The Communist Challenge and Rearmament: 1948–51

  • C. J. Bartlett


By 1948 the pattern of the post-war world was becoming clearer. The Communist coup in Czechoslovakia and the start of the Berlin Blockade, while giving rise to passing fears of immediate trouble, more fundamentally smashed the hopes of many in Britain and western Europe that a détente might yet be negotiated with the Soviet Union. Sir Hartley Shawcross, for instance, observed that, though a friend to Russia two years earlier, he now thought Soviet aims and methods akin to those he had prosecuted at Nuremburg. For many others, of course, the events of 1948 merely confirmed earlier fears. Already in August 1947 Bevin had asserted: ‘I do not think we can avoid any longer common defence and acceptance of common economic principles if we are to avoid recurring crises.’ His proposals for a western alliance antedated the Czech crises, whilst the parliamentary debates of 22–3 January 1948 found party leaders on both sides of the house vying with each other in their ominous descriptions of the Communist threat. At the same time British defence precautions were to advance little beyond the point of paper reassurances and verbal protestations.


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© C. J. Bartlett 1972

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  • C. J. Bartlett

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