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




"He meant to succeed by intrigue and the threat of violence, not by violence itself." - A.J .P. Taylor


After Hitler's success in Austria, it was only a matter of time before he would look further afield. His next target was Czechoslovakia - particularly its western Sudetenland. This area held about 3.5 million ethnic Germans, and so would be perfect to exploit along similar lines.

Hitler helped stir up the Sudetens, and exploited their excitement after Austria.

Propaganda made a big deal about Germans languishing under foreign domination, but that was all a ploy. He wanted Czechoslovakia, and would dismember it piece by piece.

However, Czechoslovaki was stronger armed, and prepared to stop Hitler's expanse to the East.

Prelude to the Munich crisis

(i) Benes, the Czechoslovakian Prime Minister, saw Hitler as the aggressor that he really was. He wanted to make no concessions.

(ii) Britain and France would pressure Benes to give up the Sudetenland. They did not want a war over Czechoslovakia.

(iii) The French had an alliance with Czechoslovakia, but by the summer of 1938 they were not willing or able to take any action without the British.

The Munich Crisis

Benes made a surprising move when he offered the Sudetens essentially all the rights and freedoms they had been demanding under the Czech "oppression." Hitler and the Sudetens were stunned and unsure what to do. They didn't want a concession yet... not until they had the "right" to invade. However, Benes knew the real plan and wanted to show Hitler as the aggressor.

Chamberlain flew to meet Hitler, and appeased him again. Hitler could annex the Sudetenland, as soon as the logistics for a smooth transition could be worked through.

Benes found himself pressured to accept these terms, and did so. The crisis seemed to have passed... but Hitler didn't want it to be resolved so quickly.

Hitler announced that he would occup the area, militarily, on October 1st. Benes prepared to mount an armed response. This would certainly lead to war, and Britain and France panicked again.

The Munich Conference/Pact

Mussolini entered the picture. He suggested a four-power conference at Munish. At this meeting, Hitler gave Mussolini terms that he wanted, and so he began to back Hitler in his move here.

Hitler stated that he would delay the occupation until October 10th. That gave Britain and France time to pressure Benes to stand down. Under the pressure, and realizing that he stood alone, Benes resigned. He was replaced by Emil Hacha.

Chamberlain stepped off the airplane in London and announced triumphantly that "...this is the second time that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time."

Hitler, on the other hand, stated, "I have no more territorial demands to make in Europe." It was just one more lie.