Appeasement policies of Britain and France brought about the outbreak of the Second World War to a small extent because the appeasement policies adopted by Britain and France, which were to avoid wars by satisfying the aggressor’s wants, was a less significant factor while comparing to the impact of the First World War, the rise of totalitarianism, the Great Depression.
Firstly, the impact of the First World War was an important factor contributing to the outbreak of Second World War because it indirectly led to the other causes and sowed the seeds for the outbreak of another war. The First World War made Europe a hotbed for the rise of totalitarianism after the war with the devastation and ravaging economic decline it caused. In addition, the Treaty of Versailles signed in the Paris Peace Conference after the First World War caused deep resentment of Germany towards Western countries due to the extremely harsh terms, such as the reparation of 6600 million pounds and the clause of war guilt. It led to discontent towards the Weimar government and the fall of democracy in Germany that Hitler was able to rise in power, who came in strong words to recover the Treaty of Versailles. As for Italy, there was also the rise of totalitarianism because she failed to get the land she was promised in the First World War, such as Fiume and Dalmatia, and resentment also grew, thus the result of the First World War sowed the seeds for rise of totalitarianism.
Besides that, devastation and economic destruction in Europe caused by the First World War greatly weakened Britain and France and made them unable to stand firm against aggressors. They intended to adopt the appeasement policy to turn a blind eye to the aggressors’ acts. Rather, they focused on their internal affairs, economic recovery and the US loans after the First World War, thus were insincere in coping with the aggressors or engaging in collective security, which also made the League of Nations ineffective without the support from its two senior members. Later when there’s the Great Depression in 1929, European economy was further destroyed when the US called back the loans, that no one was able spare themselves from the economic recession to cope with aggressors.
Another impact of the First World War was that it contributed to the February Revolution in Russia, causing the creation of communist Soviet Union, which later made international cooperation and collective security difficult due to mutual mistrust and even led to the formation of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact.
From the above, the impact of the First World War was a significant factor contributing to the Second World War as it sowed the seeds for other factors and the outbreak of Second World War. It made Europe a hotbed for the rise of totalitarianism and indirectly caused the appeasement policy as well as the failure of collective security. It also worsened the level of destruction that could be caused by the Great Depression, and made cooperation between countries difficult. Hitler wouldn’t have come to power if there weren’t the harsh terms in the Treaty of Versailles, which put Germans in hot water, and there wouldn’t be appeasement policy too. Therefore, it was a root reason that was relatively significant than the appeasement policy.
Secondly, the rise of totalitarianism, a seed sowed by the First World War, had caused Germany and Italy to adopt an expansionist policy. They aimed at gaining more ‘living space’ and resources by invading other countries. For example, after the remilitarization of Rhineland in 1936, Germany invaded Austria for Anschluss in 1938. In 1938, he demanded Sudetenland. In 1939, it invaded Czechoslovakia and Poland, directly sparked off the Second World War. For Japan, his plan to conquer the whole China in three months showed his intention to invade China. It started the Manchuria Crisis in 1931 and launched a full-scale invasion in 1937. All these aggression made a war almost inevitable.
The rise of totalitarianism was a more significant factor than the appeasement policy because of its initiative in invading others, while the appeasement policy was adopted in a passive way. These aggressive countries played an active key role in starting wars, that Germany and Japan were determined in starting wars to conquer the world or conquer Asia as they had planned. Even if there wasn’t appeasement policy, it might delay the happening of a war, but couldn’t really prevent the Second World War from happening.
Thirdly, the Great Depression in 1929 also contributed to the outbreak of the Second World War, because it drove all the nations to focus on their internal economic affairs and made international cooperation very difficult. It also greatly worsened the economic situation in Germany, as Germany took out massive loans from the US to pay the reparation. Hyper inflation and unemployment rose to 6 million, sped up the rise of Hitler. It made totalitarian countries more eager to invade others in order to gain resources for economic recovery. Britain and France had to focus on their economy and adopt appeasement policy. Due to the poor global economic situation, collective security and cooperation were hard to maintain thus making collective security particularly ineffective in 1930s, thus finally led to the outbreak of the Second World War.
The Great Depression was a more significant factor than the appeasement policy because the poor economy caused by it made Britain and France particularly unwilling to get involve in a war. They adopted the appeasement policy in order to focus on internal economy and took care of themselves first before caring about the others, at the same time made collective security ineffective with the lack of support from Britain and France. For example, in the Manchurian Crisis in 1931 when Japan set up a puppet state in Manchuria, Britain and France, senior members of the League of Nations, were busy with their internal problems and did nothing except from moral condemnation. Therefore, the Great Depression was more significant than the appeasement policy because it’s the poor economy that led to the passive attitude of Britain and France towards aggressors and the adoption of appeasement policy.
However, the appeasement policy was a more significant factor if compare with the failure of collective security, because the adoption of appeasement policy made Britain and France take nearly no actions towards the aggression of Germany, Italy and Japan, which encourage them to be more aggressive, contributing to the outbreak of Second World War. Due to the lack of support and passive attitude of Britain and France, two senior members of the League of Nations, it greatly limited the actions that could be done by the League and made collective security fail at the end.
Although the appeasement policy was more significant than the failure of collective security, it was a relatively minor factor than the impact of the First World War, the rise of totalitarianism and the Great Depression among all the factors contributing to the outbreak of the Second World War. Therefore, the appeasement policies of Britain and France only brought the outbreak of the Second World War to a small extent.