Starting March of 1937 up until 1939 Hitler began his conquest to take back land that was taken from Germany during the Paris Peace Conference at the end of World War I. The Allies response to these recent invasions of neutral countries was to implement a policy known as appeasement to avoid war. Essentially appeasement is a negotiation tactic to try to avoid escalation of tensions and war. This policy ultimately failed and was one of the leading causes as to why Hitler was able to gain so much ground in Europe and inevitably cause World War II. This key cause of World War II is very important to remember especially today because as the saying goes “history repeats itself.”
That statement couldn’t be more true with the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine. Instead of taking action against Russia in the form of providing military aid to Ukraine the Western Allies continue to use appeasement to try to neutralize the Russian threat. So far just like in the 30’s with Hitler the same thing is happening now with Putin. With NATO’s use of appeasement Putin has essentially ignored it and has continued his invasion and has been gaining more ground daily with little to no actual push back from the western world.
To get a better understanding of how appeasement works one would have to look at what exactly were the Allies targeting against Germany during Hitler’s invasions of Europe. Their main target was to stop the expansion of Germany’s borders and the rise of their military by enforcing the League of Nations which was created after World War I. The purpose of the League of Nations was to ensure security of all members of the league. So if any country attacked another country that was a member of the League of Nations then all fellow members of the League would defend said country and assist them in any way possible. So during the appeasement meetings in the 30’s the Allies tried to threaten Hitler with the rule that if he were to attack any countries that are members of the League of Nations then military and economic action would be taken against Germany. However what these leaders of the League did not consider is the people they are trying to negotiate and appease with. These scare tactics are not going to work against dictators who are not afraid of confrontation and war. Once Germany invaded Poland in 1939 it was already too late for the Allies to prevent war because it was evident that Hitler and Mussolini were men who could not be appeased and thus World War II had begun.
Now with today’s conflict similarities can be drawn from those appeasement meetings during the 1930’s to the efforts to assist Ukraine from the western world. The way that appeasement is being implemented today is not exactly the same as it was almost 90 years ago, but the principle behind NATO’s actions remains mirrored that of the said appeasement meetings. What is important to note is the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has been going on for almost a decade. There have been many riots from the Ukrainian public against the Russian forces that have been trying to take certain parts of land in the past, and up until the invasion that started earlier this year there has only been condemnation of Putin’s actions against Ukraine from the western world and nothing more. So the similarities are quite clear between these two events in our history. However, now that there is a full on war between the two nations the western world has been trying to enact some aspects of appeasement against Russia.
These recent acts from NATO have been the previously mentioned condemning of Putin’s actions and openly siding with Ukraine in this conflict as well as enforcing economic sanctions on Russia in an attempt to suffocate the country’s economic structure and resources, trying to incorporate more European nations into NATO to prevent further invasions from Russia, and providing weapons of war to Ukraine so that their soldiers can fight back against Russia. When these actions were first put into place Ukraine had actually successfully fought back a number of invading waves of Russian forces, but these small victories were just that small, and not significant enough for Russia to consider retreating and leaving Ukraine alone. In fact, just like Hitler these sanctions and acts of alliance towards Ukraine from NATO just further enraged Putin even more and encouraged him to push the invasion with the full might of the Russian military and ignore all forms of political resistance from NATO. In fact Putin openly threatened all nations of NATO that if they were to continue with their sanctions and their involvement in the conflict that they would meet resistance as well. NATO has continued their efforts against Russia, and to this day Russia is still on the offensive and has successfully taken more land and Ukraine has recently suffered a string of defeats with little to no hope in sight.
So NATO’s actions seem to be failing just as it did almost 90 years ago. It has always been important for everyone, not just world leaders to know and understand world history for this exact reason. So that as a united group we can come together to prevent such acts from ever happening again. Unfortunately though the saying still remains true, “history repeats itself”. Hopefully this conflict does not escalate to a third world war but one thing is for certain more direct and affirmative action needs to be taken against Russia to help the innocent civilians of Ukraine.
This was taken at the signing of the Munich Agreement on September 30, 1938. The major world leaders involved in these appeasement talks can be seen in this photo. From left to right the prime minister of the UK Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of France Édouard Daladier, the dictator of Germany Adolf Hitler, the dictator of Italy Benito Mussolini, and the foreign minister of Italy Galeazzo Ciano.
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