Comments: Seeing History

Had he not attacked russia, or rather - if he did not center on taking Stalingrad, things would have been much different. Russia was one of his big problems. Also not re-inforcing the Desert Fox in North Africa when requested.

Posted by pylorns at October 18, 2004 10:09 AM

Just another example of history teaching us nothing. Humans are doomed to repeat atrocities when they put maniacs and idiots in seats of power.

Posted by Oorgo at October 18, 2004 12:35 PM

Jennifer, a great post! Most people don't realize how "precarious" history is, and how so many influences merged to bring about what we know today.

Posted by Brent at October 18, 2004 09:07 PM

Well, I'm just so darn proud o'ya. (Even though Rachel still rules!)

Kirsten (of Lyrics of Life in L.A.) has a qreat quote today (not unlike the one you've closed with) from I-forget-who:

"We don't see the world as it is. We see it as we are."

Posted by Tuning Spork at October 18, 2004 09:42 PM

Jennifer

Could you provide a source to back up your claim that Britain was frantically trying to rearm itself? Perhaps you meant when it was already too late (like right before Munich) despite repeated warnings from Churchill.

Posted by MaDr at October 19, 2004 09:19 AM

Thoughtful, informative, and a pleasure to read :-)

Posted by Harvey at October 19, 2004 09:46 AM

M-Chamberlain was a vocal supporter of rearmament as early as 1934, if memory serves. I'll look it up when I get home.

Posted by Jennifer at October 19, 2004 10:00 AM

M--I haven't forgotten you. Quickly, here is an article that states British rearmament began in 1936. Munich was 1938.

Posted by Jennifer at October 20, 2004 05:51 PM

Jennifer

Sorry for the delay. Had a hard time getting back to your site. Browser couldn’t find. Server maintenance? Later I got to site, but got message – Internal Server Error. I’d have been back sooner except for these.

I’m not a historian or even a history buff, and have a faulty memory to boot. I do have a copy of The Gathering Storm so here’s a synopsis:

There were two Chamberlains – Austen (powerful Commons member) was the hawk and supported Churchill. In the mid-30s Baldwin was the Prime Minister and Neville was Chancellor of the Exchequer. Neville was probably as powerful as Baldwin at this time and both had supported and implemented what Churchill termed “a small-scale national defense contribution which had been ill-received by the Conservative Party and was, of course, criticized by the Opposition”. Upon the crowning of George VI in May 1937, Baldwin retired and Neville became PM. Churchill made a speech on this subject (national defense contribution) “which helped him (Neville) to withdraw, without any loss of dignity, from a position which had become untenable.” At this point spending was ramped up, but Neville never fully ceded to the amounts requested and what was approved, he ruled over with an iron fist. Sept 1938 was Neville’s infamous third trip to Berlin. Neville did virtually nothing right even in attempts of appeasement. He left out the Russians and French (until the last minute for them to sign onto what he had negotiated). The worst was his declining Roosevelt’s offer to convene a summit (Russia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and USA). This many felt could have forestalled the inevitable allowing Britain more time to rearm. Even then, the US’s power was feared, although not to the levels that she would attain after WWll. Neville’s rebuff to Roosevelt was probably the last straw for Eden, whose resignation shook the government.

I’ll freely admit that there is some bias in Churchill’s recollections, but since he generally treated Neville kindly (considering), his writings rely heavily on contemporaneous documents, and his assertions of a small-scale national defense jives with what I’d read elsewhere, I’m inclined to stick with Churchill’s view. You should note that the Gathering Storm relies on Neville’s biography (Feiling).

I’ll admit to a bias of mine. I look with a very jaundiced eye, any more recent day histories of earlier periods. Especially in the last twenty years, I’ve found revisionism to be almost epidemic.


Posted by MaDr at October 21, 2004 07:34 PM