Hi, and thanks for the question
From 1933 onwards, Adolf Hitler started building the German war
machine, breaking the treaty of Versailles. After 1936, he
reintroduced conscription, and war-tested his armed forces in the
Spanish Civil War. Britain and France turned a blind eye to these
breaches of the Treaty of Versailles. In 1936, Hitler moved his troops
into the Rhineland. France did nothing to stop this breach of the
In 1938, Hitler went even further and Germany invaded Austria and
declared Anschluss. This, too broke the Treaty of Versailles.
During this time France and Britain did nothing except attempt
increasingly fruitless diplomatic pressure.
These actions are called appeasement, but other factors were important
? some people in Frandce and Britian agreed with the Germans, some
felt it wasn?t their business, and others believed it gave France and
Britiain some breathing space time to prepare for a war that was
An internet essay in "Western Civilisation" by Michael Bobadilla,
Foothill College has a succint appraisal of Britain and France's
"During the 1930's, while the entire world reeled from a severe
economic depression, Adolph Hitler was slowly retooling the German war
machine. The European superpowers, France and Britain, themselves hit
hard during the depression, like negligent parents, laid down their
rules of how Germany should be run with the Treaty of Versailles after
World War I. Yet their eyes focused on their own affairs. And then
Hitler raised his demands resulting in the Munich fiasco.
"There are many different reasons for the British and French to take
such an apathetic stance on their actions with Germany. An entire
generation of men were lost during the first World War, and neither
country wanted to see that kind of loss of life and mass destruction
again. Also, internal problems within each country limited its ability
to keep a watchful eye on Germany. Other conflicts in neighboring
Spain and distant China also kept the eyes of the British and French
on different horizons.
An encyclopedia entry at (
http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Appeasement ) provides a good
summary of the reason, the main points being listed as:
- Memories of the First World War - The United Kingdom and especially
France were extremely reluctant to fight due to the psychological
trauma resulting from having witnessed the mass deaths of vast numbers
of young people.
- The flaws of the Treaty of Versailles led to it being widely viewed
by the Allied nations as being unfair to Germany.
- The Communist threat meant that Conservative politicians had to
worry not only about the threat posed by Hitler's Germany, but also
about the threat posed by the Stalinist Soviet Union
- Failure to recognize the evil of Nazism. Most of Central and Eastern
Europe in the 1930s was ruled by dictators, and in the early stages
there was no realization that the Nazi regime in Germany was worse
than these other dictatorships.
In summary, the reasons for allowing Hitler to flout the treaty were
varied, but the main ones were:
- Some British beliefs that these were reasonable actions that
Germany was taking to defend itself.
- The desire to avoid carnage on the same scale as seen so recently
in the First World War
- Distraction by other foreign and political crises
- Britain and France underestimated the scale of German rearmament.
- Some people expected war sooner or later and agreeing to some of
Hitler's demands bought time to prepare for war.
Hope that answers your question
"Treaty of Versailles" failure Hitler
Britain France Appeasement
Hitler appeasement France Britain encyclopedia