Appeasement Policy in the Munich Conference: Mistake or Not

Categories: MistakesWar

The Munich Conference of 1938, where Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler shook hands and reached the Munich Agreement, is a pivotal moment in history that continues to spark debates about the effectiveness of the policy of appeasement. This policy, which aimed to avoid another catastrophic war by making concessions to Hitler's expansionist ambitions, has been the subject of intense scrutiny. In this essay, we will analyze various arguments both for and against appeasement, seeking to determine whether it was indeed a mistake or a pragmatic approach in the face of complex geopolitical realities.

A Mistake: The Downsides of Appeasement

While appeasement was driven by a desire to prevent war and address grievances, several compelling arguments suggest that it was ultimately a grave mistake.

1. Munich Agreement was a disaster: Winston Churchill, a staunch critic of appeasement, argued that Czechoslovakia was sacrificed for nothing. He contended that Hitler had deceived everyone, revealing the Munich Agreement as a disastrous concession.

2. Hitler was determined to conquer Eastern Europe: Adolf Hitler's clear intentions to expand eastward and dominate Eastern Europe were well-documented.

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The policy of appeasement, in this context, seemed futile as it merely provided him with opportunities to advance his aggressive agenda.

3. It encouraged Hitler: One of the critical shortcomings of appeasement was that it emboldened Hitler. His ability to secure concessions from Western powers without facing resistance only reinforced his belief that he could act with impunity.

4. Fear of another war: While public opinion in 1938 was indeed against war, the policy of appeasement could be seen as a response to fear rather than a sound strategic decision.

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Appeasement was driven by the desire to avoid another devastating conflict at any cost, which may not have been the best long-term approach.

Not a Mistake: The Arguments in Favor of Appeasement

On the other side of the debate, there are arguments that support the idea that appeasement was not necessarily a mistake, considering the circumstances and priorities of the time.

1. Germany deserved a fair deal: Some argued that Germany, having been treated harshly at the Treaty of Versailles, was merely seeking what it perceived as its rightful land. In this view, appeasement was a way to correct past injustices.

2. Germany was growing stronger: Allowing Germany to grow stronger through territorial acquisitions might have been a strategic move. Weakening Germany further could have made it even more difficult to defeat in the future, making appeasement a pragmatic choice.

3. Britain needed time: By appeasing Hitler, Britain gained valuable time to build up its armed forces. This preparedness could prove crucial in facing the inevitable confrontation with Nazi Germany.

4. Fear of Communism: The fear of communism was a prevalent concern at the time. Some believed it was better to support a strong leader in Germany, Hitler, rather than risk the spread of communism, which was perceived as a more significant threat.

5. Appeasement scared the USSR: The policy of appeasement caused the Soviet Union to become worried about the growing power of Nazi Germany. This concern led to considerations of deals with Hitler, which could potentially have shifted the balance of power in Europe.


In conclusion, the policy of appeasement pursued at the Munich Conference of 1938 is a subject of multifaceted debate. While there are compelling arguments on both sides, it is challenging to render a definitive verdict on whether it was a mistake or a pragmatic approach. The circumstances of the time, the fear of another devastating war, and the desire to correct perceived past injustices all played a role in shaping the decisions made by Western powers.

Ultimately, the Munich Agreement did little to prevent the outbreak of World War II, as Hitler continued his aggressive expansionist policies. Hindsight allows us to critique the policy of appeasement, but it is essential to consider the complex geopolitical realities and the prevailing sentiments of the era. The debate surrounding appeasement serves as a reminder of the intricate and often unpredictable nature of historical decision-making.

Updated: Nov 03, 2023
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Appeasement Policy in the Munich Conference: Mistake or Not. (2017, Feb 16). Retrieved from

Appeasement Policy in the Munich Conference: Mistake or Not essay
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