Only way to prevent war was to negotiate directly with Hitler - Chamberlain's views - to solve any disputes and keep world peace
Believed that Hitler had some reasonable demands
Believed that if these demands were met Hitler would be satisfied and war would be avoided
Sometimes stated that Britain 'appeased' Hitler before 1937 i.e. Naval agreement in '35 and remilitarisation of the Rhineland in '36 but this is to misunderstand what appeasement was
Appeasement of Hitler after 1937 involved giving way to reasonable demands for concessions from Hitler.
These concessions, according to Anthony Eden, British foreign secretary, ought to be tangible actions such as disarmament. But Chamberlain and Lord Halifax were prepared to accept promises and assurances. Cynical and selfish policy. Chamberlain gave way on things that did not matter to Britain (such as the Sudetenland) in return for things that he felt did matter to Britain.
Chamberlain understood that Hitler was expansionist but he thought that by negotiating with him he could bring Germany back into the international diplomatic community, where German foreign policy would once again be controlled by treaties and understandings.
Hitler failed to follow these promises.
Hitler overturns appeasement
Czechoslovakia - 1938
Large army, strong military defences in the Sudetenland, Skoda armaments factories, defence agreements with the USSR and France. Hitler wanted it for Lebensraum, detested it as a democracy and as a reminder of Peace Treaty in 1918 (secured it's borders).Population consisted mostly of Czechs, Slovaks and three million German speakers, most of whom lived in the Sudetenland, a western region of the country bordering Germany. Gave Hitler an excuse.
Hitler urged leader of Czech Nazi party, Konrad Henlein, to demand that the Czech government make concessions to the Sudeten Germans. However, it became clear that improved rights wouldn't be enough.
Hitler overturns appeasement 2
What Hitler wanted was the Sudetenland. In April 1938 German troops began massing on Czechoslovakia's border. The president, Benes, mobilised his troops to resist them. On 12th September 1938 encouraged by Hitler the Sudeten Nazis rioted but were crushed by the Czech government. Hitler threatened war.
Chamberlain steps in
- 15th September 1938 he met hitler at Berchtesgaden. Chamberlain persuaded the Czechs to transfer to Germany those parts of the Sudetenland where the majority of the population were German.
- 22 September 1938 he met Hitler at Godesberg and told him of the Czechoslovakian agreement.
Hitler overturns appeasement 3
Hitler told Chamberlain he wanted all of the Sudetenland and threatened war. Chamberlain refused.
- At this point it looked as though war was inevitable. However, Mussolini persuaded Hitler to attend a conferene at munich on the 29th September.
- Hitler, Mussolini, Chamberlain and Daladier
- No Czechoslovakians
- Sudetenland become part of Germany immediately
- Czechoslovakians forced to agree
- German armies occupied it on 1st October
- 2nd October Chamberlain signed deal with Hitler in which two countries promised to consult in event of problems, never war
Hitler overturns appeasement 4
Chamberlain returned a hero. Had critics but had kept the peace.
Occupation of Czechoslovakia: Weakened - lost strong defencive system, lost key industrial areas, lost territory to poland in October and Hungary in November, actions of Sudeten Germans stirred other nationalities to demand a return to nation states
- In 1939 the Slovaks demanded more rights. New Czech president, Hacha, appealed to Hitler for help. Hacha invited the Germans into Czechoslovakia.
- 15 March 1939 the Nazis marched into Prague and took control. Czechoslovakia ceased to exist as an independent state.
Hitler overturns appeasement 5
Not opposed by Britian or France.
Marked end of appeasement.
Chamberlain attitude changed.
German leader could not justify the action.
Broken the promise he'd made to Chamberlain in 1938. He had shown himself as an aggressor who would continue taking more and more territory until he was stopped.
British government introduced conscription - first time ever in peacetime.
The Nazi-Soviet Pact and the attack on Poland
After occupying Prague, Hitler seized Memel. Poland believed to be his next target. Danzig, home to Germans, in Polish corridor.
- April 1939 Br and Fr promised to help Poland if attacked by Germany. In no position to do so - Only USSR could defend Poland against Germany in event of a German attack.
- Britain and the USSR discussed forming an alliance through summer of 1939. Br delayed for as long as it could. Poland feared an invasion from USSR as much as from Germany. Not prepared to accept help from the USSR.
- Suddenly on 23 August 1939 Germany and USSR signed Nazi-Soviet pact. Agreed not to attack each other, attack Poland and divide it between them.
- Lebensraum included USSR so why?
- Stalin lost patience with the British, Stalin suspected BR and FR of trying to direct Hitler's attention towards East, Stalin gained 1/2 of Poland & time to rearm against Germany for when they were attacked
Attack on Poland
1 September 1939:
- German army invaded Poland
- Chamberlain tried to persuade them to withdraw, hold peace conference. Failed.
3rd September 1939:
- Britain declared war on Germany, so did France
- USSR invaded Poland on 17th September 1939.
- Within weeks Poland was defeated. Britain powerless to defend it.
Arguments against appeasement
- Useless to negotiate with man like Hitler who would stop at nothing to achieve his goals
- Appeasement encouraged Hitler to dismiss Britaina and France as 'little worms'
- Appeasement meant Hitler thought he could score easy victories
- Took encouragement, became more extravagant in his demands
- 'lost opportunies' to stop Hitler
- Morally repugnant policy - entire peoples abandoned to Nazi tyranny
Arguments for appeasement
- People wanted to avoid war
- Hitler in the right - TofV unfair, Saarlanders, Rhinelanders, Austrians wanted to be part of Germany
- Br feared USSR - wanted strong Germany as buffer against communism
- Lack of readiness for war - time to rearm, in 1938 in no position to resist hitler
- Moral advantage - knew they were going to war against evil aggressor, done everything possible to prevent war, just war