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The literal meaning of the word appeasement means reconciling or having peace through concessions. It can also be taken to mean to give in to the demands of an aggressor to avoid war (Mc dolnd, 1999).
The meaning of appeasement has been manipulated year after year (Colvile, 2000). In 1983 appeasement was taken to mean a policy used to settle global quarrels by satisfying grievances by negotiations leading to avoiding the armed war which could result in bloodshed on innocent civilians (Colvile, 2000).
In the 1920s and 1930s, Britain’s International policy was one of the major debates in history. The debate was on how the British policy contributed to the war. The debate is said to have been determined by the British and at the same time focusing on the merits and demerits of the appeasement. The challenges faced by Britain between the 1920s and 1930s paved the way for international relations policies to be discussed by the liberals. This was done in writings, in discussions, and even debates in schools (Nelly, 2004).
The reasons of the appeasement policy popularity
It is rather a complex issue to understand the appeasement policy which was being followed by France and Great Britain towards NAZI Germany just before the World War II outbreak. To get to the root of the reasons that made the appeasement policy so popular in Britain and also making the then prime minister Chamberlain a hero, one must look deeply at the French and Britain’s perception of the treaty of Versailles and looking at the aftermath of the World War I in Europe. Chamberlain is seen to have made a good decision for his country that was finding itself in between the starting of another war. At that time the government had felt that they were neither military, economically nor psychologically fit to engage in another war. It was for these reasons that made the chamberlain a hero in Britain. Whoever came up to the public in the name of preventing Britain and France from engaging in another war became very popular and allowed him to become a popular public figure (Colvile, 2000).
Unlike the Western leaders, Hitler did not care about his popularity. His popularity at this time had gone far and beyond (Nelly, 2004). This placed him in an advantageous position in making a decision, more so the foreign policies and at what rate these policies were to be implemented. The chamberlain’s decision on the foreign policy of appeasement relied on the public opinions (Colvile, 2000). They did not want to engage in another war and secondly, Britain was not ready at all to join the European war. Again the public saw the treaties of Versailles, Locarno, and St. Germain and additionally the agreements signed after World War I as being unfair to the Germans and other Central European parts (Nelly, 2004).
In the beginning, Hitler received support from the Germans and also from the sympathetic French and Britain population when he started breaking the agreements of the signed treaties (Colvile, 2000). It is thus clear that Adolf Hitler took full advantage of the situation in which Central Europe was left by the treaty of Versailles. This situation was worse in Germany as compared to the rest of Central Europe (Colvile, 2000). Appeasement policy was taken as the best alternative since no one was willing to defend the treaty of Versailles (Nelly, 2004). Rhineland had been occupied by the French for the sole reason that Germany was not in a position to meet the economic reparation targets which were set after the end of World War One. Adolf Hitler did not like this and wanted it to end so he aimed at re-occupying the Rhineland. This meant war and at the same time, Chamberlain was eyeing the premiership position in Britain. Therefore if Hitler caused the war, it meant Chamberlains’ political combinations would be shut down. The public was against any war and therefore this meant the government policies had to go by the public opinions. The general public was aware that Rhineland belonged to the Germans in their own right (Mc dolnd, 1999).
Another reason that forced Britain to go for the option of appeasement was the fact that Britain could not fight on the land. The Army in Britain was not as strong as the Navy thus could not fight an offshore war in Europe. Again the army was generally trained to fight imperial wars. However, the air force could fight in Europe (Nelly, 2004).
Against the Versailles treaty Adolf Hitler formed a German air force on March 15th, 1935, and the following day, 16th he introduced military conscription (Mc dolnd, 1999). In 1936 he broke the treaty again and sent his troops to re-occupy the Rhineland (Colvile, 2000). Due to the fear by the French government that the army could overrule them and at the same time the public was against the French to intervene, the French troops did not re-occupy this land. After realizing that he (Hitler) had violated the treaty of Versailles successfully without any reiteration from the Waster Democracies, he went further to break this time two of section 80 of the Versailles treaty and section 88 of the Austria of the treaty of St. Germania. This was his move to annex Austria. This was his place of birth (Mc dolnd, 1999). Hitler had been wishing to unit the two countries since 1919 but was prevented by the Western Democracies. Germany violated the treaties of St. Germanic and that of Versailles. At this time French had severe internal problems of political instability due to a coalition government that included even the French communist. (Mc dolnd,1999).
In March 1938 the Soviet Union requested the western Democracies to act tough as Adolf Hitler. The British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain responded to the request arguing that forming a coalition military force was not an option since this would result in conflicts and war. After the annexation of Austria, Hitler’s next target was Czechoslovakia. This became too much and the Western Democracies saw the need to listen to the demands of the Soviet Union leaders (Mc dolnd, 1999).
Chamberlain thought of trying to solve these crises after realizing that the governments in the Soviet Union were both in an extremely unstable situation (Allan,2000). He aimed at setting his appeasement initiative into action. In September 1938 he traveled to meet Hitler. Hitler did not want anything short of annexing land occupied by German speakers-Sudeten-Germans who lived in Czech. He signed several agreements and a peace declaration between Britain and Germany at Munich. The agreements were not honored by Hitler. Consequently, the Second World War broke out (Allan, 2000).
In conclusion, the literal meaning of the word appeasement means reconciling or having peace through concessions. It can also be taken to mean to give in to the demands of an aggressor to avoid war. The government had felt that they were neither military, economically nor psychologically fit to engage in another war. It was for these reasons that made chamberlain was a hero in Britain (Colvile, 2000). Whoever came up to the public in the name of preventing Britain and France from engaging in another war became very popular and gave him an opportunity to become a popular public figure (Allan,2000)& (Nelly, 2004).
Unlike the Western leaders, Hitler did not care about his popularity. His popularity at this time had gone far and beyond. They (western democracies) did not want to engage in another war and secondly, Britain was not ready at all to join the European was (Allan, 2000). r. Again the public saw the treaties of Versailles, Locarno, and St. Germain and additionally the agreements signed after World War I as being unfair to the Germans and other Central European parts (Mc dolnd, 1999).
Adolf Hitler took full advantage of the situation in which Central Europe was left by the treaty of Versailles. This situation was worse in Germany as compared to the rest of Central Europe (Nelly (2004). Appeasement policy was taken as the best alternative since no one was willing to defend the treaty of Versailles It is rather a complex issue to understand the appeasement policy which was being followed by France and Great Britain towards NAZI Germany just before World War II outbreak the appeasement policy advocated by Novella Chamberlain and other supporters of this policies did not meet any of the set objectives. The intention of the policies aimed at obverting military war. The appeasement brought about confusing and mixed signals to the parties involved namely, Hitler and countries Central Europe together with Western Democracies (Allan, 2000). This policy portrayed the confused state of leadership in the Western Democracies. Consequently, the policy destroyed the relationship between the west and Czechoslovakia and other potential friends from Eastern Europe. Before the war started, the British and French armies were morally undermined for their incapability to fight Germany. This appeasement policy gave Adolf Hitler to take advantage of this to settle his political ambitions with ease (Nelly, 2004).
Allan, Anderson. (2000) Diplomat of Democracy. Brookings Pub. New York pp56-78.
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Franc Mc dolnd. (1999) Neville Charberline, appeasement.. Manchester University Presspp23-78.
John Colvile (2000). The Fringes of power. Globle Press 321-456.
Keith Eubank (1999). World War II, roots and causes.Anbord pubpp32-67.
Maline Billings (2000). Decision against War. Colu7bia University press 4-56.
Peter Nelly (2004). Hitler and appeasement.Continuum publishers. pp 46-98.
Victor bothel (2006). The origins of world war two. Manchester university press.