50 Statements on Appeasement

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All these statements about appeasement have been taken from the internet.   As you read them, make your mind up about what YOU - on balance - think about the policy of appeasement.





Appeasement is not always wrong. All concessions among enemies cannot be mistaken, or else politics would consist of little more than fighting.

Appeasement is always wrong


Britain’s small army was too weak to go to war in 1938; Britain needed time to re-arm.

It abandoned millions of Austrians and Czechs to the brutal Nazi terror.

The Americans were determined to be isolationist.   France did not want war.   And Britain could not fight Germany alone.

Any man who thought ‘a piece of paper’ would hold Hitler was a fool.

Chamberlain's appeasement was not a feeble policy of surrender and unlimited retreat. Chamberlain thought that war was futile and rejected it but never followed peace at any price…   the war was going to happen anyway, and appeasement did not make it any more likely than either the weakness of the League of Nations or Hitler's desire to be a world dominator.

Traditionally, appeasement was regarded as a naive policy that gave the democracies the appearance of weakness and encouraged the Fascist powers in their attempts to construct empires. Its failure in preventing World War II coloured the diplomacy of the immediate post-war period and the decline into Cold War, and continues to impact upon the foreign policies of western nations today.

Britain could not defend her empire AND fight a war in Europe.

Hitler was evil, and Chamberlain SHOULD have opposed him – end of argument.

It must be understood that [appeasement] was extremely popular both with politicians and the general public.

It showed that Chamberlain had no experience of international politics.   Hitler made a fool of him.

Appeasement was a reversion to and an extension of traditional British foreign policy and diplomacy, which during the 19th century had sought to avoid entangling itself in the problems of Europe.

The policy of Appeasement was a system of yields, compromises, and sacrificial offerings to Hitler's Germany that allowed him time to rebuild the German military into an amazing whirlwind machine…

"Appeasement" is descended from the Latin word meaning "to bring to peace."   While the practice of appeasement in the real world has been a consistent failure, this does not mean that the idea, or the ideal, of appeasing others' grievances peacefully is necessarily a bad thing.   It would seem to most sensible people, I think, that a signal mark of a civilized mentality is to refrain from resorting to war or issuing murderous snarls the moment a grievance or disagreement is aired by the other side. Such vulgar, instinctive behavior is best left to animals and beasts like Hitler, Stalin, and the rest of their ilk.

Appeasement was not the only policy choice possible. Chamberlain and his colleagues made choices among alternative possibilities, and gave persuasion priority over coercion. In 1938 they could have secured support at home for an anti-German alliance and worked to build a barrier to Hitler's expansion. They chose not to do so. Thus Chamberlain's "powerful, obstinate personality and his skill in debate probably stifled serious chances of preventing the Second World War"

War was recklessness.  

Appeasement was moral cowardice.  

At a more sophisticated level, Appeasement was a sensible "middle ground" that would be a highly sensible foreign policy in the light of Britain's economic problems. If not for Hitler's wanton aggression which induced such moral outrage among the hysterical electorate that force Chamberlain's hand in 1939, Appeasement might just work. Thus, the Appeasement was portrayed as more complex issue than a simple failure to heed ominous warnings.

The best selling book perpetuating the guilt of various incompetent British statesmen, Guilty Men, was reprinted twenty-two times before October 1940. Its central message was that the appeasers were a bunch of stupid and pathetic men who offered concessions at someone else's expense. These men, led by Chamberlain, should have realized that by 1935 that they were dealing with someone with a insatiable territorial appetite. Churchill commented that, "There was never a war more easier to stop."

Appeasement was worth trying


Appeasement was an indulgence in wishful thinking at the price of principle

Appeasement was justified by the interaction between the factors of a poorly equipped military that had to provide a global defence for all of Britain's territories, an anti-war mindset among the population, and economic circumstances that pointed to the avoidance of a large-scale conflict.

Appeasement did mean, however, that the war took place on a much larger scale than it would have if something had been done sooner as Hitler may have not drawn his entire population of native Germans home from other countries such as Poland and would not have had the scale of army that he had by the time war had commenced.

Matters at the time were not as clear-cut as we see them nowadays.   German propaganda claimed that Germans in the Sudetenland and Poland were being mistreated.

The Conservative Party was rotten at the core. The only thing they cared about was their property and their cash. The only thing they feared was that one day those nasty Communists would come and take it… They made violent, pacifist speeches; and voted steadily against the miserable Defence Estimates for the years 1935-1938.

Appeasement was a genuine attempt to keep the peace by a good man who did not want to see millions of young men die needlessly.

Appeasement was a mistake, pure and simple.   Chamberlain utterly misjudged Hitler.

The critical factor was that Chamberlain was not a dictator with the right to start a war if he pleased.   He could not go to war without the support of the people – and until 1939 most people wanted peace, almost at any price.

Appeasement gave Hitler the advantage.   He grew stronger and stronger.   When war came it was against a strong Germany, in Poland – a country we could never hope to send help to.

Although contemporaries and scholars during and after the war criticized Chamberlain for believing that Hitler could be appeased, recent research argues that Chamberlain was not so naive and that appeasement was a shrewd policy developed to buy time for an ill-prepared Britain to rearm.

As it became evident that the policy of appeasement had failed in 1939 and that Britain would in fact go to war, the Liberal Leader Sir Archibald Sinclair expressed his feelings on the achievements of appeasement " We have eaten dirt in vain" This statement is clearly expressing the fact that Britain had tolerated the deceitful acts of Germany to no avail or successes, that the policy of appeasement was deemed to fail from the onset, and concluding that the policy was pointless as it only prolonged the inevitable.

At first, appeasement was simply giving Germany justice.    The Treaty of Versailles was unfair and Hitler’s actions all seemed reasonable.  

Appeasement was useless to stop a man like Hitler, who would never be satisfied in his demands.   

It meant that, when war eventually came, Britain had the morale advantage.   If Britain had gone to war over the Rhineland, most of the population would have been opposed to war, because most people in Britain at that time agreed with Hitler that the Treaty if Versailles WAS unfair in this respect.   Britain could never have won the Second World War with doubt on the home front.   Appeasement meant that, when Chamberlain did eventually declare war, the British people went to war knowing that they had done everything in their power AND MORE to keep the peace.   And that knowledge helped to keep them going through six years of total war.

A firm stand by France and Britain, under the authority of the League of Nations, would have been followed by the immediate evacuation of the Rhineland without the shedding of a drop of blood; and the effects of that might have enabled the more prudent elements of the German Army to gain their proper position, and would not have given to Hitler the enormous ascendancy which has enabled him to move forward.

Churchill, speaking in the House of Commons 22 Feb 1938

The bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War showed what German bombers could do to Britain if there was a war.

If Britain had stopped Hitler in 1936, before the Luftwaffe grew in strength, there would never have been a Blitz in 1940.

Chamberlain was undeniably right when he said that ‘war is a fearful thing, and before you embark on it you must make sure that it is the great issues that are involved’.    Appeasement was simply the time during which the British people made up their minds about war.   And in waiting for that process to take its due course, Chamberlain was absolutely correct.   You only have to look at the response in Britain to the 2003 Iraq war to see that it is better to go to war too late, than too early.   Appeasement was merely a process of making sure.

I believe that in 1938 and 1939 [Chamberlain] genuinely felt that God had sent him into this world to obtain peace.   [He] went the wrong way about it. He decided in the early stages of his discussions to treat Hitler as a normal human being and an important human being at that.

Many people – particularly young people - still believed in the League of Nations, and in its assertion that quarrels could be ended by negotiation.

It was obvious by 1938 that the League of Nations was dead and that only force would stop Japan, Italy and Germany.   If Chamberlain had been a statesman of any ability whatsoever he would have realised it.

Appeasement was based on the experience of 1914, when the nations of Europe tumbled into war.   July 1914 seemed to demonstrate the dangers of an excessively confrontational policy when, faced with apparently excessive demands by Austria toward Serbia, all the Powers decided the only thing to do was to stand up for themselves, their rights, their "interests," their allies—and the result had been calamity.

The true function of appeasement was to give Hitler a free hand to oppose the spread of Communism, and that the "Allies" -- especially Britain and France -- encouraged Hitler's rise and takeover of the Rhineland, Austria, and Czechoslovakia in the hopes that the Nazis would attack and overthrow the communist Soviet Union.

War was an inevitability once Hitler came to power and appeasement was, in reality the only viable option given the circumstances.

Appeasement played into Hitler's grand scheme for a greater Germany in a dominant position in Europe.

In the 1930s, Britain was in the middle of the greatest economic depression ever known.   The policy of appeasement was the only policy Britain could afford.

It encouraged Hitler to think he could do anything he wanted.   In this way it actually helped to cause World War Two.

The Labour Party wanted to spend money on housing and social care, not re-armament – and they were right; there was desperate poverty in Britain, and it needed dealing with.   It was right that they should put the needs of British people first.

In May 1939 A number of Conservative politicians formed ‘The Right Club’ to ‘oppose the activities of organised Jewry’ – in other words, they formed a fascist group.   The fact that Chamberlain knew about this and did nothing shows that he was very right-wing and pro-Hitler in his own views.