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The term has become derogatory ('negative'). It's NOT a neutral word for a policy of the inter-war period. In the early 1920s (probably 1921-23) the British government came to take the view that the Versailles Treaty of 1919 had beentoo harsh, and it was willing in principle to make changes in order to meet some of the German grievances. By about 1924-25 even the French government took a similar view of some aspects. In the 1920s German reparations payments were adjusted twice (1924 and 1929), the occupation of the Rhineland ended early, and in 1926 Germany was admitted to the League of Nations instead of being excluded as an 'outcast' nation. At that stage there was no question of altering any borders in favour of Germany. All these earlyconcessions were made to a democratic Germany. When Hitler came to power he set about undoing the Versailles Treaty as fast as he could. From late 1933 he managed to set the agenda (until 1940-41, in fact). As a result, Britain and France found themselves always caught unprepared by new demands made by Hitler. At just about every point Hitler took the initiative, often amid bullying and threats. Britain and France tolerated or accepted the following major breaches of the Treaty of Versailles from 1935 onwards:

  • 1935: German re-introduction of conscription (the draft) and establishment of an air force.
  • 1936: German remilitarization of the Rhineland.
  • 1938 (March): Annexation of Austria.
  • 1938 (September, Munich Conference): Annexation of the Sudetenland (the areas of Czechoslovakia adjoining Germany and what has previously been Austria).
  • 1939 (March): Annexation of the rest of Bohemia and Moravia by Germany, and also of Memel.
The policy is particularly closely associated with Neville Chamberlain (British Prime Minister, 1937-40). However, the policy (if that's the right word for it) of accepting German demands had begun under his predecessor, Stanley Baldwin, an avuncular man whowanted a quiet lifeand was one of the worst prime ministers in British history. By March 1939 it was clear that appeasement had failed, and it was at this point that Chamberlain gave Poland the assurances that led to Britain's declaration of war in September of that year - despite the fact Britain was in no position to do anything practical to help Poland ... I've stressed the British role because France was seething with internal discord (left versus right) from 1934 onwards and was too deeply divided to undertake any decisive moves. Please remember that in a democracy, the government needs to have the majority of the electorate behind it if it embarks on a major war. This isbrief, but I hope it's some help. Joncey
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2007-06-05 01:12:49
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