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Title: National self-determination in British government policy during the First World War with special reference to Poland, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia
Author: Calder, Kenneth John
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 1971
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In 1914 the British government was not interested in national self-determination in eastern Europe, but by November 1918 it was deeply involved with various eastern European subject nationalities and was committed by implication to their independence. It was not legally committed to national self-determination but it could not have abandoned the subject nationalities without being subjected to accusations of bad faith against which it would have had the greatest difficulty defending itself. This thesis attempts to explain this evolution in British policy in the case of the Poles, Czechoslvaks and Yugoslavs, the three most important subject nationalities in eastern Europe. The thesis is based primarily on the official records of the British government which have been supplemented with material from private collections. The evidence from these records obliges us to believe, and therefore the thesis argues, that British policy on national self-determination developed not as a result of theoretical speculations but as a result of the war-time relations between the government and the Polish, Czechoslovak and Yugoslav nationality organizations. These relations were based not on the government's intrinsic interest in national self-determination or the subject nationalities but on its desire to use the nationalities as weapons of war. Considering it as an area of secondary importance, the government sought to use the political problems of eastern Europe to improve the Entente's strategic position. In November 1918 the government's stance on the issue of national self-determination in eastern Europe was, therefore, not the product of calculations of the long-term political advantages for Britain of the reorganization of eastern Europe but instead the product of its policy for the conduct of the war. This thesis traces the evolution in British relations with the Polish, Czechoslovak and Yugoslav nationality organizations from August 1914 to November 1918. It shows how the initial contacts were established and how relations developed gradually as the government sought to use these organizations in propaganda, espionage and the formation of military units. It attempts to assess the effects of this co-operation on the attitudes of British officials and the policy of the government. It shows that the government's position in 1918 did not develop according to any preconceived plan but evolved as a result of numerous decisions made to solve immediate problems in the conduct of the war.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available