Appeasement. Appeasement is a conciliatory action taken towards the aggressor by giving what was asked. Many examples of this often cowardly action can seen through the course of history, such as the case of Alexander II when he passed the Emancipation Act in order to prevent peasant rebellion. Such was also the case in the gathering storm of World War II.

The earliest sign of appeasement was seen in 1935, when Great Britain signed the Anglo-German Naval agreement. Great Britain simply allowed Germany to rebuild its navy in order to prevent any conflicts. This led to the breaking up of Stresa Front, a coalition made by the Allies against Germany’s rearmament. As some others see it, the reoccupation of the Rhineland was the first appeasement made by Great Britain. At first the alarmed French proposed sanction but Great Britain declined, feeling that any minor conflict with the Germans could lead in another World War. Great Britain’s attitude led to a further breakdown of Stresa Front, and Hitler started to take a low view of the Allied solidarity.

During the Spanish Civil War, Britain and France were again seen to have appeased the Axis Power. As democratic nations, the two allies had a duty to support the republican government by providing arms, but they felt that any action against the will of Italy would further separate them from Italy. The Allies proposed non-intervention, which annoyed the two Axis nations anyway. Through this the Allies had lost their greatest security to a Fascist nation. The Anschluss of 1936 was also accepted by Great Britain and France, and Hitler had become more confident.

The final appeasement made by the Allies was in 1938-39, during the Czechoslovakian crisis. Hitler had demanded that the Sudetenland be given self- determination as part of Germany. Immediately Great Britain and France searched for a way to make a peaceful agreement, even at the expense of another democratic nation. Without even discussing with Czechoslovakians, Britain’s Prime Minister Chamberlain flew to Berchtesgarten with an agreement that would give Germany the right to only occupy parts of the Sudetenland. Berchtesgarten was a place where Hitler stayed during vacation time, and this made Hitler feel that he could ask for more, because Chamberlain must have been desperate for peace to fly all the way out to Germany for a discussion. Hitler declined and they met again at Bad Godesberg. Again Hitler declined and the Munich Conference was held. In this conference, Germany was given all the land she wanted. Great Britain and France had given up the Sudetenland without even discussing the issue with the Czechoslovakians.

One positive result came out of this agreement. It was that by this time, it was difficult to pretend any longer that Hitler was interested in only “reasonable demands”. But this realization by the British was too late, as France and she had lost an ally who could have created a second front in a war against Germany. Russia became skeptical of the Allies’ trustworthiness and signed with Nazi-Soviet Pact in 1939 to divide Poland between them. Seeing the Germans accomplish their fight for self-determination, Polish, Hungarians and other nations split up the remaining part of Czechoslovakia and by doing so, made it easier for Hitler to conquer them.

Without doubt, appeasement has played a major role in encouraging Hitler to pursue his ultimate goals. If Great Britain and France had taken more aggressive actions towards Hitler’s demands, perhaps Germany would have been stopped before becoming such an imperial nation. Also, during the first few aggressions, Germany’s army was not even close to being as powerful as Hitler always presented it to be so he would have been fairly easily defeated. However, from another perspective, if the Allies had taken more aggressive actions towards Germany, more blood might have been shed through a myriad of wars.