Appeasement and the Nazi-Soviet Pact

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Why Appeasement?

Appeasement- Giving into demands of a leader to satisfy short term goals and prevent conflict.

The policy of Appeasment was carried out by Neville Chamberlain (1930's) to give Hitler what he wanted in order to avoid war.  It was a way to keep the peace as the L of N crumbled.

Reasons for Appeasement:

  • British people wanted peace and would not have supported another war
  • They thought the T of V was unfair and Hitler's demands were reasonable
  • Chamberlain wanted a strong Germany to serve as a barrier against communist expansion
  • Britain's armed forces were not ready for war
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Sudetenland Crisis

  • 12-13 September 1938- Hitler encourages Konrad Henlein (leader of the Sudeten Nazi's) to rebel and demands an union with Germany. Hitler threatens war.
  • 15 September 1938- Chamberlain goes to see Hitler and agrees to give Hitler the parts of the Sudetenland he wants (without consulting Edvard Benes, President of Czechoslovakia
  • 22-23 September 1938- Hitler then demands he wants all of the Sudetenland; Chamberlain refuses and war seems imminent.
  • 30 September 1938 (Munich Agreement)- Britain (Chamberlain), France (Daladier) and Italy (Mussolini) agree to give Hitler the Sudetenland and the Czech's are told they have to accept the agreement. Chamberlain comes back with a piece of paper saying Hitler does not want to go to war.

However, on 15 March 1939, German troops march into Czechoslovakia and took over Bohemia and and established a protectorate (part of a state controlled by a stronger one) over Slovakia. This brought the end to Appeasment because:

  • It proved Hitler was lying at Munich
  • It showed that Hitler was not just interested in a 'Greater Germany' (Czechs were not Germans)
  • Chamberlain could not trust Hitler and Chamberlain said Britain would defend Poland if Germany invaded.
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Successes and Failures of Appeasement


  • It gave Britain extra time to prepare for war and it maintained peace for a few years
  • It stopped the spread of Communism


  • It encouraged Hitler. He also had no intention of being appeased
  • It allowed Hitler to grow stronger as he got what he wanted
  • It proved how weak Britain and France were
  • It betrayed countries like Czechoslovakia

Why was Appeasement Abandoned?

  • October 1938, Oxford Elections- Chamberlain's conservatives won, but the anti-appeasement candiate got many votes
  • November 1938, Kristallnacht- attack on the Jews of Germany
  • March 1939- attack on Czechoslovakia
  • May 1939, Pact of Steel- alliance between Italy and Germany to help each other in times of war
  • Churchill's Speeches- he compared Appeasement to 'defeat without a war'
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Nazi-Soviet Pact (1939)

Hitler's next target was Poland, so Britain and France pledged to defend Poland despite it was so far away. Stalin suggested an alliance between France, Britain and Russia (April 1939) which meant Hitler would not be able to attack Poland without going to war with Russia. However, negotiations dragged on into August as:

  • Chamberlain did not like communist Russia.
  • Poland would not let Russian troops go into Poland.
  • Stalin did not trust that France and Britain would resist Germany.

On 23 August 1939, Stalin made an alliance with Hitler (Nazi-Soviet Pact) and they promised not to go to war with each other and they (secretly) decided to invade Poland and split it between them. The pact was signed by Ribbentrop (Germany) and Molotov (Russia).

Hitler signed the pact because he did not want to fight a war on two fronts.

Stalin signed the pact because he knew Hitler was not trust-worthy, but the pact allowed him to prepare for war with Germany. 

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