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Problems of post-war world order and war in public opinion of Great Britain of the end 20 first half of the 30th years of the XX century

seriya History. Political science. Economy. Computer science. 2010. No. 13 (84). Release 15

UDC 94(4201.083





In work the main problems connected with definition post-war (after World War I) world order and threat of new war in the British public opinion of the interwar period are considered. Authors come to a conclusion that the British in the weight with big concern treated threat of new war.

During the period between two world wars in the history of Europe there were many considerable events which drew close attention of historians. These two decades, radical issues of life of the people of Europe, and, therefore, and the people of other parts of the world — questions of war and peace were resolved. The system of the international relations created by winners in World War I in Versailles and Washington gradually collapsed not only at their tacit consent, but also with their direct help and participation.

Agreements, as we know, laid the foundation of a new system of the international relations, fixed change of borders, the status and the internal structure of many states, influenced the European and world distribution of forces. Their influence affected also the nature of the internal political relations in the European powers, in particular, of Great Britain therefore the constant interest of the British society in a question of post-war world order looks natural.

Current situation demanded from politicians of accounting of changes, search of new forms of the international cooperation and influence. They were necessary also for the relations with the countries which again found independence whose interests not always coincided with the British. The governments of Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia were negative to a problem of audit of the Versailles and Washington agreements by Germany. They did not establish connection between the growing German aggression and negative consequences of Versailles as their position was strengthened in many respects thanks to decisions poslednego1.

The relation of the British society to arrangements from the moment of their signing was ambiguous. The position of official London differed in the aspiration to keep the status quo. In the report Foreign in 1926 it was noted office to the government that Great Britain "... received everything, even more. Our only purpose is in holding what we have, and to live in the world" 2.

Germans characterized position of the country which got beaten so: "Versailles weakened the German force, without having destroyed it by the retaliatory provisions invested by self-determination rhetoric and did not manage to direct the numerous population of Weimar, its economic and, therefore, potential

1 Documents and materials on stories of the Soviet-Czechoslovak relations. Vol. 2, 3. M, 1977-1978. Page 565.
2 Kennedy P The Realities Behind Diplomacy; Background and Influences on British Policy 1865-1980. L., 1981. River 127.

military power on a peaceful manner. Weakened by psychologically huge human and material inputs on a victory, the western powers of nothing could oppose to a revenge of open continental hegemony of uniform Germany and mix of own retaliatory and conciliatory actions promoted rise in eagerness to fight of national socialism" 3.

The subject of results and consequences of war was violently discussed in the British press. A number of the British writers and journalists of action of Germany estimated as resistance to "worthy attempt of condemnation in 1919 to belittle the great nation, to put it into economic and political dependence". ’’The criticism of Versailles became so general that it was difficult to find at least one Englishman, even in Foreign office who would not support this opinion" 4. The national government was forced to consider similar situation.

The British Labour Party was almost unanimous in the rejection of terms of the contract as he "only confirmed the doubts in purity of thoughts of allies existing still during the war" 5. In decisions of the congresses of labourists of the 20th years prevailed condemnation of severe consequences of war for Germany. Labourists believed that similar situation can provoke the new conflicts in which also their country will be forced to participate. They fairly were afraid of a nationalist unification of Germans under the flag of fight against the Versailles and Washington contracts and demanded more reasonable conditions for strengthening of democratic basis of German obshchestva6.

Active rejection of the humiliated position of Germany created to labourists in the opinion of some part of British a peculiar aura of pro-German party that, certainly, did not correspond to either theoretical installations, or concrete activity of these politicians. In this case the labor requirement of granting to Germany of conditions for equal historical development was understood as a condition of preservation of peace and mutual understanding between narodami7. As one of researchers of history of the British labourists R.V. Thaker considers, "the post-war criticism them Versailles came from striking contrast which was felt by labourists between their own high idealism and the policy of the states allies". In "deep disgust for war and its purposes", according to the historian, one of the reasons of "a serious protest against terms of the contract in relation to Germany from the won states" 8 lay. However it should be noted that, adopting resolutions on condemnation of Versailles and demanding change of conditions of arrangements, labor politicians did not make the slightest efforts for carrying out them in life when they came to the power as it took place at first in 1924, and then and in 1929-1931

In the party press and at conferences the 2nd floor. 20 - the beginnings of the 30th were less actively discussed war results. It demonstrated not to loss by British of interest in a problem, and more likely that society created the opinion, and it became conventional. In party documents of this period the negative in general relation of politicians of the left orientation to the Treaty of Versailles whereas in Lokarnsky agreements the labourists saw a step towards change of post-war arrangements and establishment more fair international otnosheniy9 is traced. In our opinion, it is possible to explain with these circumstances prichi-

3 Weinberg G. The Foreign Policy of Hitler’s Germany; Diplomatic Revolution in Europe 1933-1936. Chicago, 1970. River 127.
4 Robbins K. The Eclipse of a Great Power. Modern Britain. 1870-1992. L.-N.Y., 1994. River 173.
5 Jordan W.M. Great Britain, France and the German Problem, 1918-1939. L., 1943. River 40.
6 Labour’s Foreign Policy. Proposals for Discussion. L., 1934.
7 Labour Party Annual Conference Reports. L., 1930-1936. River 277.
8 Tucker W.R. The Attitude of Britain’s Labour Party towards European Problem and Question of Collective Security, 1920-1939. Geneva, 1950. River 55.
9 V.V. Grokhotova. Foreign policy of the Labour Party of Great Britain in the 30th years and at the beginning of World War II. Novgorod, 1995. Page 46.

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well some "mitigation" of a position of party on the matter that, nevertheless, was not capable to change its essence.

Representatives of ruling class of Great Britain in the majority were interested in preservation of the Versailles and Washington system of the international relations as it allowed them to influence succession of events on the continent. The official position in questions of foreign policy was defined by the conservatives playing a notable role in political life of the country during the interwar period. Only at the beginning of the 30th a progressive part of conservative party agreed with opinion left about superseverity of Versalya10. These partly can explain approval by conservatives of the Anglo-German sea agreement (1935) which, as we know, exempted Germany from some restrictions of the contract.

In process of increase of claims of Hitler for the power and strengthenings of revanchist trends in the German policy the fragility of the Versailles agreements became more and more obvious. Their insolvency and fragility was confirmed by remilitarization of Germany. However the British ruling circles at the end of 20 - the beginning of the 30th appeared incapable to estimate fully extent of the accruing military threat and to effectively resist to it. In the policy of the government of the beginning of decade strengthening of aspiration to manipulation of public opinion when the demand of equality made by society in development of all people as conditions of preservation of peace, by efforts of ruling politicians it began to be used for the benefit of a pacification of aggressors is traced.

In indissoluble communication with a problem of the post-war organization of the world in the British public opinion in the 20-30th years there was a problem of the relation to war as to the phenomenon. During the interwar period it concerned British as was based on the recent past and connected it with the future, more precisely - with desire to prevent repetition at least to some extent of the bloodshed similar to what took place in World War I.

In many foreign researches of the international relations moral and ethical aspects of war are affected. A. Marvik pays attention to the negative nature of the relation of the British society to passed voyne11. I. Vertkheymer, characterizing one of features of perception of this phenomenon, noted that "for the ordinary Englishman the war was incomparably more unacceptable and unclear, than for any other inhabitant of Europe. Consequences of war in England are deeper, than somewhere else. The romanticism of war for Great Britain does not exist any more" 12. Researchers explain similar unanimity with the fact that not the courage and heroism were associated with war at British first of all, and "the horror surpassing any imagination" and infinite lists of losses (750 thousand people died in that war, it was approximately twice more wounded) 13.

K. Barnet explained genuine condemnation of war by elite of Great Britain with the fact that, asserting the moral right for domination in the nation earlier, it gave weapon in hands of the youth which is brought up in traditions of the Victorian era. Death of her best representatives did not fit into traditions of quiet and measured society therefore categorical disapproval of war in all its unattractiveness was perceived by British "light" more sharply, than on continente14. So steadily negative attitude of British to war defined aspiration of the British society to withdrawal from the imminent conflict and recognition as its only alternative preservation of peace.

Government circles of Britain in the choice between the world and war proceeded from the fact of wide circulation in various sections of society in the 1st floor.

10 Lloyd T.O. Empire, Weifare State Europe English History. 1906-1992. Oxford, 1993. P. 192.
11 Marwick A. Britain in the Century of Total War. L., 1968. P. 511.
12 Wertheimer E. Portrait of Labour Party. N.Y., 1966. P. 114.
13 Gilbert M. The Roots of Appeasement. N.Y., 1970. P. 424.
14 Barnett C. The Collapse of British Power. N.Y., 1972. P. 426-428.

the 1930th of pacifistic views which to disregard were not represented possible. The ability inherent in the British politicians to go on compromises, having long traditions, helped them to turn to itself on advantage what, in other conditions could become an obstacle. Wishing most of all social world, government circles saw its direct dependence on preparation for large-scale war in which Great Britain could be involved.

However growth of social tension under the influence of the impoverishment of masses caused by rearmament admitted to quite real and concealing threat traditional foundations of the British society. In a dilemma of internal and external security an exit was found in actions in both directions. The national government of R. McDonald, as we know, proclaimed the main objective consolidation of all public forces for preservation of the developed social system that was divided by all parties governmental bolshinstva15. In the 2nd floor. 1931 support of this course was expressed by liberals, and actually in line with it labourists acted. Emphasizing importance of following to the chosen tactics, the head of the government R. McDonald at the end of 1933 said: "The condition of today's world means that any attempt to return to party board - not only a mistake, this crime", - emphasizing the imperative need of consolidation various political techeniy16.

The top officials of the state (head of the office R. McDonald, the lord-chairman of the board S. Baldwin, the Minister of Finance N. Chamberlain) in the performances constantly repeated that war should be avoided in any ways. On this basis in society by means of promotion the negative attitude to war as to the phenomenon, and in the same place it is necessary to look for sources of the official concept of control of an aggressor which became one of the main British foreign policy installations in the mid-thirties was formed

At the same time certificates of contemporaries show ambiguity of the relation to a problem of war of various population groups. The addressing domestic archive materials allows to look at this problem with eyes of her contemporaries. The Soviet Plenipotentiary Representative in Great Britain I.M. Maysky wrote on January 6, 1933 to People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs about existence "in England, as well as in any imperialistic power..., certain groups (manufacturers of weapon, a top of army and fleet, etc.) which would welcome shouts "hurrah" participation of England in any new war." However, he claimed at the same time that "not they characterize the main mood of the country in the matter now" 17.

Saying that Great Britain does not wish at all such war in which she should take active part, the Soviet diplomat noted existence not only different approaches to the matter, but also difference in the causes of them. The conservative politicians who had then on the government decisive impact recognized that England will benefit nothing from participation in any big war, risking to lose a lot of things. They realized that the main problem of Great Britain consisted not in gaining new territories, and in maintaining integrity of the empire where there were more and more problems. New war could promote strengthening of centrifugal trends in the empire that, finally, would have result its final krusheniye18.

Existence of serious anti-war moods among ordinary British was confirmed during the meetings of the Soviet diplomatic workers with the British public and political figures. Wide circles of average and petty bourgeoisie, intellectuals, workers did not wish the wars which are extremely frightened

15 Bevin E. Labour’s Achivments and the Goal. N.Y., 1941. River 5.
16 Weir L. The Tragedy of R. MacDonald. L., 1938. River 468.
17 Archive of foreign policy of the Russian Federation [further AVP Russian Federation]. Fund 069. Op. 18. 4. Item 55. L. 113.
18 In the same place.

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the prospect of the air attacks on England against which at that time there were no effective ways of protection yet. As one of influential politicians, the head of the pacifistic organizations of England lord R. Cécil claimed on October 16, 1934 in a conversation with I.M. Maysky, "if the present government involved Great Britain in continental war, it would not live also two days" 19.

In particular, the ambassador of the USSR in London drew a similar conclusion from a conversation with the famous English socialist Braylsford who described a situation during a by-election in 1934 in East Fulam who was considered by a stronghold of conservatives. Then Biverbruk and Rotermir's newspapers belonging, as we know, to the right wing of the Tory launched a campaign for an occasion of weakness of air defense of England, demanding increase in the British fleet. They in bright paints described danger and proximity of probable war, deliberately raising tensions in society.

Braylsford shared personal impressions about a conversation with the widow of the construction worker ready to be ready to do anything to save the only son from tortures in the war. In the same days Braylsford returning from London became the witness of an episode in the train car where more solid public tried to calm down the rustling company of youth. In this regard the phrase of the elderly worker given by the politician is represented very eloquent: "And why don't they engage in hooliganism? All the same they will be poisoned with poisonous gases, let finally though will engage in hooliganism", and the reaction which followed on it - the established silence.

Wide circulation in the district of similar moods led to the fact that, having mistakenly considered time which passed after the end of World War I, sufficient for curing of pain of losses and without having managed to consider depths of anti-war beliefs of the ordinary British, Tories lost the stronghold Fulam from which in parliament it was chosen leyborist20. Conservatives received the return result, having woken old pain and latently the existing negative attitude even to threat of war. The lessons Fulama did not pass completely.

It is difficult not to agree with I.M. Maysky's opinion that "any war (except for the war caused by direct attack on England) would be... it is extremely unpopular in Great Britain, and such unpopularity would make warfare almost extremely difficult" 21. Confidence of the diplomat was based that in England there was during this period no general compulsory military service and the capable military device which at the time of declaration of war could organize mobilization successfully. Without resolute support from a general population the realization of all these measures was not represented possible therefore the question of popularity or unpopularity of war for England was more important, than for other European countries. Ruling politicians were obliged to consider the developed steady negative attitude of society to military threat and a potential possibility of counteraction from its party to any attempts to pursue other policy.

One more evidence of interest of society in this problem is the fact that at the beginning of the 30th the flow of literary works of military subject considerably runs low: in 1931 the number of such works fell up to 10, in 1932 them was 13, and in 1933 - only 4. The English historian P. Johnson explains the similar phenomenon so: "It was not because that society became boring: its attention was engrossed at the same time by two things: crisis and possible future conflict" 22. In such peculiar "avoiding a subject" it is possible to see a peculiar form of a protest against the accruing military threat: society sought not to rake over the past as if trying thus

19 Archive of foreign policy of the Russian Federation [further AVP Russian Federation]. Fund 069. Op. 18. 4. Item 55. L. 114.
20 In the same place. L. 114-115.
21 In the same place. L. 117.
22 Johnson F.W. Defence by Committee. Oxford, 1960. River 234.

to protect itself or to remove the approaching danger that it is also possible to consider as an argument in favor of negative attitude to war of various social groups of England.

At the same time, it should be noted that the attitude towards everyone to "others war", i.e. to war between any third states in which England could remain as the outsider earning dividends at the same time from both belligerent parties was other. According to the Soviet diplomats accredited during this period in London, such war would cause completely different reaction in the British society: it "could find to itself great sympathy as in conservative, so, partly, and in liberal and labor circles because everyone "others war" would have to give orders of the English industry and work to the English tonnage" 23.

The opinion of the diplomat and journalist B. Lokkarta stated to them on January 22, 1934 about one of the famous conservatives confirms existence of such approach: "Biverbruk went mad on the idea of war now, - whatever that there was a war if only in it England because Biverbruk considers that war will give work to the British factories and the plants" 24 was not involved.

However this approach was divided by not all conservatives. The bigger number of the British entering into party did not doubt that "any serious war in Western Europe (we will tell, between Germany and France) inevitably would involve England during the whirlpool" 25. It is possible to explain with these circumstances following of the British government in the 1st floor. the 30th to a foreign policy which purpose preservation of peace appeared.

Public figures and politicians which also the editor of the Observer newspaper Garvin treated warned about reality of new world war. During the meeting in the Soviet embassy he shared the alarm: "All world situation is impregnated with threat of war and, besides, wars now in the closest future, but not in a foggy distance of times". According to him, the most dangerous sites from where the flame of the world fire could rise, the Far East, Germany and Italy were. Observing powerlessness of the League of Nations and expecting a possible failure of a world economic conference, it predicted inevitability of war within the next three years. Considering various possibilities of its prevention, Garvin came to a conclusion that" we think only of one exit now, namely - "Group of Seven" (England, France, Germany, Italy, the USA, Japan and the USSR). This "Group of Seven" has to replace with itself the League of Nations which did not equal hopes and to make attempt to settle burning issues of our time" 26. However he expressed doubts in an opportunity even of "Group of Seven" to cope with such difficult task.

Unfortunately, Garvin was one of the few British men of weight, in all completeness realizing the hung threat. Moods and hopes of wide social groups at the beginning of the 30th were rather answered by the known statement D. Lloyd of George of December 15, 1933: "I am ready to bet with anyone that within the next 10 years in Europe there will be no war. Now nobody wants war, all are afraid of war" 27.

As diplomatic sources testify, by the end of December, 1933 - to the beginning of 1934 there was a noticeable change concerning the English political and public circles to a question of war: "If half a year ago (especially during a world economic conference) sign of good form was denial of proximity or inevitability of the new military conflict, then at the beginning of a year in

23 AVP Russian Federation. Fund 069. Op. 18. 4. Item 55. L. 116.
24 In the same place. L. 44.
25 In the same place. L. 116.
26 AVP Russian Federation. Fund 069. Op. 18. 31. Item 57. L. 8.
27 AVP Russian Federation. Fund 069. Op. 18. 4. Item 55. L. 6.

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government circles, among deputies of parliament, at representatives of City, on Fleet Street where the majority of editions were located - began to say that war is inevitable that it costs somewhere round the corner and that it is necessary to prepare for it" 28. Disputes went only about when it flashes where will begin whether there will be it local, or, on the contrary, will increase in world scales, its possible forms, structure of probable blocks of powers, methods and ways of extermination of the opponent were discussed. This talk found the broadest reflection in the press. They, in turn, created favorable circumstances for strengthening of utopian theories like "isolationism" which took various political circles (in particular, conservatives declared the aspiration "far away to leave from this hornet's nest called Europe somehow to avoid involvement in new grandiose war") 29.

In the British social and political movement during 1934 still finally there were no opinions on the relation to a war problem, and groups were not registered. On that from where the military danger will come, there was a set of the points of view, even among those who were directly involved in development of the foreign policy concept of Great Britain. Military strategists the main source of the threat which hung over the world called Germany, indicating the need of paying of the maximum attention to problems of the European policy, Geneva, disarmament, the French-German and Polish-German relations.

At the same time the risk of war in the Far East exaggerated earlier in various political circles, in the press at the end of 20 - the beginning of the 30th, was pushed into the background. It is necessary to agree with opinion of staff of the Soviet embassy in London who, analyzing changes of a situation in the world and reaction to them in Great Britain, noted increase of attention to the Far East region. They saw the reasons of change of the attitude of British to this region in" big remoteness of the Far East from England and natural tendency of the ordinary Englishman to draw closer attention to Germany which is much closer than Japan and which, just for 1933 gave so many reasons for serious reflection about her behavior" 30.

In our opinion, the second circumstance (increase of aggression of Germany) played more important role as it confirms, in particular, consideration of the British policy in relation to Germany and the League of Nations during the analyzed period. As sources, attempt of ruling circles of England to consciously shade before the country threat of war in the Far East testify pursued quite definite purposes: ". It will be more favorable if war takes unawares unprepared British public opinion" that had to provide to the government more freedom of action in relation to Yaponii31.

The British official seal of the beginning of decade expressed confidence in a victory of Japan in the possible Soviet-Japanese conflict. This position was also not accidental. The Soviet diplomatic workers saw, besides bigger sympathy of the British politicians for Japan, than for the USSR, behind it a certain political calculation: presence at ordinary British of confidence in the Japanese victory could become guarantee of approval of an investment of the British money in the Japanese military loans as rather reliable room kapitala32.

Assessment of policy of the British office of that time, this D. Lloyd George is characteristic:" Yes, as always, any (lines - N.B., EA.). Mark time, live in one afternoon, and about themselves think: to leave kind of far away from Europe!." 33. Having lowered emotionality peculiar to this politician, it is possible to see assessment with -

28 AVP Russian Federation. Fund 069. Op. 17. 36. Item 54. L. 149.
29 In the same place.
30 AVP Russian Federation. Fund 069. Op. 18. 31. Item 57. L. 191.
31 In the same place.
32 In the same place.
33 AVP Russian Federation. Fund 069. Op. 18. 4. Item 55. L. 8.

standings of an office: existence of a set of the points of view in it from which at that moment any did not prevail. The similar situation, in our opinion, can be explained with a discrepancy of the purposes of various political groups, each of which sought to get support of society.

Some of the first the danger of the Far East conflict as center of new world war was estimated by labourists. The famous political figure professor Laski standing on positions of this party and the leader of the Union of drivers and firemen J. Bromlya during the meeting organized in the Soviet embassy in February, 1933 without losing sight of the German threat, recognized more real risk of war in the Far East, understanding that such war not can be it is localized, moreover, it inevitably has to will to turn into world.

After labourists in the Far East politicians in liberal and conservative krugakh34 began to realize gravity of situation. Not accidentally one of organizers and active participants of anti-Soviet campaigns from the moment of emergence of the USSR D. Lloyd George for 1933 published big article in which it supported fight of the Soviet Russia against Japan in the Far East that demonstrated change of the relation of society to war under the influence of changes on the international scene, and, in particular, Soviet politiki35 in New Year's number "Daley Meyl".

the Growing tension of an international situation at the beginning of a decade strengthened awareness of need of the organization of collective repulse of possible aggression. In the collection "Death Call" published in 1934 it was noted that the approaching "war will be worse, than in 1914-1918, and it will be impossible to avoid its horror and cruelty... The world is necessary for the British Empire not only for own prosperity, but also for existence, and the world for the sake of the world for all civilized mankind. If only war begins, its sizes cannot be limited" 36.

Realistically conceiving British public and political figures from open condemnation of war, per se, passed to more active actions that developed into the Plebiscite of the world (1934-1935) which became demonstration of anti-war beliefs and supports of the League of Nations as safety tool. Including the world the supreme value, and its best guarantee - determination of people of all nations not to allow war repetition, the British expressed the need of creation of a system of collective security.

Thus, in the 1st floor. the 30th anti-war beliefs of ordinary British, public and political figures of the country were based on the heavy memory of World War I, were supported with understanding of negative consequences of the Versailles and Washington agreements and concern in the growing tension in the world, strengthening of aggressive aspirations in the policy of some states.

If in 1930-1933 the performances of anti-war character in the press, parliament, at party conferences were connected with memories of last war, then since 1934 it is possible to note increase of general concern about the fate of the world that led to more resolute performances and from them - to actions. Anti-war moods of society to some extent forced ruling circles to consider existence enough resistant beliefs of similar character and to adjust the pursued foreign policy.

On the other hand, they compelled ruling politicians to get support, to hide the true purposes or to give them the corresponding form as their realization not always had peaceful character.

In the aspiration to avoid armed conflict with the aggressors gaining strength the British government circles at the beginning of the 30th began to cross a reasonable side, making concessions to Japan, Germany and Italy that as we

34 AVP Russian Federation. Fund 069. Op. 19. 23. Item 59. L. 79.
35 Daily Herald. 3.1.1933.
36 Robbins K. The Eclipse of a Great Power. Modern Britain. 1870-1992. L.-N.Y., 1994. P. 172.

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we know, by the last it was perceived as the evidence of weakness of the western democracies and used for reconstruction of own military power which they shortly put in action against those who actually authorized their strengthening. The negative attitude to results and consequences of World War I and the Versailles and Washington agreements which is rather accurately expressed by society, on the one hand, and growth of international tension, with another became a certain justification of following to such tactics of the British politicians.



This article is devoted to consideration of main problems concerning world order after World War I and danger of a new war in the inter-war period in the British public opinion. The authors come to conclusion that there was a great concern about danger of a new war among the British people.

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