The Policy of Appeasement and the Road to World War II

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Chamberlain returns from Munich and says he has saved world peace for a long time, waving a paper in which Hitler promised he didn't have more territorial demands in Czechoslovakia. A year later, Germany invades Czechoslovakia.

What is Appeasement?

A diplomatic policy of making political or material concessions to an aggressive power to avoid conflict. It was a total failure. It is applied to the foreign policy of the UK governments in the 1930s, towards the Nazis and Fascists in Italy.

Failure (future perspective):

Why appease Hitler?

  • The League of Nations abandoned Czechoslovakia
  • Britain is not prepared for war with the Luftwaffe
  • Munich was followed by more Nazi demands and attacks
  • The Czechs had 36 divisions ready to fight and help the British and French
  • The British dominions aren't united behind a war
  • The USSR would have been neutral in war
  • The British public saw the war as anti-self-determination

Why was it wrong?

  • It sacrificed Czechoslovakia
  • It boosted Hitler's self-confidence
  • It gave Hitler time to strengthen the army, navy and air force

Why was it realistic?

  • The Treaty of Versailles was too harsh
  • Germany is not the only threat to world peace
  • Public opinion was in favor of world peace
  • A strong Germany could stop Communist expansion
  • Germany had the right to defend herself, Hitler's foreign policy could be backed by self-determination.
  • If they didn't appease Hitler, Britain and France would face a war against Germany, Italy and Japan. It was too much of a risk: they needed time to rearm and strengthen the air forces.
  • Democracies have to follow public opinion
  • Maintaining a strong Germany could stop the Soviet war machine


Czechoslovakia was rich in agricultural products, industry and resources. The German actions could not be explained by self-determination. On March 15th, Germany invades Czechoslovakia, with no reaction from the Western powers.


  • Czechoslovakia is partitioned
  • The policy of appeasement is abandoned

The Rome-Berlin Axis

German Nazism and Italian Fascism found each other during the 1930s.

  • 1934, July: Italy doesn't let Germany attach Austria
  • 1935, April: Italy joins the Stresa Front against German rearmament
  • 1935, October: friendly relationship departs after the Abyssinian crisis
  • 1936, July: Italy assists Germany in the Spanish Civil War
  • 1936, November: Berlin-Rome Axis formed
  • 1937, September: Mussolini visits Hitler in Berlin
  • 1937, November: Italy joins the Anti-Comintern Pact
  • 1938, March: Mussolini agrees to the Anschluss
  • 1938, September: Mussolini persuades Hitler to accept the Munich Agreement
  • 1939, May: Pact of Steel is signed: formal alliance
  • 1939, September: Italy remains neutral in WWll

POLAND (1939)

Poland was Hitler's next target.

  • Existed due to the treaties
  • Included former German territories (Poland Corridor)
  • East Prussia was German but was separated
  • The Danzig was under International control, but had a large German population

France and Britain believed Russia would assist Poland in case of a German invasion. Stalin believed Poland did not deserve the risk of a war with Hitler.

The Nazi-Soviet Pact: Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact

In August of 1939, the USSR and the Nazis sign a non-aggression pact. This was unexpected, as Hitler hated the Communists.

Why did Germany sign?

If they invaded Poland, Hitler wouldn't be attacked by the USSR if he fought against Britain and France.

Why did the USSR sign?

It gave Stalin time to prepare for war with Germany, and he could now focus on fighting against Japan.

Secret Clause of the pact:

If the Nazis attacked Poland, the USSR would attack Poland too, and they would divide the country along a demarcation line.

In September of 1939, Germany begins the invasion of Poland.


  • Britain and France declare war on Germany, as his actions could not be classified as self-determination.

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