After the Great War, Germany and a couple other countries were greatly punished, having to pay reparations and territorial losses. Hitler, soon to be a dictator, wanted to change that. He believed that Germany had been punished too severely and wanted revenge; because he had such a strong government and military, there were many ways of going about stopping him. During the 1930’s, the policy of appeasement was the most effective response to Hitler’s aggression because of many reason but mainly that it keep peace and didn’t start war, the people did not support the war, and because the British needed more time to prepare for war.
First of all, one reason why appeasement was the most effective response because for the time being, it kept peace throughout Europe, and after only 20 years of peace from the Great War, people didn’t want another. While Chamberlain was secretly trying to get more time he claims that he is just trying to keep peace but if necessary, he will take action, “I shall not give up the hope of a peaceful solution…yet if it were sure that any nation had made up its mind to dominate the world by its fear of force, I should feel that it must be resisted…but war is a fearful thing” (Document 7).
This quote signifies that although Chamberlain said he was a man of peace that if he thought it was necessary he would start a war. One problem with appeasement is that some people think that war could have been totally avoided if Hitler had been stood up, “because the Czech defenses were very strong… and because the German generals, conscious of Germany’s relative weakness at that moment, were actually prepared to attempt to remove Hitler” (Document 9). So if the British had stood up to Hitler and beat him, the war would have been over and Hitler subdued.
Furthermore, appeasement was a good policy because even if Chamberlain had wanted war, the Congress didn’t and after just coming out of a pointless war that killed many lives, nobody was willing to do another. British historian Keith Eubank states: “Neither the people nor the government of (Britain and France) were conditioned to idea of war…Hitler had done nothing that any major power considered dangerous enough to warrant a major European war” (Document 10). Another problem with appeasement is that if you are going to have a trust between people over a controversial topic, you can’t do it with a man like Hitler who is known for backstabbing and disloyalty. Trusting Hitler was a risky thing for Chamberlain because while they are resting in peace, Hitler could sneak attack and take an advantage on a very important war.
Lastly and most importantly, Chamberlain made the most effective response of Hitler’s aggression because at that time, the British needed more time to update their weapons and prepare for war. They were not at all ready and Germany was acting very aggressive lately so Chamberlain made the right choice of buying the British time so they could win the war. A British foreign secretary describes his meeting with other governments, “public opinion was strongly opposed to any action against the Germans…most people were saying openly that they did not see why the Germans should not occupy the Rhineland…taking almost any risk in order to avoid the situation” (Document 12). It was also believed that if Britain had more time, they would win the war, “time is in our favor…it would be better to fight her in say 6 – 12 months’ time, than to accept the present challenge” (Document 13).
The most important reason as to why appeasement was a bad thing is because it gave Hitler more land and freedom. When Hitler received Sudeten territory without having to lift a finger causes him to believe Britain and France don’t want to fight a war (which they didn’t) and makes him think he can get away with more things. Hitler sees their peacefulness and takes his aggression into action, “Germany toady cast off the last shackles fastened upon her by the Treaty of Versailles when Adolf Hitler, as commander-in-chief of the Reich defense forces, sent his new battalions into the Rhineland’s demilitarized zone” (Document 4). Britain used appeasement to buy precious time to prepare and Hitler thought of this as them backing down and took force, which almost won him the war.
The whole idea of appeasement was a controversial topic between politicians. It was a good idea because it kept peace throughout Europe, people wouldn’t have agreed to the war aspect anyways, and that it bought British the time they needed to recover for another war. It was a bad policy because it gave Hitler confidence, Hitler may have been overthrown if a little opposition was expressed, and that Hitler couldn’t be trusted. In conclusion, the policy of appeasement was the most effective way to stop Hitler’s aggression.
There are two opinions that histories have, when dealing with this question. Some historians say that the appeasement wasn’t justified and that Chamberlain was a weak person while of the other hand some say that Chamberlain didn’t have any other chose. There are a number of reasons that support both of the sides.
Appeasement was justified in a few ways, sympathy for Germany, the desire for peace, the threat of communism and the time to rearm. All of these factors explain how the appeasement was justified.
Sympathy for Germany, was an accept that mainly concerned the British. As a matter of fact the British thought that the treaty of Treaty of Versailles was too harsh on Germany. In addition Briton had an opinion that Germany should be treated more fairly. And as a consequence the British gave away on many things that Hitler desired, even when going against treaty of Versailles. For example the British signed the Anglo-German Naval Agreement in 1935. Which allowed Germany to have a navy. Further more The British didn’t take any actions when Hitler invaded Rhineland. Subsequently, nothing was done to stop Germany from joining with Austria. The British hoped that Hitler would get satisfied and stop his demands.
The desire for peace is the second important factory which makes the appeasement justified. Remembering the First World War, Britain and France didn’t want something like this to repeat again. They wanted to keep the world in peace. People from these countries didn’t want another war and hoped that the League of Nations would have the power to settle quarrels between countries. Furthermore there was the Great Depression that put many countries into a position, where they simply couldn’t afford a war.
The Threat of communism, also explains why the appeasement was justified. The biggest problem was the Briton and France couldn’t protect many of the countries from Hitler. For example Czechoslovakia and Poland are two good examples of counties that were Germany’s target and could not be protected by Briton and France because they were to far a way. The only county, which could protect these two countries, was the Soviet Union. But, France and Briton feared the spread of communism as much as they feared Hitler. Therefore, to them it seemed that the best solution was to keep the peace lasting as long a possible.
Time to rearm, was also a very important problem and which makes the appeasement justified. Germany or in other words Hitler had started to rearm long before and was ready for a war, on the other hand, Britain and France were not ready. When the Sudeten crisis occurred in 1938, Britain noticed that they needed time to build up their armed forces. By giving Sudetenland to Hitler at Munich this helped to put off the war for one more year giving a chance to Britain and France to rearm.
On the other hand the appeasement was not justified. The main factors that explain this are the following ones: The appeasers misjudged Hitler, appeasement was morally wrong and the appeasers missed chances to stop Hitler.
The appeasers misjudged Hitler, is a very important point that makes the appeasement unjustified. It seemed to many people that didn’t believe in the appeasement that Chamberlain trusted Hitler too much. Furthermore the opposition of the appeasement sad that people that believe in the appeasement didn’t realize that Hitler was a tyrant. By this they mean that he would do anything to get his way.
Furthermore, the fact the appeasement seemed morally wrong was an important factor as well. Many people believed that the appeasement basically showed that the appeasers were weaklings and cowards. And, in addition people believed that giving Czechoslovakia to Hitler was wrong. Britain and France were so afraid of another war that they gave in to Hitler on almost anything. Some people, like Winston Churchill, said that Britain should have stood up to Hitler and not given in.
Than, the final point, which makes the appeasement unjustified, is that the appeasers missed chances to stop Hitler. Britain and France had many chances were they could have stopped Hitler but they didn’t. For example, when Hitler had send troops into Rhineland in 1936, Britain and France didn’t take any actions. Later historians have found out that Hitler said to his generals, to retreat if they were opposed. Further more in 1938, Britain and France gave up Czechoslovakia to Hitler, where as, Czechoslovakia had a modern army and had a chance to resist Germany.
As a conclusion there are a number of reasons that support both sides of the argument. But for my point of view, the appeasement was not justified. I believe this due to the fact that if Britain and France took a more severe action against Germany, there would have been a chance that world war two hadn’t occurred.