10-Minute Talks: The Spectre of War - International Communism and the Origins of World War II

by Professor Jonathan Haslam FBA

19 May 2021

Old photograph of German soldiers advancing on Poland during World War II

The world’s leading professors explain the latest thinking in the humanities and social sciences in just 10 minutes.

Why was there no alliance to block Hitler from launching aggression in Europe? The usual explanation given is that the British led by Neville Chamberlain were so averse to the thought of war that appeasement had no alternative. In this talk, Jonathan Haslam argues that the real reason was that they - as did the Poles and the Czechs - feared communism more than fascism and that an alliance with Stalin's Russia against Germany would bring the Reds into Central Europe. As Moscow supported Communist efforts in France, Spain, China, and beyond, opponents such as the British feared for the stability of their global empire and viewed fascism as the only force standing between them and the Communist overthrow of the existing order.

His book, The Spectre of War: International Communism and the Origins of World War II is published in May 2021.

Speaker: Professor Jonathan Haslam FBA, George F. Kennan Professor, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study

10-Minute Talks are a series of pre-recorded talks from Fellows of the British Academy screened each Wednesday on YouTube and also available on Apple Podcasts.

If you have any questions about this talk, please email events@thebritishacademy.ac.uk.

Image: Photograph of German soldiers advancing on Poland during World War II.

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