Munich Conference: London Braces (September 27, 1938)

Figure 1.--These London boys near Waterloo Station are preparing to evacuate to the country side as it look like Germany was going to invade Czechoslovakia and Britain would declare war. The great concern was the new Luftwaffe. German bomb attacks in Spain had been shown in movie newsreels. Older Londoners remembered German bomb raids in World War I.

Hitler's intrangicense led to active preparations for war. Many assumed there would be war. And this time unlike 1914, there was widespread realization what war meant, The British Army had no way of assisting the Czechs. The more powerful French Army was closer, but would have had to launch a major effort to reach the Czechs. The greatest immediate fear was the Luftwaffe in both Britain and France. Had the War begun at the time, the RAF would have begun the war with many bi-plane squadrons and without the Spitfire. Trenches were dug in London's public parks which could serve as emergency bomb shelters. Gas masks were issued to the public, including children who were shown how to use them in and drilled in school. Anti-aircraft gun positions were set up. Chamberlain spoke by radio to the British people. The Prime Minister with the memory of World War I on his mind mused to the British people in a now poignent national radio broacast--one of the most famous in history. It was a suncict expression of ppeasement. "How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing ..." Churchill was horified. Chamberlain added, "However much we sympathize with a small nation confronted by a big and powerful neighbors, we cannot in all circumstances undertake to involve the whole British Empire in war simply on her account. If we have to fight it must be on larger issues that that." A prominent member of the British parliament displayed even more ignorance when he told the press, "Why should we bother with those gypsies in the Balkans?", meaning the Czechs who were of course not gypsies or located in the Balkans and were both democratic and had both the military capacity to resist the Germans and a substantial arms industry.) Chamberlain added that he would be willing to travel to Germany a third time if peace was possible, but if any nation aspired to world domination that they would have to be resisted.


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Created: 2:00 AM 11/19/2014
Last updated: 2:00 AM 11/19/2014