1933 - 1939


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Life of Churchill

Wilderness Years

By the early 1930s, Churchill no longer had a Government position. He opposed plans to give greater independence to India and seemed out of touch.

Based at his beloved house at Chartwell in Kent, he continued to write books and newspaper articles, but many thought his political career was over. It was his vocal opposition to Hitler’s new Nazi dictatorship in Germany, and his calls for British rearmament, that gradually brought him back to public notice. Initially, it was a message that few wanted to hear, but after the Munich Crisis of 1938 and the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, there was a growing consensus that he was right. When war finally broke out in September 1939, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had no choice but to make him First Lord of the Admiralty, the same position that he had held at the outbreak of the First World War.

In this section, you’ll learn more about Churchill’s years in ‘the wilderness’ and how he finally returned to power.

1933 - 1939

20 Jan 1933

Hitler elected German Chancellor

9 Feb 1933

The Oxford Union King and Country debate

10 Feb 1933

The first singing telegram

27 Feb 1933

Fire destroys the Reichstag (German Parliament)

29 Feb 1933

German President Hindenburg issues the Decree for the Protection of People and the Reich.

4 Mar 1933

President Roosevelt proclaims ‘The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself’

14 Mar 1933

Churchill’s first speech on the need to rebuild Britain’s air defences

23 Mar 1933

Reichstag passes the Enabling Act, making Adolf Hitler dictator of Germany

27 Mar 1933

Japan leaves the League of Nations

26 Apr 1933

The Gestapo, an abbreviation for the Geheime Staatspolizei, was the official secret police of Nazi Germany, is established by Hermann Göring

6 Oct 1933

Publishes ‘Marlborough’, the three volume biography of John Churchill, the First Duke of Marlborough 

10 Oct 1933

Tells James Roosevelt: ‘I wish to be Prime Minister…’


Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie is Published

26 Jan 1934

German-Polish non-aggression pact signed

2 Aug 1934

Hitler proclaims himself ‘Führer and Chancellor’

18 Jul 1935

Anglo-German Naval Agreement allows Germany up to 35% of British naval strength

Jul 1935

Churchill joins Committee of Imperial Defence

2 Oct 1935

Mussolini invades Abyssinia

14 Nov 1935

UKs General election returns large Conservative majority

1936: Gone with the Wind is published

20 Jan 1936

Death of King George V

7 Mar 1936

Hitler reoccupies the Rhineland

17 Jul 1936

Spanish Civil War begins

7 Dec 1936

Churchill is shouted down in the House of Commons in support of Edward VIII

10 Dec 1936

Abdication of King Edward VIII

12 May 1937

Coronation of King George VI

29 May 1937

Warns German Ambassador ‘Do not underestimate England’

4 Oct 1937

Publishes Great Contemporaries

20 Feb 1938: Anthony Eden resigns as Foreign Secretary

13 Mar 1938

Adolf Hitler proclaims Anschluss: The Union of Germany and Austria

Chamberlain and Hitler

Prime Ministers Lord Neville Chamberlain of the UK and Edouard Daladier of France, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini and Foreign Minister Count Gian Galeazzo Ciano meet in Munich on September 29, 1938 to sign the Munich treaty between Nazi Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom, authorising Hitler to annex the Czech territory called the Sudetenland

20 May 1938

Czechoslovakia mobilises

30 Sep 1938

Munich Agreement signed by Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler cedes Sudetenland

9 Nov 1938

Reichkristallnacht pogrom of Jews in the Third Reich

15 Mar 1939

German troops enter Prague, Czechoslovakia

31 Mar 1939

Britain guarantees Poland’s independence

7 Apr 1939

Mussolini invades Albania

15-25 Aug 1939

Churchill visits Rhine fortifications

24 Aug 1939

Germans and the Soviet Union sign Non-Aggression Pact

1 Sep 1939

Hitler invades Poland

2 Sep 1939

France mobilizes

3 Sep 1939

Appointed First Lord of the Admiralty

3 Sep 1939

Britain and France declare war on Germany

17 Dec 1939

German battleship Graf Spee scuttled off Montevideo

Admiral Graf Spee

The Admiral Graf Spee photographed in Montevideo Harbour following the Battle of the River Plate. A shell-hole is visible below the forward guns

Finest Hour

Search online archives for articles, documents and more..

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Writing, Articles & Books

In his lifetime, Churchill published more than 40 books in 60 volumes.

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Young Churchillians

Working to celebrate the life and achievements of a great leader.

Young Churchillians


In his lifetime, Churchill published more than 40 books in 60 volumes.

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