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TITLE: Why did the British government follow a policy of appeasement in the 1930s?
After World War I Germany limped back, licking its wounds that the Treaty of Versailles had so mercilessly rubbed in salt. As one looks back on the events leading up to World War II it has to be asked whether France and England helped to start World War II by their actions at Versailles. It seems that the revenge that the Allies took at the Treaty came back to haunt them with the aggression of Hitler in 1936. However, we can not blame Neville Chamberlain for something with which he had no part. Chamberlain's actions in the years 1936 to 1939 are enough to help one appreciate the dilemma he found himself in. Chamberlain did not, in the beginning, realise exactly what Hitler was after. Hitler was after vengeance for Germany because of the Treaty of Versailles, but Chamberlain did not realise that Hitler was after domination of Europe. When confronted about Germany's plan to attack Czechoslovakia Chamberlain responded, "I think it would be wrong to assume that the German government has any intention of doing such." The eyes of the world were on Chamberlain's every move, criticising, praising, and waiting. With the pressure of the world on his shoulders Chamberlain proceeded cautiously not wanting the tensions to explode. Historically, Britain had followed a foreign policy of appeasement and not getting involved with the rest of Europe. Thus in the 1920s, Britain appeased Weimar Germany with the aim of achieving justice, and paid the price of reducing reparations and treating Germany as an equal. In the 1930s Britain appeased Hitler's Germany with the aim of security and paying the price of turning a blind eye to Germany's ambitions. This essay shall offer analysis on Chamberlain's personal reasons to follow appeasement, the reasons on behalf of Britain and the reasons due to the views of the British public. A description of the course of appeasement will be given, and arguments for and against Chamberlain's use of appeasement against Hitler will be given. Thus the question as to "why did the British government follow a policy of appeasement in the 1930s" will be addressed and evidence will be given as to whether or not this policy was effective in achieving its aim.
After World War 1, Britain wanted a purged Germany to take her place among European nations once again. Many of the British ruling class preferred the Germans to the French. The British treated Hitler as a responsible statesman who would keep his bargains. He was in a responsible position and had to be treated like a head of state. They believed that if Hitler was given enough surrounding territory and some colonies there was a point at which he would become reasonable, and war would be averted.
In May 1937, Neville Chamberlain became Prime Minister. He saw Britain's role as that of the peacemaker - the only hope if war was to be avoided in Europe, as the USA was not willing to be involved and France was no help. Britain was isolated so there was no strong ally to help her deal with Hitler. She even tried to make friendship with Mussolini in 1937. Chamberlain distrusted Stalin and Communism. Only in 1939 did he try to reach an understanding with Stalin, and many historians think that even then it was an insincere attempt on both sides. It failed anyhow as Stalin made the Nazi-Soviet Pact instead in August 1939.
Chamberlain had a deep personal horror of war. Many close relatives or friends had died in the previous world war, and it is understandable that this was one reason that he tried so hard to avert war. But he was inclined to rely on his own judgement and made some big errors. Also, Britain was not ready for war. She had spent less on arms in the 1930s due to the Depression. Chamberlain thought that the social problems should come first. Slowly coming out of the economic depression that followed World War I t
Quotes talked about in this paper
Names referenced in this essay
Czechoslovakia Chamberlain, himself, Calvocoressi, Stalin, Wint,
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Locations talked about in this research paper
Great Britain, the Germans, the help, Europe, Poland, Britain, the only country,
Keywords mentioned in this research paper
Hitler, appeasement, world war, World War II, Neville Chamberlain, Germany, policy, total war, foreign policy, British government, Czechoslovakia, Wint, France, the british government, World War 1, Calvocoressi, Poland, Great Britain, Stalin, Versailles, Foreign Secretary, Europe, western allies, Weimar Germany, shameful, ready and willing, British people, Nazi Soviet Pact, so hard, statesman, Prime Minister, ruling class, biggest mistake, Mein Kampf, Anthony Eden, Eastern Europe, blind eye, USSR, Lord Halifax, best way, European nations, only hope, giant steps, time and space, military strength, splendid isolation, counter argument, social problems, collective security, Peter Hope,