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To What Extent were military weaknesses responsible for Britain's adoption of the policy of Appeasement to Nazi Germany in the 1930s?

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Introduction

To What Extent were military weaknesses responsible for Britain's adoption of the policy of Appeasement to Nazi Germany in the 1930s? From 1935 onwards, the position of Nazi Germany in Europe was transformed. Hitler broke treaty after treaty, and yet Britain either stood aside (as in March 1936 over the Rhineland), from July 1936 during the Spanish Civil war, or in March 1938 over Anschluss) or actually intervened (as at Munich in September 1938) to enable Hitler to achieve his aims. As P Bell comments, "There were many wide ranging and sound reasons for pursuing appeasement, yet the policy failed and critics still argue that it was both disastrous and dishonourable"1. Some historians do suggest controversially that she was already passively doing so in the 1920s, and so it may follow those domestic, imperial and economic problems from the 1920s which continued into the 1930s were at least in part responsible for allowing Germany a 'free hand', especially in the light of the failure of the League of Nations and growing tension in Europe. ...read more.

Middle

In addition, Britain's own economy made it difficult for her to rearm, even if she felt that she would end a policy of appeasement. Most of her post-war economic problems had begun to recover until 1929 and then depression set in during the 1930s. Ellen makes the point that "The appeasement of Germany was not devised in the heat of the moment... Both the defence ration and appeasement were part of the government's carefully calculated assessment of the economic, social, political and strategic realities that Britain faced."3 The ministers were already aware that the increase in armaments spending was affecting the delicate budgetary balance. In 1935, defence had taken 15% of central government expenditures - �137 million out of a total of �841 million; in 1937, this had risen to 26% and jumped a further twelve percent in 1938.4 Taxes alone were unable to cover expenditure and in 1937 the Treasury had reluctantly agreed to a National Defence Loan. Near the end of 1937 was a commercial down-swing, where unemployment figures rose, prices rose and the sterling weakened against the dollar, the international markets volatile and at best, gloomy. ...read more.

Conclusion

It lead to a deliberate decision to ignore Germany's secret rearmament, to pressure exerted by Lord Balfour, foreign minister, on France explaining that Germany this time would go East and therefore her rearmament did not constitute a threat to France, the signature of the pact of Locarno which, while giving the most stringent guaranties to the countries west of Germany, gave no guaranties at all to the countries east of Germany. Thus it can be seen that it is perhaps the economic restraints coupled with the public opinion, the incapacity of a nation to prepare for war combined with its adversity to war which created and upheld this British policy of appeasement towards Nazi Germany. However, if it was economics and public opinion that determined this policy, then the other factors mentioned were surely supportive of a policy of appeasement. (994 words) 1 Philip M H Bell, - 'New Perspective' volume 5. 1. Sep 1999, Philip M H Bell 2 Chiefs of Staff, - The Politics of Appeasement, Paul Kennedy 3 J M Ellen - Origins of The Second World War, James Ellen and Mark Fisher 4 Figures from public records office. www.pro.gov.uk 5 The Realities Behind Diplomacy, Paul Kennedy 6 Hitler-Chamberlain , - Clement Leibovitz Aymen Mahmoud JA4 History/FW ...read more.

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