Chamberlain to blame?
always gets the blame for appeasement, but there are many other people and
factors who might be held just much - if not more -responsible:
was Prime Minster from 1935 to 1937, and he really set the policy of
appeasement which Chamberlain followed.
did nothing about German rearmament (nb Hitler's big rally 1935)
did nothing when Hitler invaded the
was sympathetic to the fascists in the Spanish Civil War in 1936 –
he persuaded 27 countries to sign a Non-Intervention Pact (and then
stood by and watched as Hitler and Mussolini ignored it and sent
military support to Franco).
openly said that he would not go to war: "With
two lunatics like Mussolini and Hitler you can never be sure of
anything. But I am determined to keep the country out of war." (April
seems to have had four reasons for his appeasement.
did not think
was militarily strong enough to fight a war.
did not want to spend the sums necessary to rearm.
many Conservatives, he feared Communism, and rather hoped Hitler would
stop the advance of Communist Russia.
knew that the British people would not accept war.
Later, he said: "Supposing
I had gone to the country and said that
was rearming, and that we must rearm, does anybody think that this
pacific democracy would have rallied to that cry at that moment? I
cannot think of anything that would have made the loss of the election
from my point of view more certain."
there are good grounds for saying that Baldwin set the British policy of
appeasement on course – though (of course) it was Chamberlain gave it
full expression in 1938 (Anschluss and
modern folk-singer Al Stewart, in his song ‘Three Mules’, blames THREE
British politicians for appeasement:
and Stanley and Neville were the names of the mules
Each wore a bridle encrusted with jewels
And though a murmur of voices was rising behind
Each laboured on and they paid it no mind"
is easy to forget that Ramsey MacDonald was Prime Minister until 1935 and
that – although he was a Labour Party member – he ignored Hitler’s
rearmament 1933–1935, despite being warned about it by British
bear a lot of the blame.
that, when Hitler marched into the
, his generals had orders to retreat if the French army did anything
at all to prevent it – but the French did nothing.
also that Daladier was VERY happy to sell
down the river in 1938 – although
was an ally of
, Daladier did nothing to help them.
(It is strange that it is Chamberlain who gets all the blame
What about the Americans?
Senate was determined to remain isolated from
industrialists such as Henry Ford and Irenee du Pont actively financed
didn’t even go to war when it broke out – how’s that for
The Treaty of Versailles
the end of the day, perhaps the Treaty
of Versailles was primarily to blame:
was too harsh – it made western politicians feel that Germany had
been badly treated, and so they made allowances for Hitler who, until
March 1939, was arguably merely righting the wrongs of the Treaty.
was supposed to be the Treaty to end all wars – and created in the
victorious countries a massive peace movement which really didn’t
want to go to war at all, whAtever.
set up the League of Nations, which was supposed to be a place to talk
out problems without the need to go to war – it gave western
politicians a way out: wasn’t the League there to sort these
problems out without the need for war?