How far do you agree with the view of recent historians that Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler at Munich in 1938 was NOT a mistake?

Free essays on Appeasement

From Paper II--2002
Topic I: Causes, Practices and Effects of War

 How far do you agree with the view of some recent historians that Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler at Munich was NOT a mistake?

Timed, in-class essay from outstanding former student who ended up getting a final grade of 7 in IBDP History (click to enlarge):




Appeasement was the Catalyst to Nazi Germany’s Dominance

The 1930s brought with it a strong yearning for peace after merely two decades before had been one of the most devastating wars in the history of mankind. To attempt to avoid yet another war, British foreign Minister Neville chamberlain laid out the doctrine of appeasement, to preserve “peace for our time”. However, appeasement infallibly did not ultimately stop WW2, but merely started it in 1939 and not 1938 or 1936. This essay will argue that the orthodox theories on the matter, although somewhat valid, miss the mark and are incorrect to say that appeasement was the right path. It will argue that appeasement built Germany up and weakened the allies. This argument will be conveyed through three main points, these points being a failure to do anything sooner, German Re-Militarization, and atrocious British Foreign policy.
            Aligning with orthodox historians such as Sir John Simon it is not completely invalid to believe that appeasement was the right and only thing to do. In a democracy it is incredibly difficult to the rally the people to fight an offensive war without the proper threat or motivation, and with the recent devastation of the Great War, it is understandable that Chamberlain would want to avoid all conflict and solve matters in peaceful ways. However, Churchill does argue that the combine allied military strength that would have been sufficient as expenditure was 3.3 Billion for Germany to 2.2 Billion for France and Britain and this does not include Czechoslovakia. In addition to this the allies had just over 142 divisions collectively in 1938 compared to Germany’s 47 active personally, and at the time held the Geographical advantage since Czechoslovakia had not yet been annexed and Germany retained its population of 55 million instead of 68.5. This shows that at the time Britain and its little entente would have been in a fine position to wage war. In addition, we can be certain of the fact that appeasement gave Germany the time to build up its military, navy and air force, which would have been a contributing factor in Germany’s prowess in the early stages of WW2. The U.K.’s decision to allow Germany to take inch after inch, namely the conscription in 1935, Rhineland in 1936, and Austria/Sudetenland in 1938. This allowed Germany to build up their country in terms of land, industry and manpower, it also gave Hitler the message that he would be able to make aggressive moves without opposition and retribution, which allowed him to continually gather advantages and prepare for a war that he would ultimately start. The U.K. failed to notice that Germany’s increasingly nationalistic policies would ultimately lead to them reclaiming all “German lands” and subsequently starting another world war and according to AJP Taylor, Chamberlain’s actions “made war inevitable” in the sense that he was feeding “the crocodile”, building it up and expecting it not to strike, and sit idly in its new found power. Chamberlain’s failure to stand up to Hitler, and just say no was a main contributor in allowing Germany to become a powerhouse. However, France in tangent with the U.K, also contributed by not reacting to the militarization of the Rhineland in 1936. Lord Halifax attempted to justify this appeasement in his memoirs through saying that it was merely the Germans walking in their backyard, yet although this is true Chamberlain should have realized that Hitler, through his Brinksmanship, was starting to mirror old aggressive and firm German (“Nationalistic and Imperialistc”) policies heralded by the rise of Wilhelm II as stated by AJP Taylor. Taylor was known to be anti-German, and so this statement may lack credibility and overly portray Germany in a bad light. However, these nationalistic policies outlined by Taylor became very clear when Hitler demanded the annexation of both Austria and the Sudetenland, and eventually Bohemia (“German Territories”). To be firm then, would have been the best option, to recognize moving military forces into a demilitarized zone as an act of aggression, would have justified taking due to course to not let Germany take another inch.
            Germany in 1935 were allowed to break the terms of the TOV by passing the conscription act, allowing Germany to recruit its population into the military and surpass the 100,000 soldier limit that the TOV had originally imposed on them, while also jumping from 32 aircraft in 1932 to 8,295 in 1939, a huge leap and again challenging British air superiority.  This was left unpunished by any of the allies, which is extremely strange. Since Britain had been one of the few countries to voluntarily disarm after WW1, so it would have been fair and in the nation’s best interests to keep Germany disarmed as well, as is outlined by R.J.Q Adams book on British Foreign policy. So to allow Germany to rise to an extent where it could challenge the U.K militarily was a terrible mistake, and should have been corrected rather than ignored. Another view portrayed by R.J.Q Adams showed the underlying reason for this mistake - namely that no-one in the British Parliament was willing to risk a war challenging Germany’s decision. A fact further demonstrating that the anti-war sentiment of the time, would prevail against logical assertion. Appeasement, therefore, was inefficient and self-detrimental to the U.K. and was the price paid for the struggles that Chamberlain clearly faced when forced to confront Hitler. A further decision, openly criticized by many including Churchill, was the Anglo German naval agreement of June 1935, which allowed Germany to fleet 35% of the British naval tonnage. This was arguably one of the worst decisions of the time, allowing Germany to build up its navy and actually rival British dominance in the Baltic and Northern sea since Germany could concentrate its entire fleet in one area while the United Kingdom had an empire to defend, and could not afford to move its entire navy to rival Germany’s. Due to this principle of dividing and conquering, British guarantees of independence and guarantees to aid Poland in March 1939 if Germany attacked were useless, since the U.K. would not have been able to actually mobilize forces through heavily defended German waters.
            The Anglo-German naval agreement was damaging to allied relations amongst other things, as it damaged the Stresa Front of 1935 and prompted France to doubt whether Britain really had France’s best interest at heart, since Chamberlain had “voluntarily untied Hitler’s hands” according to Adams, one of France’s biggest rivals. This sowed the seeds of mistrust between the Allies and allowed the nationalistic and imperialist state of Germany to take advantage of its weakened and partitioned opponents. All of these errors considered, however, perhaps the worst mistake of appeasement was the alienation of Russia. One of the reasons the U.K. aided Germany and retracted many of the TOV clauses, was to enable Germany be a Bulwark against the communist threat i.e. the Soviet Union. This of course pushed Stalin and Russia far away from the allies and forced them into an unlikely non-aggression pact with Germany, freeing Germany up to wage war against the rest of Europe without having to worry about Russian opposition. With access to archive data, respected Historian David Faber argues that Chamberlain was thoroughly criticized for allowing Hitler’s brinksmanship to go unpunished and argues that this was one of the many reasons that Britain started to drift from France and Russia. On the other hand, some Historians argue that Faber focuses far too much on minor and almost insignificant events that don’t necessarily encompass the broad appeasement sentiment of the time and focus on more niche and narrative situations to express his viewpoint. He also seems emotionally disposed to disapproving of appeasement due to the fact that his mother was a Czech woman adversely affected by the Munich conference, casting doubt on the objectivity of the sources. Yet overall British appeasement policy did seem to alienate British allies, showing that it was not the correct policy.
In conclusion even though popular sentiment stood along with Chamberlain’s appeasement of Germany, it allowed Germany to build its military up, gradually increase its industrial, territory and manpower and rival the U.K. in the one area that Britain required superiority - the navy. This set up the opportunity for Hitler to take advantage of the U.K.’s relative weakness and the split between allied powers to dominate Europe. Theoretically appeasement was a terrible course of action, it put the U.K. and its allies in a terrible military position and pushed them further apart. However the democratic nature of the U.K forced the country to condone these issues and follow peaceful and appeasing actions rather than military actions.


Dr. Seuss described an appeaser as a man “that lives and talks… yet […] has no guts”, but this negative opinion of the Munich agreement was not the popular view at the time of its signing, and the two allied leaders who were involved, Chamberlain and Daladier, were hailed as heroes upon their return from Munich. The view of the events of 1938 have changed dramatically in recent times, with many modern historians viewing the appeasement of Hitler as the wrong choice. This essay will contradict this view, and argue that the appeasement of Hitler in 1938 was the best if not only choice Chamberlain and Daladier had.

The main arguments made against appeasement were that it ultimately failed in securing world peace, it showed Hitler that Britain and France would not stand in the way of his quest for world domination, and it gave Hitler time to prepare his country for war.  As Jan Masaryk, the Czechoslovakian foreign minister, said after the appeasement of 1938, “If you have sacrificed my nation to preserve the peace of the world, I will be the first to applaud you. But if not, gentlemen, God help your souls". This quote demonstrates the view of the masses at the time, that the appeasement in Munich was done in the interest of preserving peace in the world, however it failed exorbitantly quickly. Less than a year later, Hitler invaded Bohemia and Moravia, this time he could not excuse his actions as uniting the German peoples, this area of Czechoslovakia was never part of Germany nor did it have a majority German population (like the Sudetenland). As Cato (a group composed of Michael Foot, Frank Owen, and Peter Howard) argued in their book Guilty Men it seemed ludicrous that the British government could accept Hitler’s promise that the Sudetenland was the last of his territorial demands, especially considering what he had written in Mein Kampf 13 years prior. However, it was not this clear cut in actuality, Hitler had stated that he was intending to ensure that the “German people [would] become a single community”. Therefore, it seemed absolutely understandable that this area of Czechoslovakia (with some areas containing more than 90% German people) would be his final demand. With the gift of hindsight however, we can see that this was not the case, and Hitler’s quest for the unity of the German people was a façade. As the British and French governments gave all they had to try and stop war in 1938, they showed Hitler they were weak and were not going to stand in his way. This display of weakness began in 1936 when Hitler moved troops into the Rhineland, France failed to retaliate showing Hitler that he was free to break the Treaty of Versailles however he pleased. Following this, Britain and Frances weakness during the Munich negotiations furthered this opinion. On Chamberlain’s first visit to Munich, September 15th, he claimed that there were no circumstances under which he would grant self-determination for the Sudeten people, however just one day later Chamberlain colluded with the French government to grant all Czech areas with more than 50% German population to the Nazi government. This indecisiveness was evidence that the British and French government were not willing to stand up to Hitler, and he took it as further invitation to break the Treaty of Versailles. In the time between the Munich agreement and the start of world war two, Hitler increased his military power hugely, for example, the German air force built almost 2,000 more planes during this period. However, this statement is irrelevant, as this time was available to all nations, and the allied powers arguably used it even more effectively, with Britain building almost 6,000 more aircraft in this period. The arguments against appeasement certainly hold weight, the Munich agreement perhaps provoked Hitler to war in 1939, but some of the arguments against appeasement are not as strong as they may appear.

Appeasement in 1938 was certainly done with the right intentions, with the memory of the “war to end all wars” fresh in the minds of people all over the globe, the last thing anyone wanted was a repeat. However, maybe there was even more merit to the Munich agreement than this, the most popular arguments for the appeasement of Hitler were that it was the only rational choice, it gave the allies undeniable reason to wage war against the Nazis, and it gave Britain valuable time to prepare for what appeared to be a much more prepared opponent. The Treaty of Versailles held self-determination as one of its main principles, so surely if large German groups wished to join back to Germany this should be permitted. Keeping this in mind, it seems quite rational that the allied governments decided the Sudetenland could become part of Germany. This is supported by historian Richard J Evans, who that appeasement may have been the only feasible policy up to 1939, for much the same reasons as already discussed. However, this only can be true if we accept the allied nations ignorance of Hitler’s true intentions. With hindsight, it was clear that Hitler was not saying as he wished to do, but it must be accepted that at the time Chamberlain, and other leaders were unaware of this. After the dreadful events of world war one, people were naturally reluctant to wage another war which threatened to engulf the world once again, and whether or not Churchill was right in saying that Britain possessed the man-power to win a war in 1938, it does not seem that many would have been willing to fight in this war. This is clearly evidenced by the Oxford Union 'King and Country' debate in 1933, which concluded that the house would “not in any circumstances fight for King and Country”. This shows evidence of the lack of conviction the British people felt in relation to another war in the years leading up to appeasement. Therefore, the caution exercised by the allied nations in Munich in 1938 in far more understandable. However, once Hitler had torn up this agreement (by sending troops into Bohemia and Moravia) the masses viewed action against the Nazi government as the right choice, since it was clear that Hitler was hell bent on war. After the events in Guernica, the allied powers were suddenly made aware of the technological prowess Germany held. While Britain had a large force, it was spread across the globe in Britain’s numerous colonies, and would not have been ready for war in 1938, this year of preparation gave Britain a huge opportunity, they would be able to consolidate their forces, and boost production, especially in aircraft as was explained previously. Overall, it seems that appeasement in 1938 was the only feasible option, and while some people may argue that war should have been waged at this time, Britain’s large military does not seem enough when contextualized against the distaste for the war before appeasement.

To conclude, while the modern view may be against the Munich agreement, there was nothing else Britain could have done without risking a war they were not ready for. The extra year gave Britain a chance to prepare for war, as well have confirming to the British people that war must be waged against Nazi Germany.


The policy of appeasement between in 1938 was one pursued in order to avoid an all-out confrontation with Nazi Germany. Chamberlain’s decision to yield to German interests arguably postponed the start of World War II to the date we know today (1st September, 1939) and significantly expanded the territorial extent of Nazi Germany into Austria and Czechoslovakia. While it is sometimes argued that this policy gave Britain more time to prepare for inevitable war with Germany, the same can be said for Germany as well. It is commonly believed that appeasement was a mistake, as Britain and France had the means to stop Germany earlier, while it was still in a weaker position. This essay will therefore examine why appeasement was not the ideal policy to follow, due to Britain not being consequential enough in order to prevent war in the first place, as well as. However, this essay will also look at how appeasement might have been the only feasible policy, as Britain did everything in its power to stop war, no matter the eventual outcome.
            Chamberlain’s appeasement was a flawed policy in the sense that it not consequential enough in stopping the Germans earlier, even when Britain and France had the capacity to do so. According to Duane C. Young, professor at De Montfort University, “it was, at least early on, not at all necessary to appease Adolf Hitler. A more forceful stance would have made him back down”. A key military force that Britain was in possession of – and had the means of using against Germany -  was the Royal Air Force. While Germany had begun to build its own Luftwaffe, the Royal Air Force was never really at the mercy of it in 1938, nor during 1939 for that matter. Germany never possessed any long-range bombers that could strategically endanger Britain and France had 150,000 troops assembled at the Maginot line ready to strike against the Germans if need be. However, Britain and France proceeded to take no forceful and consequential actions against the Germans, in neither 1936, when the Rhineland was occupied, nor in 1938 when Austria and Czechoslovakia were annexed. In addition, William Shirer, in his The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich was confident that Czechoslovakia would have been able to offer stiff resistance against the Germans in his response to Chamberlain’s lenient stance in the Munich Agreement of 1938. Czechoslovakia had excellent frontier-fortifications and was ready to fight the Germans, in combination with a modern supply of Škoda tanks (upon which German Panzer Is were based) and artillery. Shirer, similarly to Young, believed that Britain and France had the sufficient military offensive and defensive capabilities in pursuing a rapid and successful war with Germany, as well as coming to Czechoslovakia’s aid. Shirer also believed that the Munich agreement squandered Britain and France’s chances of ending Germany’s ambitions earlier and quotes Churchill by saying that “Britain and France were in a much worse position compared to Hitler’s Germany” as a result of the Munich Agreement in 1938. Therefore, it is believed that even though Britain and France had the significant and arguably superior military capabilities in stopping Hitler and preventing a Munich Agreement in 1938, the policy of appeasement made Britain weak and Germany stronger.
            Secondly, the Chamberlain’s decision to permit Germany’s expansionist ambitions in 1938 squandered the chances of an alliance with Joseph Stalin, who was upset by the results of the Munich Agreement. The Soviet Union had a mutual military assistance treaty with Czechoslovakia and was prepared to assist the Czechs “under any circumstances, even in spite of Munich,” according to Boris Ponomaryov and Andrei Gromyko, editors of the History of Soviet Foreign policy. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union was excluded from the conference taking place on the 30th of September, 1938 and allowed Germany free passage to annex Sudetenland and later, all of Czechoslovakia. Alienating the USSR gave Stalin the idea that he was betrayed by Britain and France, which caused a divide and was arguably a significant factor in the eventual Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, where the USSR and Nazi Germany signed a pact of non-aggression. No military assistance coming from the USSR meant that Germany had virtually no Eastward pressure in taking Poland in 1939, as well as overrunning Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and France in 1940; losses that could have been avoided if the Soviet Union was made to be included in the conference and act as pressure against Nazi Germany’s ambitions. Therefore, it was a fatal mistake to exclude the Soviet Union from the Munich conference in 1938, as it allowed Germany to annex Czechoslovakia without any complications and denied Britain and France a large and important ally.
            Lastly however, it is also argued that the policy of appeasement was the only feasibly policy in the stages before WW2 and that Britain did everything in its power to stop war. AJP Taylor in his book The Origins of the Second World War argued that appeasement was a policy implemented by “men confronted with real problems, doing their best in the circumstances of their time”. To further examine this notion, one must take note that the prospect of war was extremely unpopular with the British public; David Dutton, a British historian, notes that “there was a feeling that any sensible politician would explore every avenue to avoid war before accepting war was inevitable”. The British public was still haunted by the horrors of World War I 20 years earlier and was not willing to make an enormous sacrifice of its countrymen for the sake of a far-away country again. In this respect, Neville Chamberlain represented the British people’s interests and based on a rational assessment of foreign interests. Moreover, even though Stalin would have been an important ally against Germany, it is important to note that he was considered to be no better, if not worse than Hitler. Hitler was considered to be the lesser of two evils, since Stalin’s regime represented one of oppression and terror after the Bolshevik mass persecutions of Kulaks, the Holodomor and other horrendous atrocities. In addition, even though Britain had long-range bombers, they were simply too small in number to fly deep into Germany for major bomber missions. In addition, prolonging the war until 1939 meant that Britain had the time to develop the lighter and more maneuverable Spitfire, which would be a far better match against the Messerschmitt-109s, rather than the older Hurricanes. In addition, in 1938, there was desperate poverty in Britain as a result of the depression; Britain’s debt was 180% of its GDP and 10% of the workforce was still unemployed. Chamberlain was faced with a deeply troubled economy and needed to put the needs of the British people first and not waste too many funds into war production over a far-away country that no one knew about. In this respect, appeasement was the only rational policy Neville Chamberlain could pursue.
            In conclusion, appeasement was a flawed policy in the sense that Britain and France had the military capacity to strike against Germany up until 1938 and could have very well forced Hitler to back down. In addition, Britain made a grave mistake in excluding the Soviet Union from the Munich conference in 1938, thereby losing an ally and receiving no aid consequentially at the outbreak of war in 1939. However, it can also be said that Chamberlain simply acted in the interest of the British people and that only hindsight makes us look critically at Chamberlain’s actions. In reality, there was simply not much Britain could do against Hitler’s inexhaustible demands.


How far do you agree with the view of recent historians that Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler at Munich in 1938 was a mistake?

On September 30, 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, alongside Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Edouard Daladier signed the Munich Agreement, sealing the fate of Czechoslovakia, virtually handing over the Sudetenland to Nazi Germany in the name of Peace. The document, which according to Chamberlain had secured “peace in our time” was frequently praised as realistic and statesmanlike in its day but condemned as being immoral, stupid and foolish in ours. Revisionists A. J. P Taylor and R.A.C Parker critique Chamberlains interventionism to have been the cause for global war, and wrongly highlight the appeasement at Munich in 1938 as being the mistake it most certainly was not.

Chamberlain’s thought process at Munich and during his two other recent visits to Germany can be understood. Yes, RAC Parker takes into account the first World War’s legacy which lives on in Britain, and that the public opinion is undoubtedly against war, the people remained terrified of Bombing. What Parker fails to acknowledge is the immense pressure enacted upon Chamberlain and the British Government and the economic, ideological and multinational factors which made appeasement necessary. These being the harsh reparations imposed by Article 232-235 of the Versailles Treaty, the threat of the spread of communism and the multinational failure to make the League of Nations work. With this in the back of his mind Chamberlain went to Germany seeking nothing but peace, and willing to gain an Ally against the main threat toward western civilization in the 1930’s; the USSR. As can be seen from the transcript of their conversation at Berchtesgaden 2 weeks prior to the Munich Agreement. Adolf Hitler used Chamberlains readiness to make sacrifices for the greater good that he had demonstrated in the years from 1935-1938 in his Appeasement policy, to make the British Prime Minister bend to his will. I am determined to settle it: I do not care whether there is a world war or not: I am determined to settle it and to settle it soon and I am prepared to risk a world war rather than allow this to drag on.” –Adolf Hitler. With an opponent in negotiations like Hitler at his private mountain retreat and a war unfit military at his back, Chamberlain had no choice but to appease in order to avoid escalation. Still suffering the repercussions of the Great depression, Britain did not have the economic strength to counter Germany. Essentially this convinced Hitler of Britain's weakness and encouraged him in further demands.

AJP Taylors book ‘The Origins of the Second World War’ justifies the necessity of the Munich Agreement of 1938 as it allowed for the self determination of all 3 million Germans living in Sudetenland. He described it as ‘part of series of ‘accidents’ and Chamberlain was in various cases misguided’. Taylor adds to this however, that the only the appeasement regarding Czechoslovakia was to be tolerated by Britain. When Hitler annexed Austria during the “Anschluss” of 1938 it came as a shock to the allies at first, which later turned into acceptance. And as Winston Churchill said: “Appeasement is feeding a crocodile and hoping not to be eaten”. This repeated show of weakness from Chamberlain and all other European countries further fed the crocodile that was Adolf Hitler and his immense ego. To quote AJP Taylor, in signing the Munich Agreement Neville Chamberlain “didn’t serve the world, but served his people first.”, which would contradict Taylors previous claim concerning Chamberlains Interventionism. In the years leading up to the second world war, Chamberlain got involved in conflicts that didn’t concern Britain, for example, during the German annexation of the Sudetenland. One would expect a Treaty-bound country such as France to interfere, following the little Entente of 1920 and 1921. To this it also should be noted that revisionist’s critique towards Chamberlains “regime” is not unconditional. Even Taylor admitted that appeasement was ‘a triumph for all that was best and enlightened in British life’, out of a retrospective point of view. As for recent public opinion, Chamberlain is still not viewed in a very positive light, while the war-mongering Winston Churchill was crowned in 2002 as the Greatest Ever Briton.

The view AJP Taylor represents is the more viable as it considers both perspectives; that of Chamberlain under pressure looking over his shoulder for Stalin and that of a post WW2 Historian. He recognizes that Hitler’s capabilities both militaristically and economically were being overestimated, forcing Chamberlain to desperately buy time. It is difficult to disagree with RAC Parker and AJP Taylor as I, being German, know all too well what consequences followed the Munich Agreement. The Annexation of the Sudetenland triggered a chain reaction, Poland, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, DenmarkYugoslaviaGreeceand Norway followed. But what was Chamberlain to do? Any other course of action such as that moral force through the collective pressure from the League could halt the expansion of the aggressive powers would have resulted in war, as would a demonstration of power. This failed in Japan (Manchuria) and Italy (Abyssinia), why should it have worked then? Views of recent Historians condemning the Munich Agreement as a mistake are to a certain extent justified, but Munich was, like the Treaty of Versailles and the Weimar Constitution the more or less logical conclusion to an unstable situation.


How far do you agree with the view of recent historians that Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler at Munich in 1938 was a mistake?

On September 30th 1938, the Prime Minister of Britain Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Putsch. An agreement stating that Germany is permitted to have a portion of the Czechoslovakian territory which was inhabited by  German speakers on the condition that these two countries would consult each other on any other modifications to assure peace. 79 years later, we investigate the view that Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler in Munich 1938 was a mistake and I do not agree with this statement. The main reasons for the appeasement was to give Britain more time to prepare for a war, as well as the British people wanted to only peace, and finally Czechoslovakia was already on the verge of being dominated by Germany.

Furthermore in the year of 1938, Britain was in no shape to take on a war against Germany. They could not handle the task of maintaining their monarchic empire and fighting off Hitler, the odds were against them in every aspect. For example looking at the military expenditures from 1933 to 1938 Germany was increasing at a rapid rate ahead of Japan, United States and Britain. Whilst by 1938 she had 7415 to Britain’s 1863 (in millions), this shows that the British were in no state to fight being behind 5552 million dollars. Also in terms of military aircraft, the German’s technology was well ahead of Britain too. At this time Germany had approximately 3000 fighter and bomber planes compared to Britain’s limp 1,700 combat fighters and bomber planes. However in hindsight fast forward to 1942 the time given to Britain to rearm, they reached nearly 5000 aircrafts whilst Germany had a slow 3,500 planes. Deeper into the point of the appeasement not being a mistake is that the British people themselves wanted peace not war. A british peace organization called Peace Pledge Union (PPU) supported the appeasement of Hitler, with the belief that the this would cease their aggression from the consequences of Treaty of Versailles. Although these beliefs were seen to be too generous as they continued to protest that Germany should be given control of mainland Europe including France along with the Balkans. They stood true to their beliefs as in 1939 they began a campaign against conscription in Britain and opposed legislation for air raid precautions in 1938. This only reveals the truth feelings about war of the British people. Ultimately, Czechoslovakia was already being taken over before the appeasement, Chamberlain’s decision didn’t speed up the process of occupation. He only gave permission as Hitler already annexed a portion of the territory without any consulting. Chamberlain was aware of this as he wrote to his sister “You have only to look at the map to see that nothing we could do could possibly save Czechoslovakia from being overrun by the Germans.” In the end Czechoslovakia was given a choice to battle for their country on their own or submit to Germany and they chose to submit.

To contrast there are faults to Neville Chamberlain’s decision to appease Hitler in 1938. As you investigate Chamberlain’s main critic Winston Churchill stated after Neville’s homecoming “You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war.” This quote resulted in being a reality as all the appeasement resulted in Hitler’s expansion of his German empire. Not only did this help him, this implanted the thought that he can get whatever he wants from Britain and France. This attempt at peace showed Hitler that these two powers were afraid of him and would not initially attack him. Also the quote above from Churchill depicts the truth that the British people who believed they have done everything possible to stop war had to accept that from this point onward the war was inevitable. But this isn’t the only fault present with the appeasement, although Czechoslovakia agreed to give their land to Germany because of their desire for peace in the end their economy began to suffer as more than 350,000 Czechoslovakians were sent to be forced laborers for Germany and exploited their economy by taking in consumer goods to Germany.  This invasion of Czechoslovakia marked the end of the appeasement as it showed Hitler was lying back in Munich. This fact alone damaged Britain entirely as their credibility was stripped from them as no one would trust them anymore for making such an naive decision, believing Hitler would stop his motives just for peace among the powers. That being the final major negative impact of the appeasement of Hitler, Britain was hurt the most because what seemed like the only solution backfired in the worst way possible.

            To conclude, investigating the view that Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler in Munich 1938 was a mistake. It is quite simple to be a critic nearly a century later but taking into consideration the circumstances back then in that time. The appeasement may have been the only option as everything worked out due to other factors.


How far do you agree with the view of recent historians that Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler at Munich in 1938 was a mistake?

With the shadows of World War one still looming over Europe, Chamberlin was aware that another war would not be supported by the people. With the aim of keeping the peace between France, Germany and England, Chamberlin and Hitler created a deal. Appeasement is defined as “to pacify or placate (someone) by acceding to their demands”. The appeasement included the so called Munich Agreement, in which France and Britain gave Germany the Czechoslovakia controlled Sudetenland. At the time over 80% of the population of the Sudetenland was from the former Austria-Hungarian Empire, and by ethnic origin, German. Despite this, the Czechoslovakian government did not agree, and were never consulted on the agreement. When the Nazis marched into the Sudetenland they were welcomed as heroes by the people.  Despite the views of recent historians there were both positive and negative affects to the actions taken in 1938.
To understand the opinions of historians both past and present one must first understand why appeasement was considered necessary by those involved in making the decisions and the affects that the deal had. Due to the events of 1938 to 1945 the word appeasement now carries a negative connotation to many people. However, at the time there were many reasons as to why Chamberlin took the approach to dealing with Hitler that he did. He knew the British people wanted peace, and with Hitler threating war whenever Britain or France tried to deny land he believed to be rightfully Germany a deal seemed, at the time, to be the easiest way keep the peace. Weakening Germany, both economically and military, was not in Frances or Britain’s interest as it was the only country that stood between Western Europe and the growing power that was Russia. With the appeasement being just as much a way to postpone war as it was to prevent it, the extra time of peace in Europe allowed Britain to triple it defense expenditure (from 512 million US dollars to 1,863 million US Dollars) in the space of just 5 years. However, it was not just Britain that had the extra time to prepare for war, this meant that Germany also had time to rearm within the same time period, however Germany increased their expenditure by over 4000 times.
With appeasement often being associated with the war that followed just a year early. It is because of this that historian often combined the affects that appeasement had with World war two however at the time. As historian David Dutton argues “Faced with an impossible situation, Neville Chamberlain performed better than anyone else would have done” although he does not agree that what Chamberlain did at the time was correct he argues that no one could have done any better. David Dutton was not alone in the view against appeasement. AJP Taylor was in favor of England rearming and heavily criticized the appeasement of Hitler. He believes that the only way to have dealt with Hitler at the time was to create an alliance between England a Russia (an Anglo-soviet alliance) this would have left Germany contained and given Hitler less power to threaten either country.
The problem with this question is that recent historian have the advantage of hindsight, something that Chamberlin obviously didn’t have at the time. It is clear now that appeasement did not prevent a second world war but rather that it only postponed it for a year. This therefore makes it easy to see that the appeasement failed to prevent a war like Chamberlin hoped it would however at the time it was up to Chamberlain to make a calculated risk. Although not a historian Winston Churchill had a clear view on appeasement at the time. He stated “that negotiation and appeasement were doomed to fail and that war postponed would be more bloody than strength displayed” however he does not state what should have been done instead. Knowing a war was inevitable if he did not appease Hitler Chamberlain had little choice. Churchill is quick to critique what Chamberlain did but does not offer an alternative that would have also prevented another war. Again this is backed by what David Dutton said, at the time Chamberlain had little option whatever he had done would have resulted in war or resulted in a negative outcome.
It is of common opinion of recent historians that the appeasement of Hitler in 1938 was a mistake and ultimately was one of the main causes of World War two. However, at the time when Churchill had to make the decision he did not have the hindsight that recent historians have. This means that although the decision may have been a mistake at the time he had little option and had to act quickly to prevent angering what was, at the time, quite a strong power. Although it was a mistake it was the best that could be done to prevent a war, and although it was only a year this gave England the crucial time they needed to prepare for a second war.


How far do you agree with the view of recent historians that Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler at Munich in 1938 was a mistake?

Neville Chamberlin arrived in England after his third and last visit to Germany concerning the Munich agreement he proudly announces that he has returned from Germany with peace for our time, however only one year later the world’s most devastating war broke out. The appeasement of Hitler was widely celebrated by the population of the Western- European states what was not considered however was that this agreement unrightfully deprived a sovereign state of some of their national territory obviously enraging the population of Czechoslovakia. This essay will examine the effects of appeasing Hitler in 1938.
After several previous successes such as the invasion and remilitarization of the Rhineland, the Anschluss of Austria, or the Anglo- German Naval Agreement the appeasement of Hitler further boosted his self-confidence and strengthened his opinion that he was able to do whatever he wanted to do. When Hitler invaded Poland on the 29th of September 1939 he was not expecting there to be resistance from either France or Britain. This was due to the fact that these countries had given in to Hitler on multiple occasions and he did not imagine that they would stand up to Poland on this occasion. David Irving argues that after France and England had let down their allied countries so many times Hitler believed he was able to do whatever he wanted to in the future. The problem with considering arguments presented by Irving is that he is known for falsifying facts to match his argument and on top of that he was a holocaust denier and tried to normalize Hitler. It is however obvious that concessions made by the other European powers towards Hitler would have motivated him and given him the impression that he would be able to do whatever he wanted. After France had formed the Little Entente in 1921 with Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia a Small Maginot line was also built in Czechoslovakia to protect them from a possible invasion by the Germans. The fatal thing of this line was that it had to be built in close proximity to the German border as it would otherwise been of no use during an invasion. Thus when the Sudetenland was given to Germany as part of the appeasement the Small Maginot line was also now part of Germany. And so as part of the appeasement the Germans were not only given new land but subsequently also an already built line of fortification which almost ran for the entire length of the Czechoslovakian border. Not only did they get one of the most modern fortifications but they also received one of the largest arms producers at the time Skoda which was also located close to the German border in Czechoslovakia. From this company they received 1,231 aircrafts which were more aircrafts than Britain produced in one year in 1935. On top of that they received 810 tanks and about 700,000 other items of military significance such as rifles and machine guns. In conclusion many points can be brought up which make appeasement seem like a mistake especially as it strengthened Hitler’s views of weak Brits but it also strengthened him militarily.
The problem with this question is that we are answering it today with the useful hindsight of the events making everything which happened after 1933 seem like part of Hitler’s plan to conquer the world however appeasement might have been the only solution at the time. In 1919 Britain decided on a 10-year plan which assumed that they would not engage in a major conflict during the next ten years. As part of this policy the military expenditures were drastically cut so that the economy would recover faster and equal prewar years earlier. With peace seeming assured this policy was pursued by Winston Churchill until 1928 always resetting the ’10-year clock’ back to zero. The effect was that during this time the military was largely neglected and the equipment was largely no longer up to date. In 1938 when Hitler started to stretch his fingers for Czechoslovakia Britain feared that they would not be able to match the German armed forces in the case of an escalation of the problem. Numbers suggest that even in 1937 England believed in peace in the next years as Germany was producing almost three times as many aircrafts as Britain was. The time that appeasement gave Britain was used effectively as by 1939 Britain had caught up with their air craft production as they were now only 300 aircrafts short of the German productions. Richard Ovary argues that the British military overestimated Germanys and underestimated Britain’s military potential as they still had military basis to get back on, which Germany did not have. Historians say Britain’s military position compared to Germanys was not better in 1939 compared to 1938. On the other hand the year that appeasement gave the British reassured them as they believed that they had caught up with the Germans and were now ready to participate at a war. Especially the development of radar which was finished in 1939 significantly increased Britain’s opinion of a readiness for war. On top of the military benefits which appeasement gave Britain it also convinced the population that a war against fascist Germany was necessary. The government doubted whether the electors would support a war as World War one was still in the back of their minds and they would not go to war for a country which they were not affiliated with. On top they saw what the Luftwaffe was able to do during Guernica and were not convinced that they would be able to stand up to the Luftwaffe. The peace pledge union a pacifist organization had was widely supported by the population during 1938 and the government was convinced that they would have no support in the case of a war. With the appeasement of Hitler and him braking the agreement in 1939 the people were reassured that going to war against Germany was necessary and that they had the means to do it.
In conclusion it can be said that although appeasing Hitler reassured him and increased his military power the year given to Britain due to appeasement reassured the people and England was able to increase their military ultimately enabling Germany to be defeated.

The problem with this question is that Britain always appeased the enemy. The country had previously decided that they would prefer to “Divide and Conquer” rather than use force, which has been their domestic policy since the beginning of the 1930’s. Hence, Neville Chamberlain’s actions on the 30th of September 1938 were not unexpected: to give Hitler what he desires purely to gain a short-lived peace, “Peace in our time”. Yet it still does not excuse the fact that the appeasement of Hitler resulted in many consequences that lead to the almost defeat of the allies during World War Two.
It is understandable as to why recent historians view the appeasement in a positive fashion. There were advantages to it, as argued by recent historian David Dutton, author of Reputations: Neville Chamberlain. The appeasement gave the British time to rearm and prepare for the imminent war. Dutton argues that, “There was really a feeling that the odds were against the potential of Britain being able to prevail facing Germany…” Hence, the time was a necessity to change these odds. Even though the country was suffering from the great depression since 1929, throughout the 1930’s the British had managed to enlarge their fleet, build more aircrafts and increase their military expenditure. However, they were far behind the rearmament of Germany. The extra year was a requirement if the British were to stand a chance. Statistics show that the annual defence expenditure of Britain rose from 1693 million dollars in 1938 to 1817 million dollars in 1939. When compared to the statistics of Germany, 4000 million dollars in 1938 and 4400 million dollars in 1939, it may seem pointless. Yet one must consider the large military that Britain already had prior to the 1930’s. They had not been forced, through the Treaty of Versailles, to remove all arms and most soldiers. Hence, they had the upper hand when this arms race began, meaning that the appeasement was necessary for the British to continue to improve their expenditure in order to have a fighting chance in the imminent war. Another argument is that the British had no idea of what Hitler was capable of. In an article for the Telegraph, Dutton argues that, “Chamberlain, we are told, was duped into thinking Hitler a man of reason and compromise, a man who could be trusted to keep agreements”. Hence, Chamberlain’s reasons of thinking this were not unjustified. Before 1938, Hitler had managed to validate his actions by claiming that he was acting for the protection and welfare of German people around the world. For instance, when he annexed Austria he claimed that the country was his responsibility to handle, and that it desired to be German, seen in the results of the plebiscite where 99.79% of the vote agreed to be annexed by Germany. The fact that the plebiscite may or may not have been staged did nothing to damage the validity of Hitler’s claims. Therefore, when Chamberlain flew to Berlin to meet the man himself, he had no reason to believe that Hitler was capable of World Domination without any valid political reasoning behind the act. In fact, the British were unconcerned about Hitler, as there was a far greater and more unpredictable leader: Stalin. A blatant and cruel man, the British had decided that Germany would be helpful as a barrier against what they feared the most, which was communism. Hence, they had been blind towards the Nazis for fear of the communists. While Dutton is a historian known for his range and archival use, his book on Chamberlain was his first, meaning that he had not yet acquired the skills of historians to keep the information factually based rather than opinionated. Nevertheless, the points he made are still valid. Hence, it is understandable given the evidence as to why some recent historians believe that the appeasement was not a mistake.
However, Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler allowed Hitler to believe that the British would never again interfere in his political endeavours. He had first begun to think in this manner during the invasion of the Rhineland in 1936, an action that broke both the 1918 Treaty of Versailles and the 1925 Locarno Treaty, yet brought on no retaliation by either Britain or France. In fact, during the Anschluss of Austria in 1938 he clearly stated to Schuschnigg, chancellor of Austria, that, “England? England will not move one finger”. The appeasement did nothing to help matters, being a statement in writing of Britain’s consent for Hitler to actively take Czechoslovakia, a country that Germany never had any ties with in the past. It could even be argued that instead of prolonging the war, the appeasement actually made it happen faster. Professor Jeffrey Record stated in his book Appeasement Reconsidered: Investigating the Mythology of the 1930s, “With each act of appeasement, Hitler’s appetite grew.” While this professor is known as one of the leading experts on military strategy, he does not consider social or economic factors in his book, making his knowledge of his topic limiting. Yet this does not make his undermine the validity of his argument. Believing that Britain would not interfere, Hitler decided to invade the entirety of Czechoslovakia on the 15th of March 1939, even though the appeasement made it explicitly clear that he was only supposed to invade the Sudentenland, where 3.5 million ethnic Germans lived. Britain did nothing, knowing that their military support would not be substantial enough to stop the Nazis. It was only after Germany invaded Poland did the British act in retaliation, beginning what was to be known as the second world war. Had Hitler not of had this mindset, he may perhaps have moved at a slower rate towards world domination for worry of the great powers and their retaliation.
The appeasement of Hitler also downplayed Britain’s power. The fact that Chamberlain actively gave Hitler permission to do what he desired, take Czechoslovakia, showed that the British were cowards when it came to threats of war, preferring to work with rather than against the enemy. This lack of courage displayed lost the country any respect that other countries had towards them. However, the result of this was far worse: it lost the allies Stalin. British historian Roger Moorhouse in his book The Devils' Alliance: Hitler's Pact with Stalin, 1939-1941 argues this. He quotes Ivan Maisky, the veteran ambassador in London, “We are tired of (Britain’s) good intentions, we can only be convinced by (Britain’s) good deeds.” A man who always respected strength, Stalin found that he could not agree with a country as cowardly as Britain. Roger Moorhouse is a respected historian, whose views are properly backed up with facts. However, according to fellow historian Richard J. Evans, Moorhouse has a one-sided view concerning the consequences of the pact, focusing on the horrors Stalin committed and ignoring the actions of the Nazis. Hence, he has no perspective. And yet, the point he made in his book is still valid. Moorhouse also argues that the lack of respect that Stalin had is also partly due to the fact that British negotiations with Stalin had taken a considerably long time, due to the Polish hatred for anything Communist and Britain’s lack of trust in the political advantages of such an agreement. These negotiations proved to Stalin that the British hated the communists. The appeasement was merely the final straw for Stalin. Instead of turning to the allies, Stalin turned to his greatest enemy Hitler for a political pact, as Stalin could at least find an ample amount of determination in Hitler’s character. They ended up creating what is now known as the Hitler-Stalin Pact on the 23rd of August, a non-aggression agreement whereby the two would split up Eastern Europe and then leave each other alone. This gave Hitler confidence to invade Poland on the 1st of September, officially start the second world war, while knowing that the USSR would not retaliate. Perhaps, had Chamberlain taken another course of action in order to avoid war, such as agreeing with the soviet offer of military force to aid in containing Hitler on the 15th August 1939, Stalin would never have signed the pact with Hitler and the victory of the allies would have been quicker and more effective.
Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler has recently been seen as anything but a mistake, due to Britain’s military disadvantage, Hitler’s prior justifications of his actions and the lack of a better alternative. However, the consequences were far greater, causing Hitler to believe that the British would not interfere, his concern regarding the greater powers to vanish, and the USSR to make a pact with Hitler as Stalin could no longer respect a country who would bow down to the enemy purely to avoid a war. Therefore, the appeasement was a mistake, as it was a contributing factor in the Allies near defeat in World War Two.


How far do you agree with the view of recent historians that Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler at Munich in 1938 was a mistake?

One cannot answer the question without a biased view, especially as this essay is written in the shadow of Dachau concentration camp, as one knows the extent to which Chamberlain's appeasement to “feed the crocodile” failed. The provision of an answer to the question requires to challenge British policies that might eradicate common sense, morality and expediency to reinforce the thesis of Hitler’s unique war guilt. There is a wide discrepancy between recent historians view that analyse whether the Munich agreement signed between the victors of the First World War on 30 September 1938  really depicted “peace for our time”. Therefore, this essay will try to provide a neutral perspective of analyzing different historians and their views of whether Chamberlain’s simplified political decision to quench Hitler’s insatiable thirst through the shameful policy of appeasement was a mistake.

Although appeasement was, at the time, justified through many political, social and economic reasons towards aggression, it was in September 1939 when Hitler was marching into Poland, widely considered as not only a failure to stop the dictator but as the driven factor that precipitated the war. In July 1940 the polemical book Guilty Men published by a trio of left-wing writers, known as CATO, marked the beginning of a newly shaped scholarly thinking about appeasement as the “deliberate surrender of small nations in the face of Hitler’s blatant bullying” that was since then supported from many historians, diplomats, journalists and common people. Furthermore, the Guilty Men argued that Chamberlain’s policy was a policy of poor judgment and ineptitude in military planning and diplomatic relations, all carried out under fear. It suggests that Chamberlain rejected any other alternatives to appeasement, and that he knew exactly what he was doing. World War One was no longer considered the “war to end all wars” but rather a policy implanted to allow Britain to buy time. After the Munich Agreement, Chamberlain revealed his dissatisfaction to his foreign secretary Lord Halifax, as his argument was to hope for the best whilst simultaneously preparing for the worst. However, this criticism published was hastily written with few claims to historical scholarship and despite having no access to government archives, made instant historical judgements. The polemic argued that the appeasement was not a policy of fear but rather a policy of hope. However, this is debatable as the policy was incontestably carried out in Britain with an overall mood of fear, still existing after the First World War. Chamberlain was aware of his empire's military weakness compared to a seemingly aggressive Germany that had re-militarized and exceeded its pre-war economic level. However, the question that must be asked, which forms a great part of CAO’s argument, is why did Britain go to war after the invasion of Poland, not the reoccupation of the Rhineland or the invasion of Czechoslovakia? Britain viewed Germany as a growing threat as it was not the disarmed and democratic Germany that the Treaty of Versailles had anticipated. Britain increasingly felt the pacifistic desire for peace at any price as World War One killed nearly 1 million British soldiers and civilians; British leaders and citizens became propagandists of peace. Chamberlain henceforth believed in negotiations with Germany necessary to avoid war and open a new era of peaceful co-existence. Horace Wilson, a British government official who was involved in appeasement clarified that “Our policy was never designed to postpone war, or enable us to enter war more unified. The aim of our appeasement was to avoid war altogether, for all time”. As CATO argued, Chamberlain's policy had its foundations in its desire to avoid any physical or conversational open confrontation with Hitler. Secondly, although Guilty Men credited the prime minister of supporting rearmament, they offered critique as they claim that these efforts were too slow if Britain wanted to continue with peaceful methods as Germany’s defense expenditure in 1938 was $7,415 whilst Britain only spent $1,863.  This was mainly due to Britain's economic policy after the great depression to limit expenditure in order to maintain economic stability. In addition, Britain, under the Locarno Treaty (1925) and the Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928), Britain committed to European peace which leads to the perspective that appeasement bought Britain time to rearm whilst simultaneously creating better relations with Hitler. The prime minister believed that by addressing Germany’s legitimate grievances it would prevent another unbearable world war. Internal sources of Guilty Men reveal that in March 1938 the British Army’s Chiefs of Staff submitted a report to the Cabinet assessing that, in face of war, Britain was not in military position to stop Hitler.  However as other historians argue, CATO’s publication is rather a simplistic portrayal with a black and white depiction of rather complex issue, that did not allow to be accurately analyzed at the time it was written. The polemic lacked a deeper analysis of the numerous factors that plunged Britain into war due to the initial analysis that was carried out after the fall of France explains their hasty judgments.
            The view proposed by CATO was challenged by AJP Taylor’s highly controversial The Origins of the Second World War in which he argues that under the circumstances Chamberlain acted under, appeasement seemed like a rational policy due to the British government firstly in the 1950s, granting access to records and documents to historian’s. In the view of the British historian, Chamberlain recognized the mistakes made by the peacemakers in the Treaty of Versailles and sought with appeasement to solve this “doing their best in the circumstances of their time”. Taylor blames the cause of the war to a greater extent on guaranteeing Poland security and freedom in March 1939 instead of appeasement as this left the decision of war in the hands of Poland. However, he contradicts himself as he states that Hitler was far from wanting a war but he rather took advantage of the mistakes of other leaders, exclaiming that Chamberlain’s appeasement provided the potential for such action. Hitler’s incessant demands forced Britain to reconsider its pacifistic post-war position. Taylor argues that there was no ideal solution in dealing with Hitler, his demands were not clear so appeasement was a rational policy, however not perfect. The Munich agreement, which was doomed by many CATO supporters as selfish and cynical, in Taylor’s view rather a “triumph for those who preached equal justice between people” as Britain and France attempted to solve the mistakes of the Treaty of Versailles with Germany by accepting the policy of self-determination. Appeasement allowed Germany to gain a voice by listening to Hitler’s demands which was a way to make up for the past, to lift the weight the peace treaty had forced upon Germany’s shoulders. However, Taylor seems to simplify British demands in the Munich agreement and ignore the idea that it allowed breathing space for British military preparations. The reality behind appeasement was that Britain had limited military capability and therefore could not defeat Hitler militarily in 1938. In 1926 Hitler’s Mein Kampf successively revealed his aims as a political figure, therefore one cannot trust Taylor’s argument that Hitler’s actions were unexpected and that Chamberlain had no possibility of knowing Hitler’s future plans. Everything that was written in this mean of propaganda was achieved; the Anschluss to Austria, the invasion of France and Poland, the extermination of ethnic minorities, basically the general repudiation of the entire values and morals put forward by the Treaty of Versailles that Hitler described as scandalous and disgraceful were murdered. As Taylor demoted Hitler’s opportunistic actions as day dreamings and that Hitler “exploited events far more than followed precise coherent plan”, one must ask why two thirds of Germany’s economy was dedicated for war as early as in 1933. Research into German archives from the early 1960s onwards had uncovered documentary evidence of Hitler’s ambitions for world domination, which might reflect upon the narrowness of Taylor’s sources. However, Taylor’s approach must be acknowledged as Hitler is considered with high moralistic judgement, therefore Chamberlain cannot be seen as the pure reason to be blamed for the war, the French, Americans, Poles and Russians all shared guilt.  Taylor clarifies that Hitler’s intentions were misunderstood, however one must ask if they had any other choice than appeasement? 
            When President Roosevelt asked Winston Churchill for suggestions about how one could name the second World War, Churchill spoke the words that many historians after would accentuate, “the Unnecessary War. There never was a war easier to stop”. Churchill, although maybe not considered a historian, in his War Memoirs highlighted Chamberlain as foolish to not have recognized German strength and the misuse of appeasement to mollify Nazi Germany. The British historian, Robert Alexander Clarke Parker in his 1993 book Chamberlain and Appeasement  argues that Chamberlain was neither a fool nor a coward, but rather misunderstood the nature of Nazi ambitions for expansion. He defends Churchill’s arguments that in 1938 to 1939 Chamberlain should have worked for a close relationship with France, around which a ‘grand alliance’ of European states might have developed. This, as he suggested, could have included the USSR, which had a vested interest in containing German expansion. He furthermore argues that Chamberlain clung to appeasement long after it was manifested not going to work and that his mistakes lie in his lack of realism about German foreign policy whilst describing Chamberlain's policy as “arrogant, not weak or timid”. Even when this view waned in the post-Munich period and down to the onset of war, no political faction of consequence offered any alternative German policy that could hope to command a parliamentary majority. In 1999 the historian John Charmley extended Parker's view in  his book Chamberlain and the Lost Peace. He clarifies that Chamberlain’s political assumptions were neither naive nor foolish and that they were supported and shared by many other leading politicians and diplomats, which expands the simplistic view that Chamberlain's appeasement was merely his mistake. Charmley emphasises on the missed opportunities in the months and weeks before the outbreak of war that would have secured a satisfactory resolution of the growing hostility between Britain and Germany. He furthermore highlights the possibility that without appeasement, employing a different more though through method, Britain could have kept out of general war for another couple of years. However this seems difficult when Germany was expanding its resources and materials far more than the Empire or any other ally did.
            However the historian and journalist David Dutton who recently wrote a biography of Chamberlain, claims that Chamberlain “sould not be praised, [and]not [be] buried”. He argues that Chamberlain made mistakes as he overestimated his ability to reach a settlement with Hitler and hang on the hope of averting war for too long. However, his counterargument is that is doubtful if anyone else would have done better. He recalls the pacifistic mindset of not only Britain but the whole of Europe. Chamberlin, like all others, had been deeply scarred by the memory of the first World War, and at that time, expert opinion predicted that any future war would be worse as destruction from the air would have added to the slaughter of the battlefield. Extrapolating from the Spanish Civil War, it was estimated that the first few weeks of a German air assault would bring half a million casualties. Britain, therefore, was “defenseless in the face of the bomber”. 
As William R Rock stated in his book British Appeasement in the 1930s, appeasement “has since become one of the most controversial policies in the history of international relations”. Therefore one cannot decide if Chamberlain's policy was a mistake or not, as there were more reasons that provoked a war.   Chamberlain, for the mistakes he made, cannot be praised but should arguably be spared the humiliating criticisms that do not reflect the situation he faced in the 1930s.


How far do you agree with the view of recent historians that Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler at Munich in 1938 was a mistake?

Writing in the shadows of Brienner Straße, where Hitler, Chamberlain, Deladier, and Mussolini all met in 1938 in what is now known as the Munich Agreement that would provide “Peace in our time”, one can see that the so called ‘peace’ would lead to the second great war only 11 months later. This leaves us wondering whether the recent view of historians, that Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler was a mistake, is plausible or not. This essay will argue that Chamberlain’s appeasement was the best that he could do at the time and that he earned the allies an extra year to prepare for the upcoming war, which would help them in their victory over the Nazis.

When looking at recent historians who believe Chamberlain made a mistake with appeasement, one can look at John Charmley to understand why this view is so popular. Charmley argues that Britain should have remained out of the war and let Hitler fight with Stalin instead. He believes that as a result of this, the Soviets would have undoubtedly won, and by being weakened from the war, would no longer pose a threat to the rest of Europe, and Britain would have retained her Empire. Although Charmley makes a convincing argument in faulting Chamberlain’s actions, he ignores the facts as this simply was not true. When meeting with Churchill and Roosevelt in Tehran, Stalin stated that “World War 2 was won with British intelligence, American steel, and Russian blood.” This highlights that Russia could not have won the war entirely by herself as their leader stated that they won the war with the help of the British and Americans. For Stalin to make such a statement, his words must have spoken the truth as he would have taken any measures to glorify his nation over the others. However, the view of recent historians cannot be entirely discredited as appeasement did come with its problems. As a result of the Little Entente in 1921, France promised to protect Yugoslavia, Romania, and Czechoslovakia from attack. With this assurance, Czechoslovakia hoped that appeasement would lead to their land remaining independent, but as a result, Sudetenland was given to Hitler and became the ground of Nazi Concentration Camps such as Theresienstadt. This could have been prevented by Chamberlain, but instead he had allowed in the Munich Agreement for Hitler to take this land rather than go to war with the Germans in 1938. Despite this, Sudetenland, in a 1930 poll, was said to contain a population of greater than 80% Germans, making Hitler feel as if he had the right to this land. As it had once belonged to the Austro-Hungarian empire, it may appear that Hitler had no right in taking over this land, especially as it had never originally been part of the German empire. However, as a result of Anschluß, Austria was now part of Germany and with 99.76% of the Austrian population voting in favour of being part of Germany, Hitler would have a strong claim for Sudetenland especially with its high percentage of Germans. All in all, the view of recent historians that Chamberlain’s appeasement was a mistake is a view that somewhat lacks support but it does raise certain questions as to what would have happened had he started a war with Hitler in 1938.

Although recent historians may have argued that Chamberlain’s appeasement was a mistake, it can be shown that appeasement was not as bad as they make it out to be. First of all, Chamberlain was aware of the dangers of Communist Russia. He wanted to ensure that Germany were strong as this would allow them to act as a barrier between them and the Russians. Therefore, Chamberlain was open to being peaceful and lenient on the Germans as he trusted them more than he did Russia. However, the issue with this is that if he continued to allow Germany to expand and become an even greater force in Europe, it leaves the question of where and when they would stop. If Chamberlain allowed for the Germans to continually expand and assert their dominance in Europe, then there would be no stopping them from turning onto Britain. The main benefit that came from appeasement, would be that it gave Britain an extra year to prepare for a war. With this extra year, the British were able to almost triple their military spending from pre Munich. This extra year allowed the British to prepare for war and gave them a chance to fight when they were ready to. On the other hand, by Chamberlain earning the British an extra year to prepare for the war, he gave this opportunity to the Germans too. By taking over Czechoslovakia, Germany gained an extra 1,231 aircrafts and 810 tanks, which made them as prepared for the war as the British. The issue with Chamberlain gaining Britain the extra year is that they could have destroyed the Germans in a war, had it taken place in 1938. Together, the British and the French had 102 divisions and 1,350 tanks, compared to the Germans who only had 47 divisions and no tanks at all. Clearly, the British would have defeated the Germans had they gone to war in 1938, but looking with hindsight, it can be seen that the Allies won the war and that this extra year not only prepared the army, but the people. Chamberlain would have remembered the butchery that took place in the Great War and thought that another could potentially obliterate civilisation. Chamberlain took the action that he believed would be best for his people and when he stated that he agreed on “Peace in our time”, that is exactly what he strived for. He knew that Hitler was greatly admired, having been announced as Time’s ‘Man of the Year’ in 1938, and that the British people would not have been supportive of a war against the Germans, as they would rather compromise with Hitler in order for their nation to have a chance at peace than a declaration of war. The citizens of Britain were still recovering from the First World War and for Chamberlain to declare war within a year of being in office, would have been a great risk and would have severely gone against the interests of his people. As a result of this, it can be identified that counter to what recent historians may believe, Chamberlain did not make a mistake by appeasing Hitler in 1938.

In conclusion it can be seen that Chamberlain did the best that he could have done in order to meet his people’s demands. He chose the peaceful way out of the war and the view of recent historians, that his appeasement in Munich was a mistake, is a view that ignores his responsibilities as the Prime Minister of the nation with the most to lose.



 Question: "How Far do you agree with the views of Modern Historians that Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler in Munich 1938 was not a mistake?"
On the 30th of September 1938, Neville Chamberlain, signed the Munich agreement, handing over the Sudetenland, to Hitler. At the time, Chamberlain was treated as a Hero, the prime minister who avoided another war and supposedly created “peace for our time” as Chamberlain declared after arriving back in the UK. Contradicting Chamberlain’s claims, a year later, on September 1st 1939, Hitler invaded Poland and the second world war began. Historians question the benefit of Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler in Munich 1938 to postpone war. It gave Hitler extra time, and allowed him to further strengthen Germany. However others argue that this extra time, also allowed England to build up their defences and prepare for war. Whether the Munich agreement was a mistake or not, will be argued throughout the following essay.
On one hand, the 1 year period from 1938 to 1939, allowed the Germans to strengthen their military and prepare for war. When Britain signed the Munich agreement, Germany gained access to the Czechoslovakian resources. Czechoslovakia was left defenseless against Germany, and the Allies lost a great resource. Some of the weapons used to fight the French in WW2 were provided by the Czechs. Additionally the extra year provided allowed the Germans to increase their divisions from around 53 including Austria to 104 divisions in 1939. Germany also used the time given from 1938 to 1939 more efficiently and Britain. Not only did Germany almost double the amount of divisions in one year, they also managed to gain a treaty with the Soviet Union, who later turned out to be powerful allies.
On the other hand, even though Germany used the time between September 1938 to 1939, more efficiently, Britain's military in 1938 was not in a position to engage in war. Britain would only have been able to supply 2 poorly equipped divisions in September 1938. Britain's military was extremely weak due to the lack of funding. The 10-year-rule, put in place in 1919, prevented the British military from expanding based on the assumption that there would not be another war for at least 10 years. Therefore the Royal navy did not have enough destroyers, aircrafts and also lacked defences against air attack. Since the Navy is one of the most important defences of Britain's islands, it would have been foolish to go to war without a reasonably strong Navy. Additionally the British believed that the effects of bombing from Germany would have a lot more devastating effects than it did. It was believed that up to 500000 people would be killed, and the British government therefore decided that it would be important to build up their air force as defence. The British army had suffered greatly from the absence of funding as well and lacked modern equipment. Britain in 1938 also lacked the armament industry to supply these new weapons. Therefore  the extra year benefited he British greatly as it allowed them to build up their almost non-existent army and prepare for the upcoming inevitable war.
Additionally, Chamberlain did not have the public support needed from his country to engage in a war. For a war to be successful, it is important to have morale. Morale boosts confidence and helps encourage people through a particularly tough time. As Chamberlain said himself, there is no point in starting a war over “a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing”. The general public in 1938 still remembered the terrible effects of WW1 and did not want to engage in a war if not absolutely necessary. Without the public's approval, the war would have been a lost cause. As General Hermann Foertsch said “The final word regarding victory and defeat rests not on arms and equipment, or the way in which they are used, or even the principle of strategy and tactics, but on the morale of the toops”. At the time, people believed that “better Hitlerism than Communism” and did not think that the Nazis were such a big threat. When a year later, in 1939, Hitler officially violated the peace agreement, the British people had enough reason to go to war, uniting the country and boosting general morale which would be needed for the following 6 years.
Lastly, Britain lacked reliable allies. Up until 1938, France’s government had a reputation for disintegrating. France was financially unstable, had industrial troubles and was suspected of being in touch with the opposition. The US had been in isolation to the rest of the word, and Chamberlain disregarded them as timid isolationists. The USSR was a communist country and was therefore not to be trusted. Especially since Stalin had a reputation for being an unreasonable and untrustworthy dictator. If Britain had engaged in war in 1938, they would have lacked the allies and the support needed to defeat germany. Even though Britain still lacked allies close to the beginning of WW2, Hitlers invasion of Poland, scared countries such as Poland, Romania and Greece into seeking and anti Nazi alliance with England. At the beginning of WW2 the main allies consisted of Poland, Britain and France. Up until Germany's advances on Poland, nobody really saw Hitler as an immediate threat and the allyships that supported England in 1939 would not have been there.
In conclusion, the Munich agreement gave Britain the time needed to prepare for war. Without the one year time period Britain would not have been ready for war. They would have lacked resources, public morale and allies. Even though Germany used their time more efficiently, Britain was not in a position to engage in war in 1938, and would have lost even if they had started a war then. I therefore agree with modern Historians views and believe that the Munich agreement was not a mistake.