1939: The Making of the Second World War by Sidney Aster

1939: The Making of the Second World War

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One of those annoying narratives written de novo, on a subject which demands explicit confrontation with other historians' concepts and conclusions -- in this case, A. J. P. Taylor at a minimum. Drawing on British documents released in 1970, Aster tends to bog down in particulars. Insofar as he has a general thesis, it seems to be that nothing would have stopped Hitler; therefore don't blame the appeasers too much. However, he doesn't exactly skimp on Ambassador Henderson's romance with the Third Reich: ""The hostile attitude to Germany did not represent the will of the British people. It was the work of Jews and enemies of the Nazis,"" reads the German transcript of Henderson's August 1939 modifications of the Nazis, while Aster shows once again that the rest of the policy makers felt more or less the same way. Even after the September invasion of Poland, the Chamberlain government fussed around trying to patch things up with Hitler at Poland's expense, despite the nation's outrage, which finally forced a declaration of war. Aster repeatedly demonstrates how Chamberlain refused to make the ultimate appeasernent -- allowing Hitler a totally free hand in Eastern Europe -- but fails to explain why, having naively denied that the British had any stakes there since 1914. The book is best read for its quotations and side references (including the often-neglected Soviet effort as early as 1934 to make friends with Hitler), not as an analytic study of appeasement.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1974
ISBN: 0751202444
Publisher: Simon & Schuster