Appeasement explanation and other examples in history

Biography on Adolf Hitler

Neville Chamberlain's "Peace in our Time" speech

Neville Chamberlain's Declaration of War in 1939 on British radio

Map of Germany before WW2

Map of Europe before WW2




What Happened?

(i) While the League of Nations was concerned with Italy and the Ethiopian crisis, Hitler's army reoccupied the demilitarized Rhineland.

(ii) Versailles had dictated that it remain unoccupied, and demilitarized to act as a buffer for France.

(iii) March 7th 1936, Hitler's troops marched in.

Hitler's Excuse

(i) In February, 1936 France and the U.S.S.R. had signed the Franco- Soviet Pact. Hitler claimed it was aimed at Germany, threatening her from two sided.

(ii) Hitler claimed that this action was a defensive measure against France and the USSR.

How did he get away with it?

(i) His timing was good, as Ethiopia was a bigger crisis.

(ii) He offered to rejoin the League of Nations, making it seem like he wanted to stay a peaceful part of Europe's future.

Reaction of France and Britain

(i) The French flew to Britain, but the British did little to even entertain the idea of a response.

(ii) France could do nothing on her own, so all she did was complain to the League.

(iii) Within Britain there existed a strong appeasement group. They said that Hitler was merely liberating territory that should never have been denied to them. There was little sympathy for France's concerns. Only in the event of direct invasion, would Britian spring into action.

(iv) Hitler's offer to join the League only seemed to prove what the appeasers had been saying all along - i.e., that Hitler and Germany would become status quo once the grievances of Versailles had been fixed. This was the chance to rebuild Europe more justly. This action was seen as no threat to peace.

Results of the Appeasement in the Rhineland

(i) Shredded Versailles as far as Germany was concerned.

(ii) France was now on the defensive, with no buffer or friends willing to act.

(iii) Appeasement now became the official policy in Europe.  

(iv) France could not act alone, and was forced to follow British whims.

(v) Hitler had learned that Britain and France were unwilling to act, and that a bluff and deception play could work very well.