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Appeasement

Missed Opportunities on the Path to War

Major Areas of German


Discontent

Rhineland and the


Saar

Allies were to occupy


the area in western
Germany known as the
Rhineland for 15 years,
after which it would
become a demilitarized
zone.

Likewise, France was


given control of the
coal-rich Saar region for
15 years, and a
plebiscite would then
be held to determine
permanent control

Sudetenland

Czechs and Slovaks


were given their own
state during the division
of Austria-Hungary.

Their territory was also


home to numerous
minorities, including 3
million ethnic Germans
in the border area
known as the
Sudetenland.

Polish Corridor

Created to ensure the new


Polish nation would have
access to the Baltic Sea

Population was majority


Polish, but the corridor
divided East Prussia from
the rest of Germany.

To provide Poland with


access to a major port, the
German majority city of
Danzig was declared a free
city and placed under
League of Nations control.

Why Appeasement?
People in Britain and France still remembered the Great War
and the devastation it had caused.
They had no desire to see the start of another continent-wide conflict

Many, especially in Britain, came to belief that the Treaty of


Versailles had been too harsh and vindictive toward
Germany
France was blamed for dragging Britain into the war and for severity of
the treaty provisions
Britain was against the French occupation of the Ruhr

France would not take any action without a guarantee of


British support
As a result they focused on strengthening their defenses (e.g. the
Maginot Line)

Britain and
Appeasement

Reasons

Strategic

Would be difficult to defend their far-reaching


Empire in the event of war

Analysts consistently overestimate the Luftwaffes


capabilities

Economic

Unwilling and unable to embark upon a costly


rearmament and possibly even costlier war when
still in debt from the first one

Threat of Communism

Many western leaders were fearful of the


further spread of communism and viewed Nazi
Germany as a potential buffer state.

Famines and purges in the Soviet Union had


already resulted in millions of deaths, while
Hitler had yet to implement any of his
genocidal policies

Major Players (Britain)

Stanley Baldwin

Neville Chamberlain

Prime Minister of Great


Britain, 1935 - 1937

Prime Minister of the United


Kingdom, 1937 - 1940

Lord Halifax

British Foreign Secretary,


1938 1940

Replaced Anthony Eden

Strong Supporter of
Chamberlains policies

British Anti-Appeasers

Winston Churchill

Former 1st Lord of the


Admiralty and future PM

Just an MP at the time


of appeasement

Anthony Eden

Foreign Secretary, 1935


- 1938

Resigned as a result of
his opposition to
appeasement policies

Major Players (France)

douard Daladier

Prime Minister of
France, 1938 -1940

Did not personally


trust Hitler to keep his
word, but lacked the
support and the desire
to take direct military
action

Stresa Front

1935 agreement between Britain, France, and Italy to


guarantee Austrian Independent, uphold the Treaty of
Locarno, and resist any attempt by German to change the
terms of the Treaty of Versailles

Result of Germanys announcement that it would begin


increasing the size of its army and rebuilding its air force

Weakened almost from the outset by backchannel


negotiations by all parties

A few months later Britain announced the Anglo-German


Naval Treaty, which allowed Germany to increase the size of
its Navy

Abyssinian Crisis

In 1935, Italy used a minor border


incident as an excuse to invade
Ethiopia (Abyssinia)

Ethiopia appealed to the League of


Nations for help

Members of the League imposed


only minor sanctions, before
making a deal with Italy

Italy eventually took complete


control of Ethiopia, and the
League abandoned its attempt at
sanctions

Incident exposed how powerless


the League of Nations was and led
to the collapse of the Stresa Front

Remilitarization of the
Rhineland

While the Great Powers were dealing with the


Abyssinian Crisis, Germany took the opportunity
to remilitarize the Rhineland.

France was still militarily superior to Germany


and could have intervened, but French generals
greatly overestimated the strength of German
forces and advised against it.

Britain declined to get involved, with many


believing that it was within Germanys rights to
reoccupy its own territory

Anschluss

In 1938 Germany began to make


increasing demands toward Austria
and its Chancellor Schuschnigg

Out of desperation Schuschnigg


called for a plebiscite, which was
expected to overwhelmingly
reaffirm the desire for continued
independence.

Hitler demanded his resignation


and replacement by a pro-Nazi
chancellor, or Germany would
invade

Schuschnigg was forced to agree


and the new chancellor, SeyssInquart invited Germany to send
troops to restore order.

Sudetenland

Hitler next turned his attention to the Sudetenland

Out of fear, the Czechs had built extensive defenses in the


mountains of the Sudetenland similar to Frances Maginot
Line

Hitler had the Sudeten German branch of the Nazi Party


begin agitating and calling for autonomy

Negotiations dragged on, leading Hitler to denounce the


Czechs and emphasize his willingness to go to war to settle
the issue

Chamberlain flew to Germany and thought he had a deal


with Hitler, but Hitler changed his mind

Munich

Four-power meeting was held


in Munich, Germany (USSR
and Czechoslovakia were not
invited)

Britain and France agreed to


Hitlers original demand for
annexation of the
Sudetenland in return for a
promise for no further
expansion

Chamberlain returns to
Britain and triumphantly
declares he has achieved
peace for our time

Aftermath of Munich

As usual, Hitler did not keep his word

In March 1939 Hitler demanded the western part of


Czechoslovakia be made a German protectorate with the
rest as a nominally independent Slovak satellite state

Their defenses undermined, Czechoslovakia was forced to


agree

Britain and France finally understood that Hitler did


not intend only to regain the lost territory and people
of Greater Germany

In response they gave Poland a guarantee that if


Germany attacked they would come to its defense