As the League of Nations crumbled, politicians turned to a new way to keep the peace - appeasement. This was the policy of giving Hitler what he wanted to stop him from going to war. It was based on the idea that what Hitler wanted was reasonable and, when his reasonable demands had been satisfied, he would stop.
Although historians recognise appeasement in the actions of Britain and France before 1938, the Sudeten Crisis of 1938 is the key example of appeasement in action. Neville Chamberlain was the British prime minister who believed in appeasement.
In 1938, Germans living in the border areas of Czechoslovakia (the Sudetenland) started to demand a union with Hitler's Germany. The Czechs refused. Hitler threatened war. On 30 September, in the Munich Agreement - without asking Czechoslovakia - Britain and France gave the Sudetenland to Germany.
Reasons for appeasement
There were many reasons why Chamberlain appeased Hitler, but here are the main ones:
- The British people wanted peace - they would not have supported a war in 1938.
- Many of Hitler's complaints appeared reasonable at the time - especially about the Treaty of Versailles.
- Chamberlain wanted a strong Germany to serve as a barrier against expansion by communist Russia.
- Britain's armed forces were not ready for a war, and they could not have…