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Was it the British governments' policy of appeasement which led to war breaking out between Britain and Germany in September 1939?

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Introduction

Was it the British governments' policy of appeasement which led to war breaking out between Britain and Germany in September 1939? There were many factors that led to the outbreak of war in 1939. There were long-term factors, such as the Treaty of Versailles as well as trigger factors such as the Nazi-Soviet pact. In 1919 the Treaty of Versailles was signed by sixty countries but the most important and influential countries at the agreement were France, Britain and America. The aim of the treaty was to work out what to do to punish Germany, the losers of the war. The treaty of Versailles imposed many harsh consequences on Germany. It made Germany accept the war guilt clause. This meant Germany had to accept blame for the war, which meant they had to be punished. Germany lost a lot of land, was never allowed to re-unite with Austria, and was made to pay very, very heavy fines. Obviously Germany resented this, as the war was not their fault at all.1 This created friction between Germany and Britain and France. The Treaty of Versailles has been called the "Seed bed for World War Two". Unfortunately due to Britain and France's own problems they never really truly enforced the Treaty of Versailles. ...read more.

Middle

He was testing the Allies by seeing what they would do as now he was breaking the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Treaty.7 This only proved to Hitler that neither Britain nor France were willing to defend the Treaty of Versailles. This view was backed up two years later when Germany re-united with Austria. The biggest weakness, as Hitler saw it, was in the Sudeten Crisis in 1938. The Sudetenland contained a population where over 50% of the people were German. After Anschluss8, Czechoslovakia and the Sudetenland were the obvious choices for Hitler and his plan to revise the Treaty of Versailles and achieve "Lebensraum"9. While stirring up the Sudeten's with a speech at Nuremberg, September 1938 he said "the German's in Czech are neither defenseless, nor are they deserted" Britain and France were desperate for a peaceful solution. Chamberlain said, "How horrible, fantastic, incredible that we should be digging trenches because of a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing" In desperation he flew to meet Hitler on 15th September. He thought that although he was an aggressive dictator he would be a realistic and reasonable man. He agreed to give Hitler the areas where over 50% were German. ...read more.

Conclusion

The expenditure dropped from �692 million in 1919-20 to �115 million in 1921-22. Conscription was abolished in 1920. 6 Anglo-German Naval agreement, June 1935 - Allowed Germany to have a navy 35% of the British Navy. Britain signed it in a bid to keep Hitler happy but also to ensure that he wouldn't get to powerful in comparison to Britain. 7 The Locarno Treaty of 1925 guaranteed the western frontiers of Europe 8 Anschluss was when Germany and Austria became re-united. 9 Lebensraum was the drive to acquire adequate living space for all the Aryan (Blonde haired, blue eyed, German "master race") without being polluted by the "untermenschen" (the subhuman race) e.g. Jews. 10 "When the next crisis came, Hitler was even more confident that he knew his adversaries: "our enemies are small worms" he would tell his generals in August 1939. "I saw them in Munich".... The Manchester Guardian shrewdly noted, "Hitler will be able to advance again, when he chooses, with greatly increased power. - Taken from "Hitler: Nemesis" By Ian Kershaw. 11 The Molotov - Ribbentrop pact compromised of a ten year non aggression pact, promise of economic co-operation and a secret protocol for the division of Poland and Eastern Europe into two spheres of influence - Lithuania and Vilna to be German, Estonia and Latvia to be Russian. ...read more.

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