Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 21, 2008

Appeasement was (and is) Good Policy

In U.S. politics 'appeasement' accusations are brought out against anyone who voices objections over fighting the next imperial war.

I find this rather comical as appeasement in almost all cases was and is the only smart policy available.

Appeasement, as practiced by the Brits since the mid 19th-hundred up to 1939, kept their empire safe. The policy changed after proof was in that a strategic enemy was unappeasable. That change did cost the British their empire.

When Chamberlain flew to Munich to sign an agreement with Hitler over repatriating the German parts of Czechoslovakia he had little alternatives.

At that point there was no possible way the British and the French could have successfully challenged Germany militarily. The case the German's made was widely seen as just. The British empire was at that time also challenged by the Japanese in China and by Italy in the Mediterranean. The empire was already overstretched and its financial resources quite limited. The U.S. was isolationist. Soviet communism was feared, France was weak. After the horrors of WWI the British (and French) public were against another war. The punditry and the nobles up to the king were against it. The military was against it.

With the exception of a few earlybirds, notably Churchill, nobody thought that war was the right response to Germany's demand.

So Chamberlain signed the contract, bought more peaceful time and lost nothing. A few month later Hitler broke the contract and send his troops into the rest of Czechoslovakia. Only then, in hindsight, was Chamberlain's policy questioned, though I fail to find any presentation by his critics of realistic alternative ways he could have taken.

Hitler was not appeased because he was unappeasable. In that he was unique.

One should only fight wars one must fight and of these only those one can win. Everything else is simply stupid behaviour.

---
Jeffrey Record:
Appeasement Reconsidered: Investigating the Mythology of the 1930s (pdf, long)
Strategic Studies Institute

D. J. Dutton:
Proponents and critics of appeasement
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Neville Chamberlain:
Texts on Appeasement (1938/39)
The History Guide

Posted by b on May 21, 2008 at 15:13 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Not sure about this - stopping Hitler would have been much easier in 1938 before he had the Skoda armament works (the largest in Europe). The Czechs were prepared to fight if they had support from outside, and their mountains would have been a formidable defensive barrier. German generals might have overthrown Hitler if ordered to attack.

The real basis for the appeasement policy was to encourage Hitler against the Soviet Union - but this strategy went disastrously wrong with the Nazi-Soviet pact.

Posted by: 2dv4f | May 21 2008 16:02 utc | 1

That change did cost the British their empire.

That part of your story isn't right. The big loss was India, and it was gone two years after the end of the war. But India was the great part of the empire untouched by the war. The fact is that imperialism was coming to an end, the war only hastened the inevitable. Nevertheless the African colonies held out till the 1960s, long after the effects of the war were over.

Posted by: Alex | May 21 2008 16:04 utc | 2

@2dv4f - how would stopping Hitler in 1938 been easier? France had no mobile force to speak of, the Brits only 2 divisions on their island and an air-force that was still heavy on bi-planes. The Czech had some fixed prepared defense. Not a chance to hold that against an overwhelming mobile force. The 3.4 million Sudenten-Germans were behind that defense, i.e. in the back of the defenders. No way they could have held that.

@Alex - the empire went down because the Brits were broke after two world wars. They didn't had the resources to keep it.

An alternative would have been to make peace with the Germans, accept them as continental hegemon in Europe with main interest in the East and in exchange keep their empire.

Posted by: b | May 21 2008 16:56 utc | 3

Yeah b, but in 1938 the French Army had the same 80 divisions that they had in 1940 but Germany had 36 divisions and the Panzers had no tanks, just training tanks with machine guns and light cannons. The Czechs actually had a fair chance of holding on for 2 to 3 months since they had Maginot line-strong forts in the Sudetenland, 700 planes and 36 divisions with about 900 tanks which were better than anything in Wehrmacht service. Hitler's lucky no one called his bluff cause that's what it was. He'd have lost. Halder was ready to have a coup against him if it came to real war because the entire Generalstab saw it that way too.

Posted by: John Shreffler | May 21 2008 17:12 utc | 4

I have to side with John Shreffler.

The german Army had 36 divisions in early march, when "Anschluss" of Austria happened - which brought another five divisions, and new divisions were raised as fast as possible. Actually, at the time of Anschluss Hitler greatest fear was ... that austria would resist, the chechslovak army would intervene, and a general war would follow too soon. At this time Austria + CSR would have been a match, at least in a defensive fight. But the austrian leaders caved in because they felt they were alone, the czechs were the next in the list, all the while the german armys morale soared as the enemies were paralyzed by its strength.

The german arms manufacurers were working all the while on maximum capacity. IIRC more than 20% of the german GNP was dedicated to rearmment (before the war started), and while the french and british increased their numbers they never reached anything near the same level - and they had to dedicate troops, planes and ships to defend their posessions in africa, india, far east thus diluting their strength even more.

In the end Hitler lost because he started his war too soon. (Never to mention that is was unnecessary, cruel and bloody stupid at all). Had he waited until 1941, he would have had double the number of divisions, while his enemies would have had maybe a handful more. He might even been able to split the tenative coalition between GB, France and USA which was developing and fight them one by one. (or maybe not, but he did not try at all). He attacked the first moment there was a tiny chance, and did not wait for the best opportunity. Thank God, bacause otherwise he would have won.

Posted by: No So Ana | May 21 2008 17:40 utc | 5

@John - the French army was nothing to speak of in mobile warfare. The had the Magniot line because of that. The 80 divisions were mostly 1 year conscripts immobile infantry. A paper tiger.

The Czech had their own Magniot line towards the German border in the north and west. But after Hitler annexed Austria, they suddenly had a border with Germany in the south too. That was the very open back without defense plus a potential 3 million German guerillia in the middle of their defense and unfriendly neighbors. No way they could have won and they were wise enough to see that and gave up.

Posted by: b | May 21 2008 17:48 utc | 6

@b

Well, the french had about the worst gerneral staff of any army in the world, but nevertheless, in 1938 they were a lot stronger then the germans.

They had at the time two or three times as much tanks as the germans, some of them MG-only, but some of them among the best of the time. They had at the time a lot more planes as well, some battleships worth this name,... In 1940 the french were not a lot stronger than in 1938, but the germans had several times the numbers and a huge increase in quality - and a lot of the better tanks were from Skoda.

Also: I believe you had officer training: How would you defend the long, long border against France if you were a german general of 1938? While the few mobile german troops were in the southeast of germany, attacking the CSR, and the french can hold most of the border with their forts and a few second line troops, while the better troops can be massed at a chosen focal point? (BTW: The german fortifications were never really finished until 1945)

If the french had really tried at the time, Hitler would have been over before millions of lives have been lost. But they did not, the french army gained little but a loss of confidence, and the germans became ever stronger, both in numbers as well as in reputation.

Posted by: No So Ana | May 21 2008 18:07 utc | 7

One might also add that, while Churchill, irresponsibly, was demanding more of everything, Chamberlain and his cabinet started on a more reasonable, but nevertheless badly needed rearmament program, in the aftermath of Munich--especially in Britain's fighter arm, which, in 1938, was sorely lacking. It was Chamberlain's air force that thwarted the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, while Churchilll would have happily given up fighters, if given a choice, for more useless bombers (of late 1930s vintage) for ineffective bombing operations against Germany.

Posted by: kao-hsien-chih | May 21 2008 18:39 utc | 8

Well, the french had about the worst gerneral staff of any army in the world, but nevertheless, in 1938 they were a lot stronger then the germans.

They also had 16 administrations within 8 years. There was no political decision capability in France. You miss that dimension when you talk about "strength". And as said, the force was largely immobile infantry. The french concept was to refight WWI - the german tactic was different.

They had at the time two or three times as much tanks as the germans, some of them MG-only, but some of them among the best of the time. They had at the time a lot more planes as well, some battleships worth this name,...

Nothing of that was frightening - the French concept was essentially defense, no offense. The French people were also very frightened of war, just like the Germans and Brits. Each lost many millions of men in a war just 18 years ago then. Nobody was looking for a real fight.

In 1940 the french were not a lot stronger than in 1938, but the germans had several times the numbers and a huge increase in quality - and a lot of the better tanks were from Skoda. About 1/4th of German tanks in 1941 was from Czech production (I can't find the numbers for 1939, but they were likely less than that)

Also: I believe you had officer training: Yep How would you defend the long, long border against France if you were a german general of 1938?

By attacking the French center of gravity through Belgium - circumventing the Magniot line. Fixed defense is asking for mobile warfare.

While the few mobile german troops were in the southeast of germany, attacking the CSR, and the french can hold most of the border with their forts and a few second line troops, while the better troops can be massed at a chosen focal point? (BTW: The german fortifications were never really finished until 1945)

Most of the German divisions were mobile - unlike the French. The German air force was modern, unlike the French.

The German plan was never to hold a line. While the old generation of Generals at that time was thinking in WWI trench warfare dimensions the new guys (Guderian) were forcing mobility.

---

Altogether you miss the main point - the people in charge in the UK, France and Chechia decided in 1938 that they could not win a war against Germany. They were correct in that estimate.

This was proven 1939-1941. Only after Hitler opened an eastern front against Russia, the Germans overreached and eventually got beaten. That was neither obvious nor even likely in 1938. The appeasement decision was therefore correct.

Posted by: b | May 21 2008 19:26 utc | 9

b,
I generally enjoy your blog but you don't have your facts here. The French didn't have to do much more than mobilize and move 10 miles across into Germany on a line to Koblenz and the German Generals would have forced Hitler to cave. Hitler was bluffing and it worked because Chamberlain caved first. The French were (albeit reluctantly) good to go and the German Army was only about 2/3s combat ready. Most of the post 1937 wave of new divisions weren't much past training. As for the air force, the Luftwaffe was about half modern early Bf-109's and new bombers and half very, very poor biplanes and JU-52's as bombers. The French might not have had anything up to Messerschmidts' level but they weren't that far down, the Messies were b and c models, top speed of 290 mph, weak armaments, The main French fighter the Dewotine 501 was probably up to it, though a bit slower. The point of it is that by 1939 the Wehrmacht was a lot better than it was in 1938. At the point of Munich, it was essentially not much different from a WW 1 force with 4 weak and not really ready Panzer divisions and with a High Command which was still stuck in the past. Take a breather. Iran isn't Hitler and a deal with Khameini won't hurt anyone but Munich was a big mistake.

Posted by: John Shreffler | May 21 2008 20:24 utc | 10

John, you must be new here

Posted by: | May 21 2008 20:34 utc | 11

the question is moral as well as military

if fascism was not really what it is - a stage of imperialism - then hitler could have been stopped in spain

it was spain where the real test was - because the west failed it & failed it miserably all the history the painful history we have & are living through might not have happened

the world which ignored spain - is the same world that is ignoring iraq

all that passed in the west was inconsequential - consistent with the facts - & the facts are these - it was the soviet union that defeated fascism - essentially alone

the whole notion encouraged by anglo saxon culture with the so-called battle of britain or the dam busters etc etc - is in essence delusions of grandeur. the fiascos of dunkirk, dieppe, crete, singapore - operation market garden - tell the tale more clearly & with exactitude

the magnificent, bent & tortured russian soul - men & women - the exemplary cunning & nobility of their military cadre won the war for all of us - & were in a sense preparing for it in spain

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 21 2008 20:53 utc | 12

Well, I think one factor to take into account is that all major players, British, French and German people, wanted peace. It would be tough to convince French and British people to support an aggressive war against Germany - it was even tough to convince them to back Poland, and they basically sat there doing nothing until Hitler went after them in 1940.
Yet at the same time, most Germans wanted peace, and Hitler's propaganda actually was that he was a man of peace wanting peace, and up until Sept. 1939 the Germans could be tricked to believe it, because he managed to get sucesses without any fighting. I'm not sure the Germans would have been too keen on Hitler if the French had attacked after Munich. It might've been a wake-up call; then, it might not, we can't be sure.

Still, Hitler was bluffing against the Czech, and he was even bluffing against France in 1940 - many in the staff thought it was foolish and too risky to attack France.
In fact, it's only after Hitler beat France in 6 weeks and with less deaths than during one week of WWI that most of the Germans finally thought they could kick ass in war again and discarded their more or less pacifist leanings. Which eventually led to the biggest bluff against USSR.

Britain could have made peace after 1940, obviously. It wouldn't have cost them much - Hitler had shown he wanted peace with them, for now at least, by letting the troops withdraw from Dunkirk. Which means one of two things would have occurred in the next 10 years: either Germany would have beaten up USSR, and when most of Eurasia was divided between Japan and Germany, Hitler would've gone against Britain at long last (these guys wanted world conquest, and they meant it), or Germany would eventually have lost, and you would have seen an entirely communist continental Europe - well, tough to guess if Stalin would've stopped at France or would've ended up smashing up Franco and Salazar -, in which case UK could've feared they were next in line.
Basically, as soon as the Western UK-France alliance was beaten by a major power, the British empire was over, whatever would happen, because no outcome could possibly ensure their survival as a global player.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | May 21 2008 22:14 utc | 13

there is a myth of german invincibility. there is the cold war myth of the great genius of the the german high command. when they murdered their old pals röhm & strasser in the night of the long knives - they showed what they were. common murderers. prussian common murderers & austrian technicians

they fought against general staffs of the imperial powers that were in every sense knuckleheads & perhaps only thecertifiably mad bomber harris was up to the 'talent' of the german high command - & here i use the word high very very loosely

the russians however had genius on nearly every front. general after general, the leading cadre had after all been through stalin's purges - the cadre & even the political officer possessed a kind of toughness that western generals whether german or english - didn't come within distance

& then you have these people, this incredible people who knew what words & worlds were. the russians saved the sorry ass of this so called civilisation we celebrate in the bloody sands & cities of iraq & afghanistan

stalin understood that it was an imperial war but i think he underestimated the ruthlessness of the u s


Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 21 2008 22:49 utc | 14

From what I have read about the Eastern front the German Army pretty much kicked Russian ass. Those brilliant Russian generals remembereringgiap speaks of lost a whole lot of men and territory.

as I recall it was the russian winter that beat the Germans.

don't kid yourself, there is a great abundance of stupidity and it is not limited to capitalists.

Posted by: dan of steele | May 21 2008 23:37 utc | 15

dos

on this my friend - you are quite wrong. even historians wholly unsympathetic to the russians acknowledge clearly the tactical & strategic genius - of their commanders of their cadre & of their soldiers

& given the fact that almost a third of all the military cadre had been purged by stalin in 1937 - their genius was borne of circumstance & of them knowing that they were fighting against a country that desired its physical anhilation

errors that stalin made - in timing for example - were never repeated- unlike those in the west where set pieces were produced & reproduced even though they possessed no connection with reality

i am unaware of any serious historian - - who underestimates what the russians did. i am prepared to defend this point in detail

the point however i was making was - fascism could have been fought in spain - because all the fascist currents converged in spain & if they had been decisively beaten & the republic had survived - i doubt even the buffoons of the german, french & british high command would have ever wanted another war because of the risks it involved with their own people

spain was the first test of what civilised humanity could live with - & guernica possesses the resonance it does precisely for that fact

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 21 2008 23:50 utc | 16

conventional wisdom has it that if Hitler had not attacked Russia, he would probably have won the war. Nothing exceptional about this as many wars have been lost by arrogant overly-ambitious leaders who over-reached.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 22 2008 0:46 utc | 17

sorry for being an old soldier

but in fact fascism ought to have been defeated in the streets of munich, hamburg & berlin sometime in the 20's. unfortunately it wasn't. & now it is the perfect model for the u s empire

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 22 2008 1:06 utc | 18

Not attacking Russia would not have won the war - it would have been a totally different war. The dream was to do to the Slavs what white people did to whatever colored people they could get their hands on, circa 1800. Something like 90% of the German deaths were fighting against the Soviets or in their camps.

Posted by: boxcar mike | May 22 2008 1:09 utc | 19

the circa 1800 comment does not mean that it does not go on now

Posted by: boxcar mike | May 22 2008 1:40 utc | 21

'giap: your passionate defense of Russia's military prowess and the pride of language that produced literary masters got me thinking about how dangerous the u s humiliation campaign against Russia really is. a people's national character grows stronger when attacked. Chinese nationalism has benefited from how the west perceives the conflict in Tibet, and if attacked it's not hard to imagine Iranian nationalism will coalesce. i still think amerika's relative age as a nation is a major factor in the arrogance we project; a component of our national character.

and to help illustrate amerika's character for my neighbors, i have a sign listing the early warning signs of fascism propped up in my window for all to see.

POWERFUL AND CONTINUING NATIONALISM

DISDAIN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

IDENTIFICATION OF ENEMIES AS A UNIFYING CAUSE

SUPREMACY OF THE MILITARY

RAMPANT SEXISM

CONTROLLED MASS MEDIA

OBSESSION WITH NATIONAL SECURITY

RELIGION AND GOVERNMENT INTERTWINED

CORPORATE POWER PROTECTED

LABOR POWER SUPPRESSED

DISDAIN FOR INTELLECTUALS AND THE ARTS

OBSESSION WITH CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

RAMPANT CRONYISM AND CORRUPTION

FRAUDULENT ELECTIONS

Posted by: Lizard | May 22 2008 4:50 utc | 22

THere are other stories that the German generals were ready to remove Hitler from power for dragging Germany into a suicidal war, but upon his triumphal return from Munich, he was untouchable.

Hitler's first great victories were more political than military: he knew exactly how is opponents would react - or fail to react as the case may be.

And his greatest failures were political: Britain was not ready to consider peace, the USSR did not collapse, even after falling back all the way to Moscow, the Allies finally put together a coherent common front and turned thier economies to burying him in production.

Posted by: | May 22 2008 6:10 utc | 23

@b

Altogether you miss the main point - the people in charge in the UK, France and Chechia decided in 1938 that they could not win a war against Germany. They were correct in that estimate.

Well my point was: They were very very wrong 1938 is about the last time France could have won against Germany, esp. with british help. The momentum was turning against them.

Otherwise, if they had been right, then they should not have stood against the invasion of poland, should have let Hitler enslave all the peaople in the east - surely you are not suggesting this.

They also had 16 administrations within 8 years. There was no political decision capability in France. You miss that dimension when you talk about "strength".

Well, of course you are right in this part. Still, Hitlers Wehrmacht in 1938 was nothing like what it was in 1939.

Most of the German divisions were mobile - unlike the French. The German air force was modern, unlike the French.

All through the war most of the german divisions relied on horse-drawn vehicles. Maybe this was a bit better when the Wehrmacht's size was a tiny fraction of the war strength.


I can agree to a weakend version of your original post: There are times, when talking and compromise (=appeasment) are the correct course, one of the few exceptions being Hitler. It all depends on time and circumstances.

Now, this begs the question - how to find out if a countries leader can be appeased or not?

Well, Hitler wrote "Mein Kampf". Which was not only full of hate against everyone not blond and blue-eyed (and even contemptous of them), but he laid down the foundations of his world view: Fight "to the knife" between peoples and races, until complete annihilation. Any of his actions can be attributed to this world view.

Now, does this not sound a little bit like "Clash of Cultures"?

The second telltale might be Hitlers complete disdain for every kind of international law or treaty. Sounds familiar, too...

This is why I believe that you, b, are wrong with your example. But if it is applied to a new situation, care should be taken to put everyone into the correct category.

Posted by: No So Ana | May 22 2008 6:22 utc | 24

Isn't it time someone points out to BushCo, to the American people, and to the whole world, that right now the only appeasement would be to let the US rule Iraq and decide what's best for Iran, for it's the US that wages wars of aggression and makes outrageous demandes on independant countries of this world.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | May 22 2008 8:01 utc | 25

@Joe

I certainly was not talking about appeasing Iran

Posted by: No So Ana | May 22 2008 8:35 utc | 26

Heres my favorite commenter at Defense and National Interest on appeasement, sic Munich:

Dr_Vomacton 20 May 2008 at 1:06 pm 2

Gadzooks! Thank you Chet, for bringing up one of my top 5 pet peeves. Words do not exist that aptly describe the apoplectic state that seizes me whenever I hear the phrase “another Munich”—so I won’t go into it.

Santayana remarked on the perils of failing to learn from history (lest it repeat itself), but he neglected to mention the propensity of fools to repeat themselves. To learn from history, one must first understand it, but those fools who govern us seem to have have neither the inclination to study history, nor a willingness to listen to those who who have.
It shouldn’t be necessary to elaborate on the sheer stupidity of the idea that it’s wrong to negotiate with someone you don’t like. Why else does one negotiate, except to get something one wants or needs from someone whom one doesn’t like or trust? If you got along well with the other party, a quiet conversation and a handshake would be enough.

There’s no doubt that Chamberlain failed to understand Hitler’s character; but Hitler’s misunderstanding of the character of the English democracy and institutions was equally profound. Unwittingly, Chamberlain put Hitler into a position into a position that caused Hitler to make what was, perhaps, the single most fatal mistake of his career: he revealed to the British that he was not a gentleman

Had Hitler abided by the Munich agreement, Chamberlain would have gone down in history as a great peacemaker—and Hitler as one of the greatest German statesmen of history. But when Hitler broke the Munich accord by seizing the Czechoslovak rump state, he utterly demolished the position of the “peace party” in Britain. He made crystal clear that he could not be trusted to keep any agreement. And that is what tipped the balance against him: the British peace party was discredited, the Chamberlain government issued the Polish “guarantee”, and then gave way to Churchill the war leader.

One could argue that had Chamberlain not flown to Munich, there would have been no clear threshold for Hitler to cross, and Britain might never have intervened on the Continent at all.

Posted by: anna missed | May 22 2008 9:07 utc | 27

wasn't the Nazi Party (Don't be stupid be a smarty...) slipping under until infused by industrialist cash, cash from the wealthy of many nations expecting perhaps a proxy vs. Stalin and his Red Horde

remember, all bluff until Poland and then... nothing. Sitzkrieg. If you look at a timeline, the allies seemed to sit on their hands, watching the eagle and the bear circle each other, completely unprepared for the storm, then Hilter zagged left and the party began in earnest

from what i've read, the nazis enjoyed a technological advantage of some 20 years at the start of the war (much like the US today). Tanks with cannons would cut through tanks with HMGs like a hot knife through butter, and did (tanks with DU would cut through anything...)

then the Pink Panzers seemed to get mesmerized by tech and under produced all kinds of neat killing toys - the Ferdinand fer instance - (this deadly toybox became the prize paperclip at the end of the war) versus 50,000 half-assed Shermans and large numbers of not-so-half-assed T-34s (and the winter - their vehicles fared as poorly as their spiffy uniforms as they were not designed for a winter when it would be all over long before then...)

Posted by: jcairo | May 22 2008 9:13 utc | 28

jcairo,

You know, in 1940...Germans were the ones with tanks with machine guns (2/3 of the panzers were Pz I and II, with machine guns). Even the gun-armed tanks (mostly Czech) were useless against British and French heavy tanks.

Regardless, it's not to say that Western powers should or could have gone to war against Germany in 1938. The West, especially in combination with the Czechs, no doubt enjoyed substantial military advantage against the Germans in 1938, but they lacked a cause. As anna missed notes above, Hitler did not become Hitler until the guarantees of Munich were casually violated and Hitler revealed himself to be someone who can't be dealt with. Until then, the publics in Britain and France would never have stood for war, for such war would have been seemingly fought solely for the sake of keeping ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia under Czech rule.

Posted by: kao_hsien_chih | May 22 2008 16:04 utc | 29

@29 and others,

I think Hitler showed himself to be Hitler at Guernica and other Spanish cities. The West sat by.
The Soviets were on the other side (another debate, another time), Zhukov was busy in Manchuria against the Japanese in an interesting sidebar to this period. Link

There were no illusions as to the dangers of these countries, even from the view of colonialist rivalries. Perhaps the full nature of fascism was not known and western capitalist just saw it as a danger because it led to a more controlled labor force that would be hard to compete against. Revisionist historians now point to the unwillingness of Britain and France to ease Germany's economic problems as one of the main enablers of Hitler's rise rather than appeasement.

Posted by: biklett | May 22 2008 16:59 utc | 30

@jcairo

two points (kao made the third point for me):
1) Having better tanks does not ensure victory. In fact, I believe that more campains were won against the better tanks than using them. Even having both more and better tanks does not ensure your victory. Examples: USSR in 41, French and US in Vietnam

2) The question asked in the original post was: Was it the right thing to appease in Munich 38, or should GB and France have threatened war (with a high likelyhood that this would have resulted in war.) Now, this is a moral question, where technology is only a small part of it. In essence, the question is: Would more horror (deaths, maimed people, ...) result by appeasment, or by hardline threats backed by force? I believe that in 38 France might have won where in 40 they failed, because the Wehrmacht increased in size, quality and morale in the meantime. Which would have prevented the extermination of millions of poles, russians ... even if the jews would have suffered the same. (More details in my other posts.) Where do you stand on this issue?

@biklett

Yes, Hitler showed himself to be a menace even before 38. Anyone paying attention would have known that he would have violated even those laws he made himself where it suited him, that he would resort to arbitrary violence without second thougths (Reichskristallnacht), that he considered life to be a constant violent struggle and never has considered alliances as being more than temporary. (See the coalition which brought him to top.) Because of this there would have been sufficient reason to know that there is no way that any agreement with him would last.

Posted by: No So Ana | May 22 2008 19:50 utc | 31

"Most tank versions of the Panzer II were armed with a 2 cm KwK 30 L/55 cannon. Some later versions employed the 2 cm KwK 38 L/55 which was similar. This cannon was based on the 2 cm FlaK 30 anti-aircraft gun, and was capable of firing at a rate of 280 rounds per minute, a very high rate for a tank. The Panzer II also had a 7.92 mm Maschinengewehr 34 machine gun mounted coaxially with the main gun."

"Panzer II Ausf. a (PzKpfw IIa)" - this is the first pre-production iteration of the model and armed with a "2 cm KwK 30 L/55 gun with TZF4 gun sight, turret mounted"

So you were saying aboot Nazis tanks having all machine guns?

Don't forget that most of these bozos, not the Nazis, were still fellating Napoleon - Polish Lancers anyone? The Nazis would have steamrolled any military it faced.

I love how you folks shamelessly just make shit up to support your verbal diarrhea

Posted by: jcairo | May 23 2008 10:48 utc | 32

@jcairo

The Czech had lots of tanks with 37mm gun , the French had a few thousend tanks with 37mm, 47mm and 75mm guns. (More types can easily be looked up, now that you have found wikipedia).
Not that the quality of a tank seems to matter as much as you seem to think.

Once more: The Wehrmacht of 1938 was lacking several things it had in 1940: It had a third of the size, what troops it had were mostly half-trained, the equipment was of worse quality (e.g. no Czech tanks) and most important: The german soldier of 1940 had utter confidence into his own capability, into the might of the german arms, and into Hitlers leadership. In 1938 the gernerals were discussing disposing Hitler rather than attacking czechoslovakia, in 1940 they executed a risky plan at his say-so.

Posted by: No So Ana | May 23 2008 16:53 utc | 33

2 cm = 20 mm
here is a 20 mm sniper rifle, I guess you could call it a cannon if you wanted to.

Posted by: dan of steele | May 23 2008 17:13 utc | 34

Do we really need to have a tank discussion? Oh well (I am trained and certified tank officer.)

Look at speed and horsepower per tons of deadweight. The ammunition diameter of a tank is irrelevant in most engagements. It only becomes relevant in tank on tank fights at large distances. At 300 yards a 20mm gun with rapid fire is quite sufficiant against about anything. The Germans practiced mobile warfare and combined arms engagement - high speed, rapid movement, close engagements. The later allies were quite behind on this.

Anyway:

There are several arguments for Chamberlains position and the capacity to fight is only one.

- There was the mental will to fight, which was low at all sides.
- There was the moral 'grievance' the Germans had. 3.4 million of them in a fresh created hodge-pod state under rule of a different ethnicy. The people in Europe large thought the grievance was just and a correction needed.
- There were political and military constrains within the British empire, including fear of communism, that argued against any conflict with Germany.

Chamberlains decision was correct.

Posted by: b | May 23 2008 18:16 utc | 35

Tanks, b

Posted by: biKlett | May 23 2008 19:29 utc | 36

tanks, you very much, b

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 23 2008 20:30 utc | 37

@b

you are right, the discussion got sidetracked to its least important aspect.

I guess we will have to agree to disagree where it concerns appeasment towards Hitler in 1938.

But how do we apply the lesons of the past to todays situation? This question unfortunatly got swamped by the tanks.

As I was arguing that Chamberlain et al should have taken a stand against agression - is this a fitting analogy to todays situation in the Gulf region? I believe so, at least to a certain extent, but I do not consider Iran to be in the role of NS-Germany, not in the least.

To the differences: 1) acting against a madman is one thing, acting against an agressor with 10000+ nukes is something completely different. 2) The situation seems to be slow-moving, military agression is not imminent. This is important since major players will be replaced in the near future.

n the end ... it seems like I am arguing appeasment as well. Even if I do not apply the term to negotiations with Iran.

Posted by: No So Ana | May 24 2008 7:24 utc | 38

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