Profession: British Prime Minister
Why Famous: Chamberlain served as British Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940, and his government was dominated by the crisis over Nazi Germany's aggressive moves in Europe. He is remembered today principally for his failed efforts to appease Adolf Hitler, particularly through signing the Munich Agreement in 1938 which ceded parts of Czechoslovakia to Germany.
Prior to becoming prime minister, Chamberlain served as Minister of Health and Chancellor of the Exchequer in several cabinets. When Stanley Baldwin retired in 1937, Chamberlain took over. His efforts to appease Hitler were at the time widely popular, especially his agreement at Munich (which led to the now infamous speech declaring 'peace in our time'). In the end, Hitler did not stop his aggressive tactics and when Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, Chamberlain was forced to declare war, beginning World War II.
He led Britain through the first eight months of conflict. After the disastrous Norwegian Campaign, he resigned as it became clear a national government with all parties could not be formed if he was prime minister. He was succeeded by Winston Churchill and died of cancer in November 1940.
Chamberlain has been more favorably assessed by some historians who have claimed war for Britain would have been disastrous in 1938 as they were not ready. Nevertheless he continues to poll lowly in rankings of British prime ministers.
- 1911-01-05 British PM Neville Chamberlain (41) weds Anne de Vere Cole
- 1937-05-28 Neville Chamberlain becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
- 1938-02-20 UK Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden resigns stating Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain has appeased Nazi Germany
- 1938-09-15 British PM Neville Chamberlain visits Hitler at Berchtesgaden
- 1938-09-17 British premier Neville Chamberlain leaves Munich
- 1938-09-23 British premier Neville Chamberlain flies to Munich
- 1938-09-30 Treaty of Munich signed by Hitler, Mussolini, Daladier and Chamberlain, forces Czechoslovakia to give territory to Germany
- 1940-05-10 Winston Churchill succeeds Neville Chamberlain as British Prime Minister