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[O] History(Elect) Smart Guides

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  1. Unit 1: The World in Crisis

    1. Impact of World War I in Europe
    14 Topics
  2. 2. Stalin's Soviet Union
    12 Topics
  3. 3. Hitler's Germany
    27 Topics
  4. 4. Outbreak WWII in Europe
    13 Topics
  5. 5. Germany's Defeat in World War II
    21 Topics
  6. 6. Outbreak War in Asia Pacific
    6 Topics
  7. 7. Japan's Defeat
    10 Topics
  8. Unit 2: Bi-Polarity and the Cold War
    8. Reasons for the Cold War in Europe
    21 Topics
  9. 9. The Korean War
    19 Topics
  10. 10. Cuban Missile Crisis
    25 Topics
  11. 11. The End of Cold War
    19 Topics
Chapter 4, Topic 12
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Reasons for the Policy of Appeasement

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Historians believe if Britain and France stood up to Hitler when he first violated the Versailles Treaty, war could have been avoided

Reasons for the Policy of Appeasement

1. Fear of another major war

  • Britain and France suffered tremendous losses in World War I, and were not militarily prepared for another war of a similar scale
  • Public opinion opposed the war and the impact of the Great Depression on the economies of both countries made rearmament very difficult.
  • British and French leaders were aware they needed to take public opinion into account in any policy they made; leaders realised they would not have public support in a war against Germany.
  • Evident in the lack of interest shown by British people when Hitler remilitarised the Rhineland and public enthusiasm for the Munich Agreement.
  • However, there were those who did not support appeasement, such as Winston Churchill & Anthony Eden, Britain’s Foreign Secretary.

2. Weakness of the League of Nations

  • League proved to be ineffective when it had to deal with strong, powerful countries.
  • League of Nations unable to resolve international disputes.
  • Britain adopted appeasement policy to satisfy Hitler and prevent the outbreak of another major war.

3. Buying time to rearm

  • World War I weakened Britain and France’s economy and military
  • Appeasement policy would provide time to rearm.

4. Genuine sympathy for Germany over the Versailles Treaty

  • Many British politicians felt the Treaty of Versailles was too harsh on Germany.
  • Chamberlain believed that Hitler’s grievances on Germans in Czechoslovakia were being oppressed was justified.
  • Chamberlain also thought that Hitler’s intentions were only limited to German self-determination. He thought that war would be prevented if he gave in to Hitler.
  • Some British politicians even admired Hitler & aides, seeing them as strong & patriotic.

5. Chamberlain’s Misjudgement of Hitler

Neville Chamberlain waving his Munich agreement at the airport on his return to England, 1938.
  • Chamberlain thought he could reason with Hitler.
  • He also wrongly believed that Hitler’s aims were limited to revising the Versailles Treaty instead of abolishing it and could be satisfied with negotiations and agreements.
  • He believed that Hitler’s promise would cease making demands once he controlled Sudetenland, but in fact, Hitler repeatedly made promises and broke them.

6. Fear of Communism

  • Hitler had banned the Communist Party and put its leaders in concentration camps.
  • Leaders in Britain and France hated and feared communism and saw communism as a bigger threat than Hitler and Mussolini’s fascism.
  • Western powers were aware of Germany’s remilitarisation programme from 1935 onwards but they believed a stronger Germany could be a shield against the Soviet Union and prevent the spread of communism to west.
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