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Oliver Cromwell: A Man Of Conviction

1826 words - 8 pages

Between the dates of 1 October, 1938 and 10 October, 1938 the northern and western border regions of Czechoslovakia, known as the Sudetenland, were ceded to the Third Reich of Germany via the Munich Agreement. The desire in France, the United Kingdom and Czechoslovakia to avoid war with Germany led to a policy of appeasement. Through a series of meetings a consensus was reached, led by Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, which specified that Sudeten Germans had a legitimate complaint and Germany’s expansionistic intentions did not reach beyond the Sudetenland. That it was an attempt to avoid a second war with Germany is not in question; however, what is in question is whether or not the United Kingdom, France and Czechoslovakia could have prevented a German military incursion into the Sudetenland and if so would it not have been the wisest option? The answer is twofold. Not only was the United Kingdom unprepared for a Second World War at the time of the Sudeten Crisis but had they attempted to militarily prevent Germany from annexing the Sudetenland it would have greatly hindered their own ability to defend the United Kingdom itself. There were, however, other alternatives to Britain taking a leading position in a war against Germany. Had the United Kingdom stood with France in the west while Czechoslovakia stood strong on their borders in the east it is decidedly possible that the Sudetenland would have stayed under Czech control; moreover, it very well may have averted the Second World War altogether.
Prior to the Second World War the British and German militaries were studies in contrast. The British military was a small, professional army designed to win quick victories using mobility and technology over firepower. By contrast the German military, which had been rearming itself since 1933, had grown to triple its former size. By March of 1935 Hitler and the Nazi regime were openly flouting the terms of the Versailles treaty building its army to thirty six divisions. The United Kingdom only had nine. The preceding numbers alone are a recipe for disaster from a British point of view; furthermore, Britain had only made minimal efforts in increasing the size and readiness of its army despite the massive German rearmament program and its use during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1938). Frank McDonough writes, “In November of 1935 the DRC produced a secret report on the condition and requirements of Britain’s national defense. It concluded that Britain was not only incapable of defeating a combination of Germany, Italy and Japan in a future war, but incapable of defending its own cities from a German air attack.” Faced with a rearming and expansion minded Germany, as well as, a woefully unprepared military Neville Chamberlain and the British government chose the course of appeasement in the hopes that it would lead to a peaceful settlement.
While Britain chose to pursue an appeasement policy in regards to the Sudeten...

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