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Why did Chamberlain’s policies for appeasement change from 1938-1939?

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Britain and France chose the path of appeasement in hopes that this would satisfy Hitler and not drag Europe into another world war. Appeasement came from the desire to make amends and prevent war at all costs. Appeasement seemed to be working for small problems but when applied to choices like the fate of a country, appeasement caused more problems than it solved. Events in Europe and Britain between 1989-1939 pressured Chamberlain into abandoning his policies for appeasement.

Events in Europe pressured Chamberlain to abandon appeasement. On September 28th 1938, Chamberlain, Mussolini, Daladier and Hitler came together to sign the Munich Agreement which handed Sudetenland over into German hands. The Munich Agreement was the turning point for British opinions about Hitler and Chamberlain. On August 21st 1939, Hitler tried to make a deal with Great Britain. He said that if they allowed him to take Danzig and all the colonies that use to belong to Germany, they would defend the British Empire. The next day, Hitler invaded Poland. It became obvious that Hitler was not someone to be trusted. Chamberlain commented on Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia as “a shock to the confidence”. Just as things couldn’t get any worse, something shocking happened. Mortal enemies, Stalin and Hitler, signed the Nazi-Soviet Non-aggression pact.

The two countries agreed to not go to war with one another for ten years, divide Poland in half and Hitler even offered Stalin the Baltic States. Great Britain declared war on Germany on September 3rd 1939, marking the official beginning of World War II. With each event and the one following it, it became clear that war was unavoidable. It showed appeasement was not working and the only way to solve anything was through military force. Up until 1939, Britain found the easy way out of all of their problems (through appeasement)as was the case when Mussolini conquered Albania on April 13th 1939, UK did nothing. But as Hitler became an increasingly menacing problem, Europe looked the Britain and France to solve it. Britain was pressured to act.

Events in Britain also pressured Chamberlain into abandoning appeasement. Many felt that the surrender of Czechoslovakia was disgraceful to Great Britain. Lord Duff, Lord Admiral of the Royal Navy, resigned from the British parliament because of the Munich agreement. The Munich Agreement marked the end of Chamberlain’s policies for appeasement. Neville Chamberlain met with Hitler on September of 1938 to sign the Munich Agreement where Hitler promised that Sudetenland was his last demand. The next week, Chamberlain was called back where Hitler told him that he was going to invade Czechoslovakia. Stalin desperately asked for another Triple Entente. In 1939, Britain sent Lord Halifax to Moscow to speak with Stalin. Britain, who despised and feared communism, refused an alliance. Great Britain failure to take Stalin seriously caused the Ribbentropp-Molotov Non Aggression Pact. Great Britain’s list of allies was running short. By then, Hitler had become an unstoppable force of nature. It became evident to Chamberlain that no good was coming from appeasing Hitler; he would have to try a different approach and abandon the fruitless policy of appeasement.

In fact, events in 1938-1939 clearly show evidence that Chamberlain was preparing for war during this time. Chamberlain and England were aware of how impotent their army was. Their army was spread across the world and also capable of never little. In December of 1938, Great Britain had officially begun preparing for war. Chamberlains rearming of Britain was one of the most immense military buildups in history. Over the next year, Chamberlain did various things to prepare his country for war. The first step they took was improving their Navy. After they upped the amount of ship being produced, they went to expand the R.A.F (Royal Air Force). The UK government spent 580 million pounds per year making 400 planes a month.

They also built 225,000 air-raid shelters incase the people of London ever needed them. The air-raid shelters were built because World War II was the first time the war had reached Great Britain’s front door. All previous wars fought by the British were not on their own soil, the First World War was fought in France. Guernica showed Britain exactly what their enemies were capable of. War was knocking on Britain’s door and the British people weren’t prepared to open it. Following Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, The British government doubled their territorial army and passed the “Civil Defense Act” which was to move all the women and children outside of London. In April of 1939, they spent over a billion pounds on defense. After the government stated using conscription to force its people to fight, Great Britain decaled war on Germany, starting World War II.

Chamberlain’s policy for appeasement changed because it was obvious it simply wasn’t working. Each time appeasement was applied to solve an issue, another problem would come along. Each time, appeasement failed. Great Britain used appeasement to deal with Sudetenland, Munich, Czechoslovakia, Albania, Corfu, Abyssinia, Manchuria and almost every crisis they had to face after WWI. Chamberlain hoped that appeasement would stop Hitler but by 1938, it became obvious that the only way to stop the Fuhrer was by abandoning appeasement and trying a different approach.

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