To What Extent Was the Policy of Appeasement the Main Cause for the Outbreak of War in Europe in 1939?

Topics: World War II, Adolf Hitler, Nazi Germany Pages: 3 (1124 words) Published: March 28, 2011
The policy of appeasement was widely pursued by Britain and France in the 1930s, when it referred to attempting to satisfy Germany's demands by negotiation and compromise, which would avoid war. However due to its failure the policy of appeasement, to a large extent was responsible for the outbreak of war in 1939. It is clear that if the Western Powers had retaliated against Hitler, war could have been avoided, it encouraged Hitler, Hitler could never be appeased, and that it prompted the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Despite large extent the policy of appeasement in the outbreak of war it is superseded by other factors such as the Treaty of Versailles.

The appeasement policy, contrary to its aim, encouraged aggression, because each time Hitler was appeased, it simply inflated his appetite and confidence. Whenever Hitler violated the Treaty of Versailles, Britain and France only protested, but accepted his actions almost till it seemed like outright surrender. In March 1935 Hitler announced Germany's rearmament policy to increase her army, navy and reintroduce conscription, the allies did little to stop him and Britain even sympathised believing the Treaty was too harsh. France and Britain also failed to react when Hitler remilitarised the Rhineland in 1936 as he claimed had a right to place troops on his own border. Viewing this as a sign of weakness, it only encouraged him, and in March 1938, he annexed Austria and turned towards Czechoslovakia. By 1938 Hitler announced he was ready to fight for Sudenten Germans in Czechoslovakia, and after a meeting with Britain, France and Italy, known as the Munich Conference he was given the Sudentland to avoid conflict. According to Allan Bullock, this is one reason why Hitler risked attacking Poland in 1939, as opposed to a year earlier; due to his increased confidence and his conviction that his opponents where not as daring or skillful, shown in their allowances to him in Munich and therefore would appease him again. The policy...
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