To What Extent Was the Policy of Appeasement the Main Cause for the Outbreak of War in Europe in 1939?

1139 words 5 pages
The policy of appeasement was widely pursued by Britain and France in the 1930s, when it referred to attempting to satisfy Germany's demands by negotiation and compromise, which would avoid war. However due to its failure the policy of appeasement, to a large extent was responsible for the outbreak of war in 1939. It is clear that if the Western Powers had retaliated against Hitler, war could have been avoided, it encouraged Hitler, Hitler could never be appeased, and that it prompted the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Despite large extent the policy of appeasement in the outbreak of war it is superseded by other factors such as the Treaty of Versailles.

The appeasement policy, contrary to its aim, encouraged aggression, because each time Hitler
…show more content…

This matched his ideas on the struggle for life, and war as the test of a people's racial superiority which he reiterated in his 'Mien Kampf' and speeches, therefore as Professor Richard Bessel states ‘Nazism was inseparable from war’. According to Allan Bullock, he was unyielding in his assertion of will power, cunning and calculating, believing him self to be a man of destiny and prepared to use any means to achieve it. His foreign policy was completely opportunistic and based on dishonesty, as he took advantage of the mistakes and fears of others when they appeased him. Norman Rich also found this continuity in Hitler's thinking, that German security could only be achieved by expansion, thus he states “war could not be avoided, not even a two-front war”. So clearly appeasement would never stop inevitable conflict, but merely postponed it and allowed Germany to develop into an almost unstoppable force.

The practice of appeasement lead Russia to initiate the Nazi-Soviet Pact, which itself is another cause of war. Russia was prepared to support the Western powers should they retaliate against Germany, however under the appeasement policy it seemed like they were supporting Hitler. Therefore Stalin turned to make a non-aggression pact directly with Germany in order to protect the Soviet Union, as Richard Lamb states: “The efforts by Britain to negotiate further appeasement with Hitler, convinced Russia that Britain was not serious about the alliance and really aimed