1. Study Source A
What can you learn from Source A about Chamberlain’s policy towards Germany?
From Source A, we learn that Chamberlain was evidently in “no position” and not ready to go to war with Germany. Chamberlain describes Germany as “a formidable power”, which suggests Chamberlain’s view of Germany’s strength and how strongly he was against the idea of another war. Also from source A, we learn that Germany may also have been “aided by Italian attacks on our Mediterranean possessions and communications”, which Chamberlain thought of as an even bigger threat on Britain’s empire if Hitler was united with Italy. This was another reason why Chamberlain’s policy was needed.
Germany also seemed to know that France’s army was strong but also was “desperately weak in some vital spots”. Chamberlain knew that this meant if there was another war, not only would the British army fail but the French army would also not be able to withstand Germany’s power.
Therefore, Chamberlain decided to “adjust” the means of foreign policy in his favour so he could buy himself enough time until Britain’s rearmaments, among other countries i.e. France, were “strong”.
2. Study Sources A and B
Does Source B support the evidence of Source A about Chamberlain’s foreign policy? Explain your answer.
Source B does support the evidence of Source A about Chamberlain’s foreign policy.
Sources A and B both refer to Germany as being a very strong and an enemy that could inflict serious damage on the British empire. Source A describes Germany as a “formidable power” and source B explains how Germany had the power to do what they wanted “if they wanted to do it”.
Sources A and B both explain that Chamberlain was not ready to go to war with Germany. This is suggested in source A, “We are in no position to enter light-heartedly upon war with such a formidable power such as Germany”. Furthermore, source B states “…unless we had a reasonable prospect of beating her to her knees…and of that I see no sign”. Therefore, this source B supports the evidence of source A about Chamberlain’s foreign policy.
Both sources are from private documents of Chamberlain and are therefore very truthful and reliable sources as information in a letter to a family friend or a diary is not likely to be artificial. They show how he felt about the matter of Germany and give an insight into Chamberlain’s mind.
3. Study Sources C and D
Use these sources and your own knowledge to explain Chamberlain’s attitude towards Hitler?
Source C explains how “it would be terrible for Germany” if war occurred. Henderson also explains, “I cannot believe that this is not apparent to Hitler”, which would make Chamberlain believe that Hitler would never risk a war, if it did damage to his country and Chamberlain knew that Hitler was not such an ignorant man.
Chamberlain explains in source D, “I got the impression that here was a man who would be relied upon when given his word”, this illustrates that Chamberlain trusted Hitler and thought he was an honest man. This was his impression of Hitler after the first meeting. He may have thought it would be beneficial for the British Empire if they thought Hitler could be trusted, although Chamberlain may have just wanted to believe he was a good person and convinced himself of this. This is suggested by source D “I had established a certain confidence which was my aim”.
In September 1938, France and Britain decided to give parts of the Sudetenland (Richest part of Czechoslovakia with many raw materials and 3 million German speakers) to Germany to risk war and Hitler promised that the rest of Czechoslovakia was safe. This was known as the Munich Agreement and Chamberlain trusted Hitler’s promise. However in March 1929, Hitler broke this promise and invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia. This shows that Chamberlain was a fool for trusting Hitler and relying on his word not to invade anymore countries. Chamberlain was manipulated into believing that Hitler was a good person and incapable of binging about a war and the evidence above proves this.
Both sources were written before the Munich Conference and invasion of Czechoslovakia. These sources show the first impressions Chamberlain gained of Hitler. Source C shows how Chamberlain thought he was incapable of starting a war and source D shows that Chamberlain thought Hitler was an honest and good man who was true to his word. Both of these first impressions were wrong and Chamberlain was fooled when Hitler took over Western Czechoslovakia. This changed Chamberlain’s opinion of Hitler considerably.
4. Study Sources E, F and G
How useful are these sources in helping you to understand Hitler’s demands in September 1938?
Sources E, F and G are all official documents. This suggests that the sources are extremely reliable because it gives the Czechoslovak government and the British government’s true points of view. Both governments would not lie on such a serious matter and lie through very important, official statements and therefore are reliable.
Source E describes Hitler’s demand for “areas of Czechoslovakia with probably 50% German population”, which he want to become part of the Reich (the German Empire). This meant he would gain vital areas to Czechoslovakia’s wealth and industry, which was the main reason for this demand.
Source F describes how the Czechoslovak government accepted the proposal with “feelings of pain” as they had surrendered their very valuable Sudetenland as it contained many Germans. It also describes that the Czechoslovak government accepted the proposal because they were “forced by circumstances…pressure…from the statement of the French and the British”. This may suggest that Czechoslovakia was slightly angry with the French and British, which may have been part of Hitler’s plan so the alliance may be damaged.
Source G is the most useful source in helping us to understand Hitler’s demands. It describes how the Czechoslovak government did not realise the amount of damage this would cause to their country’s “national and economic independence”. It explains that the surrender of the Sudetenland meant deprivation of “every safeguard for our national existence” and they had to give up “carefully prepared defences”. Hitler knew this and this demand of the Sudetenland was vital to gaining an advantage over Czechoslovakia as they were now much weaker and Germany was stronger.
These sources are very useful in understanding Hitler’s demands and aims. We know that Hitler demanded the Sudetenland to mainly cause havoc among the alliance of Britain, France and Czechoslovakia. He also caused Czechoslovakia to become much weaker and an easy target and he re-united the Germans with the Reich. This all leads to one main aim in the end and that is the expansion of Germany and the defeat of the alliance.
5. Study all the sources
The writer of Source H believed that war was only avoided because of the courage of Chamberlain. Use the sources and your own knowledge to explain whether you agree with this view.
Source H explains that the only way to keep the peace, “the only sane one in the circumstances” was to allow the Germans to have the Sudetenland. However according to Source H, this meant that “a senseless war was avoided”. Source A shows why Chamberlain did not want a war and this was because “France…is desperately weak in some vital spots” and he wanted to delay a war “until our armaments are strong”. This delay bought Chamberlain a year in which new developments to the army were created like the radar and increased strength of the military. Britain would not have achieved this without the year of peace gained from Chamberlain’s foreign policy. This was vital for the defeat of Germany and so Chamberlain was supported. He was shown to be a hero and his decision was well thought out, rather than rushing to war where many soldiers would have died for no reason.
However, there are other sources which show Britain in a different light. Source D explains Chamberlain’s attitude towards Hitler. “I had established a certain confidence which was my aim…here was a man who would be relied upon”, this gives the impression that Chamberlain trusted Hitler and thought of him as an honest man. At the Munich Conference, Chamberlain gave away the Sudetenland without the consultation of the Czechs. Czechoslovakia was not invited to the meeting because Chamberlain knew they would oppose to the handing over of the Sudetenland region. This action did not please the Czechs and showed Chamberlain to be very cowardly and not courageous in the way he handled the situation at Munich. Source E explains “The British and French governments recognise how great is the sacrifice that is required of the Czechoslovakia government” which shows they should have helped the Czechs if they supported this, but they felt they couldn’t help in “the cause of peace”. Chamberlain may have been seen as a coward at this time but if he stood up to Hitler, the Rhineland may have not been captured.
In conclusion, I agree with the writer of Source H and I think that war was avoided in 1938 because of Chamberlain’s foreign policy. This year of peace allowed Britain to become stronger and would not have survived if they went to war with Germany over the Sudetenland. Chamberlain knew that if they went to war when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia six months after the Munich Conference, they would have lost the Battle of Britain and become part of the Reich.