Question: To what extent was the policy of appeasement shown towards Germany the main cause of WW2?
"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last". This quote by Winston Churchill illustrates the views and beliefs towards the policy of appeasement demonstrated by many politicians during and after the war. Appeasement, after the World War Two ended was seen by many historians as the major cause of the World War Two. However, after close study, some other claims came forward. This essay will discuss the extent to which the policy of appeasement can be viewed as the main cause of WW2 and or if other major causes were involved.
In order to answer the essay question, it is essential to understand the meaning of appeasement. According to British historian Paul M Kennedy, Appeasement is "the policy of settling international quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and compromise, thereby avoiding the resort to an armed conflict which would be expensive, bloody, and possibly dangerous." This is related to the context to the foreign policy of Britain between Germany before the WW2. However, to assess to what extent was the policy of appeasement shown towards Germany was the main cause of WW2, we must look at why appeasement happened. There were many reasons to appeasement and why it failed and these factors will be discussed in the later paragraphs
A major factor for appeasement was the fact that the politicians were afraid of another World War taking place. The memories of the First World War were still afresh in the minds of the public. There was a serious reluctance among the British to go to war. One million men had been lost in the previous world conflict, and 1 in 10 men of fighting age in France had died. People did not want war unless it was absolutely necessary, and it could not have been justified during 1938, when Germany could not really be seen as aggressive. Public opinion was a vitally important factor. The glorious image of patriotic war had forever been dispelled by major battles which had caused huge number of fatalities and exposed the harsh realities of global conflict. There was also the sense of the `lost generation'- as it has been reported that one whole generation of men was wiped out and this led to an overwhelming public feeling that war could not occur again. Also a general feeling was that the Treaty of Versailles was harsh. Many British people also thought that the Treaty of Versailles was too harsh on Germany, so many sympathised with Hitler's demands. Chamberlain himself too believed of Hitler. He believed Hitler's claims that the Sudetenland would be his last demand and the Munich Agreement was "peace in our time." It was, in fact, just a piece of paper to Germany.
However, it can be viewed that Appeasement was not just a policy for peace but also France and Britain needed...