After Hitler became Chancellor, Germany began to violate Treaty of Versailles provisions. The Allied Powers desired peace beginning a policy of appeasement.
After Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany on January 30th, 1933 marking the beginning of the Third Reich, he began to revise clauses of the Versailles Peace Treaty. Initially the Allied powers allowed Hitler’s revisals of the peace treaty for they believed specific aspects were too severe. Even more important understanding Western Europe’s history of conflicts, France and England feared if they opposed Hitler it would led to another world war.
However, after it was evident that Hitler had gone too far, England and France still remained a passive attitude. An appeaser is one who lacks courage to stand up to aggressors, which is exactly the policy that France and England obtained towards Germany in the late 1930s.
Hitler’s main goal was to rebuild German military power and to revise all the unreasonable aspects of the treaty. In March 1935 Hitler began conscription and to build up the German air force. Then in March 1936 Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland and in March 1938 engaged in Anschluss, which annexed Austria. Although these actions went against the Versailles Peace Treaty, the Allies did not condemn Germany. Finally when Hitler began to make demands on Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1938 the Allies began to become a little anxious.
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain saw two primary methods on how to deal with German aggression. The first option would be to force the Versailles Treaty through military force and the second option would be negotiations with Hitler. Chamberlain was against military force on Germany for many reasons. Besides France, England did not have any real allies. England did not have an ally in Italy or Russia as it had in World War I. Therefore Chamberlain arranged a set of meetings with Hitler to negotiate peace.
Hitler announced during the second meeting that the Czechoslovakians had five days to evacuate the Sudetenland, which was primary composed of ethnic Germans. The third meeting took place in Munich and although the Czechoslovakian president was not invited to discuss the fate of his own country, France and Italy were involved in the negotiations. During the meeting it was decided that the Czech’s must accept Hitler’s demands and peace would then be restored. On March 1939 Hitler broke the Munich agreement and seized the rest of Czechoslovakia. Britain and France responded by guaranteeing Poland’s protection at any cost even if that meant finally engaging in war against Germany. Therefore when Hitler invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939, two days later Britain and France declared war on Germany. Although for a short period appeasement seemed to work in preventing a second world war, in the long run it only worsened relations between Germany and the Allies since Hitler began to view the Allies as weak and took advantage of their desire for European peace. In addition the years of Allied appeasement gave Germany time to once again become a strong nation and a dangerous enemy for France and England.
- Duiker, J. William Twentieth-Century World History, Second Edition Wadsworth Publishing Company (2002)