History AQA AS notes on 2J

Some useful infomation on key events that could be used in a 12 or 24 marker

  • Created by: Gina
  • Created on: 21-02-14 11:02

Treaty of Versailles 1919

What problems did the peacemakers have?

  • Had to reconcile the reality of post war diplomacy with promises and commitments that had been made during the war
  • The break down of the German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Turkinsh empires  caused chaos and violent outbreaks of nationalism across Europe
  • Fear of a Bolshevism (communist) take over of Europe.
  • Peacemakers had to reflect intense popular feelings of revenge in their own countries.
  • Decisions had to be made quickly
  • All 3 peace keepers (Woodrow Wilson, David Lloyd George and Georges Clemenceau) wanted a peace treaty with Germany,  but that was where the common ground ended.
1 of 55

Treaty of Versailles 1919

German reactions to the percieved harshness of Versailles:
Terms of the Treaty:

  • Rhineland was to be permanently demilitarised
  • Germans lost land to Poland, the Polish Corridor
  • Germany forbidden to unite with Austria
  • Army limited to 100,000 men (volunteers), no capital ships or submarines
  • Germany forced to sign the War Guilt clause accepting blame for the war so responsible for all damage and losses, had to pay £6600 million
  • League of Nations created - Germany not allowed to join until it had showed to carry out the peace terms.
  • Key questions: How important were the views of the British public in influencing David Lloyd Geroges decision at Versailles? (24)
  • How far were British Governments policies towards Germany in the 1920's a reactions against the percieved harshness of ToV? (24)
2 of 55

Versailles and British Foreign Policy

David Lloyd George needed to create a peace that was acceptible to the voting public, this meant:

  • We kept our monarchy while others didn't- ironic and created nationalism

In terms of our British Foreign Policy:

  • Germany was no longer a threat
  • We lost Russia as an ally
  • No desire to recreate empires
  • Creation of the League, took our place as a worldwide policeman wich we could not afford
3 of 55

Attitudes towards the League of Nations

Structure of the League:

  • Headquaters: Geneva
  • Assembly of the league was made up of representatives from all member states
  • Met yearly and every state had to vote
  • Had a council of 6, 4 permenant (Britian, France, Italy and Japan) and 4 were voted
  • Article 16 stated that if any member of the league went to war, economic sanctions would be used first and then if necessary, military action would be taken. This was Collective Security.
  • Germany, USA and USSR were not part of the League so it was not a world milirtary power..
4 of 55

Attitudes towards the League of Nations


  • British Public:
    • Belived LoN could solve all international problems peacefully
    • Belived no aggresor would risk war with collective security
    • New, powerful, realistic policy that provided security.
  • British Politicians:
    • Did not belive its existance would automatically prevent aggresion, especially with USSR and USA not involved
    • Had no armed forces of its own so created a false sense of security
  • French:
    • Keep Versailles boundaries on Germany
    • Saw it as a place for discussion and wanted justification for war
5 of 55

How did Collective Security work?

How did it differ from the old system? 

  • Was more abstract, not all nations had the same interest
  • Did not specify where threats may come from or what response would be taken
  • Assumed that all nations were eqaully willing to act
  • Assumed that all nations will see each challenge to peace in the same light and will act regardless of the cost or their own interests
6 of 55

Why Collective Security failed

Why did Collective Security fail:

  • Ignored reality
  • Asked nations to surrender their freeom of action, their sovereignity, enforce policies that they disagreed with and intervene in countries that they did not want to. E.g Britian getting involved in Germany
  • Too idealistic in assuming that world action would be a deterent to aggression especially as economic sanctions would firt be used.
  • Bore no relationship to the world in the 1920's
  • Not collective, meant agressive nation could form alies (Rapallo)
  • Britian and France had grown apart (key members of the league) due to Versailles and Germany, shown by the occupation of the Ruhr.
  • Key Question: "What were the major weaknesses of Collective security and how could they have been expolited by an aggressive nation?" (12)
7 of 55

Impact of the views of JM Keynes

JM Keynes was an economist who lived in Britian 1920's

Views on Versailles

  • did not look at the economic future of their countries, only concentrated on reparations.
  • Didn't provide economic rehabilitaion of Europe
  • Did not make any actions to turn the defeated empires into allys
  • Nothing to promote economic solidarity amongst eurpoe
  • Nothing to restore France or Italy's economies
  • Nothing to adjust the systems of the old world and the new.
  • Felt the gratest threat post-Versailles was of overpopulation, the destruction of trade bewteen countries and the prevention of emigration which could lead to starvation
  • Believed that Versailes would cause Germany to not be able to import an adequate amount of raw materials , casuing German industry to shut down , causing starvation all due to German loss of colonies.
  • Keynes views were supported by the British public and led to revisionism of Versailles.


8 of 55

The German policy of Fulfilment 1925

Policy of Fulfilment

  • Created by Gustav Stresmann, Economic minister, then Chencellor in 1923 for 100 days
  • Was the policy of fulfilling the obilgations from the treaty whilst working for a revsion of the terms
  • It was adopted due to:
    • remedy the diplomatic isolation that resulted from defeat
    • restore degree of national independance of Germany lost to the allies
  • This was done by using a simple tactic of sullen obstruction:
    • War guilt clause in the treaty was never enforced properly
    • the disbanding of paramilitary organisations was slow and unreliable
    • The clauses relating to disarmamant were implemented only under constant allied supervision.
  • Opposition
  • Extreme nationalists and ex- soldires (Hitler)- believed they had fought for nothing
  • Industrialists who had to work harder to pay off the £660 million
  • Exiles: Had to return to a country in turmoil
9 of 55

Gustav Stresmann

  • As chancellor, Stresmann helped to cease finacial support and introduced a new stable currency, the Rentenmark that ended hyperinflation.
  • As Foreign Minister , he sought to improve Germanys international position, this was when Fulifilment was introduced:
  • Withdrew from the Ruhr
  • Accepted money under the Dawes Plan, being given £50 milllion a year that then increased to £125 million after 5 years and a 2 year suspension from America --> greatly improved Germany's economic position.
  • Agreed with France that the Western frontiers would never be invaded by Germany as stated from Versailles.
10 of 55

Occupation of the Ruhr 1923

  • Germany unable to pay reparations to France, France needed the money to repay USA
  • France and Belgium invaded the Ruhr to obtain German industry there
  • Shipped all goods to France
  • Britain were not happy- Wanted Germany as a Trade partner
  • Went against the League
  • Germany used passive resistance- strikes, distroying goods, go slows, reulted in inflation
  • German government printed money to support workers, resulted in more inflation

Who Benefitted?

  • France: gained goods and boosted economy, however, diplomacy forced them into isolation as it went against the LoN
  • Germany: NO! hyper inflation!


  • German hyperinflation
  • Foreign investors withdrew from German market
  • Germany could not repay allies, became isolationist
11 of 55

The Dawes Plan 1924

  • Revised reparations payment plan drawn up by Charles Dawes as a response to the French occupation of the Ruhr
  • Germany gained fom the reparations
  • Britian, France and USA all then recieved more imports and exports from Germany
  • France had to remove from the Ruhr
12 of 55

The Locarno Treaties 1925

The Locarno Traties occured because of potential dipolmatic instablity and continuing German dissatisfaction. The French occupation and the Treaty of Rapallo (military alliance bewteen Russia and Germany) showed that despite the League, European aims in foreing policy were still very different.

Where were Britian at the Time:

  • Preoccupied with imperial commitments
  • Favoured revising Versailles
  • Refused to co-operate with France in Beefing up the League
  • Could not afford Eurpoean military commitments
  • Germany no longer a threat to Britian with no empire or navy 
  • Ausin Chamberlain (Bitish Foreign Minister) brought representatives from Britain, France, Czechoslovakia, Itlay, Poland, Belgium and Germany to meet at Locarno in Switzerland to sign the agreement that Western allies would not be invaded by Germany.
  • France saw it as germany accpting Versailles
  • Germany saw it as the first step in revsing Versailes
  • Britain saw it as drawing a line under its commitments to Europe.
13 of 55

Results of Locarno


  • Resulted in a sense of optimism and excitement
  • Tension between allies and Germany resolved, sense of peace felt
  • Germany obtained a permanent seat on the League Council
  • Allied troops from the Rhine were removed
  • Supervision of Germany's disarmament stopped in 1927
  • By 1930, Germany was an independants state again


  • Germany still in co-operation with the USSR in the treaty of Rapallo
  • Germany could avoid disarmament
  • No agreement made to eastern borders- USSR goal was to redraw map of Europe
  • Even though Locarno had beeen successful in bringing peace, the LoN was not strengthened and collective security remained uncertain.


14 of 55

Kellogg Briand Pact 1928

Hoping to tie the US into a system of protective alliances directed against a possible aggressive Germany, the French Foreign Minister, Aristide Briand, suggested a nonaggresion pact in 1927.

The US secretary of state, Frank B. Kellogg, supported by the American 'outlawry for war' movement and those who were disapointed at the failure of the US to join the LoN, proposed that the pact be turned into a general multilateral (more states involved) Treay, which the French accepted.

Nearly all the nations of the world subscibed to the Kellogg-Briand pact in which they renounced war as a instrument of national policy and that all international disputes be settled peacefully.

The Pact did not prohibit wars of self-defense or certain military obligations arising from the League Covenant, the Moare Doctrine or postwar treaties of alliance.

These conditions, along with the Treaty's failure to establish a means of enforcing the sanctions it imposed, rendered the treaty completey useless.

15 of 55

Military Disarmament

Military Disarmament:

  • Britian continued to reduce her army
  • Preparatory commision on Disarmament set up in 1926 but failed to make headway
  • Aimed that Britian would have a small, professional army that was well equiped, mechanised and motorised
  • It was, however, only small and professional
16 of 55

Disarmament in the 1920's

  • Members of the league agreed to disarm to the lowest point of national safety
  • Britian favoured this due to political and economic reasons
  • By 932, Britian had reduced spending on defence from £760 million to £102 million

Britian and Disarmament

  • Naval Disarmament:
    • Washington Naval Agreement, Febuary 1922: Ratios of capital ships: USA 5: Britian 5: Japan 3: Italy 1.75: France 1.75. No new capital ships were to be built for 10 years
    • 4 power naval alliance signed between Britian, USA, France and Japan
      • Many Politicians opposed the treaties as they belived Britain had to remain naval supreme. Britians fleet size was now determined by the treaty and not strategic needs
      • Britian interests in the middle east were not protected by the Japenese alliance
      • Avoided expensive and prolonged naval race with the USA
      • Improved relations with USA


17 of 55

Disarmament in the 1930's

Main differences than from in the 20s

  • Great depression had occured, had serious effects on all foreign policies
  • 1932: 20% of British public unemployed
  • National Coalition governmenrt replaced teh Labour Party
  • Depression encouraged all countries to become insular and focus on themselves
  • Britian abandoned free trade  and adopted Imperial Preference (trade within the empire was prioritised)
18 of 55

The Geneva Disarmament Conference 1932-33

  • Showed the first cracks in collective security.
  • Made attempts to replace Versailles and revise the terms after the Wall street crash
  • Our foreign policy drove Europena and Worlwide trading countries towards extreme governements who were more supportive of war
  • Held Specifically to discuss world disarmament

What Happened:

  • France worried about Germany's strength: allowed Germany to rearm up to the standard of everyone else
  • Everyone had to disarm to a certain level
  • Germany wanted equality
  • France stated that they were prepared to disarm but not to Germany's level anf only with the guarantee that should Germany invasion occur, all other nations would become involved: IMPOSSIBLE!
  • Nations disagree and Germany leaves (1932) saying France did not accept them as an independant nation
  • Germay returns to the confernece 3 months later with Hitler as Chancellor (1933)
19 of 55

Japenese invasion of Manchuria

  • In September 1931, unit of the Japenese army, acting without orders from the government, seized a number of points in Manchuria
  • Aware of public support for the occupation of Manchuria, the government did little to halt the army.
  • First challege to collective security
  • China did not invoke Article 16, but by the time they did, the Japenese army were in no mood to be coerced by verbal warnings and by Febuary 1932 it had occupied the whole of Manchuria and set up the puppet state of Manchukuo.

British reaction:

  • Most British politicians were critical of japans action and refused to recognise Manchukuo
  • But, they had no intention of going to war over it:
    • Britian was in serious economic problems in 1931-32
    • British forces in the Far East were small
    • There was sympathy for Japan, after relations were friendly for may years and they were restoring prosperity to Manchuriaand they could provide a buffer against Soviet aggression.
20 of 55

Geneva continued

  • Hitler states that either everyone disarms to Germany's level or disarm to a certain level and Germany would rearm to this level or Germany would leave the conference and pull out of the League
  • Febuary 1933, Germany walk out and Hitler begins to rearm fully
  • Disarmament became impossible
21 of 55

Anti-communism attitudes in Britain

Anglo-Soviet relations pre 1930

  • Hostility to Bolshevism, especially when Russia pulled out from WW1
  • Most conservative and Liberal MP's were opposed to Lenin
  • 30,000 British soldiers wwere sent to assistthe White armies but were withdrawn when they lost the civil war

Signs of early agreement and disagreement:

  • March 1921- Anglo-Soviet trade agreement was signed
  • In 1922: series of negotiations took place with Soviet officials at Geneva
  • 1924: Full diplomatic relations resumed with the USSR, loaned USSR £30 million
  • Zinoviev letter: October 1924 convinced British public that the Labour party were being used by the USSR to turn Britian communist and Labour lost the election
  • USSR's backing of the miners during the General Strike, hardened Conservative views against them
  • 1929: Labour started to renew contact but the economic depression derailed any progress as Britian became isolationist in foreign policy.
22 of 55

Anti-communism attitudes in Britiain continued

Anglo-Soviet relations 1931-8

  • For most of the 1920's and 30's British governments dominated by the conservative Party had been reluctant to foster contact or reach any sort of agreement with the USSR
  • The communist USSR was seen as a threat to traditional British values and interests
  • Many Conservatives saw communism as a greater threat than Fascism
  • Nazi germany was seen as a buffer Soviet expansion

How did the USSR respond to challenegs to international peace 1930-40

  • In 1935, the Soviet Union abandoned ts opposition to the League and Collective Security
  • The USSR signed defence pacts with France and Czechoslovakia and suggested high level talks with Britian
  • Britian disapproved with the Franco-Soviet agreement and France cooled its link with the USSR
  • Little effort was made by Britian to seek an agreement with the USSR
  • Britian was angered by Soviet support for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War.
23 of 55

Rise and policies of Hitler

To what extent was Hitler a threat?


  • Hitler's aim to reverse versailles was seen as a challenge to the European balance of power
  • Hitler seemed to have territorial ambitions in Eastern Europe
  • He favouredthe inclusion of all German speakers into Germany
  • National Socailsim (Nazism) was seen as threatening


  • In Mein Kampf, Hitler spoke of Britian as a potential ally
  • Hitler had no detailed programme
  • He wanted to improve the standing of Germany among world leaders
  • Brtain had no right to intervene in Germany
  • A stronger Germany could be used as a buffer zone against the USSR
  • iHis ambitions seemed to be in Eastern, not Western Europe.
24 of 55

Anglo-German Naval Agreement 1935

Hitler's First moves 1933-34

  • In October 1933, Germany withdrew from both the Disarmament Conference in Geneva and the League of Nations. Britian realised Germany was rearming
  • This lead to the Anglo-German Naval agreement

The Anglo-German Naval Agreement 1935

  • June 1935 Britain signed the naval agreement with Germany agreeing that:
    • Germany had the right to build up to 35% of Britains's capital ships
    • Germany was allowed the same amount of submarines
  • This virtually discarded Versailles and faced great opposition from France

Why did Britian sign the agreement:

  • Japan's navy was already a threat in the Far East
  • The agreement ensured British naval superority
  • Britian was unhappy with France's diplomatic overtunes with the USSR after Stresa Front as they believed a Germany that felt encircled was dangerous
25 of 55

British reactions to Italian Fascism


  • Relatiosn were stable and peaceful
  • Italy were angry at Britian and France for not getting the land they were promise as part of the London Treaties, expected to gain Ugoslavia and part of Formuma and Bolkan lands
  • 1920- Nationalist Government established and 1922 Mussolini made Il Duce, created papal states
  • Italy was a keymember of the LoN


  • After no action was taken in Manchuria, Mussolini believed he could increase territory in Africa due to the weakness of collective security
  • 1933- joined the condemnation of Germany after it removed itself from the League
  • Italy was worried that Germnay would try an Anschluss to combine Germany and Italy which was a problem as Italy and Germany shared a border
  • 1933- Britian and Italy still on good relations with Italy's fear of Germany stregthening it
26 of 55

Stresa Front

  • Catalyst for Stresa Front:

    • 1935- Hitler announced he would increase his army to 500,000 men, 5x Versailles
    • An agreement had been reached bewteen France, Italy and Britin, only France and Itay signed, Rome agreement 1935. Britian withdrew. Italian ambitions in Africa were discussed.
  • Britian were not happy with the ambitions, had a lot of territory in Africa.
  • 11-14th April 1935- Both MacDonald and foreign Secretary met with French Foreign Minister Lavel and Mussolini to discuss a military alliance against Germany.
  • Purpose of Stresa was to intmidate Hitler:
    • British public were against Stresa- Itlay like Germany
    • Britian realised that 'Italy was the key to European peace'- Italy close with Austria
    • Price we had to pay for Stresa: ignoring territorial ambitions in Africa.
    • Mussolini planned to invade Abyssinia, the last independant nation
  • Anglo-German naval agreement strengthened realtions between Britian and Italy, they felt Britian were unholding their part against Germany.
27 of 55

Invasion of Abyssinia

  • September 1935- Italy began building up a massive force on the Abyssinia with Somali-land
  • League were aware- Halali Sellassie asked for help against the invasion, commitee was set up to decide Italy's right to take Abyssinia, decided Italy had the right.
  • Baldwin becomes Prime Minister 1935- no change in feelings changed about Abyssinia- Hoare Foreign Minister.
  • October 1935, Abyssinia invaded, they were massacred as the Abyssinians only had camels, war drums and 12 planes.
  • Britain had a choice:
    • Denounce Italy and distroy Stresa and risk Italy allying with Germany
    • Do nothing and go against the League and Collective Security
    • Public still supported the League
    • 2 weeks later- League imposed economic sanctions on Italy
    • Britian allowed Trade to continue by opening the Suez canal so Italy could send supplies to Abyssinia.
28 of 55

Hoare- Laval Pact

December 1935: Secret meeting between French and British Foreign Ministers, Hoare and Laval

They decided they would force Abyssinia to give 1/3 of Abyssinia to Mussolini but Selasie would be allowed a ***** of land by the Red Sea to continue trade.

Details of the Hoare-Laval Pact were leaked to the press and Baldwin was forced to abandon the pact

Invasion continued and by May 1936 Selassie forced to abdicate, Abyssinia became Italian Territory.

29 of 55

Results of the Invasion of Abyssinia

  • Death blow to the League
  • Collective Security no longer worked
  • Gave a kick-start for Britain to rearm, but they didn't fully till 1937
  • Serious split between Italy and Britain with France
  • Mussolini felt anger and bitter- moved towards Germany
  • Hitler openly supported the Italian actions in Abyssinia.
  • Key Question: "Britain's attempts to maintain good relations ith Mussolini and Italy from October 1935 to 1939 were well intentioned but totally unsuccessful." Explain why you agree or disagree with this view (24)
30 of 55

The personality and influence of Baldwin

  • June 1935: Stanley Baldwin, Conservative, replaced Ramsey Macdonald, Labour as PM
  • This change made little difference to our BFP
  • He and Macdonald reluctantly accepted:
    • Remilitarisation of the Rhineland
    • Attached little importance to Stresa
    • Signed a naval agreement with Germany
    • Did little to stop Italy's takeover of Abyssinia
    • Stayed out of the Spanish Civil War
  • Some Historians claim it was Baldwin who initiated Appeasement
  • His policies were deemed as failures, however, they must be put in context with the economic and military circumstances.


  • Too ready to accomodate public opinion
  • Responded to events rather than influencing them
  • Sanctions against Italy were cheap, popular and avoided war
  • Too commited to collective security and disarmament
31 of 55

British public opinion

The importance of public opinion on governments policies towards Nazi Germany from 1934-36

  • Much of public opinion was anti-war, some pacifist
  • Oxford Union Motion: Febuary 1933, hardly influenced Hitler but reflected how the university body wanted to avoid war
  • Fulham East by-election 1933: Usually a conservative saeta but was won by a pacifist Labour MP, Lansbury
  • 1935 Peace ballot: Organised by LoN supporters, revealved a majority of the public still favoured disarmament despite Mussolini in Abyssinia and Hitler's blatent ingorance of Versailles
  • MacDonald believed in Collective Security and the LoN, he was supported by the public, infuenced Baldwin which made him cautious about Rearmamanet in the 1935 election
  • His appointment as PM, coincided wit the Anglo-German Naval pact, justified in Britian
  • Rearmament had in fact been stepped up under Baldwin following Stresa and then further after the Rome-Berlin axis 1936.
  • Public supported the idea that the Rhineland was Germany's own back garden
  • The Spanish Civil war intensified fears of war in the public.
32 of 55

The impact of the Depression

Military Preparedness 1919-36

  • Contradictory: wanted to be left alone to run her empire while wanting prestige and influence in world affairs
  • Revisionism of Versailles: damaged Anglo-French relations, too many concessions regarding Germany
  • Hitler barrier to Soviet expansion
  • Baldwin concerned with high levels of unemployed: 20% by 1932 unemployed
  • British public opinion did not favour war or rearmament

Economic reasons:

  • Issues were taking place during the middle of the of the Depression
  • Military spending had to be reduced
  • German rearmament and conscription was seen as poitive rather than a threat- other countries were doing it
  • Public opinion saw money should be spent on social- unemployment and housing

1936- Occupation of the Rhineland- we began to rearm

33 of 55

Britian and rearmament

  • Germany was rearming
  • Italian threat in the Mediteranian
  • League defunct
  • Britian had few strong allies


  • 1936- Minister for the Co-ordination of defence appointed
  • Extensive 4 year plan for rearmament introduced
  • Problems:
    • Britian would have to fight a colonial war- overseas war in defense of Britians empire
    • Likely Britian would face a naval war and eurpoean war
    • Economic strength vital
    • Britian was short of machine tools and skilled labour
    • Up to 1/6th of 1937 arms was imported
    • Increased military spending might cause a balance of payments crisis
34 of 55

Why Rearmament

Why Rearmament:

  • Reforming league was not in everyones interest
  • Walking away was impossible as problems all had economic, social or political consequences

We chose to appease while rearming to secure national safety

35 of 55

Churchill's reaction to Rearmament

The Locust Years

  • While Hitler campaigned for rearmament, the allies were practisins disarmament
  • Churchill's experience at the Ministry of Munitions and his understanding of aviations importance of warfare made him acultely sensitive to the emerging German airforce
  • Churchill argued that by the end of 1936 the German airforce would be 50% stronger than ours and by 1937 "nearly doubled"
  • He proposed a Ministry of Supply to prepare Britian's industry for wartime production- with depression , the government could no not imagine placing Britian industry on a wartime footing much less pay for it.
  • Churchill called 934-35 the 'Locust Years' because time that should have been spent preparing to face Germany were eaten up.






36 of 55

Reoccupation of the Rhineland

The Rhineland:

  • March 1936: Hitler sent German troops into demilitarised Rineland
  • This violated Versailles and Locarno
  • Hitler blamed the 1935 France-Soviet alliance- formed as a response of the Anglo-German naval pact

British Reaction:

  • Not suprised
  • France had a temporary coalition government so was unlikely to do anything- weak politically
  • Many British MP's and public had every right to walk into the Rhineland- 'walking into their own backgarden'


  • Germany building fortifications along the French front
  • Only a few politicians like Churchill wanted military action against Germany
37 of 55

The Spanish Civil War

July 1936: Right wing nationalists led by General Franco tried to overthrow the newly elected Republican government.

  • British public opinion was divided
  • Labour the Republicans
  • 2000 people from Britian joined the International Brigade to fight against conflict
  • A Non-intervention Commitee: discourage intervention and supply for arms to Spain
  • Most of the powers joined but flouted decisions: Mussolini sent men and arms to help teh Nationalists
  • Germany used the war to test weapons and military techniques (destruction of Guernica: April 1937)
  • The USSR sent weapons and men to aid the Communists


  • British public and politicians realised that ideologically differences would make a geneal war impossible as they could not agree on which side to support
  • Germany benefitted the most by trying out new weapons and making an alliance with Italy.
38 of 55

The Personality and influence of Chamberlain

  • Intelligent and clear sighted, as ex-chancellor, recognised link between finance and foreign policy.
  • His view was that 'war wins nothing, cures nothing, ends nothing': Pragmatic, feared war and has moral conviction.
  • One view on Chamberlain was that he was right as PM but at the wrong time:
    • He was an accomplished politician but due to foreign affairs, he could not achieve the success he wanted
    • His failure was due to his circumstances
  • The other view is that he was a weak, gulible leader:
    • Obsessed with his own political success: people pleasder like Baldwin
    • Prepared to negociate peace at any cost: Czechosloviakia.
  • Chamberlain has to bare responsability for carrying out Appeasement which failed
  • He created peace through diplomacy i.e if it failed, he would go to war
  • He gave Britian at least a year to prepare for War

Historical interpretation that Chamberlain was a coward needs to be assessed with the circumstances and that there might have been a reason for it.

39 of 55


Polictical Factors that affected Chamberlain:

  • Speed of German rearmament caught Britian unprepared
  • The access agreement between Italy, Germany and Japan: we had little allies
  • Followed MacDonald and Baldwin's Foreign Policy- Isolationist- Public supported this
  • Chamberlain was a seasoned political campaigner and chose appeasement due to Britian's unprepardness.

Family Background:

  • Family steeped in politics: Father: major Politician, saw Britian's political problems and knew that appeasement was supported
  • 4 members killed in WW1

Britian's economic situation

  • Half-Brother, Austin, had been Chancellor of the Excheque of Britian
  • After Great Depression, Britian had 20% unemployed
  • 'You should never menace unless you are in a position to carry out your threat' - Chamberlain 
40 of 55

Alternative Policies to Appeasement

Churchill's Grand alliance:

  • Encircle Germany with an alliance with USSR and France
  • Not done as Chamberlain believed an encircled Germany was more Germany
  • Did not trust Communist alliance with USSR

Faster Rearmament:

  • Reamament had to be done as Nazi Germany wre becoming an increasing threat
  • Could not be done as public did not support this and Britian was not in a good enough economic situation

Isolationism and focus on Imperial Demands

  • concentrate on our own empire and leave the rest of the world to their own business
  • Couldn't as we had alliances with other countries that were potentially under threat and we were a key member of the League
41 of 55

Anshluss 1938


  • Union between Germany and Austria banned by Versailles
  • Austrians favoured a Union
  • 1934: Hitler attempted a Putch but was stopped by Mussolini
  • 1937: Italy and Hitler became allies and a silent agreement made for Mussolini to ignore German ambitions in Austria. Rome- BErlin axis also signed 1936, military alliance

What Happened: 

  • March 1938: Austrian Chancellor, Schushnigg decared he would hold a prebicite (vote) to allow Austrian public to vote whether to become part of Germany or not.
  • Hitler was furious as there was a chance Germany might not win a majority
  • Threatened to invade but realised this would attract International attention
  • Schushnigg was forced to delay elections
  • Schuschnigg appealed to League and Mussolini for support but was ignored so resigned and was replaced with Seyss-Inquart (Nazi)
  • He invited German soldiers into Austria into the country to maintain and restore order after the the thousands of strikes 1937-38
  • Anchluss was declared after the Nazi ran a plebicite in which 99% agreed to annex Austria
42 of 55

British reaction to the Anschluss

The difference between the Anschluss and the Rhineland was that Hitler was willing to go to war over Anschluss

British reactions:

  • Much more active
  • Germany given grave warning
  • Ambassador in Berlin registered a strong protest against the coercion
  • Chamberlain used our economy as the reason for appeasement and if it carried on, our economy would suffer as other European countries failed. British public still belived 'back garden'
43 of 55

The Sudetenland 1938

Why was Czechoslovakia a major problem in 1938?

  • The Anschluss now meant that Czechoslovakia was almost surrounded by German territory
  • 1930- Half the 15mil population of Czecholovakia were actually Chezch
  • German was the largest ethnic minority group: most found in the Sudetenland
  • Sudeten Germans wanted home rule
  • The Sudetenland was the industrial centre

Chamberlain's Views 

  • British politicians believed Czech minorities were treated fairly
  • Churchill believed Czechoslovakia was worth going to war over
  • Chamberlain felt Czechoslovakia was an artificial creation and that if peaceful negotiations would give Sudetenland to Germany, it would be done- Supported by majority of British politicians
  • France had a treaty with Czechoslovakia- war threat! However, France did not want to honour its obligations to Czechoslovakia
44 of 55

Increased Tensions

  • Czechoslovakia was not keen to make concessions to Sudeten Germans and began to prepare for war in May 1938
  • Infuriated Hitler
  • August 1938- Britian sent a neutral mediator, Lord Runciman to Czechoslovakia but no-one was interested in backing down- failed
  • Britain was divided much like the Spanish Civil War
  • Violence escalated in the Sudetenland and Benes declared Marshal Law
  • Chamberlain met with Hitler to discuss a possible compromise
45 of 55

Berchtesgaden 15th September

 What was decided?

  • Chamberlain accepted Hitler’s main demand that any area with over 50% of the population being German would become part of Germany (only Sudetenland)
  •     In return, Hitler promised to not attack Czechoslovakia until Chamberlain had spoke to the Czechs and French.

Why was this agreed?

  • Chamberlain believed that he could persuade Benes to give up the Sudetenland and if not, he was able to wash Britain’s hands of Czechoslovakia and avoid war
  • Hitler believed Benes would not be persuaded and when Britain left, he would be free to take the Sudetenland as land promised to him, his own back garden and Benes would be perceived as the warmonger.
  • Chamberlain returned to persuade cabinet and the French, who he won over, with France wishing not to fulfil their arms agreement with the Czechs. Czechoslovakia was appalled but without backing from France or Britain, could do nothing but let the Sudetenland be taken. Chamberlain agreed to protect the remainder of Czechoslovakia in case of future threat. 
46 of 55

Bad Godesburg 22nd Sept

Chamberlain returned to Germany, with the expectation to discuss the proposals he had discussed, instead, Hitler announced that the previous terms were unsatisfactory (Czech concessions were not what Hitler expected or wanted). Hitler now wanted Poland and Hungary as part of Czechoslovakian territory and, in order for Sudeten Germans to be protected, Hitler demanded that the Sudetenland had to be occupied no later than the 1st of October.

  • Chamberlain returned to London. He favoured appeasing Hitler’s demands in order to avoid war, but many of his Cabinet (Churchill) rejected the Godesburg plans, seeing Hitler as a possible, strong threat.
  • France (Daladier) also expressed concerns and stated that they would now honour their commitments to Czechoslovakia
  • Fearing War, both Britain and France began to mobilise (Trenches built and 38 million gas masks distributed in Britain)
  • In a last bid for peace, Chamberlain sent Horace Wilson to talk to Hitler as a personal envoy. This failed.
  • 27th Sept: British ambassador in Italy asked Mussolini to persuade Hitler to reconsider, Mussolini agreed and Hitler eventually accepted to meet for another conference.  Mussolini agreed as he to did not want war, especially with Britain and did not completely trust Hitler as an ally.
47 of 55

The Munich Coference 29th September 1938

  • Turning point of British Foreign Policy
  • Meeting was between Britsn, France, Germany and Italy: Not USSR, rather work with Fascism than Communism- pushed towards Nazi- Soviet pact
  • Negotiations were initiated by Mussolini- Munich was bein munipulated by Nazi ally
  • Chamberlain viewed as a hero in Cabinet, as he avoided immediate war.
  • Gallagher- single communist MP spoke against Munich

What was agreed?

  • Sudeten Germans given self-determination within Germany
  • German occupation of the sudetenland was to be carried out in 5 stages, spread over 10 days
  • Hitler signed a pact that guaranteed the end of German expansion
  • Britian accepted the terms, Benes was forced to accept and steped down, leaving Czechoslovakia without a government.
48 of 55

The Munich Coference 29th September 1938

  • Turning point of British Foreign Policy
  • Meeting was between Britsn, France, Germany and Italy: Not USSR, rather work with Fascism than Communism- pushed towards Nazi- Soviet pact
  • Negotiations were initiated by Mussolini- Munich was bein munipulated by Nazi ally
  • Chamberlain viewed as a hero in Cabinet, as he avoided immediate war.
  • Gallagher- single communist MP spoke against Munich

What was agreed?

  • Sudeten Germans given self-determination within Germany
  • German occupation of the sudetenland was to be carried out in 5 stages, spread over 10 days
  • Hitler signed a pact that guaranteed the end of German expansion
  • Britian accepted the terms, Benes was forced to accept and steped down, leaving Czechoslovakia without a government.
49 of 55

Hitler's Occupation of Czechoslovakia 1939

·       Hitler felt the Munich agreement had cheated him of a military victory.

·       On the 21st Oct 1938 he issued a directive for the liquidation of the rest of the Czech state.

·       The failure of Munich did NOT stop Chamberlain from continuing to attempt appeasement BUT it did mark a turning point.

·       Public opposition to the policy began to grow.

·       On the 15 March 1939, German troops entered Czechoslovakia after Benes’s replacement Hacha signed it over to the protection of Germany.

50 of 55

British reaction

·       Sense of outrage in Britain.

·       A marked shift of opinion in the Conservative Party and in the press.

·       Chamberlain did not want to go to war and his apparent ‘soft’ line began to anger many.

·       Britain and France delivered sharp protests to Germany over her actions in Czechoslovakia on the 18th March.

·       Chamberlain told the cabinet he could no longer trust or work with Hitler.

·       Rumours of Germany taking over other European states began to circulate.

·       On the 20th March Chamberlain proposed that Britain, France, Poland and the USSR should issue a joint declaration that if there was a threat to the independence of any European state they would consult immediately on the steps to be taken. The British plan came to nothing.

51 of 55

Chamberlain's actions

Chamberlain responded to Hitler's aggression by claiming the British were not bound to protect Czechoslovakia since the country in effect no longer existed after Slovakia had voted for independence on March 14th. And Hitler's actions had occurred the next day, March 15th.

The Prime Minister's willy-nilly statement caused an up roar in the British press and in the House of Commons. Chamberlain was lambasted over his lack of moral outrage concerning Hitler's gangster diplomacy. Angry members of the House of Commons vowed that Britain would never again appease Hitler.

Interestingly, while traveling on a train from London to Birmingham on Friday, March 17, Chamberlain underwent a complete change of heart. He had in his hand a prepared speech discussing routine domestic matters that he was supposed to give in Birmingham. But upon deep reflection, he decided to junk the speech and outlined a brand new one concerning Hitler.

In the new speech, which was broadcast throughout England on radio, Chamberlain first apologized for his lukewarm reaction to Hitler's recent actions in Czechoslovakia. Then he recited a list of broken promises made by Hitler dating back to the Munich Agreement.

52 of 55

Chamberlain's actions

Now, for the first time in the history of the Third Reich, Great Britain had finally declared it would stand up to the German dictator and was willing to fight.

The next day, March 18, British diplomats informed the Nazis that Hitler's occupation of Czechoslovakia was "a complete repudiation of the Munich Agreement...devoid of any basis of legality." The French also lodged a strong protest saying they "would not recognize the legality of the German occupation."

But now, in an ominous development for Hitler, Britain and France went beyond mere diplomatic protests. On March 31st, Prime Minister Chamberlain issued a solid declaration, with the backing of France, guaranteeing Hitler's next likely victim, Poland, from Nazi aggression.

53 of 55

Reasons for change in Foreign Policy

However, the change in British policy did not happen suddenly, in March 1939. Pressure had been building up for some time for Chamberlain to change his policy. The Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia was the trigger, rather than the whole cause, for the British change in policy.

  • Even in September 1938, there had been people in Britain who said appeasement was wrong. Duff Cooper, Lord of the Admiralty resigned over Munich, and in October 1938, at the Oxford by-election, three future Conservative Prime Ministers (Winston Churchill, Harold Macmillan and Edward Heath) campaigned against the Conservative candidate Quentin Hogg, saying that ‘a vote for Hogg is a vote for Hitler’. During the months after Munich, more and more people in Britain came to agree with them. Chamberlain could not have gone to war in September 1938 – too many people in Britain had wanted peace – but by March 1939, most people in Britain agreed that there would have to be a war, and he was able to promise to defend Poland.

·       Also, Kristallnacht in November 1939 had made people realise that, not only did the Nazi regime want world domination, but that it was an evil regime. Many Christians in Britain came to believe that God wanted them to fight against Hitler. Fascists were growing in power and people realised that they had to be stopped – in February 1939, when Franco came to power in Spain, MPs shouted ‘Heil Chamberlain’ in the House of Commons. Britain could threaten war in March 1939, because Kristallnacht had given them the moral justification to stand up to Hitler.



54 of 55

Reasons for change in Foreign Policy

 Finally, at Munich, Britain had not been strong enough to go to war – it is arguable that Chamberlain was just buying time for Britain to rearm. In January 1939, the navy had been strengthened and production of planes had been increased; in February, defence spending was increased to £580 million and free air-raid shelters were given to ¼ million Londoners. Chamberlain was able to change his policy in March 1939 because Britain had the military capacity to go to war.

55 of 55


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Appeasement and Britainn resources »