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History

Chamberlain and appeasement

During the 1930s, Britain and France followed a policy of appeasement [Appeasement: The policy of pacifying an aggressor through giving in to their demands, thus maintaining peace. ] - they gave Hitler what he wanted in order to keep the peace. So why did Britain and France keep on giving in to Hitler's demands?

Why appeasement?

Chamberlain waving the Munich Agreement

Chamberlain believed the Munich Agreement would appease Hitler

As the League of Nations crumbled, politicians turned to a new way to keep the peace - appeasement. This was the policy of giving Hitler what he wanted to stop him from going to war. It was based on the idea that what Hitler wanted was reasonable and, when his reasonable demands had been satisfied, he would stop.

Although historians recognise appeasement in the actions of Britain and France before 1938, the Sudeten Crisis of 1938 is the key example of appeasement in action. Neville Chamberlain was the British prime minister who believed in appeasement.

In 1938, Germans living in the border areas of Czechoslovakia (the Sudetenland) started to demand a union with Hitler's Germany. The Czechs refused. Hitler threatened war. On 30 September, in the Munich Agreement - without asking Czechoslovakia - Britain and France gave the Sudetenland to Germany.

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