When political pundits or historians make any reference to appeasement, they usually blame British benevolence and compassion. A well intentioned resolve not to repeat the horrors of the First World War. An almost saintly nation, whose only failing lay in its own naivety.
The predominant narrative is that appeasement was a reluctantly adopted policy of giving way to the use of force by Germany, Italy and Japan in the hope of securing peace. The painful parable being that, by revealing our cowardice and weakness, it encouraged these authoritarian regimes, and particularly Hitler’s Germany, to embark on a path of military conquest in the pursuit of regional and global hegemony.
There are of course dissenters, mostly confined to the academic world, who are critical of this simplistic, if appealing, viewpoint. They advance a number of alternative narratives, but the most popular of these emphasises the supposed lack of options open to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s government during the Munich conference of September 1938 at which he, along with the leaders of France and Italy, agreed that Czechoslovakia should cede the Sudetenland to Germany.
By then, Germany was already five years into its colossal rearmament programme, with an air force and army which arguably outmatched anything which Britain or France might have been able to deploy. Consequently, they maintain, appeasement was a necessary policy to buy time for Britain and France to rearm.
However, there is one noticeable similarity between all the dominant narratives, including both those who are critical of and defensive of Chamberlain’s role. They all focus heavily on the years from March 1936, when Hitler ordered his army into the demilitarized Rhineland, to September 1939 when Germany invaded Poland and the Second World War in Europe began.
Even within that relatively narrow time frame, the brightest part of the historical spotlight inevitably falls on the Munich conference, the meeting between Chamberlain and Hitler becoming virtually synonymous with appeasement. This is particularly true of political pundits with obvious motives for their selective historical memory, such as secretary of state John Kerry declaring ‘this is our Munich moment,’ prior to advocating air strikes on Syria and more recently, Tobias Ellwood MP, chair of the Defence Select Committee, when interviewed in February 2022 on the situation in Ukraine, declaring:
“There’s talk of Munich, look what happened there when we hesitated and we ceded control of parts of Europe”
In contrast, the early years of appeasement, whether relating to Italy’s fascist coup d’etat and its genocidal pacification campaign in Libya (1923-1932), or Japan’s invasion of Manchuria (1931) or the first three years of Nazi rule in Germany (1933 to 1935), in which Hitler oversaw the internment in concentration camps of tens of thousands of communists, Jews and political opponents and embarked on a rapid rearmament programme, have received relatively less attention. It’s also important to note that during this earlier period, all three regimes were far weaker militarily than either Britain or France.
The difference in emphasis between the earlier and later 1930s is noticeable in the academic literature, but is even more pronounced in popular culture and among journalists seeking to draw comparisons or contrasts between British foreign policy today and the appeasement of Germany. Could the reason the earlier period is so easily overlooked be because we don’t want to remind ourselves that the British elite saw fascist Italy, Japan’s military dominated government and Nazi Germany as bulwarks against communism ?
Or might it be because British business viewed them as highly profitable export markets for arms and raw materials, such as rubber and oil, for which rearmament created an enhanced demand ? Or could it be because the British press willingly acted as cheerleaders and apologists for fascist authoritarianism, not only because they supported the fascist war against communism and the working class, not only because they were in the pockets of business interests eager to reap the profits of appeasement, but because many of them shared similar racist and anti-democratic beliefs and values.
By examining tens of thousands of newspaper reports for the entire period, I hope to show beyond any reasonable doubt that ‘appeasement’ is a highly misleading term with which to describe British foreign policy towards Germany, Italy and Japan, and that a more appropriate characterisation would be ‘collusion.’ In 1997, the historians Clement Leibovitz and Alvin Finkel, published ‘The Chamberlain-Hitler collusion‘ with a similar hypothesis.
They argued convincingly, through a detailed examination of British government archives, that the British establishment had no hesitation in voicing its preference for fascism over communism, and that diplomats and officials had actively encouraged Germany to expand in central and Eastern Europe to act as a buffer against any Soviet influence. I hope to belatedly build on their ground breaking work by showing how the British elite manufactured popular consent for appeasement through misleading representations of Nazi Germany, Japan and fascist Italy in the press.
I’m sure most people would agree that if we are to react rationally to world events today, it’s essential we have a deep understanding of what happened in the past; but, unfortunately, in the popular imagination, the history of appeasement has become something of a fairy tale, shorn of the more shameful context of British collaboration. It has been a skilful exercise of historical smoke and mirrors.
The pundits continue to conjure up powerful propaganda imagery, especially that of the gaunt gentlemanly figure of British prime minister Neville Chamberlain on the late afternoon of Friday 30 September 1938. You may have seen the old newsreel films, often replayed in nostalgic documentaries on the events leading up to the Second World War and the Battle of Britain.
As Chamberlain flew back from his meeting at Munich with Adolf Hitler, thousands had gathered at Heston aerodrome, a few miles to the west of London, impatient to know whether there would be war or peace. Stiff collared, but smiling, the prime minister descended his aircraft in two sprightly steps, shook a few hands, swiftly surveyed the vast sea of people surrounding him and began to speak. He had, he assured everyone, finally achieved “the settlement of the Czechoslovak problem” and, moreover, it was “only a prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace.”
Then, as his audience looked on spellbound, he slowly drew out a paper from his top pocket, unfolded it and held it high so all could see. It had been signed by himself and Hitler, in which both had declared “the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.” An assurance which the British press the next morning would trumpet as “peace for our time,” although it was not until that Friday evening at Downing Street that Chamberlain used the legendary phrase, when, speaking from a first floor window, he expressed his thanks to another enthusiastic crowd. 
The infamous expression came originally from the Book of Common Prayer, “Give us Peace in our time, Oh Lord.” It had been first used as a pro-isolationist and pro-appeasement slogan by Winston Churchill, the man many consider to have been the most implacable enemy of Nazi Germany. However, in a speech at Wanstead on 24 February 1933, just 26 days after Hitler’s accession to power, he was already clearly advocating the appeasement of the nascent Nazi regime.
According to a report in The Times, Churchill had assured his constituents that “there was no likelihood of a war in which Great Britain would be involved. Even if foreign countries went to war with one another he knew of no reason why a wise and honourable foreign policy should not enable us to stand aside and prevent the fire from spreading. The government had very rightly refused to extend our obligation in Europe or elsewhere… The supreme interest of Great Britain was peace in our time.”
As we will see later, throughout much of the 1930s Churchill, though he was one of a minority in favour of rapid British rearmament, continued to speak out strongly against Britain taking any action to sanction the Nazi regime on account of its murderous internal policies. That might come as a surprise to many who may share Boris Johnson’s conviction, expressed in his laudatory biography “The Churchill Factor,” that there “was something holy and magical about him,” although as Johnson belatedly acknowledges 145 pages later, he was also a man “who believed in eugenics; a social Darwinist who at various times wanted penal colonies for vagrants and sterilisation of the unfit,” who “spoke of humanity being divided into qualitatively different ‘races’,” and “authorised the troops to fire on striking dockers in Liverpool.” A frank admission from Britain’s current prime minister, that his hero, Churchill, like most others in the British elite in the 1930s, held to many of the same dogmas favoured by the cold-blooded ideologues of the Nazi regime.
But let us return to the late evening of 30 September 1938. By midnight, millions of newspapers, with the memorable catchphrase “Peace in Our Time” in their headlines, were already rolling off the press. Arthur Christiansen, the editor of what was then Britian’s highest selling daily, the pro-Empire and pro-Nazi Daily Express, finally decided around midnight what his paper’s front page should look like. In large print, the headline trumpeted “Multitude cheer the Premier home and hear him say,” and then in large bold capitals the memorable line, “YOU MAY SLEEP QUIETLY – IT IS PEACE FOR OUR TIME.” Inside, the newspaper’s editorial applauded the agreement with Hitler, declaring that “it kills once and for all the old bad plan of putting a ring round Germany… that plan was always dangerous, always wicked.” The “ring” had alluded primarily to any British support for the defensive Czech-Soviet alliance. The paper observed that, in contrast, “the (new) no-war pact with Germany… holds out to our people the prospect that, turning at long last from Europe and its interminable problems, we may seek security within our empire.”
The Financial Times, the preferred reading of the elite in the City of London, trumpeted “the sensational recovery of (the stock and bond) markets,” and was effusive in its gratitude, declaring that “none of us can be too thankful to Mr Chamberlain for the great part he has played in the preservation of peace.” The Times, regarded by many as a bellwether of establishment opinion, ran its editorial under the headline “A New Dawn,” claiming that “no conqueror returning from a victory on the battlefield has come home adorned with nobler laurels than Mr. Chamberlain from Munich yesterday.” Three weeks earlier, on 7 September, an editorial in the paper had suggested the same shameful surrender of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany that Chamberlain had now agreed upon in return for the vague “peace for our time” pledge. That had been followed by a furious protest from Ivan Maisky, the Russian Ambassador in London, to Lord Halifax, the British Foreign Minister, prompted by what he perceived as the British establishment’s pro-Hitler stance, informing Halifax that he thought “the (Times) article had had the worst possible effect.”
The previous year the eminent American journalist William Shirer had recorded in his diary how Norman Ebutt, the newspaper’s veteran Berlin corresondent, had “complained to me in private that The Times does not print all he sends, that it does not want to hear too much of the dark side of Nazi Germany and apparently has been captured by the pro-Nazis in London. He is discouraged and talks of quitting.” Ebutt was probably referring in particular to the newspaper’s editor Geoffrey Dawson, who was a close friend of Neville Chamberlain, and an even closer friend of Lord Halifax, the foreign secretary, who like him was Yorkshire born, an old Etonian and Oxford graduate. Possibly the most incriminating evidence of Dawson’s willingness to suppress reports critical of the Nazi regime is his confession in a letter to his Geneva correspondent, H.G. Daniels, that “I did my utmost, night after night, to keep out of the paper anything that might hurt (German) sensibilities.”
It would be misleading, however, if all the blame for the pro-appeasement propaganda in the press should fall on The Times. Every mainstream newspaper bore some responsibility although it is widely accepted that the Daily Mail, with daily sales exceeding 1.5 million and a generally middle and upper class readership, was far more reactionary and pro-fascist than either the Times or the Daily Express and throughout the 1930s it proved itself as one of the most reliable cheerleaders for the appeasement of Nazi Germany.
On 1 October 1938, it proclaimed “the hour of triumph for Neville Chamberlain – the man who last night told cheering crowds in Downing Street ‘I believe it is peace for our time – peace with honour,” and concluded that the no-war agreement would be “the basis for a permanent Anglo-German understanding.” However, it did not remind readers of the price of that no-war pact. British assent to the German annexation of the Sudetenland, an area who’s population was mainly German, but also included many Czechs and Jews. The only advice for them was provided by the diplomatic correspondent of the Daily Herald, who suggested they “run for their lives or face the rubber truncheons and the concentration camps.”
However, even the opposition backed Herald was, according to historian Richard Cockett “supportive of Chamberlain’s efforts, in particular his flights to talk to Hitler,” declaring them to be “not only the bold but the supremely wise course” and on receiving the news of the agreement it gave a surprisingly positive spin to it, asserting that “Herr Hitler has had to abandon the most brutal of his Godesberg terms.” This was yet another astonishingly pro-appeasement stance from a newspaper which had until a few years earlier operated under the complete control of the Trade Union Congress and the Labour Party. However, it is interesting to note that in 1930 a 51% stake had been taken by Lord Southwood, as head of Odham’s press, Britain’s largest press conglomerate.
The Herald, with its colossal daily circulation of around two million, then became increasingly prevailed upon by its corporate advertisers to avoid stoking anti-Nazi feeling in Britain. Lord Jay writing of his time as the paper’s City editor in the late thirties, remembered that he “was acutely conscious of the insistent pressure from the City establishment and the press advertising interests in favour of appeasement, and above all against any suggestion in the press that we perhaps ought to prepare for war.” He was also aware that such pressures were far from being unique to the Herald. “Almost the entire press,” he recalled, “poured forth news articles and twisted news stories designed to prove that Hitler meant little harm, and that warnings of danger were bad for business anyway.” As one anti-appeasement newsletter put it, in March 1939, in rebuking the pro-appeasement press, “(their) appetite for increased advertising revenue,” was so great that it induced them to “see rainbows in Hades if they think it would help them sell space to a retailer.”
William Hadley, editor of the Sunday Times, reflecting later on the welcoming reception Fleet Street gave to news of the Chamberlain-Hitler pact, observed that “the free press of this country has never been nearer to complete unity than in the chorus of praise and thanksgiving which followed Munich.” The exuberant mood in Britain’s mainstream newspapers as it trumpeted news of “peace for our time” might lead anyone reading them today to imagine that perhaps 80 per cent of the population would have shared such optimism. However, an opinion poll by the newly founded academic social research organization Mass Observation in late September 1938 showed that only 22 per cent supported Chamberlain’s efforts to negotiate with Hitler, while a Gallup Poll commissioned by the liberal leaning News Chronicle after the news of the agreement, showed that 93 per cent believed Hitler would break his promise of “no more territorial ambitions.” The result was so shocking that Sir Walter Layton, the paper’s chairman, refused to publish it, confiding in a note to Chamberlain that “I fear so blunt an advertisement of the state of British opinion on this matter would exacerbate feelings in Germany.” Even allowing for a significant margin of error, the survey clearly showed that a large section of the public did not share the optimism exhibited in the adulatory pro-Chamberlain commentary of the British press and in the prolonged cheering for the returning prime minister from all sides in the House of Commons.
We might, however, still feel some sympathy for the widespread press and establishment support for Chamberlain’s decision to appease Hitler. The horrors of the First World War haunted the national memory. It is convenient to believe that Britain’s prime minister was, as Winston Churchill described him, “absolutely straightforward and sincere” in his motives and that he was doing everything possible to preserve peace without realising that the man he was negotiating with was dedicated to destroying European civilisation. It is tempting to blame him, his government and its supporters merely for being too trusting and naive and to conclude that appeasement was a policy born of honourable, if gullible, politicians who too willingly believed Hitler’s declarations of peace. That a tragic combination of what historian Robert J. Caputi described as “a fatal misjudgement” and “Nazi duplicity” had “proved to be Chamberlain’s undoing.” That it was not until six months after Munich with Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia that, to borrow a phrase from Will Wainewright’s acclaimed Reporting on Hitler, he “revealed his true nature.”
As already mentioned, there are some academics who at least partially dissent from this popular view of appeasement but their analysis is usually even more sympathetic. They argue that British appeasement merely recognised the reality of a military imbalance which had developed by the late thirties between a rapidly rearming Germany and an unprepared Britain. According to this thesis, Chamberlain’s government was playing for time in order to correct a strategic disparity between Britain and Germany. Historian Philip Bell, who’s Origins of the Second World War has been published in three languages, contends that “Chamberlain was well aware of the poor state of British defences and deeply imbued with a fear of aerial bombardment,” while professor Norman Stone writes that “not only were memories of the slaughter of 1916 well and truly alive,” but Britain also faced the possibility of “potential enemies in two hemispheres,” while a defensive chain of radar stations along the English coast was not yet ready. “Given that Germany’s strength in bombing was considerably exaggerated,” he concludes, “the attitudes of the men of Munich become understandable.”
It is a wistful nostalgic history which appeals strongly to our sense of national pride as the nation which stood up against Hitler. It ignores the inconvenient truth that for a crucial period of at least four years between early 1933 and early 1937, when Nazi Germany was militarily, strategically and economically vulnerable with limited credit facilities and low stocks of essential raw materials, the British government continued to willingly lend the new government its full diplomatic and economic support. Yet, as early as the spring of 1933 Britain was already fully aware of the horrific crimes of the Nazi regime against thousands of Jews, communists and others deemed politically subversive or racially undesirable. It also knew that the rights of workers and a free press were being brutally crushed, and that what, under the Weimar Republic, had once been arguably the most liberal and civilised nation in the world, was rapidly becoming a nation governed by fear and terror.
Many within the establishment were also cognisant of the regime’s warlike intentions. The British ambassador, Sir Horace Rumbold, warned the Foreign Office as early as April 1933 that the Nazi regime’s “protestations of peaceful intent” were designed “to lull the outer world into a sense of security,” that “the outlook for Europe was far from peaceful,” that Germany was looking for expansion eastwards towards Russia and that all her immediate neighbours had “reason to be vigilant.” The dispatch was considered sufficiently important to be forwarded to the Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald and the entire cabinet of his coalition government including Stanley Baldwin (the Conservative Party leader) and Neville Chamberlain (then Chancellor of the Exchequer). The government, however, remained relatively relaxed about such long term eastward expansionist goals, knowing that the English Channel and a powerful navy provided a comfortable degree of strategic insulation, should Hitler’s foreign policy goals change.
Few within the British elite cared sufficiently about the regime’s brutal internal policies to support any attempt to intervene politically or militarily. Indeed, just the opposite. Intellectuals and the press, as we shall see, were strongly supportive of Hitler’s regime as a strategically crucial bulwark against communism and socialism in central Europe. There was an equally enthusiastic willingness to collude among the mercantile elites. “Business interests in every one of the democracies of Western Europe,” the American diplomat Sumner, Welles, recalled, “welcomed Hitlerism as a barrier to the expansion of communism. They saw in it an assurance that order and authority in Germany would safeguard big business interests there.”
Welles, however, was only telling half the truth, possibly in order to excuse his own advocacy of appeasement during the late 1930s as U.S. Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs under President Roosevelt. It is important to note that the supposed threat of communism only existed as a propaganda tool, a metaphor for socialism and other political forces from below which might threaten the political and economic privileges of the establishment. A communist revolution was never a serious or imminent threat in Germany during the thirties, as historians have long recognised, with the eminent Oxford academic A.J.P. Taylor observing in his classic 1961 account of The Origins of the Second World War, that “the Bolshevik peril… ended abruptly when the Red armies where thrown back from Warsaw in August 1920; from that moment there was not the slightest prospect during the next twenty years, that communism would triumph anywhere in Europe beyond the Russian frontiers.” Nevertheless, trade unions and the labour movement still presented a very serious danger to the interests of business elites across Western Europe.
The British policy of appeasement ensured that while diplomatic and business relations between Britain and Germany could proceed normally, Hitler was allowed, even encouraged, to crack down on the supposed surfeit of political freedom which had supposedly been allowed to develop during the preceding Weimar Republic, which had, to borrow a phrase from a 1932 press report, “been suffering from too much democracy.” Even the icon of progressive reporting, the Manchester Guardian, asked whether “too much liberty” had been a “fundamental fault” of Germany’s fledgling democracy.
The view that some restraint on freedoms might be necessary was one widely shared by both conservative and progressive intellectuals. There were marked differences in the degree of enthusiasm with which the policy was either openly endorsed or quietly condoned through the advocacy of a policy of non-interference. Some expressed disapproval of “unpleasant excesses,” often prefixed by the adjective “alleged” in newspaper reports, but only a tiny minority actively supported any effective political opposition to the appalling crimes which the Nazis were committing from the first days of their coming to power. Indeed many in the establishment derided those who appeared overly concerned by such reports as victims of, what Chamberlain himself called “Jewish-Communist propaganda.”
So how did such a reactionary pro-Nazi establishment win over the British public ? A strong feeling of indignation about injustice had long been considered central to the British character. “The Saxon,” noted the great poet Rudyard Kipling, “never means anything serious until he talks about justice and right.” Although there may be little hard evidence to suggest that the British value the notion of justice any more or less than other people, there is nevertheless no doubt that throughout British history it had always been a powerful influencing factor on dissent and insurrection. The British policy of appeasement was a kick in the face to any such sentiments, representing a complete abrogation of any principle of moral decency or justice. Nazi Germany was allowed, sometimes as we shall see even encouraged, to murder at will within its own frontiers and introduce some of the twentieth century’s most discriminatory laws against religious and racial minorities. How was this possible ?
First, it was essential to manufacture a spirit of deference and respect for the new regime and its symbols and etiquette and this is what I focus on in the first section. This was a vital part of the propaganda of collusion with British newspapers devoting much commentary to it, yet this shameful bending of the knee to Hitler’s dictatorship has received little attention from academics.
Nazi diplomats were always welcomed and the British government attempted to ensure there was no opportunity for their visits to become the focus of protests. At the same time cultural and sporting exchanges were encouraged in order to give the dictatorship a veneer of respectability and to focus press and public attention on sport rather than politics. During such events British officials also ensured due reverence was shown to the Nazi party flag, the Horst Wessel ( the Nazi Party anthem ) and the Nazi salute. Any disrespect was branded as “political interference.” This extraordinary deference to Nazi symbols and etiquette was also crucial in enhancing the respectability of the Nazi regime.
The second and third sections of this project look at an even more important tool for ensuring popular consent for appeasement, the relentless propaganda campaign by British politicians, intellectuals and commentators in the press to convince the public that appeasement was the only practical option. The second section does this through thematical overviews of the entire period while the third (yet to be written) will look in much greater detail at the policy of appeasement year by year.
Various propaganda pretexts for appeasement were advanced. By 1938, over five years into Germany’s rapid rearmament programme, one of these did enjoy widespread, if qualified, public support. The understandable fear of a repetition of the horrors and bloodshed of the First World War. This anxiety was, however, easily exploited by the establishment, most notably in September 1938 during the Munich crisis, when Chamberlain announced proposals for the distribution of gas masks and digging of trenches.
Lord Ismay, who was Secretary to the Committee of Imperial Defence, could only admit to being deeply puzzled as to why the Ministry of Defence refused to issue orders to call up the essential anti-aircraft units and Auxiliary Air Force squadrons which would be essential for any effective air defence of London. The Oxford historian Robin Collingwood, who had no similar need to be discreet in his comments, was quick to surmise that the trench digging and gas mask theatrics were nothing but a “carefully engineered war scare.” Sixty years later, after a careful study of official documents, historians Alvin Finkel and Clement Leibovitz also reached the same conclusion.
Propaganda pretexts for Appeasement –
Besides the desire to avoid another world war, there were also other arguments advanced to persuade the public to come around to the idea of appeasement and a diplomatic and highly profitable economic accommodation with Hitler’s Germany. In the early thirties, when Germany did not pose a significant military threat, it was these alternative arguments, rather than any fear of another world war, which were the most influential and even up until the actual outbreak of war in September 1939 they remained in use by an establishment that was still seeking to collaborate with the Nazi regime.
It is twelve of these propaganda pretexts for appeasement that I focus on in the second and third sections. These are the central tenets of what we could call the appeasement propaganda playbook. They were so successful in influencing opinion that they are still, though sometimes in a modified form, used by the corporate media today as Britain continues to embrace, among its closest allies, some of the most ruthless regimes in the world.
- Create an existential peril and persuade people that our support for a “friendly” or “lesser of two evils” dictator is essential in combating the threat. In the thirties this was the “Red Terror” of Soviet inspired Bolshevism, which supposedly threatened to engulf Western civilization. Today it might be scareheads about ISIS trained Arab terrorists and the coming Islamist Armageddon.
- Explain that the tyrant has imposed “law and order.” Even if some of the dictator’s policies may be distasteful, he has a pretext. His nation has been threated by an unprecedented crime wave and anarchy. Only extreme measures will allow people to feel safe and secure on its streets.
- Praise the autocrat as a great benefactor to his people. Stress how he works every hour of the day, lives frugally and is beloved by all – at least almost all. Obviously there would be no need for a tyrant if there weren’t some troublesome subversives.
- Explain that the dictator is fighting corruption, vice and immorality. The country has been weakened by the idleness and unreasonable demands of workers, by corrupt bureaucrats and petty criminals exploiting people’s baser instincts. Use metaphors such as “cleaning up” and “purification”.
- Claim that the regime is either already an economic and cultural paradise or close to becoming one. While we may not entirely approve of all its methods, it has generated a new prosperity which has been fairly distributed so that almost everyone is happier. We know this is true because almost everyone we have asked in the country agrees. No one is willing to put their name to any dissenting opinion. At the same time our sources confirm that there is a new spirit of hope and optimism and progress, which has replaced the gloom and despondency prevalent under the previous parliamentary democracy when people were free to insight unrest.
- Explain that the locals are not like the British. They don’t treasure tedious traditions of democracy like we do. They have long preferred to follow orders and don’t have the right mentality for democracy. In short, the country’s people are not suited to democracy and it would be wrong for us to impose it on them. A variation on this theme is that the time is not yet suitable for elections, and indeed it never will be the right moment unless Britain’s favoured ruler has a chance of winning.
- Point out that the dictatorship allows for interesting radical experiments in society which, due to the difficulty of coercing people in a democracy, are not usually possible in Britain. Nevertheless, we might learn a lot from such experiments, even if a few unfortunates must necessarily suffer as victims. However there is one vital qualification (see 8 below).
- Report on the business optimism generated by the regime’s promise that there will be no radical experiments with economics or finance, at least none that might diminish the influence, power and privilege of concentrated private capital or which might negatively impact the profits of corporations, especially British multinationals.
- Boast how Britain is able to benefit from the dictator’s desire to build up a war economy, and stress how the increased economic cooperation will mean ‘more jobs,’ and will be generally ‘good for business.’
- If there is persecution of any ethnic or religious group within the country, begin the whitewashing by placing at least some of the blame on the victims. Declare that those now victimised previously had an unfair hold on the economy, that many of them are corrupt and many others among them are dangerous political subversives. Ideally argue both points.
- Remind the public that they should respect a “country’s right” to do whatever it so wishes within its own borders, even if this actually means the tyrant’s “right” to carry out appalling atrocities against his own people. Anything else would be “unwarrantable interference” or “meddling” in the dictatorship’s “internal affairs.”
- Caution people not to give to much credence to reports of persecution. These have been deliberately exaggerated by the same vested interested falsely claiming victimhood within the country or by untrustworthy subversives who are misrepresenting the true situation for their own political gain. When presented with facts, deny them and interview the dictator’s British sycophants and business leeches, who will willingly verify that those who are allegedly persecuted, are, to the contrary, living happy contented lives.
There is also a problem with the use of the term “appeasement”. While it may not be the word those in power prefer to use to describe their delicate dance with dictators, it is nevertheless a concept which implies far nobler motives to the policy makers than they deserve, suggesting that they are attempting to pacify or placate an angry tyrant and that they only give in to his terms for fear of the dire consequences and from a desperate determination to avoid the hideous human cost of war or economic sanctions. This obscures the reality that the British establishment frequently supports dictators enthusiastically even if at first they are militarily weak and we could easily intervene to prevent their murderous actions, and that it continues to support them as long as their continued survival benefits Britain’s economic and strategic interests. When a “friendly” dictator ceases to follow orders and threatens British interests, only then do elements within the elite admit to a “mistake”. The more progressive among them might then typically blame the British government’s trusting nature or its naive pursuit of peace or some supposedly existential political necessity. The routine reality of cold-blooded British collusion, whether in the 1930s or today, for the sake of strategic ambitions and corporate greed is too ugly for most commentators to contemplate.
1. Chamberlain’s speeches at Heston airport and later at Downing Street were quoted extensively in every major British newspaper the following day.
2. “Mr Churchill on War Dangers,” The Times, 25 February 1933 p5 accessed online in the Times Digital Archive on 16 September 2017
3. Boris Johnson ( )
4. “You May Sleep Quietly – It is Peace in our Time,” The Daily Express, 1 October 1938, p1
5. “Opinion,” The Daily Express, 1 October 1938, p8
6. “Strong Market Recovery – A Week of Crisis,” The Financial Times, 1 October 1938, p4, “A New Dawn,” Editorial in The Times, 1 October 1938 p13 and Richard Cockett (1989) “Twilight of Truth: Chamberlain, Appeasement and the Manipulation of the Press,” weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, p71-73.
7. William Shirer (1979) “Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941,” Penguin, New York p41
8. Letter of 23 May 1937 from Geoffrey Dawson, Editor of The Times, to H.G. Daniels quoted in Franklin Reid Gannon (1971), “The British Press and Germany, 1936-1939,” Clarendon Press, Oxford p114.
9. “With Honour,” The Daily Mail, 1 October 1938, p10.
10. The Daily Herald quoted in David Faber (2008) “Munich: The 1938 Appeasement Crisis,” Simon and Schuster, London p 433.
11. Richard Cockett (1989), “Twilight of Truth: Chamberlain, Appeasement and the Manipulation of the Press,” Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London p80, Franklin Reid Gannon (1971), “The British Press and Germany,” Clarendon Press, Oxford p216 and David Faber (2008), “Munich: The 1938 Appeasement Crisis,” p421
12. Douglas Jay (1980) “Change and Fortune: A Political Record,” Hutchinson, London p70-71
13. King-Hall Newsletter, 17 March 1939 quoted in Richard Cockett (1989), “Twilight of Truth,” Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, p126-127
14. William Hadley (1944) “Munich Before and After,” Cassell, London.
15. Robert J Wybrow (1989), “Britain Speaks Out, 1937-87: A Social History as Seen Through the Gallup Data,” Macmillan, London p5 and Richard Cockett (1989), “Twilight of Truth: Chamberlain, Appeasement and the Manipulation of the Press,” Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London p190
16. Quoted in Jonathan Page (2014), “The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor,” Yale University Press, New Haven and London p 264.
17. Winston Churchill in the House of Commons 13 April 1939, Hansard Vol 346 cc5-140 accessed online at http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1939/apr/13/european-situation
18. Robert J Caputi (2000) “Neville Chamberlain and Appeasement,” Associated University Press, London p217
19. Will Wainewright (2017) “Reporting on Hitler: Rothay Reynolds and the British Press in Nazi Germany,” Biteback Publishing, London p245
20. P.M.H. Bell (2007) “The Origins of the Second World War in Europe,” Pearson, Harlow, p272
21. Norman Stone (2013) “World War Two: A Short History,” Allen Lane, London p14
22. See Gustav Schmidt (1986), “The Politics and Economics of Appeasement: British Foreign Policy in the 1930s,” Berg Publishers Ltd, Leamington Spa, Hamburg and New york, p34
23. E.L.Woodward and Rohan Butler (editors) (1956), “Documents on British Foreign Policy, 1919-1939, Second Series, Volume 5,” Document 36, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London pp47-55.
24. Clement Leibovitz and Alvin Finkel (2011), “The Chamberlain-Hitler Collusion,” James Lorimer and Company Ltd., Toronto, pp68-69
25. Sumner Welles (1944) “The Time for Decision,” Harpe and Brothers, New York, p312
27. The quote “been suffering from too much democracy” is taken from Our London Correspondent, “The German Constitution,” The Western Morning News and Daily Gazette, Friday 14 October 1932 p6. The idea of an “excess” of democracy in the Weimar Republic was widely held. See for instance B.R. Robert’s comments about “too much democracy” in “In a Nazi School,” The Bath Weekly Chronicle and Herald, 14 November 1936 p21.
28. “Liberty and Democracy,” The Manchester Guardian, 31 March 1933, p10
29. See for example “Socialist Beaten: Alleged Nazi Excesses in Sarrebruck,” The Western Morning News, 4 January 1934 p7
30. James Margach (1978) “The Abuse of Power: The War Between Downing Street and the Media from Lloyd George to Callaghan,” W.H. Allen, London p53
31. R.T. Jones (1994) “The Collected Poems of Rudyard Kipling,” Wordsworth Poetry Library, pXX
32. Clement Leibovitz and Alvin Finkel (2011), “The Chamberlain-Hitler Collusion,” James Lorimer and Company Ltd., Toronto, p169-171