Neville Chamberlain (1869 – 1940) British Prime Minister 1937 – 1940, whose name is synonymous with appeasement. His first attempt was to keep Britain out of the Spanish Civil War in the hope of winning favour with Italy. His second was an attempt to buy favour with Italy in order to sway them from German influence, by recognising Italian sovereignty over Ethiopa. His third attempt was over three trips to Germany in an attempt to stop Hitler invading the rest of Czechoslovakia, caving in to most of Hitler’s demands. However, at the same time he escalated British military spending, production, and training, while forming alliances and pacts, notably with Poland, so, he wasn’t completely innactive in preparation.
Chamberlain’s main modus operandi was in trying to placate Hitler and Mussolini in order to prevent a major war in Europe. The famous moment was when he gave a speech, while waving the agreement with Hitler to honour the sovereignty of Czechoslovakia, speaking of “Peace with honour” a line he borrowed from Benjamin Disraeli, and “Peace for our time” (which is invariably misquoted as “Peace in our Time”). But history shows that Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement failed miserably, as Winston Churchill had predicted.
The Beginning’s Never As Important
I’m not sure where it began,
though you always say that doesn’t matter.
The beginning’s never as important as the end.
But my my mouth threw words like bullets on concrete,
hard, indiscriminate wounds
that imperilled our very being.
I tried to trace the history of the world,
and you retreated to foreign climes.
“I’m out of here if that’s how it is!”
I stared at the floor, my honour defended,
truth the ego’s demand.
While an ocean of tears formed a gulf between us.
The shadows grew long as the clock struck an hour.
Like metal on metal,
my nerves all jangled and churned.
In the embers of light I glimsed your face,
your cheekbones, your eyes, seemed soft.
I sank in your ocean and surrendered myself.
You welcomed me ashore,
embracing a long, lost friend.
And we dressed each other’s wounds.
“I feel so … when you … I do too, I’m sorry I …”
History resolved, the future imperative,
the beginning’s never as important as the end.