GCSE Modern History/Appeasement

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Throughout the 1930s, Britain and France let Hitler do what he wanted, hoping that he would stop making demands and war would not happen. This policy was known as appeasement.

Why did Britain and France follow a policy of appeasement?[edit]

I am completely convinced that the course I am taking is right and therefore cannot be influenced by the attacks of my critics.

Chamberlain in a letter to his sister (1938)

Britain and France has a number of reasons for following this policy, some of them were:

  • The Depression was happening, so their economic problems had a higher priority.
  • They were glad that Hitler was standing up to Communism.
  • They did not want to repeat the horrors of the First World War.
  • Britain believed that the British Empire would not support them in a war. The USA would also not have supported them in a war.
  • They were not ready for war, and hoped to buy time to develop their armies.
  • At this point, many people saw that the Treaty of Versailles had been too harsh on Germany, and were sympathetic to them.

Why was appeasement a failure?[edit]

With hindsight, we can see that appeasement was bad for a number of reasons:

  • It encouraged Hitler to be more aggressive and take bigger gambles - e.g. Poland.
  • It allowed Germany to grow too strong.
  • It put too much trust in Hitler's promises.
  • It scared the USSR who then signed the Nazi-Soviet pact because of it.