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The Road To War Notes

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The Road to War: 1939
 Public opinion in Britain hardened against Germany after Kristallnacht on 9th November 1938. Jewish shops, businesses and Synagogues were burned and looted. Hitler began to give passionate anti-British speeches.
 The government lost two by-elections in November 1938.
 The Sudeten plebiscites and guarantee of Czechoslovakia never materialised.

In early 1939 Chamberlain was worried by a number of false reports claiming Hitler was planning to invade Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Ukraine. In February it was agreed that Britain would go to the aid of the Netherlands or Switzerland if either were attacked by Germany. Britain drew closer to France, but great mistrust still existed between the two countries. France feared Britain may leave them in the lurch, while British Chiefs of Staff feared becoming committed to France. In February, Chamberlain agreed to help defend France in the event of war.

Rearmament:
- In a radical change of defence policy, Britain committed itself to the raising of an army of 32 divisions, agreeing to send it to the continent if necessary.
- Chamberlain's mantra was to 'hope for the best, prepare for the worst' and to him the main purpose of rearmament was to deter Hitler.
- Aircraft production increased from 240 a month in October 1938 to 660 a month in September 1939. There was emphasis put on building fast fighters.
- By April 1939 Britain had an army of 16 divisions, up from 2 a year earlier.
- By September 1939 a full radar chain had been developed.
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By 1939 Chamberlain was much more confident in Britain's capacity to fight. British intelligence had exaggerated German strength and through an alliance with France and a naval blockade victory would be possible.

The End of Czechoslovakia:
- Czechoslovakia was facing serious internal problems with the Slovaks, Poles and Hungarians all laying claim to its territory. By early March President Hacha had to declare martial law.
- Hacha met Hitler on 15th March. He hoped the German leader may help Czechoslovakia, but Hitler told him that the German army were to enter the country in a matter of hours.
- Under the threat of war, Hacha gave in. Later that day German troops occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia claiming it was on the verge of civil war. German Protectorates were established over Bohemia and Moravia. Hungary took Ruthenia, while Slovakia was nominally independent.

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