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Was The Policy Of Appeasement Justified?

By Emmanuel Sunil Britain and France followed the policy of Appeasement, a policy through which they hoped to avoid another World War by making reasonable concessions to Hitler and allowing him to carry out some of his aims. Appeasement can only be justified or warranted by considering the reasons for why it was followed. In some ways Appeasement can be justified but in other ways it can be seen as a weak policy. One of the strongest arguments why Appeasement was followed was because many people in Britain felt that Germany had been treated unfairly in the treaty of Versailles. Due to this sentiment, they were willing to make many concessions to Germany. Examples of this include the re-militarization of the Rhineland in 1936, the Anchluss between Germany and Austria and even German claims on Sudetenland were acknowledged by Chamberlain as it contained German Speakers. Another reason why they followed Appeasement was because Britain and France wanted to avoid the outbreak of a second world war at any costs as their economies were not prepared for war after the impact of the depression. Also at the time both Britain and France were not capable for fighting a war. During the depression, they had cut down on military funding and now needed time to re-arm to prepare for a fight and so during the Munich Crisis, by giving into Hitler, they were able to postpone war for another by which, Britain and France were more ready for war. However there are also strong arguments against the policy of Appeasement. The appeasers had made an inaccurate judgement that Hitler was a reasonable person who could be made to see their way. They thought by giving into Hitler’s demands, Hitler would be able to subdue him and that he would stop demanding for more and more territory. But the opposite happened. Every time they made a concession to Hitler, he saw it as a weakness that he could exploit more. For example Hitler demanded that the Sudetenland be handed over to Germany in a matter of days after he saw that Chamberlin agreed with him. Also Appeasement allowed Germany to take independence of countries without being punished. Collective security, which Britain and France had ‘invented’, was supposed to make sure that no aggressor was allowed to have his way. But instead of stopping Hitler they let him take over Czechoslovakia in return for meaningless promises. By far, the most importantly, Britain and France lost several excellent chances to stop Hitler and them more they let him grow the stronger he became, making it more difficult to stop him (when they eventually came around to doing so in 1939). For example, they abandoned Czechoslovakia, which was a well defended country and could have put a significant resistance to Germany. From the above evidence it is clear to see that the ‘Appeasement debate’ has two sides to it. Even at the time the British and French public were split between the sides of the argument. In my opinion, although it was understandable that Britain and France wanted to avoid another war, they more importantly missed an opportunity to stop Hitler. The more they appeased, the more confident Hitler became and the more he demanded. Although Appeasement isn’t the most important reason for the outbreak of the Second World War, the policy ultimately created an environment where war was inevitable.