British encirclement and encouragement
– the real story of appeasement
Here is an extract of my superficial findings,Put shortly :
The main noticeable point is that the appeasement policy was neither of a matter of accommodating Germany, but rather in the contrary was a policy of encouraging Germany to expand in the east. This policy was followed by the core group, the anti-Bolsheviks, with the other groups tailing. To make this believable to the British public, German military abilities were exaggerated and British abilities underrated in order to produce an impression of accommodation. In other words, a policy of media deceit was set in motion – rather similar to the campaign 40 years earlier - and has remained in force ever after WW II. This policy derailed in 1939, as the elite lost control over the popular opinion it had excited- and France was not far behind :...
Hart, Basil Henry Liddell, (1970). History of the Second World War, London: Cassell
Quigley, Carroll. (1966). Tragedy and Hope, A History of the World in Our Time, New York Macmillian.
The same group that advocated a change of towards a “total war” bombing policy, were the group that changed Britain’s policy towards a confrontation with Germany, as opposed to the former informal alliance of the 1930s. An alliance policy with deep rots and to which WW I had been a short interruption.
Hart draws a picture where the British and French leaders are portrayed as more or less ignorants, who continuously encouraged Hitler’s expansion for no other reason than cowardice, and then suddenly and irrationally for no reason turned around. In view of the importance of these matters, Hart's ‘ease of heart’ is here remarkable.
I will quote Hart at length (in my article) because of the importance of this matter and the authority Hart holds. After presenting these details, we shall proceed to show some of the play performed behind the curtains, using Carroll Quigley as our source. We shall se that Hart and Quigley both present a picture radically different from the traditional view of the causes of WW II. Both point to the active role especially of Britain in encouraging Germany’s expansion in Eastern Europe. Quigley supplies us with the reasons for this, namely the fear of Russian Bolshevism and the perceived need to create a buffer for the Western Powers. Hart writes,
Let us now take a look at the American historian Carroll Quigley’s account. This may give us some of the clues of the British about-turn that Hart simply ignored following up. Quigley finds the background of the appeasement policy to lie in the British opinion of unfair treatment of Germany in the Versailles Treaty and a total refusal to enforce it in the 1930s e.g. through the use of veto. In the battles between various internal factions regarding external policy the tendency was to regard the encirclement policy as primordial; of France, then Russia, and to a lesser extent Czechoslovakia. Germany was from the outset regarded as an ally against these, as it had been in the 18th and 19th Century. Since Czechoslovakia was an ally of France and Russia, she would simply have to go, likewise Austria and the Polish corridor in order to strengthen Germany. The outcome was to encourage Germany to expand in the east to create ad bulwark against Communist Russia. France’s policy of encircling Germany was destroyed, whereas Britain’s encirclement of France was so successful that in the end she ended up without any allies and came begging at the doorsteps of Britain. The main disagreement within Britain concerned the role and fate of the Soviet Union. The question was whether to dismantle the Soviet Union, as the anti-Bolsheviks desired - or being content with containing it between a German dominated Europe and an English speaking Atlantic bloc – as desired by Three-bloc group. In the shorter term they agreed however, in rebuilding Germany and weakening France and Czechoslovakia. This was the unified basis of the so-called ‘appeasement policy’, which might better have been termed ‘containment policy’.
The main noticeable point is that the appeasement policy was neither of a matter of accommodating Germany, but rather in the contrary was a policy of encouraging Germany to expand in the east. This policy was followed by the core group, the anti-Bolsheviks, with the other groups tailing. To make this believable to the British public, German military abilities were exaggerated and British abilities underrated in order to produce an impression of accommodation. In other words, a policy of media deceit was set in motion – rather similar to the campaign 40 years earlier - and has remained in force ever after WW II. This policy derailed in 1939, as the elite lost control over the popular opinion it had excited.
In the following section Hart describes how a Chamberlain’s overly optimistic mood in the prospect of peace, including compliance with Hitler’s policy, suddenly changed for no apparent reason to “a complete about turn”. Hart writes that public option “underwent a similarly violent reaction “. It is seems obvious that herein the devil is buried, regarding the origins of the Second World War. It is therefore amazing that Hart makes no effort to explain this crucial turn-around.
We will see later that even Quigley is rather superficial on the crucial point. The most obvious candidate for a reason has normally been regarded as Hitler’s seizure of the Czech rump part of Czechoslovakia, thereby surpassing the Munich agreement. On closer inspection, however, it turns out that this is not so. For the Conservative politicians in Western Europe, Czechoslovakia was only a piece in the game, and an undesirable entity which had to be removed - as Quigley will show below. The leading politicians in both Britain and France were quite willing to sacrifice Czechoslovakia, the British leading politicians being the most eager at this business.
As a more realistic candidate for the turn-around, we shall see that Quigley rather points to the impression which this and the other scare propaganda made on the public, making it necessary for the politicians to follow the popular mood in order to become re-elected. The politicians therefore indirectly fell victim to their own scare propaganda, and democracy ironically revenged itself on the politicians by sacrificing their electorate, the people, on the plate of war. If there is a lesson in this, it may be that politicians should be careful in manipulating and stirring popular emotions, since these may turn out to take over and run the show rather than remaining controllable puppets.
These events in the late 1930s are a telling story of how modern democracies are more unpredictable than e.g. former autocracies, since the political leaders have to care for public opinion both in order to get elected and therefore in order to have their ideas carried through. Whereas former British policy was rational given its goal of hegemony (economic, political and militarily), British foreign policy under democracy becomes unpredictable, like democracy itself. One reason is that political leaders cannot count on being the only group to influence public opinion. There are also other and far more influential groups, in particular the capital intensive investors who put their money in the media, on other words the so-called media moguls.
The effect of allowing private enterprise ownership of the media, and in addition allowing a concentration of media ownership, therefore is to allow and give these forces an additional and extremely forceful voice in deciding the agenda and outcome of political decisions. One cannot count on these forces to refrain from making politics, in addition to its mere observing role of politics. The outcome of this neglect to control ownership of the media, therefore, principally tends to convert democracy into plutocracy. And indeed, democracy tended to be followed by plutocracy in the Roman Empire; as Wilhelm Roscher pointed out. (Roscher, 1882. and Roscher, 1892, book 5, Plutokratie und Proletariat).
An analysis of the reasons for political change during the democratic ages, such as the reasons for WW II, therefore cannot neglect an analysis of how these media moguls changed public opinion. This core problem of the democracy has since then escalated, to put it mildly.
Karl Bücher was one of many who warned against this development.
"The combination of public news with private interests in the publishing business is generally damaging. A cure is only possible though a separation of the advertisement business from the editorial publications of the news press. Only thereby can one of our most important cultural institutions become sounder. The advertisement business must become a public affair and then the discussion of matter of public interest can as earlier be left to the private business. As long as they are united there can be no honest talk of freedom of the press."(Bücher, Karl (1893). Die Entstehung der Volkswirtschaft, 7th ed. 1922, Tübingen: Verlag der H.Laupp’schen Buchhandlung, Book II, Chapter VII, pp.195-218: “Der Transport”)
Regarding the Hossbach memorandum from 1937 (on 'lebensraum' in the east) :My impression is this:
Here it should be remembered that some consider the Hossbach memorandum as a fraud. The author of this private memo was Hossbach. Although he was Hitler's former secretary, he also was a political opponent and a friend and ally of the group who planned to assassinate Hitler. The memo was written when preparing a defence for these actions. The original and a copy, both uncertified, have been lost. The memo is therefore worthless as evidence. A fraction of the memo, uncertified naturally, was used as prime evidence at the war tribune in Nürnberg. Like Hart and Quigley, in his The Origins of the Second World War, A. J. P. Taylor originally accepted the memo as a faithful record of the meeting of 5 November 1937. But in a supplementary "Second Thoughts" added to later editions, he admitted that the protocol "contains no directives for action beyond a wish for increased armaments."
 See Quigley's chapter XII, The Policy of Appeasement 1931-1936 and chapter XIII, The disruption of Europe,