Neville Chamberlain

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Arthur Neville Chamberlain (March 18, 1869 – November 9, 1940) was a British politician from a famous political dynasty. After being Mayor of Birmingham, he went into national politics and was Chairman of the Conservative Party from 1929 to 1931. during the National Government of Ramsay Macdonald, Chamberlain served as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He later succeeded Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1937; his government was marked by the build-up to war with Germany. Chamberlain negotiated an agreement with Adolf Hitler which Hitler never intended to honour; he declared war in September 1939 owing to a mutual defence pact with Poland, which Hitler's Germany had invaded.

... a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing.

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  • Without underrating the hardships of our situation, the long tragedy of the unemployed, the grievous burden of taxation, the arduous and painful struggle of those engaged in trade and industry, at any rate we are free from that fear which besets so many less fortunately placed, the fear that things are going to get worse. We owe our freedom from that fear to the fact that we have balanced our budget.
    • Speech in the House of Commons as Chancellor of the Exchequer (25 April, 1933).
  • In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers.
    • Speech at Kettering, (3 July, 1938).
    • The Times (4 July, 1938).
  • 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. It seems still more impossible that a quarrel which has already been settled in principle should be the subject of war.
    • "Prime Minister on the Issues", The Times, 28 September 1938, p. 10.
    • Broadcast, 27 September 1938, referring to the Czechoslovakia crisis.
  • Armed conflict between nations is a nightmare to me, but if I were convinced that any nation had made up its mind to dominate the world by fear of its force I should feel it should be resisted.
    • Speech on 26 September, 1938.
  • This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine.... We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.
  • This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note, stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received and that consequently this country is at war with Germany. ... It is evil things that we will be fighting against—brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution—and against them I am certain that the right will prevail.
    • Chamberlain's broadcast from the Cabinet Rooms at 10 Downing Street (3 September, 1939).
  • I often think to myself that it's not I but someone else who is P.M. and is the recipient of those continuous marks of respect and affection from the general public who called in Downing Street or at the station to take off their hats and cheer. And then I go back to the House of Commons and listen to the unending stream of abuse of the P.M., his faithlessness, his weakness, his wickedness, his innate sympathy with Fascism and his obstinate hatred of the working classes.
    • Letter to Hilda Chamberlain (28 May, 1939).
  • As you know I have always been more afraid of a peace offer than of an air raid.
    • Letter to Ida Chamberlain (8 October, 1939).
  • I stick to the view I have always held that Hitler missed the bus in September 1938. He could have dealt France and ourselves a terrible, perhaps a mortal, blow then. The opportunity will not recur.
    • Letter to Hilda Chamberlain (30 December, 1939).
  • The result was that when war did break out German preparations were far ahead of our own, and it was natural then to expect that the enemy would take advantage of his initial superiority to make an endeavour to overwhelm us and France before we had time to make good our deficiencies. Is it not a very extraordinary thing that no such attempt was made? Whatever may be the reason—whether it was that Hitler thought he might get away with what he had got without fighting for it, or whether it was that after all the preparations were not sufficiently complete—however, one thing is certain: he missed the bus.
    • "Confident of Victory", The Times, 5 April 1940, p. 8.
    • Speech to the Central Council of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations at Central Hall, Westminster, 4 April 1940. Hitler invaded France five weeks later.

About Chamberlain

  • No conqueror returning from a victory on the battlefield has come home adorned with nobler laurels than MR CHAMBERLAIN from Munich yesterday, and KING and people alike have shown by the manner of their reception their sense of his achievement.
  • If ever that silly old man comes interfering here again with his umbrella, I'll kick him downstairs and jump on his stomach in front of the photographers.
    • Adolf Hitler after the Munich Agreement.
    • quoted by Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick, The Inner Circle, Macmillan (1959), p. 135
  • Neville annoys me by mouthing the arguments of complete pacifism while piling up armaments.
  • Mr Chamberlain views everything through the wrong end of a municipal drain-pipe.
    • David Lloyd George as quoted in Rats! (1941) by "The Pied Piper", p. 108; similar remarks have also been attributed to Winston Churchill in later works, including Neville Chamberlain : A Biography (2006) by Robert C. Self, p. 12
  • Monsieur J'aime Berlin (Mr. I-love-Berlin).
    • French nickname for Chamberlain.

External links

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