Motivated by a real fear of war based on his own WW I experiences, a knowledge that Britain was militarily weaker than Germany, and a belief that Germany understood “realpolitik,” Prime Minister Chamberlain pursued his policy of appeasement. Winston Churchill had the same dread of war and awareness of Britain’s weakness – but there his concurrence with Chamberlain ended. He believed that the totalitarian tigers had voracious appetites, which would only increase after each feeding.
Excluded from councils within both the Government and the Conservative Party, Churchill used numerous opportunities to extend his contacts. His “Focus on Freedom and Peace” luncheons brought together Tories, Liberals and Socialists who agreed with his objective of gathering support from all Parties, especially those of the “left,” for British rearmament, for the association of France and Britain, and “for the maintenance of peace through British strength.”
Early in January he left for a month’s vacation in the south of France. While there working on Volume IV of Marlborough (Woods A40), he heard that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was requesting a total reduction of £12 million in Service estimates.
Chamberlain’s desire to develop a rápprochment with Mussolini led to the resignation of Anthony Eden from the Government. Although Churchill vigorously supported the Eden group he was not accepted as their leader. Senior to most, his own inner core of close followers was still marginal.
On 12 March Austria was incorporated into the German Reich, an event Churchill called a dastardly outrage. “Finally,” he noted, “the scales of illusion have fallen from many eyes, especially in high quarters.” He called on Britain and France to rally the second rank powers of Europe to collective defence. He predicted that the next state to be threatened by Germany would be Czechoslovakia.