The British reaction to German economic expansion in southeastern Europe 1936-1939.
This thesis reconstructs the reaction of the British
government to German economic penetration in southeastern
Europe in the years 1936-1939.
Until the Anschluss the British government considered
that the creation of a German economic sphere of influence
in southeastern Europe did not represent a political threat
to Britain or the Balkan states. Britain's primary concern
was to avoid any binding commitments in central or
southeastern Europe. Relations with the Balkan states,
limited to commercial matters, were devoid of political
direction. Politically, the Balkans were regarded only
in the context of a general European settlement.
The political implications of the Anschluss resulted
in the gradual development of a new British policy to southeastern
Europe. The British government hoped that economic
assistance to the Balkans would enhance Britain's political
influence and provide an alternative to Germany. The first
indication of this policy was the £16 million credit to Turkey.
The insistence on economic orthodoxy, however, nullified
the attempts of the specially created interdepartmental
committee to recommend schemes of assistance for the other
Balkan states. Economic orthodoxy was abandoned in December
1938 when £10 million were allocated for political
The occupation of Prague ended the preceding months'
hopes of an Anglo-German agreement. Britain guaranteed
Poland, Greece and Rumania and sought an alliance with Turkey.
To supplement Britain's political policy, the amount
of political credits was increased to £60 million in June
The British reaction to German economic penetration in
southeastern Europe was the result of a political decision
that a German hegemony in the Balkans was not in Britain's