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The Czech Crisis Why did the British Government appease Germany?

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Presentation on theme: "The Czech Crisis Why did the British Government appease Germany?"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Czech Crisis Why did the British Government appease Germany?

2 The Czech Crisis Many in the British Government believed that the demands of the Nazis was reasonable. On 8th April 1938 Chamberlain said: we should take any and every opportunity to try to remove any genuine and legitimate grievance that may exist… BUT By February 1939 it was understood that Hitlers ultimate aim was the domination of Europe.

3 The Czech Crisis Many in the British Government believed that Hitler could be trusted. They were placated by Hitlers words: BUT by late 1938/9 Chamberlain commented that Hitler was the nastiest piece of work I ever met. "I have no further interest in the Czecho-Slovakian State, that is guaranteed. We want no Czechs..." Adolf Hitler, 26th September 1938 Chamberlain said after Berchtesgaden I got the impression that here was a man who could be relied on when he had given his word.

4 The Czech Crisis Britain was militarily unprepared: General Ironside said we have not got the means of defending ourselves…we cannot expose ourselves now to German attack. BUT Our past experience has shown us only too clearly that weakness in armed strength means weakness in diplomacy, and if we want to secure a lasting peace…behind the diplomacy [must be] the strength to give effect to it. [Chamberlain, 6th October 1938 IMPROVING: 1 Squadron of Spitfires by Sept 1938 9 Squadrons of Spitfires by Sept 1939 19 Squadrons of Spitfires by 1940

5 The Czech Crisis British public opinion was divided August 1938: 46% believed the Czech crisis would not lead to war. August 1938: 36% of people thought the Czech crisis would lead to war. 5000 people cheered Chamberlain at Downing Street on his return from Munich. He received 40,000 letters of support. 16,000 demonstrated against the Munich Agreement at Trafalgar Square.

6 The Czech Crisis The British still fear communism. Despite being as ally of Czechoslovakia, Russia was excluded from the Munich discussion. Chamberlain stated: I must confess to the most profound distrust of Russia. 26th March 1939 But by the Summer of 1939 – France and Britain approached Russia to form an alliance against Germany but were knocked back.

7 The Czech Crisis British economy was supporting social welfare programmes: I became a politician to help my people. I want better homes,schools and hospitals. Must all these good things be destroyed by the madness of more and more weapons. Neville Chamberlain, August 1938

8 The Czech Crisis Chamberlain was clearly displaying a fear of war: How horrible and unbelievable that we should be getting ready for war, trying on gas masks and digging air raid shelters in Britain because of a faraway quarrel between people that we know nothing about. 27th September 1938, Neville Chamberlain

9 The Czech Crisis Criticisms of Government Policy On the 5th October 1938, Churchill said: We have suffered a total and unmitigated defeat…this is only the beginning…Czechoslovakia will be engulfed in the Nazi regime. 25th January 1939: Lord Halifax urged a tougher policy towards Germany. He warned Hitler may attack in the West. Graham Darby [historian] The Munich Agreement turned out to be the limit of the policy of concession [appeasement]. The British Government would not accept German domination of Europe.

10 The Czech Crisis Two views emerged after the Munich Agreement: 1.War had been avoided. Hitler had been satisfied and there was peace. Some historians state that Chamberlain genuinely thought this. There was a change in British policy and in diplomatic relations with Germany. Britain was no longer willing to negotiate with Hitler. Appeasement had failed. OR 2.Munich was a stall, it bought time. Time was needed to plan, prepare and rearm. Britain could not go to war in 1938 and Chamberlain realised this. He played Hitler at his own game. This idea was reinforced when the Nazis took Prague in March 1938.

11 The Czech Crisis How useful is the following source for investigating attitudes towards the Sudeten Crisis, September 1938?

12 The Czech Crisis Cartoon by Gabriel, London Illustrated News September 1938.

13 The Czech Crisis Think about the usefulness of this source in terms of: Origin Possible Purpose Context of the source Content Balance Origin Published in response to Chamberlain broadcast on BBC radio, 27 th Sept, assume it was 28 th. Gabriel, cartoonist, anti-appeasement, concerned with Nazi power. Newspaper had a large readership, mainly London, but throughout Britain. Cartoon by Gabriel, London Illustrated News September 1938.

14 The Czech Crisis Cartoon by Gabriel, London Illustrated News September 1938. Possible Purpose To inform and influence the readership about events in concerning Czechoslovakia. To highlight the threat of Nazi Germany to the balance of power across Europe.

15 The Czech Crisis Cartoon by Gabriel, London Illustrated News September 1938. Content Chamberlain is talking about the horrors of war. Czechoslovakia shows it could stand firm against the Nazis. Nazis are armed and ready to take on the Czechs, possibility of war. Highlighting how allowing the Nazis to dominate in Czechoslovakia would allow domination of other areas of Europe and ultimately Britain.

16 The Czech Crisis Cartoon by Gabriel, London Illustrated News September 1938. Context Speech delivered between Godesberg [22nd] and Munich [29th] meetings. Godesberg, demands for immediate granting of Sudeten present condition. At Munich, hurried, agreed handover on 1 st October... No Czech representation. Hitler said The Czech problem is the last territorial demand I have to make in Europe…

17 The Czech Crisis Cartoon by Gabriel, London Illustrated News September 1938. Balance This should focus on the reasons why the British Government chose to appease.

18 The Czech Crisis What did Hitler and the Nazis gain from the annexation of Czechoslovakia? Germany gained a lot, at almost no cost. Gained 11,000 square miles of territory [30% of Czechoslovakia] 30% of the population of Czechoslovakia [800,000 Czech people] 50% of Czech industry, 55% of Czech coal, 46% of electrical energy Lost strong natural defence line, became vulnerable to attack.

19 The Czech Crisis What did Hitler and the Nazis gain from the annexation of the Sudetenland? Czech arms industry, including Skoda Arms work. Balance of power in Eastern Europe shifted in Germanys favour. Poland became vulnerable, Germany commanded the air routes into Poland. Adapted from A Hunt, The Road to War, Hodder and Stoughton

20 The Czech Crisis 'Rendezvous. The text reads: Hitler to Stalin: 'The scum of the earth I believe?' Stalin to Hitler: 'The bloody assassin of the workers, I presume?' David Low, September 1939


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