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British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain gave this speech to the House of Commons on September 1 1939 just hours after Hitlers troops had invaded Poland Chamberlain and others had spent years negotiating with Hitler in order to prevent another war in Europe two decades after the Great War in which an entire generation of young men had been wiped out Negotiations with Hitler had included surrendering the sovereign rights of Czechoslovakia and standing by as Hitlers troops took Austria By 1939 Hitler desired war and any further attempts to negotiate peace were doomed to failure The Nazis then staged a fake attack on a German radio outpost along the German-Polish border and used that as an excuse for invasionI do not propose to say many words tonight The time has come when action rather than speech is required Eighteen months ago in this House I prayed that the responsibility might not fall upon me to ask this country to accept the awful arbitrament of war I fear that I may not be able to avoid that responsibility But at any rate I cannot wish for conditions in which such a burden should fall upon me in which I should feel clearer than I do today as to where my duty lies No man can say that the Government could have done more to try to keep open the way for an honorable and equitable settlement of the dispute between Germany and Poland Nor have we neglected any means of making it crystal clear to the German Government that if they insisted on using force again in the manner in which they had used it in the past we were resolved to oppose them by force Now that all the relevant documents are being made public we shall stand at the bar of history knowing that the responsibility for this terrible catastrophe lies on the shoulders of one man the German Chancellor who has not hesitated
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