Appeasement was the policy adopted in the 1930s with the aim of preventing the outbreak of a conflict with Nazi Germany. The policy was contentious at the time but received support from many who remembered the horrors of the First World War and were willing to be as flexible as possible in the hope of avoiding a repeat. The policy can be traced to Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor. It is best remembered for the 1938 Munich Agreement, after which the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, famously promised ‘Peace in our time’. Appeasement came to an abrupt end when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. The policy has been defended by those who note that the Treaty of Versailles had been harsh and that many of the demands made by the German state were based on the principles of self-determination or aimed at improving German the economy. It is also defended on the basis that the Western Powers of Britain and France knew in the mid-1930s that they were not prepared to engage in war: nor was the Wehrmacht. Opponents at the time and historians since have stated that the policy played into Hitler’s hands. Far from reducing the risk of war, it increased it by making the German Reich ever more confident.
Sources on Appeasement and attitudes towards Hitler’s Regime