Did the Cold War really start in the period 1919-39?



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Did the Cold War really start in the period 1919-39?




Case Study 3: The Munich Agreement and after 1938-9



Case Study Question: How did the Munich Agreement of September 1938 affect relations between the USSR and Britain and France?
In the late 1930s the storm clouds were gathering over Europe. The main reason was the actions of German leader Adolf Hitler. He made it clear that his long term aim was to attack the USSR and destroy Communism. But in the short term he was causing worries in Western and Central Europe. By 1938 he had broken the terms of the Treaty of Versailles by rebuilding Germany’s armed forces and by taking control of Austria. In September 1938 he threatened to go to war with Czechoslovakia if the Czechs refused to hand over certain parts of their lands to Germany. Britain and France had treaties with Czechoslovakia, so if there was a war then they would be drawn in.
On September 29th Britain and France reached an agreement with Hitler at a conference in Munich. Neville Chamberlain (Britain) and Edward Daladier (France) agreed to most of Hitler’s demands, effectively leaving Czechoslovakia to agree or fight Germany alone. Czechoslovakia gave in to Hitler’s demands. Six months later (March 1939) Hitler broke all his promises and took over the rest of Czechoslovakia as well.
How did this affect the USSR? Britain and France tried to build an anti German alliance with the USSR. However, in August 1939 Soviet leader Stalin signed a Non Aggression Pact with Hitler. Germany and the USSR agreed not to attack each other, and to provide various forms of help to each other as well.
Britain and France were appalled that Stalin had done a deal with a leader like Hitler who clearly could not be trusted. In response, Soviet politicians argued that the USSR had been sold out by Britain and France at Munich:

  • Stalin was not consulted about the Munich Agreement. He was not even invited to the conference.

  • The Soviet historian Yuri Kukushkin later wrote in his History of Russia that ‘by rejecting the idea of a united front [against Germany] proposed by the USSR, Britain and France played into the hands of Germany … They wanted to direct German aggression eastward against the USSR and the disgraceful Munich deal achieved this’.

Now it’s your turn to study the sources on this issue. As you look at them, keep thinking about the Case Study question. You should also think about these related questions:



  • Is the view that Stalin was sold out a bit too simple?

  • Were Britain and France trying to damage the USSR or just trying to save themselves from a war with Germany?

  • Does that justify the actions of Britain and France?

  • If Stalin’s worries about Hitler were so great why did sign a treaty with him in August 1939?

  • Did Stalin sign a deal with Hitler in 1939 because of bitterness towards Britain, or simply because Stalin gained a lot from the deal?

  • The cartoonist believes that Britain and France wanted to damage the USSR by directing Nazi forces against it.

  • The cartoonist believes that Britain and France were just trying to save themselves, and the way they tried to do this was by directing Germany towards the USSR.

Which of these two interpretations do you agree with? Refer to source 3 as well as your own views on this cartoon.

Case Study Question


Fill out the relevant lines of your Case Study Worksheet.

The Big Question


Look at your answers to the questions on source 4. Have they provided you with any evidence or ideas which will help you answer the Big Question in this Gallery? If they have, note them down on your Case Study Worksheet.

Useful notes




  • The shaded areas of Czechoslovakia were mainly inhabited by German speaking people.

  • Before 1918 the whole area had been part of the Austrian empire. These German areas became part of Czechoslovakia in the peace treaties at the end of the First World War.

  • The dates on the map show when the transfer from Czech to German rule should take place.

  • The shaded areas contained vital supplies of raw materials for Czechoslovakia, as well as important rail links.

  • The areas also contained border defence posts. Losing them made Czechoslovakia vulnerable to attack.

  • The areas also contained important industries. The most important was the Skoda arms factory. This plant supplied many of the tanks which Hitler used to attack Poland in 1939 and the USSR in 1941.



Comprehension


1a Write a short explanation of how the Munich Agreement disrupted Czechoslovakia’s rail network.

Analysis and interpretation


1b Imagine you are writing for a British newspaper. The map is being reprinted in your newspaper. Write a 20 word caption to go with this map.
Case Study Question

Fill out the relevant lines of your Case Study Worksheet.

The Big Question


Look at your answers to the questions on source 1. Have they provided you with any evidence or ideas which will help you answer the Big Question in this Gallery? If they have, note them down on your Case Study Worksheet.

Useful Notes

  • Oliver Stanley was a member of Chamberlain’s Cabinet. He was President of the Board of Trade.

  • His main purpose in writing was to see whether Chamberlain wanted him to stay in the Cabinet. He felt that if he was asked, he would have to say he did not trust Hitler. Having a Cabinet Minister disagreeing with the Prime Minister might be embarrassing.

  • When he mentions “peace in our time” he is referring to a comment by Chamberlain. Chamberlain actually said that the Munich Agreement would bring peace in our time.

My Dear Prime Minister


I feel I must write and ask your guidance as to my personal position in the present situation.
First of all, let me make it plain, as I have already said in the Cabinet, that I accept and am fully prepared to take my share in defending the Munich Agreement.
On the other hand I cannot conceal from myself, that the last few weeks, and particularly the last few days, have disclosed between you and me a considerable divergence of view.
I am afraid that I remain profoundly sceptical of Nazi promises and shall do so until I see peaceful words accompanied by pacific deeds. I can therefore only regard the present situation not as “peace in our time” but as an uneasy truce …


Comprehension


2a What is Oliver Stanley’s attitude towards the Munich Agreement?

2b What does he seem to disagree with the Prime Minister about?

Analysis and interpretation


2c Explain Stanley’s attitude towards Hitler and the Nazis.

2d Would you agree that, according to this source, the British government’s main

concern was with the Nazis and not with Stalin? Explain your answer.


2e Does this source prove that the Munich Agreement had nothing to do with the USSR? Explain your answer.

Case Study Question


Fill out the relevant lines of your Case Study Worksheet.

The Big Question


Look at your answers to the questions on source 2. Have they provided you with any evidence or ideas which will help you answer the Big Question in this Gallery? If they have, note them down on your Case Study Worksheet.

Comprehension


3a According to the report, did the USSR know anything about the Munich Agreement? Choose one short extract from the source to support your answer.

3b Who is the aggressor?

3c Choose another extract from the source which shows that the USSR did not approve of the Munich Agreement.

Analysis and interpretation


3d Look at the following list of points about this source

  • It was written by a British government official.

  • It was a secret report not meant for publication.

  • It was written in Moscow.

  • Its purpose is to simply describe what is being said in the Soviet press

Which of these points would you see as strengths or weaknesses of the source in terms of finding out about the Soviet reaction to the Munich Agreement? Explain your answer.

3e Look at Source 4. Does it suggest that this source is an accurate reflection of what the Soviet press was saying? Explain your answer.

3f This report simply describes what the Soviet press said about the Agreement. Use this source and the other material in this case study to reconstruct an article from a Soviet newspaper of the time commenting on the Munich Agreement. You will have to take the main points in this source and make them the basis of your article.

Case Study Question


Fill out the relevant lines of your Case Study Worksheet.

The Big Question


Look at your answers to the questions on source 3. Have they provided you with any evidence or ideas which will help you answer the Big Question in this Gallery? If they have, note them down on your Case Study Worksheet.

Useful notes

  • The signpost has two signs on it, written in Russian. The left hand sign translates as ‘Western Europe’. CCCP on the right hand sign means the USSR.

  • The figures in the car are Hitler and other leading Nazis. These include Goering (with the axe) and Goebbels (in a civilian suit).



Comprehension


4a Who is in the car?

4b Who are the two policemen?

4c Which way are they directing the car?

Analysis and interpretation


4d Describe how the cartoonist portrays the Nazis in this cartoon?

4e How does the cartoonist portray Britain and France?

4f Here are two possible interpretations of this cartoon:
Useful notes

  • This is a typical report from a British Ambassador to the Foreign Office in London. These reports were very regular, and usually very detailed.

  • Reports were top secret, and were written only for the eyes of the British government back in London. They were not sent by normal mail.

  • This particular report is commenting on how the Soviet press reacted to the Munich Agreement. The first half paragraph is describing what was said in a communiqué (statement) by the state news agency TASS. The second paragraph describes what is written in two leading Soviet papers, Pravda and Izvestiya.

  • It is worth remembering that the Soviet press was closely controlled by the Soviet government. It would not print anything Stalin disapproved of.

  • Bonnet and Halifax were the French and British Foreign Ministers and played a leading role in the discussions at the Munich Conference.

  • Ivan Maiski was the Soviet Ambassador in London. Suritz was the Soviet Ambassador in France.

  • The aggressor means Hitler.

Monsieur Bonnet and Lord Halifax in their recent conversations with MM Suritz and Maiski gave the latter no information which went beyond what was daily published in the press. There were no discussions and there was no agreement between the Soviet government on the one hand and the French and British on the other regarding the fate of Czechoslovakia and the question of concessions to the aggressor. Neither France nor Britain consulted the Soviet Union but simply informed the Soviet Government of already accomplished facts. The communiqué concludes by repeating once again that the Soviet Government had nothing to do and has nothing to do with the Munich Conference and the decisions reached at it.


Both the Pravda and the Izvestiya, which had hitherto refrained from all comment on the Munich Conference and its results, to-day publish violent leading articles on the settlement which has been reached. After declaring that it must by now be clear to all that Mr Chamberlain and Monsieur Daladier did not, as they themselves pretend, save the peace of the world at Munich but rather accomplished an act of unparalleled shamelessness …

Useful notes

  • The cartoonist, David Low, was a bitter critic of all of the dictators in Europe in the 1930s. He was especially harsh towards Hitler. By allying with Hitler, Stalin found himself being criticised.

  • The boat which is carrying Hitler and Stalin is floating on the Baltic sea. The Baltic is the sea to the North of Germany.

  • The Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia had belonged to Russia until they became independent in 1918.

  • Stalin was very keen for the USSR to take control of the Baltic States again. In the Nazi Soviet Pact Hitler agreed to let him do this with no opposition. The Pact also divided Poland between Hitler and Stalin. Stalin’s critics said that this was why he allied with Hitler, not because he was upset by the actions of Britain and France.



Comprehension


4a Why are Hitler and Stalin shown in the cartoon like lovers?

4b Explain why they are shown boating on the Baltic rather than any other stretch of water.

4c What does the cartoonist mean with his caption ‘Russian Lake’?

Analysis and interpretation


4d The cartoonist David Low was a bitter critic of Hitler and Stalin. How does he give a negative image of these two leaders?

Case Study Question


Fill out the relevant lines of your Case Study Worksheet.

The Big Question


Look at your answers to the questions on source 4. Have they provided you with any evidence or ideas which will help you answer the Big Question in this Gallery? If they have, note them down on your Case Study Worksheet.

The Big Question: Did the Cold War begin in the period 1919-39?



Is it possible to argue that the Cold War began in the period 1919-39?

Features of the Cold War

Evidence of this feature in Case Study 3

Governments using the media to criticise the actions of the other side




Claiming that their system was better than the system of the other side




Convincing their own people that the other side had spies in their country




Making friends with anyone who was an enemy of the other side




Building up huge armed forces to threaten the other side






Source no.

Doc ref

Caption

Cd-Rom Refs

Source 1

Prem 1/266A (map)


A sketch map attached to The Munich Agreement of September 29th 1938. The shaded areas show the areas taken from Czechoslovakia and given to Germany.
Click on the map button to see how the arrangements in the Munich Agreement affected the wider map of Europe.
(I would like to get a map of central Europe drawn to show the Agreement sketch map in a wider perspective, ie how the Agreement allowed Hitler to get at Poland)

Prem1.266Ac

Source 2

Prem 1/266A

A private letter from Trade Minister Oliver Stanley to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, October 3rd 1938.

Prem1.266Aa and b
Nb. D is not needed

Source 3

Sarah has written 2 refs on this doc:

FO 371/21767



C11771/4770/18

A report from the British Ambassador in Moscow to the Foreign Office, October 1938. It is commenting on how the Soviet newspapers reacted to the Munich Agreement.

Fo371.21767a&b

Source 4

External - source 34 from BW book page 224 (it is Russian and I am getting the reference from Murray)

A cartoon published in the USSR in 1939 commenting on British and French policies in the late 1930s, especially the Munich Agreement.

Will be on ‘external’ Cd-Rom

Source 5

External – UKC Cartoons ref DL1547

A British cartoon commenting on the Nazi Soviet Pact. The cartoon appeared in the Evening standard newspaper on October 26th 1939.

Will be on ‘external’ Cd-Rom


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