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"How Appeasement Failed to Stop Hitler" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP06 Nov 2019 10:25 p.m. PST

"A few days after returning from Vienna, Hitler, beaming with joy, told Goebbels "Czechoslovakia is next." Goebbels noted in his diary: "The Führer is wonderful. A true genius."

To Goebbels and Hitler, European dominance seemed within their grasp. Eighteen months later, they would take the final step into World War II.

Hitler met with Konrad Henlein, leader of the Sudeten German Party. In 1919, the Allied victors had incorporated Sudetenland, which had formerly been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, into Czechoslovakia. However most Sudeten Germans rejected the newly formed nation, which discriminated against them. Particularly hard-hit by the Great Depression, many Sudeten Germans became increasingly enthusiastic about the chancellor in neighboring Germany…"
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ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Nov 2019 8:34 a.m. PST

If the British and the French had just shown some backbone, that would have been the end of Hitler. The German Army was terrified of getting into another war so soon and they had forces in place to execute a coup and depose Hitler if Britain and France had given the slightest indication that they would fight over Czechoslovakia. But they didn't.

4th Cuirassier07 Nov 2019 9:24 a.m. PST

In 1938 the RAF's main fighter was the Gladiator. Britain wasn't in any position to fight in 1938 and her bluff would have been called. We know this because Hitler called Britain's bluff when she was ready to fight in September 1939.

Fred Cartwright07 Nov 2019 9:43 a.m. PST

Unfortunately there was no prospect of opposing Hitler in 1938. The spectre of the First World War hung too heavily on the minds of those in power in Britain and France. There was also a realisation of the injustices done in the settlement at the end of the war and that the Germans had a legitimate claim on the Sudetenland, The combination of those 2 things lead to the hope that Hitler could be bought off.

Pan Marek07 Nov 2019 11:10 a.m. PST

There was nothing legitimate about the German claim on the Sudetenland. Mexico has a better claim on Arizona (the Sudetenland had never been part of Germany).

Fred Cartwright07 Nov 2019 11:48 a.m. PST

But it was part of the Austro Hungarian empire and the population was largely ethnic Germans, at least as I understand it and of course Austria was part of the Reich at that time. Germany itself only existed from 1871.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP07 Nov 2019 2:07 p.m. PST

Poor Chamberlain. We can argue the military balance of 1938 vs 1939 and the political consequences--would the German generals really have found their collective spine?--for decades. In fact, we already have. And the case for a completely arbitrary border drawn less than 20 years before just isn't that strong. Why exactly should, say, the South Slavs have a single unitary state and the Germans be two with minorities in half a dozen others?

The single indisputable error was that Chamberlain thought Hitler was a man who could be bargained with, and whose word on an agreement he himself had made was worth something. It's not an uncommon mistake. Anyone care to draw up a list of all the post-WWII politicians who have shaken hands with some bloodthirsty fanatic and told us he's to be trusted? Quite a number of them have been subsequently re-elected. But for Chamberlain it was catastrophic.

Blutarski07 Nov 2019 5:23 p.m. PST

We will never know the entire truth of the matter.

Strictly my opinion, of course.


Dn Jackson07 Nov 2019 10:50 p.m. PST

"But for Chamberlain it was catastrophic."

Indeed, not just Chamberlin, but the whole world.

Patrick R07 Nov 2019 11:21 p.m. PST

OK, say Hitler gets a bump on the nose before Munchen and Hidenburg, Paapen and Schleicher run circles around him instead of the other way round.

He's now a footnote in history, fascism's failed German cousin. No war nothing.

I bet people would go out of their way to depict him as the victim and the man to go forward with, he would have straightened things out for Germany and then was aggressively shouted down.

People forget the difficult position of democratic politicians after the Great War, the game changer that was very hard to ignore especially when it came to sabre rattling.

Going to war in 1914 was a hard sell given the sense that the concert of Europe since Vienna would unplug any major conflict.

We only see attacking Hitler as the only option with 20/20 hindsight with one big massive war and the Holocaust and nastiness spread all around occupied Europe. People didn't have that argument back then and if Hitler's plans are disrupted, our hindsight might be he was unfairly treated and it would never come to the madness of believing he could be a genocidal maniac …

4th Cuirassier08 Nov 2019 2:53 a.m. PST

He's now a footnote in history, fascism's failed German cousin. No war nothing.

Something similar would have happened anyway. Probably even including the Holocaust. Germany was rife with anti-semitism in the Kaiser's day.

Going to war in 1914 was a hard sell given the sense that the concert of Europe since Vienna would unplug any major conflict.

No "sell" was necessary though. The treaties and contingency plans in place ensured it. Germany's plan for winning a war with Russia, for example, was based on the idea that you don't fight on two fronts. You don't fight Russia and France. So if Germany found herself at war with Russia, the first move was to attack France. This was the case even if not at war with France. It was completely mad.

Marcus Brutus Supporting Member of TMP08 Nov 2019 8:14 a.m. PST

Chamberlain, even if he were inclined, would not have been able to lead a united Britain into war with Germany in 1938. France too was an unenthusiastic partner in the negotiations with Hitler. I am not suggesting that he handled the negotiations with great skill or foresight but we shouldn't forget his context in adjudicating his actions.

I think the biggest mistake of Chamberlain in this period was his assurances to Poland after Czechoslovakia was overrun in earlier 1939. That was a blunder of major proportions.

Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP08 Nov 2019 9:46 a.m. PST

An early pact, between the UK, France on the west and Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia on the east would have stopped Hitler (his generals at least at any time, if done early enough.

The facts are that the UK and France were unable to surmount their legacy of WWI, France was unable to establish a functioning government for years, Poland was not taking Hitler seriously (they took part of Czechoslovakia themselves), and while French and the UK were out manufacturing Germany by 1939 in military weapons and equipment, both were firmly stuck in a defensive mentality, unwilling to go for broke or sell out at the time for Soviet pact or get the Poles to allow the Soviets in (which may have been intelligent, but prevented any threat to Hitler from the east as a 2 front war).

Hitler, not a military genius, lucked out by the timing, his foreign political opponents, as well as the fear in the west that successful Nazi propaganda had painted Germany as a massive military powerhouse.


Skarper08 Nov 2019 12:04 p.m. PST

With hindsight the place to stop Fascism was Spain in 1936.

Few people realise just how popular Hitler was with the people who really held power in the UK and US during the late 1930s. He was Time Man of the Year in 1938 after all. Communist Russia was the real enemy in their eyes.

As for the Jews, antisemitism was par for the course in both countries and it was not generally known or believed by many that there would be any extermination program.

Churchill was pretty much alone in crying wolf (as many saw it) and was not taken seriously at all until it was too late.

I don't think WW2 was avoidable. It was really only the 3rd act of a war that begin in 1870. Appeasing or opposing Hitler might have delayed or precipitated the outbreak of war – but never prevented it.

Assassination of Hitler could perhaps have changed the course of history but others were standing by to take over so even that might not have worked. Several such attempts failed of course.

Sooner or later there was going to be a war. The only gambit that might have borne fruit is a triple alliance with the UK, France and the USSR to defend Poland. That was an option but was bungled and the Nazi-Soviet pact sealed their fate.

Fred Cartwright08 Nov 2019 12:53 p.m. PST

That was never going to happen. The Polish government thought they could do a deal with Hitler, they were quite right wing and agreed with many of the things Hitler was doing and there was no love for the Jews in Poland either.
I am not convinced assassinating Hitler would have stopped it and there is the risk that when it started someone more competent was in charge. We will never know.

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