"In these circumstances I have been considering the possibility of a sudden and dramatic step which might change the whole situation. The plan is that I should inform Herr Hitler that I propose at once to go over to Germany to see him.. I should hope to persuade him that he had an unequalled opportunity of raising his own prestige and fulfilling what he has so often declared to be his aim, namely the establishment of an Anglo-German understanding preceded by a settlement of the Czecho-Slovakian question." Thus wrote Britain's prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, to his king George 6 on September 13, 1938, two days before his meeting with the Fuhrer, on the eve of the meeting which would end by signing the Munich agreements (September 30, 1938).
The author of The Chamberlain-Hitler Deal, Clement Leibovitz, is using that sentence and many others from Chamberlain's statements and writings, in order to present the concept which, according to him, led the Western leaders to reach an agreement with Nazi Germany one year before the breakout of the second world war.
Clement Leibovitz seventy-one years old, a Jew born in Alexandria in Egypt, did his doctorate in Physics at the Technion, Haifa and, since 1969, lives in Canada. Years long he worked in the field of computers. Ten years ago, he published a philosophical novel Memoirs of God. Lately he published an extensive historical research work whose topic is the sources and causes of the second world war. By relying on an endless number of documents, reports, letters and diaries, he uncovers what is open and hidden in the offices of the western countries' leaders, from the days when Hitler prepared his aggressive plans and his military forces towards his great offensive that opened the second world war. With the help of these discoveries, he proposes a thesis that will certainly raise many headlines and sharp controversies, according to which the appeasement policies towards Germany followed by the leaders of the western countries, and principally Britain, gave a free hand to Hitler to do in Central Europe and Eastern Europe as he wishes.
At the eve of the Munich meeting, Chamberlain, according to Leibovitz, faced two options: first, to prevent and even to oppose the policy of aggression and expansion of Germany in Europe, and the other option to make it possible to Germany to dominate Eastern Europe. "Chamberlain faced the option of either successfully preventing, and later resisting, Germany's policy of aggressive expansion, or allowing Germany to expand in Eastern Europe. Chamberlain was certain that Germany would end up making war against the Soviet Union. Motivated by anti-communism, he chose the second option though, in doing so, he was gambling with Britain?s security. I affirm that this choice has been the object of a deal between Chamberlain and Hitler" ? he writes. The British government adopted a naive mistaken belief, that by granting Hitler a free hand in the continental East, she would be able to continue to rule the seas and her empire, and to feel secure in Western Europe.
Tony Benn, member of the House of Commons, who wrote the introduction to Leibovitz's book, arrived ? like the author ? to the conclusion, that the policy of the western governments "... were ... not [policies] of appeasement but of active sympathy and support for Germany.(...) there was a great deal of sympathy among the British establishment for what Hitler and Mussolini were doing. Indeed the essence of the appeasement policy was to persuade Hitler to abandon any plans he might have for an attack on the Western Front and to give him a very broad hint ? if not an outright assurance ? that if he turned East he could have a free hand."
Leibovitz points out that already in the past researchers brought this thesis on the subject of the deal between Chamberlain and Hitler but faltered under very sharp criticism from the British establishment. Others saw in it an interesting speculation, and important historians considered it with doubts and rejected it.. In the days of the cold war, historians hesitated to accept any interpretation which would have presented Britain as an evil entity, just like the Soviet Empire: because this thesis would have helped the Soviet Union to extricate itself from the deal between Stalin and Hitler following the signing of the agreement Molotov-Ribbentrop august 23, 1939. But this thesis, writes Leibovitz, when it was put forward by the Soviets, was not based on sufficient evidence and was presented in a dogmatic way.
Leibovitz, examines a long list of events in Europe since the breakout of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917 till 1939. By presenting them, he wishes to point to the Bolshevik menace, the hatred of the Soviet Union and the fear of Communism which, according to him, were decisive in shaping the policies of the western countries, and at their head Britain, towards Germany under the Nazi rule.
Not only consideration of Foreign policy, but also considerations of internal policy were the ones which decided the policy of the conservative British establishment towards the Soviet country since its inception. To convince his readers on this point, Leibovitz goes back all the way to the middle ages, to the revolt of the peasants at the beginning of the 14th century led by Wat Tyler, in order to prove that the British ruling establishment was struck by an ingrained fear of the general population and saw it as a "mob", and things continued also in the nineteen century with the growth of socialist ideas even prior to the appearance of Marxism and also between the two world wars. The General Strike in Britain in 1926 and also the increase of Labour's strength in those years, introduced a real panic in the British establishment. They were convinced that in order to eliminate the socialist ideology from home, or to prevent the spread of Bolshevism in Europe, the only alternative they faced was to cause the fall of the soviet regime in Russia.
On this background, Leibovitz finds in some of the British conservative head of government, an admiration toward the works of fascism and Mussolini in Italy and toward the anti-republican revolt of Franco against the republic in Spain, and, even more, the active military participation for the "whites" against the "reds" beginning form March 1918. On the basis of this logic, the cold war did not start with the Soviet blockade of Berlin in 1948, but with the British forces landing in Murmansk (March 1918) and in Archangelsk (August 1918).
In relation to the Munich meeting, with the participation of Hitler, Mussolini, Chamberlain and the prime minister of France Edouard Daladier, Leibovitz states that the Chamberlain government nurtured the fear of war in the British public, so that it will accept the appeasement policy towards Germany, Italy and Japan. The meaning of peace of the Government of the British Majesty was not universal but westerly. It did not touch central Europe, to its east and not to the far-east in Asia. For peace, Britain was prepared to sacrifice colonies, but not hers. For peace, she gave a free-hand to Mussolini in Ethiopia, to Japan in China, and agreed to hand over parts of Czechoslovakia to Hitler.
After Munich, the British public opinion was the victim of propaganda manipulations in which collaborated the governments of Britain and Germany. Leibovitz found more than a grain of prejudice in their approach of those British politicians which actively worked to bring closer their country with Hitler's Germany. In January 1938, following a discussion that he had with the German Foreign minister, reported Sir Neville Henderson, Britain's ambassador to Germany, that he told Von Ribbentrop "I would view with dismay another defeat of Germany which would merely serve the purposes of inferior races". In September 1939, as he spoke in front of a group of Lords, the duke of Westminster, known as an anti-Semite and an admirer of Germany, stated that he opposes the mutual shedding of the Britain and German blood, " the two races which are the most akin and most disciplined in the world.
The British, and also the Western appeasement, was not but a policy of giving a free hand to Hitler to denounce the Versailles treaty, to rearm Germany and to institute the general military service; to abrogate the rights of people in Germany and enact in 1935 the racial laws that hit the Jews, to denounce in 1936 the Locarno accords and to remilitarize the Rhineland; to annex Austria in March 1938. In March 15 1939, six months after the signing of the Munich agreement, which was supposed to bring peace to Europe, Hitler's troops invaded Czechoslovakia and triumphantly paraded in Prague. At that time, argues Leibovirtz, Chamberlain and the other western heads of Government sabotaged the possibility to reach an understanding and agreement with Stalin's Soviet Union to a common struggle against Hitler. Even after the invasion of Poland on September 1 1939, France and Britain managed "the phoney war", with the hope that, after Poland, Hitler would turn his troops towards the Soviet Union. Too lately they realised that Hitler's intention was to conquer all of Europe, if not all the world.
Leibovitz's book is a most strongly written condemnation against the leaders of the western countries, and principally against Britain and Neville Chamberlain, and especially when he quotes documents that testifies that those leaders refused, years before war world two, to see the writings on the wall with regards to the aggressive intentions of the nazi regime in Germany. The guarantees that Britain gave to Poland before the nazi invasion, were used after the war by Chamberlain and many historians only as an alibi. Documents published in 1969, including the full protocol of the conversations between Chamberlain and Hitler prove that the British Prime minister thanked the fuhrer "for his clear presentation of Germany's position." that accordingly he promised that under no circumstances there will breakout a war between the two countries
Leibovitz's thesis concerning the Deal made by Hitler and Chamberlain in Munich points to negative role of the Prime minister of Britain and all the British establishment, on the eve of the second world war. They abandoned in Munich nations and countries in Eastern and Central Europe to the aggressiveness of Germany and Hitler. The thesis relies on many documents, portion of which were not dealt with before, and others are shown in a new light. Therefore, it is difficult for the reviewers and the opponents of the thesis to refute it.