I doubt anyone would argue that Churchill was not a great wartime statesman. However if I asked the same question of Neville Chamberlain many would consider him weak and an appeaser of Hitler. That is generally how history has recorded Chamberlain’s record as PM of England. But is it a fair record of his actions in 1938-39?. Lets consider what was happening during those tumultuous years. The threat of a world war was very real, the Spanish civil war was winding down, Mussolini armies were in Ethiopia. De Valera was forming an independent Ireland and Britain was ill prepared for another war. Hitler was moving into Austria, and the Sudetenland was under threat of a German occupation. Trouble times indeed for the beleaguered Neville Chamberlain. However while Britain’s industries worked at full throttle trying to catch up Chamberlain visited Berlin three times negotiating one treaty after another. To the British public he was an appeaser of the German dictator, giving in all to easily. Well that may be, but I don’t think its quite accurate . I believe Chamberlain sacrificed himself and his career to buy time, time that was vital to British re-arming. It could be said when he landed in London and waved the signed document “peace in out time’ he was really secretly saying, ‘we are buying more time’. A War with German was inevitable and I’m sure Chamberlain knew that long before 1939, he was a very a savvy politician and would have seen through Hitler early on. Time was of the essence and Chamberlain played for as much time as he could get. It may well have saved Britain in 1940? Chamberlain deserves his rightful place in history as one of England’s great Prime Ministers.
Just my thoughts, but I think they are worth considering.
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