Old Wine in New Bottles? British Policy towards Czechoslovakia, 1938–1939 and 1947–1948

Vít Smetana

in Czechoslovakia in a Nationalist and Fascist Europe, 1918–1948

Published by British Academy

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780197263914
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734359 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Old Wine in New Bottles? British Policy towards Czechoslovakia, 1938–1939 and 1947–1948

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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Britain's policy towards Czechoslovakia, ironically and tragically, twice fell victim to the geo-strategic realities of the time. While the general approach to foreign policy conducted by Neville Chamberlain and Edward Halifax, the prime minister and his foreign secretary, was very different from that of Clement Attlee and Ernest Bevin, neither the government in 1938–1939 nor that in 1947–1948 could find the resources or will to overcome these strategic constraints. However, the impact of the crucial events in Czechoslovakia upon British foreign policy was remarkable. This chapter compares the two Czechoslovak crises from a British governmental perspective. It shows remarkable parallels between 1938 and 1948, in terms both of British attitudes and of their wider international significance. The juxtaposition itself is revealing, in that the extent of British interest and sympathy appears to have been greater post-1945 than before 1938.

Keywords: Britain; foreign policy; Czechoslovakia; Neville Chamberlain; Edward Halifax; Clement Attlee; Ernest Bevin

Chapter.  12342 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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