Policy of Appeasement: Good or Bad?
Policy of Appeasement: Good or Bad?
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.
Subject: World War II,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 7 November 2016
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