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Was Appeasement a Good or Bad Policy to Uphold?
Transcript of Was Appeasement a Good or Bad Policy to Uphold?
Arguments for appeasement
War would not be supported
Britain was not ready for war
Britain's armed forced were far from ready for another war. Their economy was collapsing as a result of the Depression and the population was urging the government to spend money for for the good of the population, apposed to buying new weapons, because war was and is a big financial commitment. Appeasement was a good policy to uphold, as it bought Britain time to prepare for a possible conflict, while in the meantime, using the possibility of settling things without aggression.
People admired Hitler
Europe longed for peace. Being not too long after the horrors of the First World War, pacifism was a very popular opinion amongst the population. People did not want a war and supported diplomacy because at the time, it looked like a exit turn from the road to war. The population would not support a war in 1938 and therefore, appeasement was necessary.
Many people believed that Hitler wanted good for his people and all his actions and demands were justified. Therefore, to the public, everything Hitler wanted and did seemed reasonable, therefore, war was not supported. In 1933, he was declared as man of the year in Time magazine. The public of Britain and France did not see him as danger. At the time, he was standing up to communism, and spreading a popular negative opinion about the Jews. He said things that many could relate to, and so again, Appeasement was the most sensible option the politicians could take.
Also, Britain and France knew that other major powers for example America, would not support them if they stood up to Hitler. Americans were determined on being isolationists, France did not want to go to war and without the definite support of the American and French army, Britain wouldn't fight Germany alone.
Therefore, since appeasement was supported by the public and neither of the major powers supported, it seemed as the most sensible policy.
The Horrors of the First World War
The First World War was the first major global conflict, and being not too long ago, no one wanted to repeat the horrors that much of the population lived through. Chamberlain was one of those who remembered the slaughter of the First World War and feared that if another war followed, it would destroy civilization. Again, this contributed to the pacifist opinion amongst the people and encourage Appeasement.
It was their last and only option...
The thought of fighting in another war seemed completely absurd and impossible to the major powers. No one had the resources and will for aggression. The public pressured the politicians to avoid war, and so appeasement was the only option that Britain and France had. The policy was based on giving Hitler what he wanted, to stop him from going to war. Their attitude stood upon 'what Hitler wanted was reasonable', which created a false trust in Hitler through the public. They believed that once his demands have been satisfied, he would stop. It was the last magic trick that they were hiding up their sleeve that could prevent war.
It gave Hitler time to prepare for war
With appeasement, Hitler had time to prepare the Germany army and build the a strong army. At one point, the German army was greater than the British and French. If appeasement didn't take place, and Britain and France stood up to Hitler in the earlier stages, his army wouldn't have been strong enough to uphold the attack and the war would've happened on a much smaller scale, possibly not even spread to a World War. But, as Britain and France feared the British army, they told themselves they weren't ready and rid behind appeasement, but really, they were doing Hitler a favor.
It is said that one of the main reasons Britain did not want to go to war was that it's economy was highly affected by the depression. But, Britain still had a better situation than Germany. Germany was the most affected by the Depression, even more then America. In other words, Britain had an advantage over Germany, but they didn't take it. They appeased Hitler, which helped them recover and grow stronger then Britain. They were helping Germany become a stronger opponent then they were in the first place.
Hitler gains confidence
The Nazi-Soviet Pact 1939
Because of appeasement, after Britain failed to protect Czechoslovakia, Stalin started to doubt that Britain would stand up to Britain if Hitler attacked the USSR. But Hitler's current intentions weren't focused on the USSR. He wanted Poland, and Stalin would let him have it if he also got something out of it. Neither wanted to go to war over Poland, and so they created a pact and separated Poland amongst themselves. Despite their political differences. For Britain, it was yet another disaster, as it has lost a potential ally. The USSR was the only country that would've helped Britain prevent a German invasion on Poland. It was Britain's plan to sign an agreement with the USSR, but they believed they still had time, until Hitler beat them to it.
The most popular argument used against appeasement is that appeasing Hitler only led to his gain in confidence which urged him to keep taking. Appeasement reassured him that there would be no severe consequences because he
nobody wanted to fight. The first big gamble Hitler took was the Rhineland. It was breaking the Treaty of Versailles and an agreement made in the Locarno Treaties recently. If France would've attacked then, Hitler's confidence would've collapsed and he would be humiliated. With every move of appeasement, Hitler became more confident that his further gambles would also follow without consequences. Hitler came to a conclusion that Britain and France were afraid of him and that they would not stop him whatever he did. He felt invisible and it was appeasement that urged him on.
By : Barbora Rozkopalova