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Missed Opportunities on the Path to War

Major Areas of German


Rhineland and the


Allies were to occupy

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

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


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

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
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



Would be difficult to defend their far-reaching

Empire in the event of war

Analysts consistently overestimate the Luftwaffes



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

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

Incident exposed how powerless

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

Remilitarization of the

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


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

Hitler demanded his resignation

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

Schuschnigg was forced to agree

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


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

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


Four-power meeting was held

in Munich, Germany (USSR
and Czechoslovakia were not

Britain and France agreed to

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

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


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