Monday, December 17, 2007

The Churchill Series – Dec. 17, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Today starts a two-part series that takes an “outline look” at why it was so easy for Hitler to convince the German people their nation should rearm, and so difficult for Churchill to convince the British people and government they should do likewise.

As for Hitler and Germany, one author's written:

Before beginning any discussion of British rearmament, it is important to know what the psychology of the nation was at the commencement. Because of the inertia of human thought, nations, like individuals, change their ideas slowly.

In a Democracy, especially, where a majority must share the idea before it becomes part of the national viewpoint, it is necessary to study the fundamentals upon which the public's opinions are based.

In Germany's case, for example, the old ideas and beliefs were completely destroyed by the Treaty of Versailles and the post-war settlement. The subsequent inflation period of 1924 and the economic collapse of 1931 combined to make the German nation fertile ground for new ideas.

Hitler, therefore, found it easy to convince the people that their way back to the top in Europe was through national regimentation, based upon a policy of rearmament.
Those were the views expressed in 1940 by Harvard senior John F. Kennedy as he began his senior thesis, which was later published in book form as Why England Slept.

Kennedy's thesis received an Honors grade.

Amazon lists used hard cover copies of Why England Slept available for under $83 and paperbacks at $32 or less.

The availablilty of a rare first edition with original dustjacket is announced here. The page has a nice color photo of the book. Give it a look.

I hope you're back tomorrow when we'll hear again from the future President.