Appeasement In Britain Essay Research Paper email

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Appeasement In Britain Essay, Research Paper email: n.curry@ucl.ac.ukAppeasement in BritainIn the aftermath of World War 2, the British policy of appeasement, especially as to Germany, was considered one of weakness and inability, globally condemned by immediate post-war historians. Some historians, such as A.J.P. Taylor, go as far as making appeasement a direct cause of the war, arguing that Hitler was only a pragmatic politician reacting to his opponents mistakes, taking advantage of the situations Britain created for him. The war, he argued, was just a miscalculation on Hitler s behalf. Why, then, did Britain lead this policy of appeasement ? If appeasement is seen as an attempt on Britain s behalf to avoid a war, why was it doing so ? In this essay, an attempt to account

for the reasons of British appeasing Germany in the 1920s and 1930s shall be given. First of all, it is necessary to differentiate different periods in the policy of appeasement. In the 1920s and until Hitler came to power, appeasement was aimed at avoiding the creation of a potential threat as opposed to soothing an existing one. After Hitler came to power, this gradually ceased to be the case, and German increasingly came to be regarded as a potential enemy. Finally, at and after the Munich Conference of September 1938, it was clear to most that Germany was blatantly a bellicose nation, yet Britain under Chamberlain continued to apply the appeasement policy.But let us first consider the beginning of appeasement, a movement which surfaced in the 1920s following the Versailles

Peace Treaty of 1919. Indeed, the conditions of the Versailles Treaty were viewed much too harsh by many British people, including Lloyd George, who had actually attended the conference. Indeed, the terms imposed on Germany were extremely severe, and were viewed by some as excessive. The height of the reparations demanded was defined largely by France, and was thought by Britain to be unfeasible. Churchill, during the 1918 election run, thought the figure of 2,000 million to be closer to Germany s capabilities , as opposed to the 20,000 million proposed by the French. Keynes also thought the figure too high, and warned that vengeance [...] would not limp should Germany be too harshly punished. This factor had multiple effects. The most direct was the apparition of the first

instance of appeasement, carried out by from Lloyd George. Indeed, Lloyd George also thought the repayments figure too high, and was determined to moderate the Treaty. There were 23 international conferences in the period 1920-1922, and he attended most of them , with some success. The French had wanted to try Luddendorf and Von Hindenburg, two of the very few men that had emerged from the war with credit to the eyes of the German population; Lloyd George believed that to do so would be a grave political mistake, and eventually the trials were abandoned. Moreover, the sum to be paid by Germany was lowered from 24,000 million to 13,450 million in 1920, though this was not entirely his doing. The second effect this had was to create a feeling of awkwardness in Britain . To quote

Robert Vansittart, member of the British Delegation at Versailles, there are always Britons who nibble the fruit of victory with the guilty conscience of Adam . This movement had not yet touched the vast majority of the individuals, but was especially present amongst the upper classes of British society and its intellectuals, who remembered Germany s pre-war greatness and genius, and who saw in Germany a cousin of Britain, a country of some similarities. In view of this, the Treaty seemed particularly unfair, to the extent that a feeling of guilt touching that segment of Britain s population could be observed . An expression of this feeling is J.M. Keynes The Economic Consequences of the Peace , which stated the unreality of the Versailles Treaty, its unfairness towards Germany,