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What was "appeasement"?

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Introduction

What was "appeasement"? The definition of appeasement is to pacify someone, to avoid war at nearly all costs. It is more famously recognised as the policy implemented by Neville Chamberlain, following Hitler's attempts at taking over territory in Europe, prior to War World 2. Indications of appeasement could be witnessed during the 20s and early 30s. After World War 1, Britain definitely did not want another war. It was always looking to avoid military opposition with Hitler. In early 1938 when Hitler condemned what he called, the persecution of Germans by Czechs in the Sudetenland, Chamberlain searched for a way to resolve potential conflict peacefully. The attempted settlement of the Sudetenland crisis resulted in the Munich agreement. On 30 September 1938, Chamberlain established with Hitler that the 'German' parts of Czechoslovakia constituted Hitler's territory. Both parties agreed to avoid war. Britain was financially unprepared for war and the Allies were in fear of Communism spreading in Europe if Germany became weak. Chamberlain realised that Hitler's hunger for territory was unlimited, when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939. ...read more.

Middle

immediate evacuation of the Rhineland."2 Churchill blames the British authority for not being strong from the start, which otherwise would not have invited trouble. This suggests that some Contemporaries supported appeasement while others did not. Historians who lived through World War 2 wrote about their experiences with an emotional response. After suffering a war, they were looking for people to blame for the catastrophic consequences of appeasement. Such historians use the "Guilty Men" theory, which labelled certain figures as those responsible for the war. " . . . Austria has now been laid in thrall, and we do not know whether Czechoslovakia will not suffer a similar attack."3 Churchill emphasises the unpredictability of Hitler's actions and that it is likely he will attack Czechoslovakia. Churchill is laying the blame for this on Britain. Revisionists primarily wrote about appeasement during the 50s/60s, with a more rational approach. "His motive throughout was the general pacification of Europe. He was driven on by hope, not fear."4 Taylor is backing Chamberlain and his decision to implement the policy in 1938. He explains that Chamberlain was always searching for ways to make settlements in Europe. ...read more.

Conclusion

Overall, I believe that historians have differed in their views of appeasement because of when they wrote the sources. It also depends on the type of historian and whether they belong to a political party. " . . . it looked as if he might be succeeded by the Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, one of Michael Foot's 'Guilty Men'."7 Barbara Castle, a Labour politician portrays the negative outlook to Halifax, a Conservative politician who was labelled as one of the 'Guilty Men.' So ultimately, historians have differed as they have written at different times, with different perspectives and with different amounts of information available to them. 1 Speech given in defence of the Munich Agreement, Neville Chamberlain - 3 Oct 1938. 2 Should Britain not have made a stand in 1936? - Winston Churchill, 22 February 1938. 3 Ibid. 4 A move away from the "Guilty Men" Idea - The Origins of the Second World War, AJP Taylor, 1961 5 An argument for Chamberlain not being a pacifist. 6 "Conflicts over Possible Alternatives to Appeasement in the 1930s", Michael J Carley - revised 1997. 7 Memoirs of Lord Halifax - "Fighting All The Way", Barbara castle, 1993. ...read more.

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