Asses the view that appeasement was the only realistic option for Chamberlain in 1938
Appeasement was the British foreign policy adopted by Chamberlain in the wake of World War Two. This policy was seen as cowardice and Chamberlain received huge criticism for maintaining it throughout the road to war and died with the title of the man who was too coward to stand up to Hitler and his Nazi Germany which led to World War One.
Churchill, a very strong opponent of appeasement, notoriously said “An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile hoping it will eat him last”. However it wasn’t till the late 1960s that official Government documents on the subject were publically released which created a new view on Chamberlain and appeasement and that it was the only realistic policy for Chamberlain and Britain to pursue.
One argument is the view that appeasement was the only realistic option because public opinion supported it and for Chamberlain to lead Britain to war would go against public favour. The First World War savaged Europe and Britain was hit very hard in terms of Human losses. Many families lost men within the family and left psychological scars nationwide. Chamberlain was therefore desperate to avoid another war on the continent at all costs. If Britain was to go to war they would have to rearm and build on their armed forces which had been neglected since world war one. However public opinion was that if Britain was rearming then they would be preparing for war, which was incredible unpopular. Evidence of this was in east Fulham by-election of 1933 the conservative who advocated rearmament turned a majority of 14,000 into a defeat by 5000 at the hands of his labour approach who supported disarmament. This illustrated the political affect that rearmament and policies that move towards War had which was a reason as to why Chamberlain saw appeasement as the only realistic option.
Historian Howarth exemplifies this in his book by saying...
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