamberlain was still trying to uphold peace despite Hitler’s continually changing demands, and evidently still thought that it was worth sacrificing Czechoslovakia on the altar of peace. ) Study I, J and K. “The Munich agreement was very popular in Britain”. Use the evidence of the sources, and your own knowledge, to explain whether you agree with this view. (8) I agree with this view to a point. The Munich agreement was certainly popular with many people, especially the generations who had been through the Great War. They knew what it was to fight in terrible conditions or to lose a loved one in the war. The First World War was called ‘the war to end all wars’ and nobody wanted to go through it all again.
This view is supported by source I, which is from a quality paper and written by the editor, who is presumably an educated person who knows what they’re talking about. The bad memories of the previous war would put the public in favour of avoiding another war if it could be possibly helped, so the peacemaking Chamberlain with his slogan from Benjamin Disraeli: ‘Peace in our time’ was well received by many. The Munich agreement, which guaranteed that Germany and Britain would not go to war in the future, seemed to sort out everyone’s worries.
Source J shows a crowd outside 10, Downing Street, who look like they are there to support Chamberlain. However this is not really indicative of the agreement’s popularity as photographs can be deceptive, and Downing Street is not actually that wide a street so the crowd appears bigger than it is. Most of the generation who were making the decisions for Britain (the politicians and diplomats) had experienced the war and this may have influenced them and their decisions in favour of appeasement and the Munich agreement.
The government also feared that if war broke out, thousands of civilians could be killed by bombing raids. Also the British army was not strong enough to handle another big war at that time. People like the author of source I did not want to involve Britain in European affairs again, as they thought it was nothing to do with Britain. Many, like Henderson in source K, felt that Chamberlain had done something special in making Hitler agree to peace and so supported the Munich agreement because they thought it was a great feat of negotiation and diplomacy on Chamberlain’s part.
Source K shows that at least one person thought that what Chamberlain did was the only option in the circumstances. Many British people felt sorry for the Germans because the Treaty of Versailles was so harsh and felt that they had been unfairly treated. Many could sympathise with the desire to bring the German-speaking people together. People did not even disagree wholly with Germany claiming the Sudetenland, as it was thought of as practically a part of Germany anyway – both geographically and culturally.
However, being in favour of the Munich agreement was far from universal and it had many critics. They thought that Germany was being allowed to become too powerful, breaking treaty after treaty and getting away with it. They thought Germany would not stop at just Czechoslovakia, and she would eventually become a power strong enough to threaten the British Empire. Winston Churchill was one of the critics of the Munich agreement and appeasement in general. 6) Study all the sources. The writer of source K believed that war was only avoided in 1938 because of the courage of Chamberlain.
Use the sources and your own knowledge to explain whether you agree with this view. (10) I agree with this view to the point that I would say the fact that war was avoided in 1938 was mostly because of Chamberlain. It was Chamberlain’s insistency on trying to appease the dictators at all costs that brought the Munich agreement about. It was Chamberlain who convinced France to support him in encouraging Czechoslovakia to agree to Hitler’s demands (as in source C), and eventually almost forcing them into it by refusing to support Czechoslovakia at all should it come to fighting.
Although Chamberlain says in source D to his sister that he thinks Hitler is to be trusted, and I think he means what he says because it is a personal, private letter, by the time of the Munich agreement he must have had some idea of what Hitler was like as he had broken his word and gone back on their agreement of the 15th of September only days before, which as source G shows was very damaging and humiliating to the Czechs. Yet still he went ahead and in effect signed Czechoslovakia over to the Germans without even inviting the Czechs to join the conference.
Either this is the move of a very stupid and nai??ve man in still believing that Hitler would not make further attempts to get territory for Germany, or Chamberlain was taking a calculated risk to give Britain more time to protect herself from Germany, not caring about Czechoslovakia. As source B shows, Chamberlain was not willing to take the risk of going to war in 1938 just to protect one small country. Source A shows us that as early as January 1938 Chamberlain was thinking about building up British armaments. I think that the lack of war in1938 was due to Chamberlain although I would not call it courage.
He made the agreement because he was convinced that the British public wanted peace more than anything (source J shows that at least some of them did). He was afraid of what another war would do to Britain if she were not ready, especially since the Spanish civil war in which the German Condor Legion decimated the Basque town of Guernica. Chamberlain was excessively afraid of German air strength as he was unfamiliar with the effects of bombing and feared that London could become another Guernica, with hundreds of thousands of casualties.
It was thought that the entire German Luftwaffe would head for Britain as soon as war broke out and people greatly overestimated its size and strength. However optimistic Chamberlain chose to be, he must have known that if Britain continued to get involved in Europe’s affairs then sooner or later she would have to fight Germany. Although war was avoided in 1938 it was not avoided altogether and if anything it convinced Hitler that Britain was soft and irresolute and would do nothing by force to stop his further conquest of Europe. This meant that he persevered in his plans to expand Germany without worrying about Britain.