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The British policy about Germany before World War II can most accurately be analyzed through the views of Winston Churchill. According to the wartime British Prime Minister, Hitler’s aims were irrational and they threatened to destabilize Europe. Churchill’s assertions were mostly borrowed from Hitler’s Nazi manifesto “Mein Kampf”. The British establishment was convinced that Hitler’s main aim was to revive the German Empire and then use his position to conquer Eastern European countries. Consequently, Britain believed that the only way to stop Hitler was by declaring war on rearmed Germany. Churchill was also convinced that rearmed Germany’s military power was a serious threat to European stability. It is debatable as to whether Britain’s assessment of the Hitler threat was accurate. This essay discusses the most important aspects of British policies to Germany in the run-up to World War II.
Most of Hitler’s political aims and goals were informed by his involvement in World War I where he had been a soldier. Germany had surrendered in World War I when it was in the brink of achieving European domination1. Hitler’s foreign policy was mainly aimed at correcting the tricky position that Germany had found itself in after World War I. Nevertheless, there were other aspects of the Nazi political party as outlined in its 25-point program. Examples of these policies included “the union of all Germans, an end to the Treaty of Versailles, creation of a national army, and the exclusion of the Jews from the German society”2.
Misunderstanding of Hitler’s ideologies
Hitler wrote two books that outlined the core of his political aims and ambitions: the “Mein Kempf” and the “Secret Book”3. These books contribute greatly to the misunderstanding of Hitler’s ideological motivations and political goals. Britain was among the countries that did not welcome the idea of another war due to the bloodshed that had ensued in the World War I. Consequently, the British people evaluated Hitler’s ideological motivations hastily, and they might have misunderstood them in this process. For instance, Britain was convinced that Hitler was an aggressor who was mainly concerned with war. On the contrary, history indicates that Hitler’s main ideology was to expand a territory in which a ‘pure race’ would thrive. Britain ignored Hitler’s racial ideology because it appeared trivial when it was compared to the need for European domination4.
To avoid another world war, Britain and other European players adopted the policy of appeasement. The policy sought to please the countries that were not favored by the Versailles Treaty peace agreement of 1919, especially Germany. The adoption of the appeasement policy was aimed at easing the rising aggression among the disgruntled countries. The logic behind the appeasement policy was that Italy and Germany would feel that they were in equal terms with other European countries without having to prove their status through military action. There were several opponents to this policy including Winston Churchill5.
Overview and conclusion
Eventually, appeasement failed to carry out its intended purpose when Britain declared war against Germany in 1939. Appeasement was likely a ploy by Britain to ready itself for war. The French, on the other hand, were following Britain’s cue because they were not independent military wise. Hitler’s role in starting World War II is possible but it is not obvious. In the future, the debate might be settled whereby blame for this conflict might be redistributed.
Childers, T., The Nazi Voter: The Social foundations of Fascism in Germany, Carolina, University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
Cohrs, P., The Unfinished Peace after World War I: America, Britain and the Stabilisation of Europe, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006.
Hitler, A., Mein Kampf. Berlin, Om Books International, 2000.
Ovendale, R., ” Appeasement” and the English Speaking World: Britain, the United States, the Dominions, and the Policy of” appeasement” 1937-1939, Wales, University of Wales Press, 1975.
Spielvogel, J., Hitler and Nazi Germany: A History, New York, Routledge, 2016.
1 T. Childers, The Nazi Voter: The Social Foundations of Fascism in Germany, Carolina, University of North Carolina Press, 2010, p. 24.
2 J. Spielvogel, Hitler, and Nazi Germany: A History, New York, Routledge, 2016, p. 34.
3 A. Hitler, Mein Kampf, Berlin, Om Books International, 2000, p. 8.
4 P. Cohrs, The Unfinished Peace after World War I: America, Britain and the Stabilisation of Europe, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 43.
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5 R. Ovendale, “Appeasement” and the English Speaking World: Britain, the United States, the Dominions, and the Policy of “Appeasement” 1937-1939, Wales, University of Wales Press, 1975, p. 12.