Reasons for appeasement: the British Empire

S. Karly Kehoe, Ben H. Shepherd, Nelson Mundell, Louise Montgomery

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Appeasement was the main feature of British foreign policy towards Hitler’s Germany between 1933 and 1939. Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940, was its main driving force. He believed that meeting some of Hitler’s territorial demands in Europe could prevent or at least delay another general European war. Appeasement has important connections with the decline of the British Empire. One reason why Chamberlain believed Appeasement could work was Hitler’s friendly stance towards Britain during the early to mid-1930s, a stance Hitler held partly because he admired the way the British ran their Empire. Chamberlain also believed, wrongly, that one way of appeasing Germany was to return some of the colonial territory it had lost following the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Finally, Chamberlain believed Appeasement could help ensure that Britain would not become committed to too many wars, and would thus be able to continue defending her empire. Appeasement also has important connections with decolonization. Governments in self-governing white-majority dominions demonstrated their increasingly independent attitude by adopting their own views on Appeasement rather than simply falling in line with the British government’s view. The growth of pro-German feeling among white South Africans further fuelled the British government’s fear that its grip on the Empire was weakening, and prompted it to increase its determination to pursue Appeasement. By contrast, Indian nationalists saw Appeasement as a betrayal of small countries, and a further reason to have nothing more to do with Britain.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationColonialism and Decolonization in National Historical Cultures and Memory Politics in Europe
EditorsUta Fenske, Daniel Groth, Klaus-Michael Guse, Barbel P. Kuhn
Place of PublicationFrankfurt
PublisherPeter Lang
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9783653952162
ISBN (Print)9783631665992
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015

Publication series

NameModules for history lessons


  • appeasement
  • foreign policy
  • territorial demands
  • decolonisation
  • British Empire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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