History GCSE Sources Coursework – The Munich Agreement

Authors Avatar
History GCSE Sources Coursework - The Munich Agreement

By R.E. Warden

) What can you learn from source A about Chamberlain's policy towards Germany? (4)

Source A tells me that Chamberlain did not want to go to war with Germany because he thought Germany was a power to be reckoned with, especially since she had Italy's support. He feared that if it came to war Italy could take advantage of its position in the Mediterranean to attack British territory there (such as Gibraltar) and more importantly stop British shipping to and from her empire, which was very important to Britain. It also shows that Chamberlain thought that if it came to war, Hitler could hurt France where she was weakest. Because the source is an unofficial, private document it can accurately show us Chamberlain's opinion, and though it gives us a good idea of his intent, it does not properly show us his official policy. The source shows that Chamberlain did not think Britain's armaments were strong enough to stand against Germany's, and that therefore they must buy time to build up arms, just in case. It also tells me that Chamberlain felt that the dictators could still be reasoned with and were not devoid of any honour or reasonableness, and that he still held some hope of coming to an agreement to suit everybody. He thought that if he appeased Hitler and Mussolini by helping to fix their grievances, they would be happy and the peace of Europe would be assured.

2) Study A and B. In what ways does source B add to your understanding of Chamberlain's foreign policy? (6)

Source B shows me that Chamberlain genuinely believed that even if Britain and France did act, nothing could save Czechoslovakia from being taken over by the Germans if they wanted to do it. He knew that Czechoslovakia was hemmed in on 3 sides by Germany and believed that Germany had every tactical and military advantage around Czechoslovakia, and Russia could not help either because she was too far away. Source B supports source A in that Source B shows me that Chamberlain still thought that Germany was too strong for Britain and France to take on, and that to protect Czechoslovakia would be tantamount to declaring out-and-out war on Germany, which he was strongly against because he thought that Britain had no chance of an easy and quick victory. The source shares with source A the idea that Chamberlain was unwilling to risk going hastily into a war against a major power, which would cost British money and lives and if, as he thought, Britain was not ready, it could mean a repeat of the extended conflict of the first world war, which everyone was keen to avoid. Chamberlain makes it clear in his diary (source B) that he did not think that it was all worth it over one small country that he thought could probably not be saved anyway. Source B like source A is private and unofficial and therefore shows just what Chamberlain is really thinking, more so than A because it is his diary, presumably intended at the time only for him.

3) Study C and D. In what ways does the evidence of these sources help you to understand Chamberlain's attitude towards Hitler? (10)

The author of Source C was a British ambassador and Chamberlain's main source of information in Germany, and as such Chamberlain must have trusted his views as a high-ranking British dignitary who had been living in Germany probably some time. However, it is possible that Henderson had come around to the German point of view from living there so long and is writing his own opinion, which is biased, as is apparent from his comment in C about how he dislikes the Czechs. If he really had come round to the German point of view, then it is possible that he felt for Germany and like many Germans, considered that Hitler could 'make Germany great again'. If this were true, it would mean either that Henderson actually believed that Hitler was reasonable, or that he deliberately misled Chamberlain about Hitler's intent.
Join now!

Alternatively, officials he had spoken to in the German government may simply have misled Henderson. The Germans knew that he was Britain's main source of information and they may have decided to use him to convince Chamberlain that Germany was stronger than she was and that Hitler was open to options other than going to war, thus encouraging him to put off war by appeasement. In source C Henderson leads Chamberlain to believe that Hitler does not really wish to go to war if he has to, as war would help the opponents of Hitler and Nazism, but ...

This is a preview of the whole essay