To what extent did opposition to the policy of appeasing Germany increase in Britain in the years 1936-1939?
The policy of appeasement had reached its heights by the period between 1936 and 1939. It was felt by many to be the best policy at the time, as it allowed Britain to buy herself some valuable time in order to delay the inevitable war. Opposition during 1936, when appeasement was first seen as really taking the forefront of foreign policy, was small and weak. However it was by 1939 that the opposition had swelled gradually under opposition leaders such as Churchill to the point where there were only few people who truly believed that a long-lasting period of peace would arise from this idea of appeasing the enemy. Over this period of time, both public opinion and Parliamentary opinion would lean towards the opposing side, based a series of factors that had changed in this 3 year span of time. A poorly-prepped military and defense services, a lack of trustworthy allies, Hitler’s legitimate claims and a change in public opinion all contributed towards a shift in beliefs. Opposition to the policy of appeasing militaristic powers began to grow after Hitler took power in Germany and it became clear to many in Britain that he would carry out his expansionist aims. Some of appeasement's most vocal opponents came from within government, from people such as Winston Churchill and the Labor party, more significant was the publics strong anti war stance beginning to slowly shift as they learnt more of Hitler and the rise of fascism. However this did not mean that they were strongly in favor of pursuing war with Germany as Chamberlain was greeted like a hero when he returned with “peace for our time” following the Munich Agreement.
Having already known of how crippling the economic costs were following WW1 the idea of pursuing conflict with another foreign power was considered unacceptable. This was compounded by the fact that events occurred so soon after the Wall Street Crash, Britain simply could not afford another major loss of her monetary funds in order to prepare for war. Appeasement was believed to be the answer to Britain’s needs, by deploying a policy of appeasement Britain could use the time it gained to find allies and develop British defenses and technology. By 1936 intelligence reported that German rearmament was already under way and that Britain had to get its armaments up to a sufficient standard. However in order for armament spending to increase the Government would have to raise taxes and focus their spending upon military. A raise in taxes would also inevitably lead to public outcry and loss of government support. Even if sufficient funds were acquired in order to reach the amount of armaments needed there was only one working armaments factory in the whole of Britain that could produce weapons fit for modern warfare. Due to the Ten Year Rule the state of Britain's armed forces was essentially desolate, this meant that much of Britain’s armed forces required updated weaponry if it ever were to stand a chance against Hitler’s formidable Third Reich. For example Spitfires and radar were rather new to the world of air defense systems, however they were in short supply at the beginning of 1936 despite it being British technology. Spending focus upon defenses was suggested by the Inskip Report as opposed to any other offensive tactics. However, after 1938 the readiness of the British army had certainly improved, and Chamberlain had confidence that if war was to come, Britain would be ready to take Germany on.
German power had been exaggerated greatly, especially the power of the Luftwaffe through propaganda and the sheer numbers who attended the infamous Nuremburg Rallies. The time bought with appeasement had consequently allowed Britain to build up a strong naval blockade in order to strengthen its naval security and rearmament spending increased sufficiently. During this period the Territorial...
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