Chamberlain Proclaims Peace for our Time,
On September 30 1938 the nation celebrated what most perceived as an agreement guaranteeing ‘Peace for our time’ as Chamberlain stated – often misquoted as ‘Peace in our time’. The Prime Minister returned from his summit in Munich with Hitler, Mussolini, and the French Prime Minister Édouard Deladier in supposed triumph; when he landed at Heston Civil Aerodrome near Hounslow he was surrounded by cheering crowds; the same aerodrome would soon host Spitfires, Hurricanes and eventually USAF Flying Fortress bombers.
At Heston Chamberlain spoke of “the settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem,” in effect the craven surrender to Hitler’s bellicose demands regarding the Czechoslovak Sudetenland territory. Later at 10 Downing Street he brazenly described the agreement as “peace with honour,” and not of course aware of the irony that the phrase would have in the future, spoke of “peace for our time.” Many have sympathy for Chamberlain at this point, as the country was desperate to avoid another Great War; he had also been led to believe by senior military men that British forces were far worse prepared for conflict than Hitler’s. But the facts that have emerged regarding later events, when he tried to back out of confronting Germany once Poland had been invaded, leave a damning picture of Chamberlain to history: a man who did not act with honour, and who by delaying inevitable confrontation and preparation for it ensured the conflict occurred; that the conflict endured longer than it might otherwise; and nearly saw Britain defeated.
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