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To what extent was appeasement the correct policy during the 1930s?

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Introduction

To what extent was appeasement the correct policy during the 1930s? Appeasement is widely connected with Neville Chamberlain, as it is known as the method used in the 1930s to prevent a war with Germany and to keep Hitler as an ally. Many believe appeasement was just a way for Britain to back down from its allies, and allow the stronger countries to gain power, wealth and money. This can be seen in the Manchester Guardian in February 1939, as appeasement is described as "a clever plan of selling off your friends in order to buy off your enemies." Others argue it was appeasement that prevented another crisis for so long after the First World War, and allowed Britain to once again build up its troops before standing up to its enemy. Although appeasement helped in the short term, in the long term it only proved to be encouraging towards Hitler and his aims to restore Germany. Many can argue that it was appeasement that encouraged Hitler to be aggressive. Each gamble Hitler took and got away with, the bigger the risk there was of his trying again. For example, when Hitler took the Rhineland in March 1936, in hindsight, evidence shows that the Nazi officers had secret orders not to shoot if opposed by British or French troops because Hitler had only 22,700 armed soldiers. ...read more.

Middle

This stated that Hitler was only taking the Sudetenland and would not conquer the rest of Czechoslovakia. This was welcomed by the British public as "peace in our time", but only 4 days later, Hitler said that he "regretted" that the previous arrangements were not good enough. This shows the fact that Germany's needs would never be fulfilled, that Hitler was not to be trusted and that appeasement was based on the huge mistake that Hitler was actually trustworthy. Appeasing Hitler also scared the USSR, who was a big defender of communism in the 1930s. Hitler made no secret of wanting to expand eastwards. The policy of appeasement showed the USSR that Britain and France would not help them if help was needed, and this scared the Soviet Union greatly. This led to anxiety in the USSR government and it also led to the loss of trust for Britain and France, because it was clear to the Soviet Union that they would not stand in Hitler's way. On the other hand, those who believe appeasement helped can argue that Hitler was right, and the Treaty of Versailles was unfair to Germany, restricting it too much and having too many harsh clauses. For example, Germany had to limit its army to 100,000 men, making it vulnerable and leaving Germany defenceless. It also forbade any alliances between Austria and Germany, but many Austrians were German-speaking, so felt they had a right to ally with Germany. ...read more.

Conclusion

Both British and French leaders in the 1930s remembered vividly the horrors of the First World War, with Chamberlain stating that "in war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers." This is emphasised by the statistics of World War I, as Britain lost almost one million men and France lost 1.3 million. Also, as so many men were lost and so much money was paid for the reparations, Britain did not feel physically and mentally ready for yet another crisis, and the policy of appeasement would give Britain enough time to re-arm and build back up its economy and morale. Although the "Great War" was won by the allies, the horrific experiences Britain and France had to go through led to the leaders wishing to avoid war at any costs, either until they were strong enough to fight or until Hitler's needs were fulfilled. It can be argued that appeasement was a failure in the long term, as ultimately it did not avoid another war. Historians may argue that appeasement bought time between the First and Second World Wars. This led to Britain and France having more time to re-arm, re-boost public morale and increase their economy. Many see appeasement as cowardice, and a way to let bullies succeed, but at the time appeasement was seen as the only reason another war hadn't already started. ?? ?? ?? ?? Olivia Choudhury 11/3/11 ...read more.

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