Reappraising Anglo-German diplomatic relations, 1919-1939 / Keith B. Sohler.
This study is a reappraisal of Anglo-Germany diplomatic relations during the inter-war period. My particular interest is in the workings and interaction between the respective foreign offices and the critical role they played or should have played during this time period. Both governments had at their disposal highly competent staffs, well versed in diplomatic protocol and international relations. During the inter-war period, 1919-1939 statesmen in Britain and Germany worked for revision of the Treaty of Versailles. No Department worked harder for the peaceful restoration Germany's legitimate rights than the respective Foreign Offices of the two nations.In Germany Gustav Stresemann worked tirelessly to this end, his successor Konstantin von Neurath carried on the work and succeeded beyond almost all expectations in his quest. When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 he acceded to Neurath's wishes and used his Foreign Office to further Germany's aims until he felt he held enough power to accelerate the pace of change and the magnitude of his demands. It was not until 1938 that Hitler felt secure enough in his position to turn the Foreign Office over to Joachim von Ribbentrop and pursue his long cherished plans. Under Ribbentrop the German Foreign Office followed the Führer's orders and did not ask questions.In Britain Ramsey MacDonald had set a precedent in 1924 by appointing himself as Foreign Minister shortly after becoming Prime Minister. Stanley Baldwin preferred to concentrate on domestic affairs and allowed his Foreign Ministers, Sir John Simon and later Mr. Anthony Eden a relatively free hand in conducting foreign policy. When Neville Chamberlain became Prime Minister in 1937 he worked with Eden until he became convinced that his will should prevail in foreign matters. In 1938 he replaced Eden with Lord Halifax at the Foreign Office.From this point on in both London and Berlin some of the most crucial decisions in modern European history were in the hands of two men who were convinced that they and they alone could arbitrate between war and peace on a global scale. In adapting this attitude both men chose to ignore the advice of the competent and talented departments at their disposal and both went so far as to not only ignore advice and counsel given but to fire or replace anyone who would not tell them what they wanted to hear. This was one of the greatest tragedies of the twentieth century and one quite capable of repeating itself in the twenty-first.
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