Appeasement policy in the European context
| Why did Britain not do anything when Hitler broke the Treaty of Versailles? |
In the narrower sense the concept stands for the policy valued negatively today (policy of appeasement) of the British prime minister Neville Chamberlain and a group of British politicians, the so-called 'Cliveden clique', who had tolerated in 1938 in the Munich agreement the integration of the Sudetenland, later the annexation of Czechia, linked with the establishment of the protectorate Bohemia and Moravia in the area of Czechoslovakia by the Third Reich to avoid a war in Europe. With it Chamberlain continued the foreign affairs of his predecessor in office Ramsay MacDonald and Stanley Baldwin. MacDonald had urged the French already in the conference of Lausanne in 1932 to yield the German demands for revision of the treaty of Versailles. He is considered as father of the policy of appeasement.
One of the most important basic ideas of the Appeasement policy was a collective, by contract agreed security system of the European states which should be created on the basis of the League of Nations or other international contracts. Hitler's foreign affairs and posture of Great Britain
Immediately after entry into force of the Treaty of Versailles as a result of the defeat in World War I, almost all political forces of the German Empire coveted revision because the imposed restrictions were evaluated as too hard.
Adolf Hitler broke essential parts of the contract after his seizure of power in Germany, for example, by armament, the invasion of the demilitarized Rhineland, and the introduction of the universal military service. The UK Government showed some understanding of this policy. The country was in a severe economic crisis and wasn’t ready for any war, also the British colonies have denied at the time. The war-weariness of the public comes in a statement of King Georgs V. to the expression, he should said that he would rather abdicate and sing in Trafalgar Square 'The red flag' than to expect his country, once again to go through a war as in the years 1914-1918.
Great Britain was ready for extensive concessions to Hitler. In particular the UK wanted to accept that Germany climbed up to the hegemonic power in the east and south east Europe, indeed, under the condition that it can be integrated in international contracts. There were no allies in Western Europe and Central Europe for Great Britain who would be ready for a more certain policy against the German empire. However, Great Britain raised his defense spending. Sudeten crisis and Munich agreement
Great Britain didn‘t protest against the connection of Austria because it looked at this, because of the lacking counterweir, as an internal affair of the German empire and Austria. When Hitler caused the Sudeten crisis and threatened to occupy the Sudetenland, the war seemed inevitable.
However, in an international conference in Munich at the end of September 1938 the west powers Great Britain and France indulged, also under the aspect that they themselves were not ready to war yet
, and closed with Hitler the Munich agreement which permitted the annexation of the Sudeten-German areas.
London has the view, it would be only raked if Sudeten-Germans and Austrians wished to give them for the purposes of the self-determination right of the people the possibility, to join to the German empire, as well as for the purposes of the treaty of Versailles had been enabled the Poles and Czechs to consider about her state affiliation independently.
Chamberlain came from Munich back in the opinion, he has protected „the peace for our time“. Nevertheless, from today's view the war was not prevented with it, but was pushed open merely in some months.
After Hitler established on the 15th March 1939 the protectorate Bohemia and Moravia, Chamberlain delivered British declarations of guarantee for Romania and Poland. As a result the French government likewise delivered a declaration of guarantee.
After the German attack on Poland explained France and Great Britain on account of this guarantee Germany the war, however, not of the Soviet Union which likewise attacked Poland on the 17th September 1939.
Indeed, the west powers won time by the Munich agreement to force the armament for the war against the German empire. This helped France before the background of his defensively opposed military guidance a little. Great Britain was ready in 1940 to turn away a menacing German invasion successfully. Above all Winston Churchill had caused a change of the public opinion, so that the majority of the Britons was decided now in the extreme defense. Historical assessment
With the outbreak of the second world war, the belief justified, concessions would easily interpreted as characters of weakness and as an encouragement to further detailed claims, causing even worse conflicts of consequence of would likely. This view is not without controversy.
Today, it is known that Hitler was determined to a violent annexation of the Czech Republic, while France and the United Kingdom in 1938 were not prepared for an armed encounter. In this respect, the above opinion hides possible alternative courses of action.
Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement must be considered as a fail, as it canceled by the Chamberlain Government, and explains Germany the war.
Nevertheless, the Royal Air Force used the time between the Munich agreement 1938 and the battle of Britain in the summer of 1940, to prepare themselves accordingly and, as a result, the UK stayed undefeated in this military conflict.
Chamberlain was forced to resign on May 10, 1940 when Hitler attacked against the advice of the General staff of the Wehrmacht the Benelux countries and France. Source:
Rainer F. Schmidt: Die Aussenpolitik des Dritten Reiches 1933-1939, Stuttgart 2002.
Hermann Graml: Hitler und England. Ein Essay zur nationalsozialistischen Außenpolitik 1920 bis 1940, München 2009.