World War II
The Storm Clouds Gather
In the 1930s, Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party (the Nazis), rose to power in Germany. Their progress was fuelled by economic hardship and the harsh peace settlement which followed defeat in the First World War. Hitler vowed to re-build the economic, political and military strength of the German nation through rearmament and territorial expansion. The British and French governments, eager to avoid another war, chose to submit to many of the demands of the Nazi Party in a policy of "Appeasement".
In March 1938, the Union /Anschluss of Germany and Austria was proclaimed. In September, the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia was also transferred to Germany by the Munich Agreement. In return, Hitler declared an end to his territorial expansion. However, within several months, all of Czechoslovakia had come under Nazi control and on 1st September, 1939, the German army invaded Poland. Hitler ignored demands from Britain and France to withdraw his troops.
By 2nd September a European war appeared inevitable and Irish Taoiseach (Head of Government) Eamon de Valéra declared Eire's neutrality. The following day, British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain announced to the nation that War had been declared between Britain and Germany.
Throughout the Spring of 1940, the Nazis occupied Denmark, Norway, Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Invasion of Britain, possibly through an initial occupation of Ireland, appeared imminent. In May, 1940 Chamberlain was succeeded as Prime Minister by Winston Churchill. By the end of 1941, most of Europe was occupied, while only the United Kingdom and the neutral countries of Eire, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain remained free from Germany and her allies.
"Then came that dark damp morning on September 3rd 1939 when Neville Chamberlain (a name that didn't mean a lot to us) announced on radio that we were at war with Nazi Germany. It didn't mean a lot to us that day, except a sense of exhilaration. We were beginning a great new adventure."
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This project is part financed by the European Union through the Interreg IIIA Programme managed for the Special EU Programmes Body by the East Border Region Interreg IIIA Partnership.