What Was the Policy of Appeasement?

In the 1930s, following World War I, the appeasement policy was a conciliatory method of dealing with a dictatorial government in an effort to prevent conflict. Following the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, Germany was severely punished for its part in World War I. It was stripped of lands, population, mineral and coal deposits, and it lost a large portion of its military power.

An article on appeasement by the History Channel relates that Germany was outraged at what it perceived to be unfair treatment. In 1936, Adolf Hitler cautiously began militarization in Rhineland, which was specifically forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles. When England and France made no comment on this military action, Hitler realized that the two democracies were hoping to avoid a confrontation. Hitler and Italy’s dictator, Mussolini, continued to push the limits imposed by the treaty and subtle appeasement set in.

In 1937, Neville Chamberlain was elected as Great Britain’s Prime Minister. He embraced an appeasement policy, along with French Premier Edouard Daladier. Their countries had been devastated by World War I, and they wished nothing more than to avoid another war with Germany. Throughout Europe, entire cities ceased to exist. In total, more than 8.5 million men died during that war. There were strong feelings in both countries of peace at any cost.