Neville Chamberlain (1869-940). British PrimeMinister1937-1940. Chamberlain is perhaps the most ill-regarded British Prime Minister of the 20th century, largely because of his perceived policy of appeasement. Chamberlain's political legacy is therefore unfortunately defined by his dealings with Nazi Germany. As one historian noted, "there are no statues to Chamberlain."
This offering:Typed letter signed, one page, 7.5 in x 10 in, personal letterhead, November 18, 1924. Letter to Captain William Brass about a possible upcoming appointment. In part: I am really writing to ask you about my P.P.S. I shall have to appoint somebody very soon, and I need hardly say that I would rather have you than anyone. At the same time I can quite understand that you may wish not to take up a rather more independent position; and, if so, please dont hesitate to tell me. I want you to consider your own career first in this matter. Chamberlain also writes a brief postscript: Please be quite candid in lettering me your inclination. Bisecting mailing folds, one through a single letter of signature, pencil notations to top, rough and lightly trimmed left edge, and a light overall shade of toning, otherwise fine condition. Chamberlain is scarce in any form and he should be represented in any WW II collection.
Sir William Brass was a distinguished Conservative member of Parliament, served in the Royal Flying Corps in WW I and later was knighted.
The historical interest in Chamberlain is becauise he had the misfortune to be Prime Minister when Hitler invaded Poland. His name will forever be associated with the signing of the Munich agreement with Hitler which he proclaimed resulted in "Peace In Our Time." Another take on Chamberlain is presented herein.
History records clearly what Hitler achieved at Munich. First, he acquired the equivalent of 35 full divisions from the Czech army plus the second biggest arsenal in Central Europe. And, in addition, he released a large segment of his army from having to defend against the Czech's thus preparing the way for the German invasion of Poland and France.
Although what Chamberlain did has always been presented in negative light, it could be argued that the British were not ready for war in 1938 and Chamberlain knew that. The British used the time between 1938 and 1939 to increase the strength of the Royal Air Force eight fold. It was the German Luftwaffe** that was intimidating all of Europe in 1938 and the myth of its power was being propagated throughout European capitals by none other than Charles Lindbergh. The British also knew that their Navy greatly outgunned the Germans and they did not worry about the Wehrmacht because they felt they could control the English Channel as they had since 1066. So, the British viewed the Wehrmacht as a French problem-exactly what it turned out to be. But, Churchill, as everyone knows, took a very dim view of Chamberlain and the agreement as he wrote in The Gathering Storm:"If the circumstances are such as to warrant it, force may be used. And if this be so, it should be used under the conditions which are most favorable. There is no merit in putting off a war for a year if, when it comes, it is a far worse war or one much harder to win. These are the tormenting dilemmas upon which mankind has throughout its history been so frequently impaled. Final judgment upon them can only be recorded by history in relation to the facts of the case as known to the parties at the time, and also as subsequently proved.There is, however, one helpful guide, namely, for a nation to keep its word and to act in accordance with its treaty obligations ---Churchill is referring to France's obligations to Czechoslovakia. This guide is called honour. It is baffling to reflect that what men call honour does not correspond always to Christian ethics.Here the moment came when Honour pointed the path of Duty, and when also the right judgment of the facts at the time would have reinforced its dictates." Winston Churchill.
Another superb book on this era is that of Telford Taylor: Munich:The Price of Peace. I have taken the liberty of copying a review on this book directly from Amazon.com .
"It ranks near the top of World War II histories, up there with Shirer's Rise & Fall of the Third Reich and Churchill's memoirs. The book is a detailed political & diplomatic history of the 1930's in Europe, culminating in the Munich conference in 1938 in which France & Britain surrendered Czechoslovakia's vital border defenses to "appease" Hitler -- to secure "peace in our time."A lawyer & historian, Taylor was a prosecutor at the Nurnberg war crimes trials. In his absorbing narrative, he tells the story of the craven cowardice & stunning stupidity of the French & British leaders and the cunning & mendacity of Hitler & Mussolini. As Taylor shifts the spotlight from country to country and details the domestic political situation in each and the moves of each leader on the diplomatic chessboard, the tension builds as events move toward the tragic climax at Munich. The corrupt bargain struck by Daladier & Chamberlain with Hitler & Mussolini at Munich was the biggest diplomatic sellout & disaster of all time. Taylor has written the definitive history of this disgraceful episode. Some European leaders today would profit from reading this work.This book won the National Book Critics Circle Award for non-faction. "
Taylor also made the point in his book as follows---"Household words of yesteryear such as "Quisling" and "fifth columnist" have faded from the vocabulary of international politics but "Munich" and "appeasement" have endured and their end is not in sight." Anyone reading the current news sees constant reference to "Munich" and appeasement. To Illustrate this point the following is an excerpt from Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Acceptance Speech more than 30 years after "Munich":
"The spirit of Munich
has by no means retreated into the past; it was not merely a
brief episode. I even venture to say that the spirit of Munich
prevails in the Twentieth Century. The timid civilized world
has found nothing with which to oppose the onslaught of a sudden
revival of barefaced barbarity, other than concessions and smiles.
The spirit of Munich is a sickness of the will of successful
people, it is the daily condition of those who have given themselves
up to the thirst after prosperity at any price, to material well-being
as the chief goal of earthly existence. Such people - and there
are many in today's world - elect passivity and retreat, just
so as their accustomed life might drag on a bit longer, just
so as not to step over the threshold of hardship today - and
tomorrow, you'll see, it will all be all right. (But it will
never be all right! The price of cowardice will only be evil;
we shall reap courage and victory only when we dare to make sacrifices.)."
Chamberlain signed the Munich agreement with Hitler in September of 1938.Twenty five months later he was dead from cancer. The question is, and one we are researching, was Chamberlain possibly sick when he signed the agreement appeasing Hitler? We do know that he was 70 years old and that the rigor of two round trips by air from England to Germany within 2 weeks would have taken their toll at that time.. Disease has had a great impact on historic men and women and often the course of history has been changed by an illness. One illustration :Napoleon was so afflicted by piles that he could not sit his horse at Waterloo.Another, FDR was desperately ill at Yalta.
**Despite the myth of the greatness, the Luftwaffe failed in its three major tests-Dunkirk, The Battle of Britain and Malta. It was never conceived of as a long range strategic bombing force.
|The History Buff
17509 Bear path Trail, Eden Prairie, MN 55347 or
Palm Beach, Florida 33480