Showing posts from August, 2018

Eighty years ago, as the tension over the Sudetenland is screwed up, Italy protects its family life and Britain protects its Royal deer

Tensions over Czechoslovakia mounted to fever pitch. It was widely expected that Hitler’s speech at the Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg due in early September would mark the turning point. Most people in Britain feared that it would be an aggressive prelude to military action. The atmosphere of crisis was fuelled by a high profile speech by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir John Simon at Lanark in Scotland. In reality he did nothing beyond restating the British government’s policy that it would support France without setting any particular restrictions to this support. Implicitly if France took military action to protect   Czechoslovakia Britain would join in. This was not welcome in Berlin. Further fuel was added to the fire by the retun of the British ambassador to Berlin, Sir Neville Henderson, to London for consultations. Lord Runciman continued his frantic shuttling between the various parties without reaching any agreement. Tension was also fuelled by moves on t

80 years ago, the burial of a symbolic Front Populaire social measure, the perils of espionage in Nazi Vienna and the social whirl of Prague

As the Front Populaire government in France faded into memory, the Daladier government set about removing symbolic vestiges of what it had attempted to achieve in improving the lot of workers. The most famous of these were paid holidays and the a 40 hour week. The law mandating the latter had been passed in 1936 but it had never been properly implemented but remained on the statute book. Predictably it was highly unpopular with employers. Daladier did not abolish it but drove through a package of measures that undermined its provisions, notably giving employers the power to ompose poorly-paid supplementary hours on their employees. Two ministers resigned in protest but they were swifly replaced. One of the new ministers was Anatole de Monzie, a distinguished writer with a far right agenda, who served as a minister in the Vichy government. The 40 hour week was not to be a reality until the 1980s. Paid holidays, however, survived. The Gestapo arrested the British passport cont

Eighty years ago: Berlin shares plummet and the value of German forces are talked up to a willing (insider) bear of French air power

There was another day of sharp falls in share prices on the Berlin stock exchange. Perhaps curiously the prospect of imminent war over the Sudetenland was not a major factor; the hardest hit major share was a major weapons maker, Deutsche Waffen- und-Munitionsfabriken. The falls were ascribed to Jewish investors liquidating holdings and growing concern at the Nazis’ autarkic economic policies. The summer manoeuvres of the German army were widely publicized to emphasise to France and Britain that the Wehrmacht was well-prepared to invade Czechoslovakia if the Fuehrer decided to. The presence of army reservists was well-flagged as a way of advertising German reserves of manpower. The taunting local press coverage of the manoeuvres claimed that they were inspiring nervousness in Prague, which was described as an ally of the Soviet Union. One of the most important foreign visitors to the manoeuvres was General Vuillemin, the chief of staff of the French air force, was there