Active Appeasment

  • Created by: Pip Dan
  • Created on: 20-09-17 15:55

Active Appeasement was the foreign policy Britain adopted during 1937-39. It had long been criticised by historians by revisionist history has opened up a more balanced debate about the success and weakness of Appeasement.

Economic arguments



In 1937-8 the Britain could not afford war, the War Office and the Treasury realised this

Some historians like Richard Evans and Piers Brendon argue that there is no evidence that Chamberlain was buying time to rearm and prepare economically for war by using appeasement

The economic strains which war would put on the British would severely limit her capability to maintain the Empire, especially if they were under foreign threats

The French army was very strong in 1938. On their border with Germany, French troops out numbered German troops five to one. They were the most power army in mainland Europe

The government were clearly aware of the need to rearm. The 1935 Defence White Paper stated the obvious that 'increasing threats to peace meant additional expenditure on the armaments of the three services could no longer be postponed'

Piers Brendon states that Chamberlain had 'half-hearted rearmament' and that Britain should have used the time better to rearm and prepare for the worst

Whilst is true that Britain did not rearm as rapidly as Germany did. The Nazi's were massively overspending, forcing them to go into debt and this weak economy that contributed to their defeat in WWII. On the other hand, Britain could afford her rearmament which was slow enough not to trigger inflation. By 1939 Britain was spending 1817 million US dollars in her defence expenditure whilst Germany's was an unrealistic 4400 million US dollars

Germany was also given time to continue rearmament through the decision at Munich which some historians like Piers Brendon was used more efficiently than Britain did

Chamberlain also rearmed sensibly, focusing on the need for modern weapons. Especially when seen how Britain suffered defeats in WWI partly because of her outdated weaponry. The British Army was supplied with modern tanks and weapons. The RAF gained modern airplanes. The Royal Navy had five new battleships of the King George V class which modernized the existing ships.

Also, Chamberlain's decision to prioritised the RAF was of massive importance .

Naill Ferguson argued that 'Britain was not broke in 1938' and that her economy could have coped with war although this is debated

Britain also used the time to develop radar.  In September 1938, the only place which had radar was the Thames Estuary. A year after there had been 20 radar stations built from the Orkney's to the Isle of Wight. Radar would be vital piece of technology to help British victory in WWI

Belief in Appeasement



Appeasement was the trusted and normal policy for Britain to use. It had been held in high regard since the 1850s and had, simplistically, always worked

Some people argued that Appeasement was not a moral action and that Germany had to be confronted. Historians like Richard Evans…


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