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Was Appeasement A Mistake?

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Introduction

23.03.03 Becky Tun Was Appeasement A Mistake? When a country abuses any agreements it has made and tries to take land by force, it is ususal that other countries will get angry and think of doing something to stop them. However sometimes the leadership of a country may feel that it is safer to stay out of the way in order to avoid creating a violent conflict, even if it involves allowing the country in question to have whatever it wants. In the time leading up to the Second World War, Hitler had begun to break many of the terms that Germany had agreed to in the Treaty of Versailles after the First World War. The Treaty had imposed a restriction on the size and strength of the German army, and resultantly Germany's military strength had diminished. Hitler resented this humiliation especially after Germany's defeat in the First World War, and he was determined to set about making Germany powerful and strong again. He ignored the agreements made in the Treaty of Versailles and went straight ahead in rearming Germany with military weapons and armed forces in areas that were supposed to remain demilitarised such as the Rhineland. When countries such as Britain and France did nothing he went a step further and began sending troops in to invade the areas surrounding Germany such as Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, and he made a political alliance with Austria which ensured that Germany was well surrounded by land and strong military forces; putting her in a powerful position ready to fight off any resistance. ...read more.

Middle

He thought that the League of Nations should listen to Germany's complaints and try to find a solution, but if this did not work, Britain should be ready to fight. However at that point, Britain was not ready. She had reduced the size of her armed forced after World War One so it would have been pointless to go to war with Germany right then when Germany had a much stronger army. It was at this particular time that new technology was being developed and therefore new, more advanced weapons were being invented. So in 1936 the British government introduced a four year long plan for preparing Britain for war with the newly advanced weapons and aircraft. Source 5 is advice given to Chamberlin by his gernerals in 1938; they say, "From the military point of view, time is in our favour. If war with Germany has to come, it would be better to fight her in six to twelve months time." They obviously felt that this was a good amount of time in which to prepare Britain for a possible war. Britain also prepared for war by distributing gas-masks and buying goods such as chemicals and aircraft from the US. Source 11 shows British people digging an air-raid shelter in London in September 1938. People feared that a war would bring heavy bombing like before. Despite there being a number of good reasons as to why appeasement should be undertaken, there were also many who opposed the idea, and also with very good reason. ...read more.

Conclusion

for the long five years which lead up to the War, Germany would not have had a chance to expand so greatly and become as powerful as she did. It may have been a fair opinion that Germany deserved back the land and the rights that she lost in 1919, but it should have been clear that letting Hitler take these things for himself before having permission from the makers of the Treaty would just encourage him to carry on further and try to conquer the rest of Europe, even if that had not been his whole intention from the beginning. Looking back now, it seems ridiculous that Britain and France did not see for such a long time that this was what Hitler was inevitably going to try and do. It took them five years to finally realise that if they carried on doing nothing, the whole of Eastern Europe would soon be under the dictatorship of Germany. Instead of appeasement preventing the War, it caused it; simply because the policy was abandoned just too late. Before Germany had had her five years to arm herself for war, she was not in any position to resist the power of the other European countries and her defeat was almost inevitable. If only France and Britain had put up any kind of resistance as soon as Germany began ignoring the agreements of the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler may well have realised that he was outnumbered. Undoubtedly, appeasement was one of the most fatal mistakes made by Britain in the history of warfare. ...read more.

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