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The Policy Of Appeasement

Info: 3033 words (12 pages) Essay
Published: 18th Apr 2017 in History

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In 1918, World War One stops after it began in 1914. On the 11th of November, 1918 an armistice is signed to stop World War One. [1]  By 1918, the Treaty of Versailles was signed. The Treaty of Versailles was signed by the countries Britain, United States of America, France, Italy and Germany. During these times, some of the leaders of these countries was pressured into maintaining long term peace between the countries. [2] 

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When the Treaty of Versailles was signed, Germany along with Austria, was forced to accept responsibility for starting World War One. This was known as the War Guilt Cause, Article 231. Germany got the full blame for starting the war and had to pay money to the other countries. [3] Under the Treaty of Versailles, the German army was only allowed 96,000 men and 4,000 army officers which were only allowed to serve in the army for twelve years. The German Army, was banned from using weapons such as submarines and army tanks. Germany also lost land, which went to the other countries. France got the land Alsace-Lorraine. The Rhineland was demilitarized by alliance troops. [4] 

In the 1920’s, the League of Nations was created. It’s main aim was to ” to promote international co-operation and to achieve international peace and security”. [5] 

According to the historian, A.J.P Taylor who suggests that the 1919 peace settlement was a failure. In his book “The Origins of the Second World War(1961)” [6] the book includes this quotation “the Second World War was,in large part, a repeat performance of the first”. [7] This suggests that the problems by the countries in 1919, were not resolved which lead to World War Two later on. [8] 

When looking at the topic of Appeasement in History, it is important to highlight that some historians have different views on what appeasement is. A general definition of Appeasement, according to the historians David Armstrong and Elizabeth Trueland is “appeasement is normally defined as the policy of seeking to remedy grievances through negotiations, and making concessions in order to reduce international tensions and avoid war”. [9] The definition of Appeasement can differ, due to the circumstances. [10] 

During the 1920’s, it has been suggested that Britain did to a certain extent follow a policy of appeasement. Appeasement in the 1920’s did happen to a certain extent because, many people of Britain believed that Germany was being treated badly, according to the terms of the Versailles Treaty. David Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister disagreed with the french Prime Minister, Georges Clemenceau about aspects of the Treaty of Versailles. British people did not want another war because the effect it had on the people of Britain. During the 1920’s, Britain had an economic problem. In 1918, it cost Britain seven million pounds a day, due to the effects of World War One. Britain had several debts to pay, which meant it couldn’t afford to go to war. [11] 

In 1923, the french decided to invade the land of Ruhr in Germany. Germany started to show less commitment in paying off the reparations, set in the Treaty of Versailles. [12] The British people, did not agree with the french about the invasion of the land, Ruhr. In 1924, Britain fully supported the Dawes Plan. This was where America, was loaning money to Germany which modified the reparations payment [13] . The french, also agreed to to withdraw it’s troops from Ruhr. [14] 

Another reason that historians suggest that appeasement occurred during the 1920’s was because of the Locarno Agreement which occurred in 1925.In 1926, Germany became a member of the League of Nations. After the Locarno Treaty was signed in 1925, the relations between the countries France, Britain and Germany had improved. [15] 

According to the historians David Armstrong and Elizabeth Trueland, they suggest that in the late 1920’s ” that the British policy of appeasement, in the sense of seeking to remedy grievances through negotiation, was working.” [16] 

Although, in 1929 when the Wall Street Crash happened this had impacted on Europe and the hope of appeasement working. [17] 

The Wall Street crash, had affected many countries around the world. It created many economic problems including high unemployment and the loss of businesses, especially in America. The Wall Street Crash also impacted the political systems of countries. [18] 

When looking at appeasement, it is important to look at the Manchurian crisis which occurred in 1931. In 1931, the Japanese invaded the area of Manchuria, China. Due to the problems with the Wall Street Crash in 1929, Japan’s major industry in the exportation of silk had declined. Japan was unable to pay for the imports of food and raw materials, essentially needed by the country. As the unemployment rates and deflation began to increase, so did the rise of nationalists. The nationalists had aimed to invade Manchuria, because it would provide the land needed for the overgrown population and because, it contained land necessary for importation. [19] During September 1931, the Japanese Army invaded several areas in Manchuria. This caused problems because the countries Japan and China were members of the League of Nations. The government of China sent an appeal to the League of Nations. When the League of Nations did not agree with the invasion of Manchuria, Japan quit from being a member of the League of Nations. [20] 

During the period of 1933 to 1937, there were factors which have been suggested in affecting the British Foreign Policies during that time and why some people were prepared to appease. One of the factors included was the fear of Communism. During the 1930’s, Communism was a major problem. According to the historian Ian Kershaw, he suggests that “As a result, Germany was seen as the best hope of preventing the spread of Bolshevism. However objectionable it might be in some respects, Nazism was preferable to Communism”. [21] 

During the 1920’s, the German foreign policy were mainly focused on the 25 Point Programme Nazi Party. [22] Many people in Britain, were not worried when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor in Germany,1933. [23] After becoming Chancellor, Adolf Hitler planned to expand the German Army after having meetings with the military leaders of Germany. On the 14th of October,1933 the government of Germany had informed of it’s decision to withdraw from the League of Nations and the Disarmament Conference. [24] 

In July 1934, there was fear that the German army, would invade Austria after the Austrian Chancellor Dofuss was killed. In April 1935, a meeting took place between Britain, Germany and Italy in Stresa, Italy. This is known as the “The Stresa Front”. [25] According to the historian Andrew Boxer, he suggests that the meeting was unsuccessful. This was because Benito Mussolini, was already preparing for the invasion of Abyssinia. Britain signed the “Anglo-German Naval Agreement” [26] . Britain did not discuss this with France or Italy. The agreement allowed Germany to increase the numbers of the German Royal Navy. [27] 

When looking at the foreign policies of Italy, it is important to look at the humiliation which Italy felt after World War One. After not receiving the land, promised by the Alliance they felt betrayed. Benito Mussolini had an aim which included “I want to make Italy great, respected and feared.” [28] 

In October 1935, Italy invaded Abyssinia. This created many problems for Britain. The people of Abyssinia, made a direct appeal to the league of Nations. Italy was denied foreign loans and the exports and imports of rubber and weaponry was suspended on Italy. After Italian troops invaded Abyssinia, Adolf Hitler ordered the German troops to enter the Rhineland on March 7,1936. [29] 

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When discussing the topic of Appeasement, it is important to look at people who were pro-appeasement. Neville Chamberlain, who became the British Prime Minister in May 1937 has been well known in the historic topic of appeasement. Neville Chamberlain decided that the best policy towards the British foreign policy was appeasement. Neville Chamberlain thought it would be best to improve the relations between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

When Neville Chamberlain came into British Political power, the situation was uncertain towards countries internationally. Adolf Hitler had possible aims to dominate European countries using military forces. Benito Mussolini, was a dictator with territorial aims. Neville Chamberlain thought that the difference of opinions between each countries, could be resolved using the method of negotiation. [30] 

The first opportunity to negotiate with Germany was in November 1937. A supporter of appeasement and an advisory for Neville Chamberlain, Lord Halifax was invited to attend an event. The leaders of the Nazi Party was also attending. The meeting was aimed to currently improve the relations of Germany. The British foreign secretary, Anthony Eden thought that the meeting would be unsuccessful [31] . The British foreign secretary, did not agree with the views of Neville Chamberlain regarding appeasement. In February 1938, Neville Chamberlain decided to openly talk with Benito Mussolini. It was aimed in improving the relations of Italy. Anthony Eden did not agree with this. [32] In February 1938, Anthony Eden resigned as the British Foreign secretary. In March 1938, German soldiers entered Austria. Austria became united with Germany. [33] 

After the Wall Street Crash during the 1930’s, the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia had problems such as high unemployment rates. When the treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919, the boundaries between countries in East and Central Europe were designated. After problems due to the impact of the Wall Street Crash, many people of Czechoslovakia felt betrayed. [34] 

Adolf Hitler had an aim to decentralise the state of Czechoslovakia. As the state was a multi national democracy, Adolf Hitler did not agree with this. [35] 

On the 29 of September 1938, The Munich Conference began. On the 30th of September, Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler had a private meeting. Adolf Hitler signed the paper, along with Neville Chamberlain that war will not happen again. [36] 

On the 15th of March, 1939 the German soldiers invaded Prague against the agreement of the Munich conference. It was thought that Poland could be next to be invaded. It was suggested that if Germany invaded Poland, Britain and France would give their support to the Polish Government. [37] When Germany invaded Poland, World War Two began. [38] 

Winston Churchill, was against appeasement and did not agree with Neville Chamberlain appeasing with Adolf Hitler during the 1930’s period. In the book “Gathering Storm” [39] It has been suggested that during the 1930’s, Winston Churchill had tried to warn of the dangers of appeasement. [40] 

There is a historian debate about if appeasement was right or wrong. The historian Hugh Trevor Roper suggests that the foreign policy aims of Adolf Hitler from the period of 1933 to 1939 were “the implementation of a very carefully planned programme of aggression, laid out by Hitler in Mein Kampf,” [41] 

However another historian, Karl Dietrich suggests that “Hitler’s foreign -policy actions had no overall design,but were rather spontaneous and unplanned responses”. [42] 

To conclude for this essay, that as the most evidence suggests that during that time period, Neville Chamberlain had to appease. This is because of the effect of world war one and Britain could not afford to go to war. I agree with the view of the historians David Armstrong and Elizabeth Trueland as they suggest that appeasement did work in the 1920’s. This is true because of the Locarno Agreement in 1925. I also agree with the view that the impact of the Wall Street Crash impacted on the appeasement in the 1930’s. The failure of the League of Nations in 1931, due to the Manchurian crisis suggests that the countries were less likely to have good international relations using the League of Nations. The evidence mostly suggests that the view of historian Hugh Trevor Roper is more likely correct. This is because before Adolf Hitler became Reich chancellor, the German foreign policy was mainly based on the 25 point Nazi Party programme. This suggests that Adolf Hitler had carefully planned the German Foreign policy. Once he was able to get into power, he had the opportunity to use his power influentially. Regarding the topic of appeasement, appeasement was a failure. This is because at the end, World War Two had began. However, I agree with the view of A.J.P Taylor who suggests that the peace settlement in 1919 was a failure. This is because at the peace settlement was created to prevent an outbreak of another war.

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