Seventy-five years ago today, Neville Chamberlain finally admitted that apeasement had failed, and failed miserably. Britain joined France in declaring war on Hitler's Nazi dominated Germany over the invasion of Poland. Historians will always be sharply dividied over whether or not it could have been avoided had Britain and her allies shown more determination in 1938 over the Südetenland question. The fact is that from 1920 up to 1936 we'd built almost no new warships, cut our armed forces to the bone and even scrapped our tanks. To crown it we'd not invested a great deal in developing what we had - so in 1938 we weren't in a position to make a stand.
Not that we were in much better case in 1939, but at least we'd made a start at re-arming.
War makes very strange bedfellows. Hitler's invasion of Poland was facilitated by the now infamous 'Non-aggression Pact' he'd made with Stalin, a feat that caught western negotiators completely by surprise. But it didn't last and barely a year later, he invaded his 'ally' and thrust the Communists into an alliance with Britain, a perhaps even less likely 'friendship'. I suspect that few realised, on this day as they listened to Chamberlain announcing the failure of diplomacy, that it would engulf the whole world, or that it would take five long years to destroy the evil cancer of Nazism.
Ironic that we now face an ideology as evil, as destructive and as vicious - and are just as unprepared.
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