What Extent Was Appeasement Justified?
is a policy that involves settling global disputes through negotiations and
conciliation to satisfy specific grievances. Appeasement is an easy way of
avoiding material or political conflicts to a particular power which may lead
to dangerous wars that may result in bloodshed and loss of resources. In the
1930s, several appeasements were conducted among the Germans, Britain, and
France. The significant appeasement happened in 1938 where Britain gave Hitler
Sudetenland located in Munich to avoid armed conflicts (Fleming 412-435).
However, this issue has elicited many reactions among historians and social
commentators on whether to justify appeasement or not. The paper analyses the
reasons for justification of appeasement.
European countries supported appeasement because they were still recovering
from the Great Depression in the early 19th century. Britain in specific had
experienced substantial economic problems such as inflation and unemployment
hence wanted to avoid foreign involvement. According to Britain, delaying
engaging in war with Hitler will enable chamberlain to prevent military funding
and subsequently fund social issues in the country (Wark 545-562). This
strategy worked well for Britain since they created humble time to increase
their social welfare and improve the economy. However, they lacked behind in
the military because Germans moved ahead to strengthen their military power and
became ready for another war with European countries.
factor for appeasement is that many people feared war and had anti-war mindset
following the negative consequences of the first world war. Politicians as well
as citizens especially in Britain and USA supported international peace and
advised against engaging in another costly warn (Schmidt 101-24). Similarly,
several foreign sympathizers argued that the Germans were mistreated under the
Treaty of Versailles. The British people felt that they should avoid going to
war over the Rhineland because Germans had previously not been treated as a
great power. Therefore, they choose to sign Anglo-German Naval agreement with
Hitler in 1936 to avoid possible war over Hitler’s remilitarization of
Rhineland (Neumann 212-228).
appeasement was justified because of belief in democracy by the British. Unlike
the Nazis, the British did not believe war could solve social issues facing the
world hence deciding on mediation and cooperation rather than armed conflicts.
Likewise, the British were not aggressive to the Germans because of possible impacts
on the innocent populations. Another reason for appeasement was the peaceful
coexistence between European countries who believed in peaceful ways of
resolving conflicts. Many nations felt appeasement would help reduce impacts of
communism which were viewed as a threat to stability (Halperin 128-64).
Therefore, they justified appeasement as a solution to some social problems in
several contrary arguments have been made against justification of appeasement.
The first argument is that reconciliation was morally wrong since it meant
giving in to Hitler’s demands even in circumstance his actions were
questionable. For example, Hitler was allowed to break international agreements
such as the Treaty of Versailles primarily because of fear of a possible
outbreak of war. Although this action appears like as a sign of weakness for
both France and Britain, it was an excellent move to cool down increasing
tensions that could have quickly escalated to international conflicts. In fact,
it reduced territorial attacks except German acquire of Czechoslovakia’s
territory (Wark 545-562).
critiques argue that appeasement makes dictators stronger. The claim that
continuous appeasement of Britain to Germans made Hitler to grew stronger and
powerful. Hitler used this advantage convince other countries like Austria to
be their allies and provide them with more supplies and troops. However, they
fail to understand that it was a strategy to isolate dictators to appear to be
international enemies to persuade peaceful countries to unite against them
easily. This became successful during the second world war where cooperation
led to the defeat of the Nazis (Trubowitz et al. 289-311).
some researchers found appeasement to be the main reason for misjudgment of
Hitler by the European countries. They claim that Chamberlain failed to
understand the intentions of Hitler since he viewed him as a typical leader who
can be cooperative. Likewise, he is accused of failing to see that by appeasing
Hitler, it gave him the opportunity to do any harmful action towards Britain
and other countries. However, Chamberlain used democratic means to control
Germans for a long time despite having the power to engage with them in war.
For example, fighting Hitler during the disputes over Rhineland could have
worsened the situation and result in massive loss of lives (Robertson 196-234).
Instead, Chamberlain decided to sign the Anglo-German Naval Agreement to avoid
imminent war and hence have time to strategize for the second world war
(Stedman 83-99). These among other reasons proved that appeasement was
justified to reduce more bloodsheds through unnecessary wars.
justifying appeasement was a right decision taken by the British and France
because it led to maintenance of global peace and cooperation between hostile
countries. It was also used as a tactic for countries to prepare for an
upcoming second world war in the early 1940s. In general, appeasement was
rightly justified and played a crucial role in bringing peace.
Fleming, N. C. “Diehard Conservatives and the
Appeasement of Nazi Germany, 1935–1940.” History 100.341
Halperin, Sandra. “The politics of appeasement:
the rise of the left and European international relations during the interwar
period.” Contested Social Orders and International Politics
Neumann, Sigmund. “Europe before and after
Munich: Random Notes on Recent Publications.” The Review of
Politics 1.2 (1939): 212-228.
Robertson, E. M. “Hitler’s Planning for War and
the Response of the Great Powers (1938–39).” Aspects of the Third
Reich. Macmillan Education UK, 1985. 196-234.
Schmidt, Gustav. “The Domestic Background to
British Appeasement Policy.” The Fascist Challenge and the Policy
of Appeasement (1983): 101-24.
Stedman, Andrew David. “‘A Most Dishonest
Argument’? Chamberlain’s Government, Anti-Appeasers and the Persistence of
League of Nations’ Language Before the Second World War.” Contemporary
British History 25.01 (2011): 83-99.
Trubowitz, Peter, and Peter Harris. “When states
appease: British appeasement in the 1930s.” Review of
International Studies 41.2 (2015): 289-311.
Wark, Wesley K. “Appeasement
Revisited.” The International History Review 17.3 (1995):