Before you make a decision about which of the above perspectives you agree with, read the following statements, which are all views about appeasement expressed in Britain during the 1930s. Complete the tasks that follow:  

Statements about appeasement:


The Treaty of Versailles was unfair. It is perfectly understandable that Hitler would want to challenge it. He will stop when he has overthrown the Treaty.

We can’t afford war and would have to borrow the money. There are two problems; 1) who would be borrow from, as the USA is only just recovering from the Wall St Crash 2) the debt could result in catastrophe, if the loans were recalled suddenly, as happened to Germany

Communism is a worse evil than Fascism. We need to protect ourselves from the spread of communism. A strong Germany in the middle of Europe is the best way to do this.

Everything Hitler does seems legal enough. The Rhineland was German territory, and it was reasonable for Hitler to want to defend his border; in both Austria and Czechoslovakia, there is evidence to suggest that union with Germany is what the people want.

How will I stay in power if I declare war on Germany – the British public are against it.

We will be all on our own if we challenge Hitler – France didn’t challenge him over the Rhineland, America is concerned with her own affairs…we can’t fight him alone.

A war against Germany might mean a war against Italy and Japan also.

We have problems enough of our own looking after the Empire, let Europe deal with it’s own problems.

Reports from our German Ambassador suggest Hitler is misrepresented; that he will stop when he gets what he wants.


“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.”
Appeasement will threaten our Empire; Hitler has broken every promise he has made. He will never stop until he has swallowed the world. His aims are clear in Mein Kampf.

We will seem weaker and weaker the more we give in to Hitler.


The loss of life will be terrible. We lost a whole generation of young men in the Great War.


We are not ready for war. Germany’s armed forces are technologically more advanced and are superior in training. We need at least 6 months to prepare for war.


The problem with war is that workers are in high demand. During the Great War more and more workers joined trade unions to push for better working conditions. Work stoppages and strikes became frequent in 1917–18 and we had to give in to many demands, such as better pay and shorter working hours.

A strong Germany means more trade.

We don’t want any of those communist ideas, about equality and brotherhood spreading to England – I would be bankrupt! – Let’s let Hitler deal with the Reds.


Now Hitler has Czechoslovakia, he borders Poland on the South. He claims that the Germans that live in the Polish corridor should belong to Germany. He has started to publish anti-Polish propaganda claiming that the Poles are mistreating Germans in the Polish corridor. This is the same pattern as in Austria and in Czechoslovakia.



An English businessman
The British Public
The Defence Committee
His opponent, Churchill

2. Now imagine that the statements above are simplified into the following ideas:

Fear of communism
Lack of military readiness
The cost of war
Belief that Hitler’s aims were limited
The apparent legality of Hitler’s actions
Public hostility towards the idea of another war

All of these ideas explain why Britain followed a policy of appeasement. We will make a decision later about whether this was a sensible idea!

Now prioritise! Write the ideas into a table that reflects your hierarchy.

3. Now I want you to think about the impact of appeasement.

Create and complete a table like the one that follows – carefully!


Did Britain do, or fail to do, anything else in the 1930s that might have encouraged Hitler to think that he would not be opposed?

Write no more than 60 words summarizing the contribution that appeasement made towards the outbreak of war in 1939.

4. Thinking back to the historians judgments you read at the start, do you think that Britain’s response was:
pragmatic (practical in the circumstances)
pragmatic but poorly managed

Last modified: Thursday, 29 December 2011, 9:02 PM