The main factors which lead British governments to follow a policy of ‘appeasement’ the period 1931- March 1938

There were many factors which led to British government following the policy of appeasement and they are split into two main categories- ideological and pragmatic. Britain appeased with Hitler for many reasons including their own problems and the pressure from other countries to appease.

The pragmatic reasons were those which caused Britain to appease because the fear of them losing the war. The economic situation meant that Britain did not have enough money to invest it in there military and air force so they would lose if there was an upcoming war. The public suffered the most in this period as the standard of living dropped dramatically and inflation was very high.

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The imperial dimension was also a key pragmatic reason to why Britain appeased. The self-governing regions of the British Empire were unwilling to go to war in the 1930s and wouldn’t help Britain if they did so themselves. These included countries such as Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. They provided Britain with vital resources and most importantly support to other powers. There was fear that going to war may also break up the empire. So in this case, they had a valid reason for appeasing as they had no support and would have lost their empire.

Appeasement was needed as Britain’s armed forces were weak. This was a pragmatic reason for appeasement. Their navy was one of the best in the world and could produce an effective blockade against Germany if needed. However their Army was very basic and not enough attention was paid to it. The Royal Air Force was the weakest and newest of three and was badly needed to protect civilians from German air raids if war broke out. These were important factors Britain did not have and also why they appeased Hitler. They would only have protection on water and on top of that, they also had to protect France.

I have discussed the pragmatic reasons for the war and now i shall be discussing the ideological reason which means reasons for trying to avoid war. The League of Nations was a group which believed in idealistic reasoning. This league replaced alliances and tried to avoid unnecessary war by turning the whole world against the aggressors. When Britain was deciding to appease Hitler, the League of Nations played a big part in their decision. So they appeased partly due to the pressure from this league of being a worldwide enemy.

Public opinion played a part in appeasing Hitler. None of the British public wanted another world war after their experiences from WW1 such as the economic depression. Every government which had any forms of re-armament, such as in the elections at East Fulham in October 1933 were removed very soon. The impact of the First World War had scared everyone and they were afraid of a repeat which is why to avoid the next world war they needed to appease. The public were affected the most so they produced books and poems to discourage it.

These are the main ideological and pragmatic reasons for why Britain chose to follow a policy of appeasement with Hitler in the period 1931-1938. If they chose to go to war, they would lose the public’s support, break up their empire, lose France as an ally and most importantly lose the war against Hitler.

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