The policy of appeasement followed by France and England towards Nazi Germany during the 1930s enabled Adolf Hitler to annex Austria, assume control of Czechoslovakia and to ultimately invade Poland, the act that signaled the start of World War II on September 1, 1939. Initially weakened at the end of World War I by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was helped along in rebuilding its military strength and its confidence to wage war again through several acts of appeasement that took place in the years prior to World War II. A final act of appeasement, the September 1938 Munich Agreement, permitted Germany to formally annex the northern section of Czechoslovakia, called the Sudetenland, and to then successfully pursue a military occupation of the rest of Czechoslovakia in March of 1939.Continue Reading
Some of the first appeasements made towards Germany involved a lessening of the war reparations payments the nation was required to make according to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. In 1931, the payments reached a state of moratorium, and in 1933, Hitler cancelled them entirely.
Germany's annexation of Austria took place in March of 1938 and was in direct violation of the provision of the Treaty of Versailles that explicitly prohibited a union of the two countries. Because there was only a mild and non-forceful reaction by France and England to the German-Austrian union, Hitler gained confidence that further territorial expansions would be met with little or no significant resistance.
The annexation of the Sudetenland, and its formal recognition by France and England in the Munich Agreement, placed Germany in an advantageous position to pursue further expansion aims. In a little less than 6 months, the complete takeover of Czechoslovakia followed. Within another 6 months, Germany invaded Poland and World War II began.Learn more about World War 2