Neville Chamberlain

Knowledge Identifier: +Neville_Chamberlain

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Neville Chamberlain

British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940 add

Category: Politics

Born in 1869.

Countries: United Kingdom (57%), Germany (14%), (8%)

Education: undef.

Main connections: Stanley Baldwin, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler

Linked to: Conservative Party, Mason Science College, Secretary of State for Health, Labour Party

 

Timeline


 

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Neville Chamberlain was born in 1869 add something


1889

Neville Chamberlain had little interest in his studies there, and in 1889, his father apprenticed him to a firm of accountants add something


1900

During the "Khaki election" of 1900 he made speeches in support of Joseph Chamberlain's Liberal Unionists add something

 

University of Birmingham - Special Collections contains the Chamberlain collection of papers from Neville Chamberlain, Joseph_Chamberlain and Austen Chamberlain, the Avon Papers belonging to Antony Eden with material on the Suez Crisis, the Cadbury Papers relating to the Cadbury firm from 1900 to 1960, the Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern Manuscripts of Alphonse Mingana, the Noël Coward Collection, the papers of Edward Elgar, Oswald Mosley, and David Lodge, and the records of the English YMCA and of the Church Missionary Society


1910

In 1910, he fell in love with Anne Cole, a distant relative by marriage, and the following year married her add something


1911

In 1911, Neville Chamberlain successfully stood as a Liberal Unionist for Birmingham City Council for All Saints' Ward, located within his father's parliamentary constituency add something


1914

The start of war in 1914 prevented implementation of his plans add something


1915

In 1915, Chamberlain became Lord Mayor of Birmingham add something


1916

After working in business and local government and after a short spell as Director of National Service in 1916 and 1917, Chamberlain followed his father, Joseph Chamberlain, and older half-brother, Austen Chamberlain, in becoming a Member of Parliament in the 1918 general election at age 49 add something

 

In December 1916, the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, offered Chamberlain the new position of Director of National Service, with responsibility for coordinating conscription and ensuring that essential war industries were able to function with sufficient workforces add something


1917

However, his tenure was marked by conflict with Lloyd George, and in August 1917, having received little support from the Prime Minister, Chamberlain resigned add something


1920

In March 1920, he was offered a junior post at the Ministry of Health by Bonar Law on behalf of the Prime Minister, but was unwilling to serve under Lloyd George add something

 

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra - Founded by Neville Chamberlain, the orchestra first performed as the "'City of Birmingham Orchestra"' in September 1920, with Appleby Matthews conducting its first concert


1922

He declined a junior ministerial position, remaining a backbencher until 1922 add something

 

When Sir Arthur Griffith-Boscawen, the Minister of Health, lost his seat in the 1922 general election and failed to win a by-election in March 1923, Bonar Law offered the position, within the Cabinet, to Chamberlain add something

 

Unionist leaders were willing to fight the 1922 election in coalition with the Liberals, but on 19 October, Unionist MPs held a meeting at which they voted to leave the Coalition add something


1923

Chamberlain served only five months in the office before the Conservatives were defeated in the 1923 general election add something

 

He was rapidly promoted in 1923 to Minister of Health and Chancellor of the Exchequer add something

 

In August 1923, Baldwin promoted Chamberlain to the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer add something

 

Janet Lane-Claypon - In 1923, the Minister of Health, Neville Chamberlain, set up a committee to look into the causation, prevalence and treatment of cancer and to advise the ministry on the best way to investigate these problems


1924

After a short Labour-led government, he returned as Minister of Health, introducing a range of reform measures from 1924 to 1929 add something

 

Stanley Baldwin - After winning the 1924 General Election Baldwin formed his second government, which saw important tenures of office by Sir Austen Chamberlain , Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain


1925

The Liberal Unionists were allied with the Conservatives and later merged with them under the name "Unionist Party", which in 1925 became known as the "Conservative and Unionist Party" add something


1926

Though Chamberlain struck a conciliatory note during the 1926 General Strike, in general he had poor relations with the Labour opposition add something


1927

Future Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee complained that Chamberlain "always treated us like dirt", and Chamberlain wrote in April 1927, "More and more do I feel an utter contempt for their lamentable "stupidity" add something


1929

Before he left office in 1929, 21 of the 25 had passed into law add something

 

In 1929, Chamberlain brought in legislation to abolish the Poor Law boards entirely add something

 

Baldwin called a general election for 30 May 1929, which resulted in a hung parliament, with Labour holding the most seats add something


1930

Labour Party (UK) - As the threat from Nazi Germany increased in the 1930s the Labour Party gradually abandoned its earlier pacifist stance and supported re-armament, largely due to the efforts of Ernest Bevin and Hugh Dalton who by 1937 had persuaded the party to oppose Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement

 

Fighter aircraft - From the early 1930s the Japanese had been at war against both the Chinese Nationalists and the Russians in China, and used the experience to improve both training and aircraft, replacing biplanes with modern cantilever monoplanes and creating a cadre of exceptional pilots for use in the Pacific War. In the United Kingdom, at the behest of Neville Chamberlain, the entire British aviation industry was retooled, allowing it to change quickly from fabric covered metal framed biplanes to cantilever stressed skin monoplanes in time for the war with Germany

 

Anthony Eden - Too often in his career, for instance in the late 1930s, following his resignation from Chamberlain's government, his parliamentary performances disappointed many of his followers


1931

After the 1931 general election, in which supporters of the National Government won an overwhelming victory, MacDonald designated Chamberlain as Chancellor add something

 

He was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in the National Government in 1931 add something

 

In 1931, the MacDonald government faced a serious crisis, as the May Report revealed that the budget was unbalanced, with an expected shortfall of £120 million add something

 

On 24 August 1931, the Labour government resigned and MacDonald formed a National Government, supported by most Conservative MPs add something

 

George Eastman - On 20 November 1931, the Eastman Dental Clinic opened in a ceremony attended by Neville Chamberlain, Minister of Health, and the American Ambassador to the UK. The clinic was incorporated into the Royal Free Hospital and was committed to providing dental care for disadvantaged children from central London


1932

Between 1932 and 1938, Chamberlain halved the percentage of the budget devoted to payment of interest on the war debt add something

 

The Import Duties Act 1932 passed Parliament easily add something

 

When Chamberlain became Prime Minister, relations between the United Kingdom and the Irish Free State had been strained since the 1932 accession of the new Irish Taoiseach Éamon de Valera add something

 

On 4 February 1932, Neville Chamberlain laid his bill before the Commons add something

 

Chamberlain presented his first budget in April 1932 add something


1933

In June 1933, Britain hosted the World Monetary and Economic Conference add something

 

Lionel Beaumont Thomas - However, after the breakdown of his marriage, in spring 1933 he wrote to Neville Chamberlain to say that he would be standing down "for reasons of health


1934

By 1934, Chamberlain was able to declare a budget surplus, and restore many of the cuts in unemployment compensation and civil servant salaries he had made after taking office add something


1935

By 1935, faced with a resurgent Germany under Hitler's leadership, he was convinced of the need for rearmament add something

 

In 1935, MacDonald stood down as Prime Minister, while Baldwin became Prime Minister for the third time add something

 

In the 1935 general election, the Conservative-dominated National Government lost 90 seats from the massive majority of 1931, but still retained an overwhelming majority of 255 in the House of Commons add something

 

Philip Cunliffe-Lister, 1st Earl of Swinton - At the 1935 general election he did not contest his seat and was instead ennobled as Viscount Swinton, retaining his ministerial office for the next three years into the premiership of Neville Chamberlain


1936

Soon after the 1936 Abdication Crisis, Baldwin announced that he would remain until shortly after the Coronation of King Edward's successor George VI add something

 

Talks had been suspended under Baldwin in 1936, but resumed in November 1937 add something

 

John Crichton, 5th Earl Erne - Erne was active in the House of Lords and served as a Lord-in-Waiting from 1936 to 1939 in the National Government led firstly by Stanley Baldwin and later by Neville Chamberlain

 

Roger Keyes, 1st Baron Keyes - Keyes was part of two parliamentary deputations which called on the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Neville Chamberlain, in the autumn of 1936 to remonstrate with them about the slow pace of British rearmament in the face of the growing threat from Nazi Germany

 

Edward Spears - Spears became its chairman in 1936; it would become a focus for those MPs who were suspicious of the European policies of Neville Chamberlain's government

 

Clement Attlee - In April 1936 the Chancellor of the Exchequer Neville Chamberlain introduced a budget which increased the amount spent on the armed forces


1937

Soon after attaining the premiership, Chamberlain obtained passage of the Factories Act 1937 add something

 

When Stanley Baldwin retired in May 1937, Chamberlain took his place as Prime Minister add something

 

Foreign Minister Konstantin von Neurath was supposed to visit Britain in July 1937, but cancelled his visit add something

 

Stanley Baldwin - Baldwin retired in 1937 and was succeeded by Neville Chamberlain

 

Clement Attlee - By 1937, Labour had jettisoned its pacifist position and came to support rearmament and oppose Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement

 

Liberal Unionist Party - It remained a profound influence on Chamberlain's sons Austen and Neville Chamberlain, who, when he was elected leader of the Conservative Party and thus became Prime Minister in 1937, told an audience how proud he was of his Liberal Unionist roots

 

Alan Napier - Napier was a cousin of Neville Chamberlain, Britain's prime minister from 1937 to 1940

 

William Lyon Mackenzie King - In June 1937, during an Imperial Conference of all the Dominion Prime Ministers in London convened during the coronation of King George VI, King informed British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain that Canada would only go to war if Britain were directly attacked, and that if Britain were to become involved in a continental war Chamberlain was not to expect Canadian support


1938

Munich Agreement - Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany add something

 

In 1938, Parliament enacted the Coal Act 1938, which allowed for nationalisation of coal deposits add something

 

Oxford historian R. A. C. Parker argued that Chamberlain could have forged a close alliance with France after the "Anschluss", in early 1938, and begun a policy of containment of Germany under the auspices of the League of Nations add something

 

The Housing Act 1938 provided subsidies aimed at encouraging slum clearance, and maintained rent control add something

 

The letters which I am still receiving in such vast quantities so unanimously dwell on the same point, namely without Munich the war would have been lost and the Empire destroyed in 1938 add something

 

In February 1938, Hitler began to press the Austrian government to accept "Anschluss" or union between Germany and Austria add something

 

In March 1938, Austria became a part of Germany in the "Anschluss" add something

 

Britain and Italy signed an agreement in April 1938 add something

 

With the talks facing deadlock, Chamberlain made the Irish a final offer in March 1938 which acceded to many Irish positions, though Chamberlain was confident that he had "only given up the small things", and the agreements were signed on 25 April 1938 add something

 

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother - Munich Agreement - After the Munich Agreement of 1938 appeared to forestall the advent of armed conflict, the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was invited onto the balcony of Buckingham Palace with the King and Queen to receive acclamation from a crowd of well-wishers

 

Roger Keyes, 1st Baron Keyes - Munich agreement - He was opposed to the Munich agreement that Neville Chamberlain made with Adolf Hitler in 1938 and, along with Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Louis Spears and Duff Cooper, was one of the few who withheld support from the Government on this issue

 

Percy Cradock - Among them, "the Economist" attacked that both Cradock and Thatcher made no difference from former Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who betrayed Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany by signing the Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler in 1938

 

Robert Menzies - Even more damning was that as Attorney-General and Deputy Prime Minister, Menzies had made an official visit to Germany in 1938, when the official policy of the Autralian government, supported by the Opposition, echoed its London masters in supporting Neville Chamberlain's policy of Appeasement

 

Horace Trevor-Cox - He was appointed in 1938 as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Trade minister Ronald Cross, becoming the most junior member of Neville Chamberlain's government

 

Rab Butler - In 1938 he was appointed Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in Neville Chamberlain's government

 

John Reith, 1st Baron Reith - Reith was invited to resign his post at the BBC in 1938 by Neville Chamberlain by being made the offer of the chairmanship of Imperial Airways

 

Anthony Eden - His resignation in February 1938 was largely attributed to growing dissatisfaction with Chamberlain's policy of Appeasement

 

Enoch Powell - After Neville Chamberlain's first visit to Adolf Hitler at Berchtesgaden, Powell wrote in a letter to his parents of 18 September 1938:

 

Stanley Baldwin - Baldwin supported the Munich Agreement and said to Chamberlain on 26 September 1938: "If you can secure peace, you may be cursed by a lot of hotheads but my word you will be blessed in Europe and by future generations"

 

Anglo-German Naval Agreement - At the conference in Munich that led to the Munich Agreement in September 1938, Hitler informed Neville Chamberlain that if British policy was "to make it clear in certain circumstances" that Britain might be intervening in a European war, the political preconditions for the A.G.N.A no longer existed, and Germany should denounce the A.G.N.A., thus leading to Chamberlain including mention of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement in the Anglo-German Declaration of September 30, 1938

 

David Hoggan - Hoggan charged the alleged conspiracy was headed by the British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, who, Hoggan contended, had seized control of British foreign policy in October 1938 from Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who was allegedly assisted by Polish Foreign Minister Colonel Józef Beck in what Hoggan called a monstrous anti-German plot

 

Herbert von Dirksen - In December 1938, the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain gave a speech at a formal dinner of the correspondents of the German News Agency in London with Dirksen present


1939

Chamberlain's plans for the reform of local government were shelved because of the outbreak of war in 1939 add something

 

The author, Liberal MP Geoffrey Mander, had voted against conscription in 1939 add something

 

When Hitler continued his aggression, Chamberlain pledged Britain to defend Poland's independence if the latter were attacked, an alliance that brought Britain into war when Germany attacked Poland in 1939 add something

 

However, actual government expenditures rose by little more than the rate of inflation between September 1939 and March 1940 add something

 

Germany invaded Poland in the early morning hours of 1 September 1939 add something

 

Likewise, the proposal to raise the school-leaving age to 15, scheduled for implementation on 1 September 1939, could not go into effect add something

 

Second World War - When Adolf Hitler continued his aggression by invading Poland, Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, and Chamberlain led Britain through the first eight months of the Second World War add something

 

James Thomas, 1st Viscount Cilcennin - He entered the government as a Lord of the Treasury under Neville Chamberlain in 1939, an office he retained when Winston Churchill became Prime Minister in May 1940

 

David Hoggan - Newman's thesis was somewhat similar to Hoggan's in that he argued that Britain was willing to risk a war with Germany in 1939, though Newman's book differed sharply from Hoggan's in that besides being based upon British archives that were closed in the 1950s, it was Neville Chamberlain rather than Lord Halifax who was seen as driving British foreign policy

 

Stanley Baldwin - Rightly or wrongly, Baldwin, Chamberlain and MacDonald were held responsible for the United Kingdom's military unpreparedness on the eve of war in 1939

 

Gerhard Weinberg - As an example, Weinberg noted during a meeting between Neville Chamberlain and Adam von Trott zu Solz in June 1939, Hoggan had Chamberlain saying that the British guarantee of Polish independence given on March 31, 1939 did not please him personally at all

 

Erich Raeder - Raeder supported the idea of aggression against Poland, but on 31 March 1939 the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had announced the guarantee" of Poland, by which Britain would go to war against any nation that attempted to end Polish independence

 

Maurice Hankey, 1st Baron Hankey - In August 1939 he advised Neville Chamberlain about the formation of a new War Cabinet and the following month become another of Chamberlain's many non-party political appointments when he was made Minister without Portfolio and a member of the War Cabinet

 

Allies of World War II - British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and the British government justified their intervention against Germany in September 1939, following its intervention against Poland, by stating that Germany had initiated an illegal act of aggression against Poland

 

Anthony Eden - In September 1939, on the outbreak of war, Eden, who had briefly rejoined the army with the rank of major, returned to Chamberlain's government as Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, but was not in the War Cabinet

 

Muhammad Ali Jinnah - On 3 September 1939, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced the commencement of war with Nazi Germany

 

Morning Star (British newspaper) - On 3 September 1939, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain spoke to the nation on the BBC, at which time he announced the formal declaration of war between Britain and Nazi Germany

 

John Ross Campbell - On 3 September 1939, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain spoke to the nation on the BBC, announcing the declaration of war between Britain and Nazi Germany


1940

In early 1940, the Allies approved a naval campaign to seize northern Norway, a neutral country, including the key port of Narvik, and possibly to seize the iron mines at Gällivare in northern Sweden, from which Germany obtained much of its iron ore add something

 

This was the case when he left office in 1940 and it remains so sixty years later add something


Neville Chamberlain died in 1940 add something

 

Twice in May 1940, Churchill broached the subject of bringing Lloyd George into the government add something

 

Chamberlain resigned the premiership on 10 May 1940, after the Allies were forced to retreat from Norway as he believed a government supported by all parties was essential, and the Labour and Liberal parties would not join a government headed by him add something

 

When Chamberlain entered the House of Commons on 13 May 1940, for the first time since his resignation, "MPs lost their heads, they shouted, they cheered, they waved their order papers, and his reception was a regular ovation add something

 

War Cabinet - When Axis feelers for peace reached the War Cabinet on 26 May 1940, with the Benelux nations conquered and France tottering, Halifax urged following up and seeing if the actual offer was worthwhile add something

 

Chamberlain had long enjoyed excellent health, except for occasional attacks of gout, but by July 1940, he was in almost constant pain add something

 

Chamberlain's reputation remains controversial among historians, with the initial high regard for him being entirely eroded by books such as "Guilty Men", published in July 1940, which blamed Chamberlain and his associates for the Munich accord and for allegedly failing to prepare the country for war add something

 

These reports were to be integrated, with the intent of coordinating the passage of legislation through the current Parliament, the term of which was to expire in November 1940 add something

 

Chamberlain died of bowel cancer on 9 November 1940 at the age of 71 add something

 

Stanley Baldwin - After Chamberlain's death in 1940, Baldwin's perceived part in pre-war appeasement made him an unpopular figure during and after World War II

 

Austin Hopkinson - During breaks in his service he voted against Chamberlain after the Norway debate of 1940, and supported Churchill's policy of 'total war', but opposed the use of secret sessions of the House of Commons to suppress public criticism of the performance of Ministers

 

Michael Foot - In 1940, under the pen-name "Cato" he and two other Beaverbrook journalists published "Guilty Men", a Left Book Club book attacking the appeasement policy of the Chamberlain government that became a run-away best-seller

 

Alec Douglas-Home - Similarly, after the resignation of Neville Chamberlain in 1940 there were two likely successors, Churchill and Halifax, but the latter ruled himself out for the premiership on the grounds that his membership of the House of Lords disqualified him

 

Labour Party (UK) - When Neville Chamberlain resigned in the spring of 1940, incoming-Prime Minister Winston Churchill decided to bring the other main parties into a coalition similar to that of the First World War. Clement Attlee was appointed Lord Privy Seal and a member of the war cabinet, eventually becoming the United Kingdom's first Deputy Prime Minister

 

Quintin Hogg, Baron Hailsham of St Marylebone - Hogg voted against Neville Chamberlain in the Norway Debate of May 1940, and supported Winston Churchill

 

David Lloyd George - In perhaps the last important parliamentary intervention of his career, which occurred during the crucial Norway Debate of May 1940, Lloyd George made a powerful speech that helped to undermine Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister and to pave the way for the ascendancy of Churchill as Premier

 

World War II - British discontent over the Norwegian campaign led to the replacement of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain with Winston Churchill on 10 May 1940


1941

"We Were Not All Wrong", published in 1941, took a similar tack as "Guilty Men", arguing that Liberal and Labour MPs, and a small number of Conservatives, had fought against Chamberlain's appeasement policies add something


1945

Though a few Conservatives offered their own versions of events, most notably MP Quintin Hogg in his 1945 "The Left was Never Right", by the end of the war, there was a very strong public belief that Chamberlain was culpable for serious diplomatic and military misjudgments that had nearly caused Britain's defeat add something


1948

The Second World War - In 1948, with the publication of "The Gathering Storm", the first volume of Churchill's six-volume set, "The Second World War", Chamberlain sustained an even more serious assault from the right add something


1961

Conservative MP Iain Macleod's 1961 biography of Chamberlain was the first major biography of a revisionist school of thought on Chamberlain add something


1967

The adoption of the Thirty Year Rule in 1967 made available many of the papers of the Chamberlain government over the subsequent three years, helping to explain why Chamberlain acted as he did add something


1972

The resultant works greatly fuelled the revisionist school, although they included books that strongly criticised Chamberlain, such as Keith Middlemas's 1972 "Diplomacy of Illusion" add something


1990

In reaction against the revisionist school of thought regarding Chamberlain, a post-revisionist school emerged, beginning in the 1990s, using the released papers to justify the initial conclusions of "Guilty Men" add something


2001

Though Feiling produced what historian David Dutton described in 2001 as "the most impressive and persuasive single-volume biography" of Chamberlain , he could not repair the damage already done to Chamberlain's reputation add something