An assessment of the effectiveness of appeasement

Since World War II, historians have continued to debate the effectiveness of appeasement.

Arguments against

  • Britain did not involve the USSR, and this made it difficult to stop Hitler in Eastern Europe
  • Appeasement allowed Italy to take Abyssinia
  • Appeasement allowed the fascist powers to intervene in Spain
  • Appeasement resulted in the destruction of a successful democracy in Czechoslovakia
  • British Prime Ministers should have made the threat from Germany clear to the public. Rearmament should have started earlier. They were the Guilty Men who nearly caused Britain's defeat in 1940
  • The historian A.J.P. Taylor, saw Munich as a triumph for British policy. However, Chamberlain also sent out the wrong messages to Hitler. He began to believe the British would not oppose him
  • Chamberlain failed to realise that Hitler could not be trusted

Arguments for

  • Chamberlain had few alternatives to appeasement given the problems facing Britain in the 1930s
  • Unlike Churchill, Chamberlain enjoyed a good deal of popular support over the policy of appeasement. Churchill’s views were in a minority
  • The policy of appeasement would avoid the slaughter of the Great War
  • France collapsed in 1940. Stalin was responsible for the execution and imprisonment of large numbers of people. This would suggest Chamberlain was correct not to place too much faith in them as allies
  • The failure of appeasement in 1939 ensured that most British people and the Empire that war could not be avoided
  • Appeasement bought time. It allowed the British time to rearm
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