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In the light of what was known at the time Britain’s policy towards Germany in the period 1933 – 1936 was entirely sensible and understandable. How far do you agree with this opinion Paper

The British opinion towards Germany during this period was to avoid conflict at almost any cost. After recently having undergone what was regarded as one of the bloodiest wars Britain had ever seen, no one was in a mood to start another. Instead a policy of appeasement was implemented, it was thought that negation and punishment via trade sanctions would deter Germany from perusing an aggressive foreign policy. In 1933 Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany, soon after in the years 1935 – 1936 Britain allowed him to break the TOV just so that conflict could be avoided.During the years 1919 – 1933 Britain’s attitude towards Germany was increasingly sympathetic. The TOV was having its toll on the German economy, the reparations clause in particular. The French were not as forgiving as the British, they believed in hostile action against Germany to make sure the Treaty was upheld. At this point i time Anglo – Franco relations were sour, the French occupation of the Ruhr caused Germany suffer hyper inflation thus falling into a depression. This action further encouraged British sympathy towards Germany, it would appear that the French were bullying weak Germany and causing her mass economic problems just to satisfy their greed for reparation payments.Hitler’s coming to power in 1933 was seen as a cause of concern for the British government for it was certain that his Nazi government would challenge the existing European balance of power. It was no secret that he was intent on freeing Germany from the shackles of the TOV. Yet British policy did not change to counter Hitler’s rise to power the fact that some people distrusted Hitler gave no-one the right or power to intervene. Rather it was hoped the problem would solve itself, for people thought that Hitler would not last long. For if he fails to solve Germany’s economic problems, he might well loose power. Many believed that Hitler might well become less extreme now he achieved his position of Chancellor. Yet Britain’s refusal to change their policy towards Germany was seemingly well founded at the time, for there seemed to be no immediate German threat. There was even some that thought Britain should aid German economic recovery, since there would be considerably economic gains for Britain if Germany became a strong trading partner.Once Hitler came to power in 1933 his first moves were relatively cautious, for it seemed he was particularly hostile to Britain. In fact Hitler gave several interviews to British journalists expressing his admiration for Britain and its empire and to voice the hope that “the two great Germanic nations” could work together. In the first year of Hitler’s coming to power Germany underwent a mass rearmament program. Germany had withdrawn from the Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations claiming, the great powers would never treat Germany as an equal. Soon after in 1935 Germany openly announced the existence of an air force and conscription, forbidden under the TOV. This was openly condemned by Britain yet apart from the use of harsh words no military action was taken to stop Germany. So far all of Britain’s policies towards both German rearmament and Hitler’s coming to power at this point in time was both sensible and understandable.The French were building the Maggot Line, a great line of defences down their border with Germany, so German rearmament was merely seen as a defence measure against their hostile French neighbour. Even if this rearmament was not justified by French hostility there is not much Britain could actually do. The only way to stop Germany would have been to send troops into Germany and stop production of arms and munitions or to go war with Germany. The British public as I am sure you are aware was not willing to support either of these actions, more so Britain did not have the available troops or finances to fight another war with Germany without crippling their economy. As for Hitler himself it is true many politicians were weary of him yet since his rise to power he had portrayed himself as an honourable trustworthily politician who wanted to defend his country and further enhance Anglo- German relations.To a large extent Britain was dependent of the actions of other nations to make any different course of action possible, in particular France and Italy. There geographical location was crucial to Britain if they were to take any kind of military action against Germany. Mussolini had no intention of waging war on his fascist neighbour especially since he had is eye on Abyssinia. As for France they had political problems of their own, their caretaker government had neither the power nor the legitimacy to make such crucial decisions as to take offence action against Italy. However, even if France were to have taken military action against Germany, She could have not relied on British military support. The British government made it clear that it had no intention of risking war against Germany. One has to also consider that Germany was not Britain’s primary concern, there was growing anxiety regarding the aggressive policy of Italy towards the African state of Abyssinia. The problem of Spain also had its place on the British radar, the Spanish Civil War though no as worrying as the Italian problem, yet still posed as threat to British interests of maintaining the status quo. These events shadowed the threat that was Germany, thus delaying any foreign policy towards Germany.In March 1936 Hitler sent German troops into the demilitarised Rhineland, this was a clear violation of both the TOV and the Locarno Pact, freely accepted by Germany in 1935. Germany ‘s justification was that she had the right to defend her borders from foreign hostility such as the Franco – Soviet alliance. This move was no real surprise to Britain or Germany. Both had expected that Hitler would raise the issue of the Rhineland as a topic for negotiation as well as their prior warnings from their intelligence staffs about the German move. The British government made it clear that it had no intention of risking was against Germany. Most British MPs agreed with the remark that Germany had every right to walk into its own backyard. This was a perfectly understandable move by Britain after all the Rhineland did belong to Germany. However it may not be seen as entirely sensible it is argued that this was the last chance to stop Hitler without war and thus the point at which he could and should be challenged.On the whole I would have to conclude that Britain’s actions were thoroughly understandable and almost entirely sensible. Britain was fully aware that if she wanted to prevent Germany from perusing any of her threatening policies, military action would have to be taken. Both British public and government opinion was very “anti war”, this was supported by Britain’s weak economic position at the time. Britain could not afford nor did she possess the army required to wage a war with Germany. Most of Germany’s actions had no effect on Britain in the short run, so a policy of appeasement was seen as a way to delay the problem until it could be solved, thus solving it before it could cause Britain any immediate problems. However was this policy of appeasement entirely sensible, the constant appeasement of Hitler rather than satisfying him, instead encouraged him. After seeing time and time again that the European superpowers was willing to appease, he attempted to size as much power and territory until he was no longer appeased. Yet he hoped that when that time came he would have seized enough power to deify the European powers and eventually conquer them. Which he would have done if it was not for the involvement of the USA and USSR.

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