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Showing posts from January, 2019

Eighty years ago, the last significant moderate eliminated from Germany's leadership, Francoist shells fall on Barcelona and Chamberlain's call to arms sounds more like a call to gasmasks

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The last significant moderate was removed from power in Germany. Hjalmar Schacht, the President of the Reichsbank, and two of his senior officials were dismissed from their posts. Schacht had been losing ground in the face of the drive to a wholly autarkic economic model, which practically imposed total war conditions, and his opposition to yet more borrowings to fund this policy had been the final straw. Schacht was replaced by Walter Funk, the Economics Minister, who had taken over from Schacht in that job six years before. Funk remained as Economics Minister, signalling that any pretence at organized state finance was at an end. This came as something of a blow to British appeasers who had hoped to use the close friendship between Schacht and Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England, as an avenue to appease Germany economically. To the outside world it looked as though the Prime Minister wanted to consult Norman on Schacht’s ouster when Norman was invited to Downing

Eighty years ago, the first IRA mainland bombing campaign begins, the Labour Party fights off an extreme left hijack attempt and Chamberlain takes "peace for our time" on tour

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After years of inactivity the IRA launched a bombing campaign in mainland Britain. A more militant faction had recently taken control of the organization and wrote to Lord Halifax, the Foreign Secretary, “declaring war” on Britain. The grandly named “S Plan” was intended to damage vital infrastructure but the manpower and technical skill available to the IRA were not up to the job. The campaign started with five near simultaneous explosions in London and Manchester. One man was killed and two were injured, all civilians. There was extensive damage. One of the targets was bridge on the Liverpool and Leeds Canal. The extreme left wing Labour MP Sir Stafford Cripps launched a one man bid to drive the party into a “popular front” with the Communist Party, supposedly to provide more effective opposition to Chamberlain’s government. After his proposal to the National Executive was soundly defeated, he appealed to branches directly in defiance of the rules. His only notable suppor

Eighty years ago, Poland Feels Its Way In the Post-Munich World, the Vice Closes on Catalonia, the Japanese Old Guard Fades Away and a Machine Speaks

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The Polish Foreign Minister Colonel Beck paid an official visit to Munich for talks with the Nazi leadership including Hitler and Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop. Poland was still in process of finding its place in a Europe that had been reshaped by the Czech crisis in September. Poland had been happy to seize Teschen from Czechoslovakia whilst it was helpless in the face of German aggression but had not entered into any long term deal. Poland had its usual quota of Balkan territorial claims in which Germany might provide further support. Germany for its part would have liked Poland to join the Anti-Comintern pact, more as a loose alliance of non-democratic states than out of any particular fear of the USSR. But Poland as a Versailles creation had been granted much old German territory which the Reich ultimately wanted back. The vice was closing on what remained of Republican Catalonia. In the north it was mainly Franco’s own forces and in the south the attackers were predo