The Policy of Appeasement Essay

The Policy of Appeasement Essay

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This essay analyses the responsibility of Neville Chamberlain and his highly controversial Appeasement theory which hypothetically prevented the outbreak of the Second World War. The policy of Appeasement epitomised by the Munich agreement, is a pact signed in 1938 between Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy, which allowed Hitler to annex Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland (area along Czech borders) to prevent the onset of a major war. Appeasement has been drastically criticised since it ended in a “humiliating failure” when Germany attacked Poland in 1939 (McDonough, 2002). This essay also evaluates two significant appraisals of the Munich agreement, described in McDonough’s (2002) exhaustive book: a first, which asserts that it was an utterly unwholesome policy of despicable capitulation and a second, instigated by the ‘revisionist historians’ — exemplified by Taylor’s (1963) controversial book — which comprehends it as an elaborated policy enabling Chamberlain to prevent an imminent war while he was opportunely preparing for it (McDonough, 2002). This essay concurrently criticises and evaluates these assessments of Chamberlain’s contentious acts, since each of them imply one consequent solution which could have impeded the suddenly onset of the war. Two core solutions are therefore criticised below: first that Chamberlain should have initially constrained Hitler’s desire for Lebensraum — German desire to enlarge their living space — and second, that Chamberlain should have maintained his appeasement policy (McDonough, 2002).

Since Trevor-Roper (1961) and Bullock (1998) (both cited in McDonough, 2002) assert in their analytical and exhaustive books that confronting Hitler earlier could have avoided war, the appeasement th...


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...reak of the second world war depends therefore on whether Hitler had the genuine intention to conquer the world (‘Hitlocentric interpretation’) or was simply a master of opportunism (‘Revisionist historians’). Whereas some argue that appeasement and the Munich agreement caused the outset of the war, ‘Revisionist historians’ assert that the radical change of policy which occurred after the invasion of Poland was a great opportunity that Hitler did not hesitate to seize. This evaluation is therefore more ideological than empirical since the lack of convincing evidence impede historians to reach a consensus. However, blaming Chamberlain for the beginning of the war is unreasonable since he did not have access to the information we have — interpretation of the pas could be influenced by the moral judgements some would have when examining Hitler’s actions (Taylor, 1963).

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