Assess the view that appeasement was the only realistic option for British policy towards Germany between 1936 and 1938
The erosion of Neville Chamberlain’s# reputation was brought about quickly as his policy of appeasement failed to prevent WW2. The Cato# collective branded him as a criminal in the ‘Guilty men’#. Churchill# further reinforced this view telling the commons “England has been offered a choice between war and shame. She has chosen shame, and will get war.”#. These more orthodox views starkly contrast the reactions of the public and media pre-war. Hailed as a hero “Most newspapers supported Chamberlain uncritically, and he received thousands of gifts, from a silver dinner service to many of his trademark umbrellas.”#, with
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Although he isn’t implicitly stating he is anti-appeasement, it does show that Britain should of been preparing for War sooner. The 1936 remilitarization of the Rhineland was a ‘flagrant violation’ of the Treaty of Versailles# and Locarno treaties#. Arguably this is when Britain could of taken action as an alternative to appeasement. For Churchill, and other similar minded historians, the Second World War could have been prevented by a policy of timely resistance to German aggression:“there never was a war so easy to stop.”# Churchill identified the remilitarization of the Rhineland, in March 1936, as the last opportunity to prevent world war, had Britain and France responded to Hitler’s treaty violations using their still overwhelming military superiority.#Ludwig Beck# also supports this as he “warned Hitler that the German Army would be unable to successfully defend Germany against a possible retaliatory French attack.”#. Although this source could be weakened as Ludwig was increasingly against the Nazi regime at this point, therefore may have ulterior motives. Affirming the argument that Germany would back down to military aggression even further is Hitler himself who “reassured Fritsch that he would ensure that the German forces would leave at once if the French intervened militarily to halt their advance.”#. These both prove that there was an alternative to appeasement. But the realism isn’t all there.