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

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Olivia Choudhury                11/3/11

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. For all we know, stamping out Hitler’s actions then could have led to his dreams being crushed and therefore no war. However, because of blatant self-interest by France and Britain, Hitler was allowed to remilitarise the Rhineland without any opposition. The British government justified this by arguing that the Rhineland was Germany’s “back garden”, but in reality, the remilitarisation of the Rhineland led to a domino effect and chain reaction for the rest of Hitler’s aggressive actions.

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Furthermore, it can be argued that it was appeasement that allowed Germany to grow too strong. The Treaty of Versailles limited Germany’s army to 100,000 men, which Hitler saw as unfair and unreasonable. In 1935, Hitler made the decision to once again build up Germany’s army, and by 1939, Germany’s army had almost ten times the amount of soldiers it originally had in 1932, with a massive number of 950,000 men. It was not only troops that appeasement allowed Germany to expand on, but also land. Hitler felt it was right to take back what, he believed, was rightfully and ...

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