-- Winston Churchill, January 31, 1933.
Churchill of course is the best known anti-appeaser, but he was hardly the only voice criticizing appeasement. Important anti-appeasers included: Austin Chamberlain, Duff Cooper, Anthony Eden, Harold Rumbold, Brig. A.C. Temperly, Robert Vansittart, Ralph Wigram, and others. This is a little complicated because people changed their opinions over time. And the question becomes just when did an individual have to part company from the Government to be regarded as a legitimate anti-appeasers? Do those who only shifted after Munich (September 1939) qualify as anti-appeasers. Labour Party policies are a special case. From an early point they distrusted Hitler and the NAZIs. At the same time, they also opposed the military spending needed to deter Hitler. In fact, important factions of the party was pacifist, arguing for disarmament at the same time that Hitler was conducting a massive rearmament effort. Labour leaders for some time were opposing the Government's very limited military spending. We do no see anyone promoting either pacifism or disarmament as a real anti-appeaser as such policies only played into the hands of the dictators. Our list of anti-appeasers is much shorter, but there are a number of them, espdecially after Munich.
Leopold Charles Maurice Stennett Amery, was a British Liberal Unionist/Conservative politician and journalist. He was noted for his interest in military preparedness, British India, and the British Empire and for his opposition to Chamberlain's Appeasement Policy. He was with Churchill in South Africa during the Bohr War. It was Amery who drafted the Balfour Declaration. He seed as First Lord of the Admiralty and Colonial Secretary, but was out of office during the 1930s. Unlike many British officials, he was no independently wealthy, so he served on several corporate board of directors. He represented British interests in several German fabrication companies. As a result he became very familiar with the NAZIs and German military potential. Hitler became aware of this and ordered that to non-German directors be dismissed. Capital controls did not allowed him to move his director's fees out of the Reich. So he took his family on German holidays like the Bavarian Alps. He met with Hitler on at least one occasion. He also met with Czech leader Edvard Beneš, Austrian leaders Engelbert Dollfuss and Kurt von Schuschnigg, as well as Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. He read Mein Kampf in Berlin and began to understand the danger Hitler and the NAZIs posed. He became a major voice for increasing military spending and against Appeasement. Churchill of course was the leading voice and he tended to concentrate on air power. Avery focused on the army and Roger Keyes focused on the navy. Churchill was the most effective, but Amery and Keyes made important contributions. Avery was important in Parliamentary actions. When Chamberlain announced his dramatic flight to Munich to meet with Hitler (1938), the House cheered. Amery was one of only four members who remained seated, the others were Churchill, Anthony Eden, and Harold Nicolson. Amery had some differences with Churchill. The major one was over Mussolini. Amery though that the Duce could and should be appeased. Amery also distrusted American President Franklin Roosevelt. Here the primary issue was imperial trade issues. Then came high drama in the House. After Hitler invaded Poland which Britain was pledged to defend (September 1, 1939). The next day, instead of moving to decade war, Chamberlain spoke in a Commons debate, implying that he was not planning to ask for a declaration of war (September 2). Amery was incensed. Labour Party leader Clement Attlee was absent so Arthur Greenwood stood up in his place and announced that he was speaking for Labour. Amery called out to him across the floor, "Speak for England!". The implication was that Chamberlain was not doing so. an even more notable incident occurred during the Norway Debate (1940). A string of military and naval disasters had occurred. Amery famously attacked Chamberlain's war leadership. Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty might have been held more responsible, but Amery went after Chamberlain, effectively ending his premiership, although he would hang on until May. Amery ended his catalog of errors by quoting Oliver Cromwell, "You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!" [Amery] Amery wanted to serve in the War Cabinet. Amery served, however, as secretary of state for India, a surprising choice given that he and Churchill disagreed in India. In his memoirs, he wrote that Churchill knew 'as much of the Indian problem as George III did of the American colonies'.
Boothby was an unsuccessful parliamentary candidate for Orkney and Shetland (1923). He was elected the MP for Aberdeen and Kincardine East (1924). He knew nothing about agriculture and fisheries which were important to his constituents. He became knowledgeable about both and pursued the issues vigorously with his parliamentary colleagues. Baldwin reportedly walked by Boothby in the House Chamber with Boothby pursuing an issue and disdainfully commented "Herrings again." Boothby was a keen traveler, and visited Germany every year (1925-33). He loved music and travel to Bayreuth to hear the Wagnerian operas was often on his agenda. He was delivering a talk on the Depression economic crisis (1932). Hitler not yet chancellor asked to see him. When they met, Hitler clicked his heels, raised him arms, and shouted 'Hitler!" Not to be outdone, Boothby clicked his heels and shouted 'Boothby!"They had along talk, including the Jews. Hitler assured him that 'there would be no pogroms'. The next year when he returned to Germany he found signs outside villages 'Jews forbidden here'. There were swastikas everywhere. And he saw Bayreuth 'turned, or distorted, into a NAZI shrine.' [Boothby, Recollections, pp. 11911.] He never returned to NAZI Germany again and delivered the first clear warning about German war fever, and where Hitler and the Nazis were headed. He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Chancellor of the Exchequer Winston Churchill (1926-29). He became a loyal supporter of Churchill during his 'wilderness years'. He helped launch the Popular Front (December 1936).
Brendan Rendall Bracken, 1st Viscount Bracken (1901-58) was an Irish-born businessman and a minister in the British Conservative cabinet. He is noted for opposing the Bank of England's co-operation with Adolf Hitler. He subsequently strongly supporting Winston Churchill's vigorous prosecution of the War against Hitler. He was Minister of Information (1941-45).
Guilty Men (1940) was a British political tract written under the pseudonym 'Cato', published after the fall of France during the Battle of Britain (July 1940). It accused 15 public figures for attempting to appease Hitler rather than vigorously rearming to confront NAZI aggression. it was written by three politicians including future Labour leader Michael Foot. Left unsaid was the fact that Labour many leaders were even more opposed to rearmament than Baldwin and Chamberlain.
Colonel Victor Alexander Cazalet (1896-1943) was a British Conservative MP. He came from a prominent and wealthy aristocratic English family. He was painted by John Singer Sargent at a young age (1900). He served on the Western Front during World War rising to the rank of captain. His brother ws killed during the war. He participated in the Paris Peace Conference and the Allied intervention in Siberia. He became interested in politics and was elected to parliament (1924). His papers are a valuable source on the whole debate over Appeasement. He developed a reputation as an authority on international affairs, especially central Europe. He supported Franco and the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War, primarily because of his anti-Communism. He served on the Friends of National Spain committee. He was friendly with both Churchill and Eden. Cazalet reports how determined Baldwin was to keep Churchill out of Government, telling him that he would rather 'have a row' for 4 months over it than 4 years with him in Government. [Cazalet, Diary, March 4, 1936 ] Cazalet objected to British policy toward Italy over the invasion of Ethiopia. He was appalled with the NAZI Anschluss an annexation of Austria. "Furious, raging, impotent .... The invasion of Austria -- the country we all love, by those bloody Nazis." [Cazalet, Diary, March 10 and 11, 1938.]And was a strong critic of Appeasement and Prime-Minister Chamberlain. He understood, however, the reluctance of the British people to confront the Germans. And of all things, he was Elizabeth Taylor's God Father. Well before World War II, he was a strong advocate of military cooperation with the Americans. Cazalet was appointed the liaison officer with Polish General Władysław Sikorski (1940). He chaired he House of Commons Palestine Committee and began to advocate the creation of a Jewish Homeland (1941). He was member of the House Anglo-Polish committee organized (1941). He was with Sikorski when he signed the Soviet Union to negotiate a treaty which permitted the release of Polish POWs from Soviet camps and the creation of Anders Army which fought in the West (1942). He was chosen to chair the House of Commons committee on refugee problems and was stationed at the British Embassy in Washington. Returning to London from Gibraltar, he was killed in the 1943 Gibraltar B-24 crash at age 46 along with General Sikorski and 15 others.
Lady Eleanor (Nelly) Lambton was the elegant daughter of the Second Earl of Durham. She married Lord Robert Cecil (1889). Lord Robert was the passionate promoter of world peace and the League of Nations. He came to despise the Germans for the destruction of the League and launching World War II. But i the 1930s he strongly promoted the League as a foundation of peace and British security. It was Lord Robert was was behind the Peace Ballot showing how much of the British population thought that the League was a sound foundation for national security. Lord Robert won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the League (1937). He is a prime example of how a goodly man devoted to peace, nearly destroyed his country and Western Civilization. He was to say that marrying Nelly was the cleverest thing he ever did. And he was probably correct. Nelly was an aristocrat who knew many of the important aristocratic and other prominent families in Britain. And she was struck by how many were drawn to Fascism, probably more to Mussolini than Hitler, but all to many were impressed with Hitler. It is difficult to say precisely why, but it was probably because primarily because of their hatred of Communism and the Soviet Union. This was a factor that motivated Chamberlain who wanted Germany to a bulwark against the Soviets. Dislike of the Socialists was also a factor. Few saw that Fascism was a flavor of Socialism. Nelly took an interest in this and her husband's work promoting world peace. She engaged in extensive correspondence with her aristocratic and social friends and acquaintances which she called, 'an attempt (unsuccessful) to persuade leading Conservatives in society to show German visitors that political and religious persecution, imprisonment without trial, murder, and torture are not social recommendations in this country.' [Rose, p. 179.]
Joseph Austen Chamberlain (1863-1937) was a British statesman, son of Joseph Chamberlain and older half-brother of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. He twice served as Chancellor of the Exchequer and for a short period was briefly Conservative Party leader before serving as Foreign Secretary. He was groomed to be his father's political heir whom he rather resembled. He was first elected to Parliament as a Liberal Unionist a by-election (1892). He held office in the Unionist coalition government (1895-1905). He remained in the Cabinet as Chancellor of the Exchequer (1903-05) even after his father resigned to campaign for Tariff Reform (1903) When his father suffered a disabling stroke (1906), Austen became the leading tariff reformer in the House of Commons.Chamberlain returned to office in Asquith's wartime coalition government (May 1915) as Secretary of State for India, but resigned to take responsibility for the disastrous Kut Campaign. He again returned to office in Lloyd George's coalition government, again serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He then served as Conservative Party leader in the Commons (1921-22), before resigning after the Carlton Club meeting voted to end the Lloyd George Coalition.Like many leading coalitionists, he did not hold office in the Conservative governments of 1922-24. By time he was regarded as a respected elder statesman. He served a term as Foreign Secretary in Stanley Baldwin's Second Government (1924-29) and played an important role in negotiation the Locarno Pact (1925), . It was primarily designed to prevent a future war between France and Germany by finalizing Germany's western border. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the achievement. He last held office as First Lord of the Admiralty (1931). He was one of the few MPs to support Winston Churchill's warnings about NAZI Germany's rearmament (1930s). He was one of the rare few who accurately assessed the NAZI threat. Just 2 months after Hitler was appointed chancellor, he told the Commons, that what they faced was "the worst of all Prussian imperialism, with an added savagery, a racial pride, an exclusiveness which cannot allow to any fellow subject not of 'pure Nordic birth' equality of rights and citizenship." [Chamberlain, J.A.] It would be madness he argued to consider reversing the Versailles Treaty with these people. Unfortunately more were convinced that lifting the Versailles limitations would result in Germany becoming a responsible member of the European family of nations. Chamberlain would be an active back bencher until his death in 1937.
The 1930s began with the Great Depression. Peoples' lives were turned upside down. People faced misery and despair. and it unleashed the dark forces of Fascism. Democratic politicians were unprepared to deal with either Fascism or Communism. Many ordinary people turned to the extremists in despair. Japan pursued Fascist-like military aggression, but it was Germany with the rise of Hitler and the NAZIs that created the greatest concern. The Democracies were unsure as to how to deal with the NAZIs. The United States had not withdrawn from world affairs, but the American people had decided that participation in World War I had been a great mistake and were determined to stay out of a future European War. The British people had reached a similar conclusion -- only they were much closer to NAZI Germany, with only the Channel rather than the Atlantic Ocean separating Britain from Europe. Hitler needed to be stopped, Britain and France could have done it, but the British and French people were more concerned about another war than fearful of the NAZIs. A series of prime ministers, Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin, and Neville Chamberlain decided on a policy of appeasement, deciding that war could be averted by appeasing Hitler while at the same time failing to match NAZI rearmament. The French were unwilling to take on Germany alone and thus deferred to British policy. The Appeasers came to be called 'the Guilty Men', but it is important to understand that appeasement is what the British public wanted. What the Appeasers can be legitimately accused of is hiding the level of German rearmament from the British public in an effort to1) justify appeasement and 2) in the misguided effort to gain NAZI friendship. Winston Churchill was a prominent World War I leader and and held major Government posts in the 1920s. Baldwin shut him out of Government. They parted over the question of Dominion Status for India (1931). It looked like Churchill's political career was over. And as a back bencher, however, he was the first prominent British politician to raise the alarm om a far more dangerous issue---the danger of Hitler and the NAZIs. For several years, Churchill was seen as a maverick, lone voice even a war monger. These were known as his 'Wilderness Years'. The British public, intent on avoiding another War, ignored him, even when he publicized data on German rearmament that Baldwin and Chamberlain were hiding. Civil servants aware of data the Government had on German rearmament, at great personal risk, leaked it to Churchill. Churchill began presenting the reports in the House of Commons (November 1933). He pointed to major German purchases of scrap iron, nickle, and other strategic materials as well as the cult of 'blood lust' being fostered in German Youth by the Hitler Youth Movement. Baldwin and Chamberlain tried to silence him by trying to have him decertified in his constituency. Churchill accurately warned that by the end of 1936 that the new German Luftwaffe would be 50 percent stronger than the RAF and by 1937 'nearly double'. He demanded emergency acceleration of aircraft production and research into anti-aircraft defense. "It is no exaggeration to suppose that a week or 19 days of intensive bombing upon London would leave 30 or 40 thousand people dead or maimed..." Churchill's constant warnings were a source of extreme irritation to the Government. It did not force a change in Government policy, but did force a reluctant Government into embarking on a more comprehensive, but still inadequate rearmament program. His warnings usually provoked only mocking laughter in the House, often among his own Conservative colleagues. He said in the House of Commons, 'Laugh but listen'. (March 14, 1938) Even at the time of Munich (September 1938), the public supported Chamberlain's craven abandonment of Czechoslovakia. And by that time with the addition of the Czech arms industry, Hitler had gained the ability to launch another War that would threaten Britain's very national existence.`
Alfred Duff Cooper, 1st Viscount Norwich, became perhaps Churchill's most important ally in the debates over appeasement. His support was particularly nimoprtant because of the psts he had held. Cooper was a Conservative Party politician who became a diplomat and military and political historian. He had a feint strain of royal blood. He entered the Foreign Service (1913). With the outbreak of World War I, he worked in the commercial and the contraband departments. His work at the cipher desk, was exempted from military service. He joined the Grenadier Guards (1917) and compiled a destinguished war record. He was first elected to Parliament after the War (1924).He lost his seat (1929), but won one back in the Westminster-St. George's by-election (1931). At the time, the election was seen as a referendum on Baldwin's leadership of the Conservative Party. Cooper rose within the Party and was given important leadership posts that put him at the heart of the Appeasement debate -- Secretary of State for war and First Lord of the Admiralty. Like much of Britain, Cooper first relied on the League of Nations as a guarantor of peace and security. He gradually realized after the Ethiopian Crisis (1935) that the League was an allusion and that Hitler could be appeased. He denounced Chamberlain's Munich Agreement as a sell-out (1938). He called it meaningless, cowardly, and unworkable, and he resigned from the cabinet. The Duke of Westminster after Britain did not declare war on September 1, 1939 when Germany launched the invasion of Poland, began saying that if Britain did end up going to war then it is all the fault of the Jews and Duff Cooper. [Bouverie, p. 1.] When Churchill became prime minister (May 1940), he named Cooper as Minister of Information . Cooper subsequently served in numerous, mostly diplomatic posts. He was given the unenviable role as representative to DeGualle's Free French movement (1943–44). He then served as ambassador to France (1944-48).
Sir Henry Page Croft was like Churchill, an old line imperialist, but unlike many Conservatives put defense of the realm above that of party loyalty. He actually read Mein Kampf and had a better idea than most of what Britain faced. He help finance the translation and publication if Hitler's book, hoping that more people would understand the danger. He supported Churchill's calls for rearmament, but like most other Conservatives supported Chamberlain on Munich seeing no way Britain could prevent the seizure of the Sudetenland. Churchill appointed him Under-Secretary of State for War (1940), a position he would hold until just after VE Day (1945).
Edward Hugh Dalton (1887 - 1962 was an economist and Labour Party politician who played an important role in World War II. He was a socialist, but unlike most other Labour leaders admired Churchill, although Churchill did not reciprocate. [Beevor] This of course did not mean he agreed with Churchill's imperialist and capitalist policies. He played a major role in reshaping Labour Party polices against appeasement and toward rearmament (1930s). He saw early on that Churchill was correct about the NAZIs. He strongly opposed the appeasement policy of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Dalton served in Winston Churchill's wartime coalition cabinet. Churchill chose him to be Minister of Economic Warfare. They established the Special Operations Executive to conduct espionage, sabotage, and reconnaissance in NAZI-occupied Europe. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer (1945-47) but as the economy failed to recover after the War as a result of Labour's socialist policies, he was replaced.
Anthony Eden had a distinguished military record in World War I (1914-18). After the War he entered parliament as the MP for Warwick and Leamington (1923). He rose rapidly and at a very young age was second in command at the Foreign Office. He was sent to sound out Hitler on disarmament issues (February 1934). And like many others, Hitler impressed him. He reported back that Hitler was sincere and could be reasoned with. He told Baldwin, "I find it difficult to believe that this man himself wants war." [Balwin Papers, February 23n 1934,]It is quite stunning the number of British officials and individuals who met with Hitler before the War and were charmed by him. Baldwin chose Eden as foreign secretary to replace Hoare soon after his encounter with Hitler, at the age of only 38 years-- highly unusual in British politics (1935). Despite his encounter with Hitler, Eden had a natural distrust with dictators, something lacking with other charmed by Hitler. Eden resigned only 3 years later, to protest Prime Minister Chamberlain's appeasement policy. He had not been a major anti-appeasement campaigner which is why Baldwin chose him. Thus Eden had an award relationship with other prominent anti-appeasers, including Churchill. Churchill upon becoming prime-minister. however, returned him to the Foreign Office (May 1940).
Admiral of the Fleet Roger Keyes had a distinguished naval career going back to running 19th century anti-slavery patrols. He helped direct important World War I operations. Keyes was a Conservative Member of Parliament after winning the sat of Portsmouth North (1934). He became a key figure in the Appeasement debates. While Churchill commonly spoke on air power, Keyes was the most important spokesman on naval affairs. He lacked Churchill's flair, but was extremely well informed. In the Parliamentary debates, he fought disarmament and insisted that the Fleet Air Arm be returned to control of the navy. He would be proven correct when the Royal Navy fought for an incredible 3 years with World War I era biplanes. Keyes opposed the Chamberlains Munich Agreement reached with Hitler. He and Churchill were some of the few MPs who withheld support from the Government on the Munich Accords.
George Ambrose Lloyd, better known as Lord Lloyd was an important British Conservative politician strongly associated with the Diehard' wing of the party, meaning supporting defense spending and opposing Home Rule for India. He was chosen to head the British Council, created in 1934 to promote British culture. Foreign Minister Eden ordered him to focus on the Balkans. Here he was faced with rising German influence, both commercial and military power. He was suspicious of Hitler and opposed the Munich effort. Working oin the Balkans, he saw the need to keep the NAZIs and Soviets apart. He also made efforts to move American opinion. All to little effect. His efforts were not the problem, simply that the issues were intractable and were more affected by British policies toward Germany. Churchill appointed him Secretary of State for the Colonies (May 1940). He then made him Leader of the House of Lords (November 1940). He died of cancer (February 1941).
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was at first worried about Hitler. Italy had received the German-speaking Tyrol as part of the World War I settlement. He was afraid that Hitler would demand the Tyrol and seize Austria which he at first saw as a security threat. When Austrian Chancellor Dolfuss was assassinated, Mussolini moved troops to the birder, fearing a German seizure of Austria. He even complained to the British Ambassador that the British do not understand Hitler's character. The Ambassador reported Mussolini told him, "Was it possible? ... that there could ever exist a 'Legion of Death' in England such as which 'now existed in Germany, which was devoted to killing people dangerous to the regime?" [Bouverie, p. 56.] Of course as a result of his Ethiopian adventure, relations with Hitler began to warm.
Harold Nicolson (1886-1968) was a British diplomat and politician who pursued a literary and broadcast career after World War II. He married author writer Vita Sackville-West in an open marriage. Ne was born in Tehran and later served as a diplomat there. He decided to leave the diplomatic service, probably after being disciplined. He had a brief journalistic job, but then turned to politics. He signed on with Oswald Mosley's New Party (1931). He lost the race for the Combined English Universities seat, but began editing the party newspaper, Action. He broke off from Mosley when he founded the British Union of Fascists (1932). Nicholson on a trip to Germany got his first taste of Fascism and the new Germany (1934). "The whole place is military mad. The passion for uniforms is grater even than in 1912. Germany is again the Germany of before the war with a new fanatical look it its eye." [Nicholson, Diary, February 2, 1934.] Nicholson was not in Government and a newly elected MP. Bit his diary and letters are a major source for historians studying Appeasement. And his instincts are invariably accurate. Nicolson won a seat in the House of Commons as a National Labour candidate (1935). National Labour was a break off group from the Labour Party. He became one of the few MPs who questioned Baldwin's policy of appeasing Hitler. At the time much of Labour was even less willing to confront the Germans than the Conservatives. Many Labour MPs supported disarmament. Nicholson was intent on warning Britain about the threat of fascism. Here he was more associated with Eden than Churchill. He was friendly with Churchill, but not an intimate. He supported Churchill's efforts in the House and a strong proponent of rearmament. He spoke out against Hitler's re-militarizing the Rhineland, but explained to this wife, Britain's impossible situation. The French were demanding action. "We are thus faced either with repudiation of our pledged word or the risk of war. The worst of it is that in a way the French are right. We know that Hitler gambled on this coup. We know that Schact told him it would lead to financial disaster, hat Neurath told him it would create a dangerous diplomatic situation, and that the General Staff told him that if France and Great Britain acted together there wooed be no chance of resistance. Thus if we send an ultimatum to Germany, she ought in all reason to climb down. But then she will not climb down and we shall have war. Naturally we shall win and enter Berlin. But what is the good of that? It would only mean communism in Germany and France, and that is why the Russians are also keen on it. Meanwhile the people of this country absolutely refuse to have a war. We should be faced by a general strike if we even suggested such a thing. We shall therefore have to climb down ignominiously and Hitler will have scored .... But it does mean the final end of the League and that I do mind dreadfully., Quite dreadfully." [Nicholson, March 12, 1936, pp. 249-50.] He was a Francophile and intimate with Charles Corbin, the Anglophile and anti-appeasement French ambassador. He describes as late as 1938 encountering three young peers in a Pratt's Club describing how they would prefer Hitler to the Socialists. [Nicholson, May 18, 1938, p. 166.] He was a rare MP to criticize Chamberlain's Munich Agreement in the House debate (October 1938). "I know that those of us who believe in the traditions of our policy, who believe that one great function of this country is to maintain moral standards in Europe, not to make friends with people whose conduct is demonstrably evil, but to set up some sort of standard by which smaller powers can test what is good in international conduct and what is not -- I know that those who hold such beliefs are accused of possessing the Foreign Office mind. I thank God that I possess a Foreign Office mind". [Young, p. 739.] He provides an insightful assessment of Chamberlain and Munich. He saw Chamberlain as having '... the mind and manner of a clothes brush' and was blind to the real issue. 'He would like to give Germany all she wants at the moment and cannot see that if we make this surrender we shall be unable to resist other demands. If we assuage the German alligator with fish from other ponds, she will wax so fat that she will demand fish from our own ponds. And we shall not by then be powerful enough to resist.' [Nicholson, Diary, June 6, 1938.] When Churchill became Prime-Minister, he appointed Nicholson Parliamentary Secretary and official Censor at the Ministry of Information (1940). This was part of Duff Cooper's ministry. After a year, he was asked to step down by Churchill. The Labour Party was demanding more positions in Government. Nicholson became a highly respected backbencher--particularly on foreign policy because of his diplomatic career. He was also on the Board of Governors of the BBC (1941-46). During the fighting in Italy he made controversial statements during the Battle of Monte Casino (1944). He was against bombing the Abbey, a key point in the Gustav Line, because of its historical and artistic value even if it cost Allied lives. His own son was fighting in Italy at the time.. He joined the Labour Party (1945). It was a Labour landslide, but he lost, ending his parliamentary when he lost again (1948).
Sir Henry Victor Alpin MacKinnon Raikes was elected for South East Essex (1931). He is hard to categorize. He supported Churchill and the call for rearmament, but had a different world view. He was notably showered with disarmament leaflets while speaking against Labour politicians advocating disarmament (1935). His world view was basically isolationism. As a result, he supported Chamberlain on the Munich agreement. He served as a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force during the War. He survived the Labour landslide, winning a Liverpool constituency. He remained in Parliament for two decades after the War (1957).
Adm. Sir Bertram Ramsey is perhaps the most important unsung-hero of the War. We was the naval genius behind Dunkirk, Torch, Sicily, Salerno, and Normandy. He was killed just before the end of the War and thus did not bask in the glow of victory like the other great luminaries after the War. He did not come from a naval family. His father was a cavalry officer who served on the restive northwestern frontier in India during the late-19th century. Bertram as a teenager would spend time with his father's regiment. And his habit was to make friends with the young new officers arriving from Britain. As a fascinating accident of history, one of those officers was none other than Subaltern Winston Churchill. This began a 59 year relationship between the two men. Much of the writing about the appeasement effort, centers on air power as part of the data on German rearmament. Baldwin and Chamberlain were not only skimping on aircraft. They were also not adequately funding the Royal Navy. And Ramsey saw to it that Churchill was fully informed about this and German naval rearmament, information being withheld from the British people. [Caddick-Adams] Ramsay retired from the Royal Navy (1938). Churchill when he became First Lord of the Admiralty coaxed him out of retirement (1939).
Churchill biographer Andrew Roberts speculates that one reason that Churchill picked up on NAZI barbarity was attitude toward the Jews. He understood their impact on Western Civilization based on Judaeo-Christian values. He also saw them as a kind of canary in the coal mines--the first target of tyrants [Robinson] Reed was just the opposite. He was a prominent anti-appeaser. He was the Times Central European correspondent. He was not pleased with his paper's reporting on the NAZIs. And he noted how 'class prejudice and property obsession' had oriented 'the snobs ... Fascist.' [Reed, pp. 420-21.] He became a popular novelist, publishing best-sellers. His novel Insanity Fair is the best known. It addressed the state of Europe and Hitler's apocalyptic world view. He published it just before the War. He was also an ardent anti-Communist. Unlike many anti-appeasers, he did not have the kind of 'polite' anti-Semitism common in Britain and America. He was deeply anti-Semitic. Here he connected Communism with Jews. After the War became what we would call today a vocal Holocaust denier. He moved to South Africa, became a critic of decolonization, and fell into obscurity. His plan to publish a book on the mythical international Jewish conspiracy went nowhere.
Harold Rumbold was among the most important anti-appeasers. He was the man on the scene in Berlin--the British ambassador when Hitler seized power (January 1933). He has been described as 'as English as eggs and bacon'. One historian describes him as 'beneath the slightly inane exterior was a penetrating mind'. [Bouverie, p. 15.] Robert Vansittart in the Foreign Office recorded that 'his warnings were clearer than anything we got later." [Bouverie, p. 15.] He meant the reporting received from Rumbold's replacement Neville Henderson. Rumbold was shocked by the barbarity that Hitler and the NAZIs displayed upon seizing power. And he actually read an unabridged copy of Mein Kampf unlike Chamberlain and the other appeasers. Only a few months after Hitler seized power, he submitted a 5,000 word memo to the Foreign Office which became known as the Mein Kampf dispatch. He insightfully explained how barbarity within Germany would eventually be transformed into NAZI foreign policy (April 1933). He stressed the ramifications of Hitler's social Darwinism at the international level and the primacy Hitler placed on military power. [Bouverie, p. 15.]
Edwin Duncan Sandys, Baron Duncan-Sandys (1908-87) was a British politician and elected to Parliament and made a transition from appeaser to anti-appeaser. Duncan was born at the Manor House, Sandford Orcas, Dorset (1908). His parents was George John Sandys, a Conservative MP (1910-18) and Mildred Helen Cameron. He attended Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford. He entered the diplomatic service (1930), posted at the Foreign Office in London as well as at the embassy in Berlin. He was elected Conservative MP for Norwood in south London in a by-election (March 1935), at which he was opposed by an independent Conservative candidate sponsored by Randolph Churchill. This caused a family spat because in the same year he married Diana Churchill, Randolph's sister. At the time he was basically an appeaser, expressing the view that Germany should have a predominant place in central Europe, so that Britain could be free to pursue her colonial interests without a European rival. [Sandys] His concern about German rearmament grew and came to the surface in what became known as the Duncan Sandys case. Sandys was commissioned into the 51st (London) Anti-Aircraft Brigade, Royal Artillery, of the Territorial Army (TA) (1937). He asked questions in the House of Commons on matters of national security that reflected his TA experience (1938). Prime-Minister Chamberlain at the time was trying to sell the appeasement policy and was upset that classified data was being leaked to the media. As a result, Sandys was subsequently approached by two unidentified men, presumably representing the secret services, and threatened with prosecution under section 6 of the Official Secrets Act 1920. Sandys reported the matter to the Committee of Privileges which held that the disclosures of MPs were not subject to the legislation, though an MP could be disciplined by the House. [Holmes] The fallout from the incident was the passage of the Official Secrets Act 1939. With the outbreak of World War II, Sandys fought with 51st (London) HAA Regiment in the Norwegian campaign (1940). He was wounded and left with a permanent limp. Prime Minister Churchill appointed his son-in law a ministerial post as Financial Secretary to the War Office from (1941-44). He then served as Minister of Works (1944-45). He was also chairman of a War Cabinet Committee for defense against German flying bombs and rockets. As a result, he commonly clashed with the scientist and intelligence expert R.V. Jones. [Jones} He lost his seat in the 1945 general election which resulted in a Labour landslide.
There were journalists who reported accurately on what was happening in Germany. One of them was American journalist William Shirer. A report on the NAZI 1935 re-militarization of the Rhineland is a good example of his reporting. He described the response to the announcement in the Reichstag, "... little men with big bodies and bulging necks and cropped hair and pouched bellies and brown uniforms and heavy boots, little men of clay in his find hands jumped to their feet in an ecstasy of 'Heils'. They sprung, yelling and crying, to their feet, their hands are raised in slavish salute, their faces now contorted with hysteria c, their mouths wide open, shouting, shouting, their eyes burning with fanaticism, glued on the new god, the Messiah." [Shirer, pp. 50-51.] This was from his Berlin diary. He would latter write the classic study of NAZI Germany, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
Katharine Marjory Stewart-Murray, Duchess of Atholl, was a Scottish noblewoman and Scottish Unionist Party allied with the Conservative Party. She along with Nancy Astor was one of the few women MPs before World War II. She was not a suffragette and like most Conservative a staunch imperialist. She is best known for her opposition to totalitarian regimes. Her first target was the Soviet Union. She published The Conscription of a People — a protest against the abuse of rights in the Soviet Union (1931). She helped finance a translation of Mein Kampf to alert the British public to Hitler's character. She became involved in a heated battle in the pages of various newspapers with Lady Houston who was notorious for her outspoken support of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Houston called on the King to become British dictator like Mussolini and Hitler. She, Eleanor Rathbone, and Ellen Wilkinson went to Spain to see the impact of the Spanish Civil War (1937). In Valencia, Barcelona and Madrid she saw the results of Luftwaffe bombing. They were particularly concerned with women and children. She published a book Her book Searchlight on Spain resulted from the involvement, and her sympathy for the Republican side in the conflict led to her being nicknamed the Red Duchess--despite the fact that she was was a long-time critic of Soviet Communism. She resigned the Conservative Whip in opposition to Chamberlain's policy of Appeasement policy and to the Anglo-Italian Agreement (Easter Pact) (1938). As a result she was deselected. (Chamberlain also tried to deselect Churchill and others opposing appeasement.) She stood unsuccessfully in the subsequent by-election as an Independent candidate. After the War, she campaigned against Soviet control of Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary as the chairman of the League for European Freedom .
Brig. A.C. Temperly was part of the British delegation to the Disarmament Conference in process. Based on the German presentations he understood that NAZI Germany had not interest in disarmament and was expanding the military in violation of the Versailles Treaty that was being built even before Hitler seized power. He submitted a memo recommending that Britain abandon disbarment. He saw it as madness to consider further disarmament at a time that Germany was 'in a delirium of reawakened nationalism and the most blatant and dangerous militarism' (May 10, 1933).
Hugh Redwald Trevor-Roper, Baron Dacre of Glanton (1914-2003) was a British academician focusing on early British history. He became focused early modern Britain and NAZI history -- quite a diverse combination. He was still a very young man when Hitler seized power (1933). He traveled to Germany in 1935 and reports that the GB on his license plate attracted attention. This was a phenomenon that other British visitors to NAZI Germany reported. In sharp contrast to the French, there seems to have been a considerable reservoir of good will with the British. We are not sure why that was, but it seems to have been the case. Hitler himself evidenced that predisposition. Roper recounts how a father and son after noticing he was British, began to lecture him on the wonders of the New Germany. And he then assured the young academic that the Führer was intent on peace with Britain. Many British visitors has similar experiences and they were impressed with the NAZIs. Trevor Roper became a committed anti-NAZI. He served in British intelligence during the War and became a NAZI expert after the War. His fundamental view was that Hitler was not a charlatan only seeking power with no central beliefs, but instead has very strong and deeply held beliefs. He was a fierce ideologue identifying race as the central force in history. He is best known for his book, The Last Days of Hitler (1947). His credibility was, however, badly damaged when he authenticated The Hitler Diaries shortly before they were proved to be a forgery.
Robert Gilbert Vansittart, 1st Baron Vansittart (1881-1957) was a senior British diplomat in the period before and during World War II (1929-41). He was the Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister (1928-30), Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office (1930-38), and later served as Chief Diplomatic Adviser to the British Government. He was the most important voice within the Government opposing appeasement and promoting a strong stance against Germany with the rise of the NAZIs. Vansittart at the Foreign a Office wrote a memorandum about the danger posed by Hitler (March 1933?). This was even before Rumbold's Mein Kampf memo arrived from Berlin. Vansittart and his colleague, Maurice Hankey, cabinet Secretary and Secretary of the Committee for Imperial Defense, Permanent Head of the Treasury asked for guidance from the Cabinet. Hitler's appointment as Chancellor was disquieting enough, but the Government was soon receiving reports that Hitler's Government was embarking on a massive rearmament program. These key figures in the British Government asked what sort of warning the Cabinet was prepared to give Hitler on rearming (October 1933). They also asked what the Government was prepared to do in event of German aggression. The answer was that that there was no such plans nor were there plans to respond to German violation of the Versailles Treaty. Not only that, but the Government was not prepared to publicize the reports being received of the secret rearmament. [Bouveeie, p. 30.] Vansittart like Ambassador Phillips was appalled by the steady stream of British appeasers who lined up to have tea with Hitler and returned to Britain gushing with praise for the German dictator. . He described them as 'these foolish and offensive busybodys'. [Vansittart, February 2, 1935.] The visits are important in part because they helped from Hitler's opinion that Britain would never declare war. The problem for Phillips and Vansittaert was that one of these 'illexperienced busybodys' with no experience or specialized knowledge was Prime-Minister Neville Chamberlain himself who managed to convince himself that he and he alone was capable of preventing another War. And when Philipps and Vansittart retired, he could appoint people from the Foreign Office in their place that agreed with him. As a result, he could pursue appeasement with little opposition in the Foreign Office.
Sir John Wheeler Wheeler-Bennett was a rare historian who never studied at university or earned a degree. He was a conservative English historian focusing on German and diplomatic history. He was also the official biographer of King George VI. He apparently did not attend university because of poor health. After World War I he worked a posts in the Middle East and with the League of Nations. He then was appointed director of the Royal Institute of Intentional Affairs. He lived in Germany (1927-34) and thus witnessed the rise of the NAZIs and Hitler's seizure of power. While in Berlin, he became an unofficial agent and advisor to the British government on German affairs. His first impression on Hitler was benign. He reported to the Royal Institute of International Affairs, "Hitler, I am convinced, does not want a war. He is susceptible to reason in matters of foreign policy. He is greatly anxious to make Germany self-respecting and is himself anxious to be respectable. He may be described as the most moderate member of his party." [Wheeler-Bennett, IA] Thus is not so off base as it sounds. Hitler at the time would have seemed moderate in comparison to the SA street fighting thugs. He soon changed his mind after reading Mein Kampf. After the War he wrote a scathing indictment of Appeasement. [Wheeler0-Bennett, Munich] We are not sure when he reached that view and what he published about Appeasement during the 1930s. He rote some well regarded books on Germany and arms limitations (1930s.) He is best known for his work on the role of of the German Army in the rise of the NAZIs. He was on speaking terms with many of the major European figures of the inter-War era, including Churchill, Mussolini, and Trotsky. Just before the war, he went to the United States to lecture on international relations at the University of Virginia (1939). He was strongly pro-American and quickly moved to New York to help set up the British Information Service in New York City (1940. This was a vital part of the war effort. Its job was to help bring the United States into the war. It was in part a journalistic operation, but also propaganda and espionage. Wheeler-Bennett returned home to work for the Political Warfare Department of the British government's Foreign Office in London (1942). He was promoted to Assistant Director General of the Political Intelligence Department, later serving in the Political Adviser's Department in SHAEF (1944–45). He had made contact with anti-NAZI Germans, but came to disregard the resistance. After the July Bomb Plot he wrote in an intelligence report, " It may now be said with some definiteness that we are better off with things as they are today than if the plot of 20 July had succeeded and Hitler had been assassinated... By the failure of the plot we have been spared the embarrassments, both at home and in the United States, which might have resulted from such a move, and, moreover, the present purge [by the Gestapo] is presumably removing from the scene numerous individuals which might have caused us difficulty, not only had the plot succeeded, but also after the defeat of Nazi Germany... The Gestapo and the SS have done us an appreciable service in removing a selection of those who would undoubtedly have posed as 'good' Germans after the war... It is to our advantage therefore that the purge should continue, since the killing of Germans by Germans will save us from future embarrassment of many kinds." After the War he assisted the British prosecutors at the Nuremberg Trials (1945-46).
Ralph Follett Wigram (1890-1936) was a British government official in the Foreign Office. He secretly played an important role in helping Churchill raise the alarm about Hitler's rearmament program preparing for war. He provided intelligence data to Winston Churchill in violation of the Internal Secrecy Act. Churchill was out of Government and had not authorization to have the data. Prime-Minister Stanley Baldwin was pursuing a policy of Appeasement and did not want the public to know the extent of German rearmament. Churchill used the data to question the policies of Baldwin's appeasement effort. The Government was outraged that someone was leaking the data, but could not find out who it was . Churchill described Wigram as a 'great unsung hero'. [Churchill] A colleague in the Central Department described Wigram as 'the authentic local deity' and 'the departmental volcano'. [Lawford] He died under mysterious circumstances (1937).
Amery, L.S. My Political Life Vol. 3 The Unforgiving Years. 1929–1940 (London: Hutchinson, 1955).
Baldwin Papers. Eden to Baldwain (February 2, 1934). Vol. 122, ff. 31-3.
Beevor, Antony. The Scond World War (Nack Nay Books: New York, 2013).
Boothby, Robert. Boothby: Recollections of a Rebel (London: 1978).
Bouverie, Tim. Appeasing Hitler: Chamberlain, Churchill and the Road to War (Bodley Head: London, 2019, 497p.
Caddick-Adams, Peter. Speaker at the D-Day commemoration. New Orleans D-Day Museum. C-Span 3 (November 23, 2019).
Cato. Guilty Men (1940). Guilty Men was a British political tract written under the pseudonym 'Cato', published after the fall of France during the Battle of Britain (July 1940). It accusd 15 public figures for attempting to appease Hitler rather than vigorously rearming to confront NAZI aggression. it was written by three politicans includinh future Labour leader Michael Foot. Left unsaid was the fact that Labour many leaders were even more opposed rearmament than Baldwin and Chamberlain.
Cazalet, Victor. Victor Cazalet Papers. Diary.
Chamberlain, Joseph Austen in Hansard, House of Commons Debates (April 13, 1933), Vol. 276, Col. 2759.
Churchill, Winston. The Second World War.
Holmes, Richard. Soldiers: Army Lives and Loyalties from Redcoats to Dusty Warriors (London: HarperPress, 2011).
Churchill, Winston. The Times (January 31, 1933. Of couese Hitler wanted more than lost terriotories and colonies. Te lost teritories were high in his list, but not the colonies. Churchill made this statement only days after Hitler had seized power.
Jones, R.V. Most Secret War (Hamilton, 1978).
Lawford, Valentine. Bound for Diplomacy (Atlantic, Little, Brown: Boston, 1963).
Nicholson, Nigel. Harold Nicholson Diaries and Letters, 1907-64 (London: 2004).
Vansittart to Philios (February 2, 1935) in Documents on British Foreifnb Policy Second Series, Vol. 12.
Reed, Douglas. Insanity Fair (1938).
Robinson, Peter. Interview with Andrew Roberts, Uncommon Knowledge -- Hoover Institute (January 15, 2019).
Rose, Kenneth. The Later Cecils (London: 1975).
Sandys, Duncan. House of Commons Debates (May 2, 1935). Vol. 301, pp. 569-688.
Shirer, William. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Cirrespondent, 1934-1941 (London: 1941) .
Wheeler-Bennett, John. International Affairs (May 1933), pp 318–19.
Wheeler-Bennett, John. Munich: Prologue To Tragedy (1948).
Young, Vernon "The Fine Art Of Name-Dropping: Harold Nicolson." The Hudson Review, Vol. 21, No. 4 (Winter 1968–1969, pp. 737–44.
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