History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2011: Q.7 (b)
Q.7 (b) How did the policy of appeasement escalate the problem of Nazi aggrandizement ?
Appeasement was the policy followed by the British and later by the French, of avoiding war with aggressive powers such as Germany, Italy and Japan, by giving way to their demands, provided they were not too unreasonable. Appeasement was mainly a British policy, with which the French did not always agree.
After seizing power in Germany, Hitler set in place an ambitious foreign policy that aimed to undo the effects of the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler wanted to:
- re-take control of the territories that it had lost at Versailles, such as the Rhineland
- re-arm its military forces – something forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles
- expand its borders to provide Lebensraum (living space) for its population
- unite all the German-speaking people of Europe under the control of Nazi Germany
Hitler was prepared to gamble that the other European powers would be reluctant to go to war to stop him.
Appeasement escalated the problem of Nazi aggrandizement in the following ways:
(1) No action was taken to check the German rearmament which was prohibited under the treaty of Versailles.
(2) The Anglo – German Naval Agreement condoning German naval rearmament was signed which added to the Nazi aggrandizement.
(3) Neither Britain nor France intervened in the Spanish Civil War, though Germany and Italy sent decisive help to Franco. This increased Nazi’s influence.
(4) Though Britain and France protested at the Anschluss (union) between Germany and Austria, many in Britain saw it as the natural union between one German group with another. So, Britain and France did not act to stop the union.
(5) Britain’s lack of action encouraged Hitler to make demands on Czechoslovakia, which produced British Prime Minister Chamberlain’s supreme act of appeasement and Hitler’s greatest triumph in the form of Munich conference where Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia was handed over to Germany. It encouraged Hitler to occupy whole Czechoslovakia and later demand of German populated Danzig from Poland.
(6) Appeasement convinced Hitler of the complacency and weakness of Britain and France to such an extent that he was willing to risk attacking Poland, thereby starting the Second World War.