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Ib History Ia To What Extent Was The British Foreign Policy Of Appeasement Towards Germany Justified Between 1935 And 1939 Notes

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The British International School , Vietnam

May 2013

History Internal Assessment by Tara Subba The British International School, Vietnam

May 2013

To what extent was the British foreign policy of appeasement towards Germany justified between 1935 and 1939?

Word count: 1976


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Table of Contents A. Plan of Investigation ............................................................................................................... 3 B. Summary of Evidence .......................................................................................................... 4-5 C. Evaluation of Sources................................................................................................................6 D. Analysis.................................................................................................................................7-8 E. Conclusion .............................................................................................................................. 9 F. Bibliography........................................................................................................................... 10 G. Appendices........................................................................................................................11-15

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Section A: Plan of Investigation Between 1935 and 1939, the British policy of appeasement aimed to avoid war by making concessions to Germany's dynamic foreign policy through a process of diplomacy. In order to evaluate the ' extent to which Appeasement as a focus of British foreign policy was justified', this investigation focuses on the nature of both Germany and Britain's post-war conditions and the motivations of principle policy-makers in both countries: Neville Chamberlain's advocacy of appeasement and Hitler's bold foreign policy for European expansion. The two sources that have been selected for evaluation include a cartoon published by David Low in the London Evening Standard (1936) and Neville Chamberlain's speech after Germany's invasion of Czechoslovakia (1939). These sources are chosen as they offer contrasting interpretations concerning British foreign policy and Germany's expansionist policy, both of which are central to any reappraisal of appeasement.

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Section B: Summary of evidence: Reasons why appeasement was justified Firstly, the policy of appeasement was inspired by Britain's post-war conciliatory attitude towards Germany at the local, governmental and national level1. At the Paris Peace conference (June 1919) the British Prime Minister (David Lloyd George) took a middle position towards the 'German problem' upon the belief that a severe treaty would incite the development of a German government 'hell bent on revenge', thus emboldening the prospect of war.2 The general public opinion advocated appeasement; acknowledgement of German grievances resulting from the Versailles settlements evoked sympathetic sentiments towards Germany. Britain's post-war leniency was further heightened as the British government recognized a decline in the German naval threat to Britain's mastery of the seas through which her trade routes were channelled. Moreover, Germany was not Britain's only post-war concern; the growth of communism led by the USSR jeopardized world peace and allied fears transcended German mistrust3. Germany was regarded as an allied 'buffer' against communism4 that required sufficient economic and military strength. Secondly, appeasement was fuelled by Britain's debilitated military state that made success against German forces uncertain. The government advocated rearmament but faced public denunciation during the nationwide "peace ballot" (1935) which recorded huge majorities in favour of arms reduction and British collective security. The unpredictability of foreign support from the USA and Common wealth states against Germany also revealed a military force ill prepared for war5. Furthermore, appeasement was justified due to Britain's post-war economic malaise. The great depression (1929) pragmatically channelled national finances towards economic and social reform instead of military development6. In order to revitalise the British economy, the government believed that a conciliatory position towards Germany was necessary to strengthen her economy for trade; Britain sought to rebuild Germany's production power without restoring her pre-war hegemony.

1 Walsh, Ben. "Causes of the Second World War." GCSE Modern World History. 2nd ed. London: Hodder Education Hachette UK,

1996. Page 264-73. Print. 2

McDonough, Frank. "The Historical Debate." Hitler , Chamberlain and Appeasement. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002. Page 80-82.

Print. 3 Ray, John (1970), Men Who Made History: Lloyd George and Churchill. Heinemann Educational Books Ltd,

Great Britain. Page 27. Print. 4 Walsh, Ben. "Causes of the Second World War." GCSE Modern World History. 2nd ed. London: Hodder Education Hachette UK,

1996. Page 264-73. Print. 5

Walsh, Ben. "Causes of the Second World War." GCSE Modern World History. 2nd ed. London: Hodder Education Hachette UK,

1996. Page 264-73. Print. 6

Culpin, Christopher. "Arms and Strategy." Causes of the Second World War. By Alan Monger. Essex: Pearson Education Limited,

1998. Page 60-63. Print.

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Reasons why appeasement was not justified However, it can also be argued that the policy of appeasement was not justified. Firstly, appeasement provided time for German rearmament (1935). This meant that the war occurred on a larger scale than if allied military forces had responded to initial German belligerence. From successful German rearmament to the remilitarisation of the Rhineland, Anschluss and the invasion of the Sudetenland, each successful gamble strengthened German dominance and emphasised Allied incompetence to deal with German aggression7. Furthermore, appeasement was not justified as an expansionist German foreign policy threatened international peace. Hitler breached the terms of the Munich agreement (September 1938) through Germany's territorial annexation of Czechoslovakia8 as he believed that a bold foreign policy would merely be met with verbal protest. Arguably, appeasement prevented war merely in the short run, yet at the expense of the independence of Austria and Czechoslovakia9. Furthermore, Hitler made no secret of his plans to expand eastwards and this jeopardized Soviet security; Stalin anticipated Allied reluctance to resist German aggression and the resulting Nazi-Soviet pact (August 1939) fuelled Hitler's confidence against Allied forces. This ultimately led to the German invasion of Poland (September 1, 1939) that inspired the Second World War.

7 Richardson, J. L. World Politics. Vol. Vol. 4. London: Johns Hopkins UP, 1988.Page 289-316. Print.

8 Strang, G. Bruce. Ideology and British Appeasement : Diplomacy and Statecraft. 3rd ed. Vol. 19. N.p.: n.p., 2008. Print.

9 Kalevi J. Holsti, International Politics: A Framework for Analysis (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1967. Page 435. Print.

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