The ‘Appeasement Argument’ game The following approach should work with most pupils: (5 mins) Setting the Scene



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The ‘Appeasement Argument’ game
The following approach should work with most pupils:

1. (5 mins) Setting the Scene

a. Rant a bit about how pupils have opinions in so many things - e.g. Tony Blair, Iraq, politicians, Britney Spears - when actually they know virtually NOTHING about what they are talking about. Such opinions are really prejudices, not opinions. If they are going to form proper opinions, they should form them by properly examining the evidence. (This is important, because it makes them draw their ideas from the materials you are giving them.)

b. Divide the class into two groups, and give out the Judgements on Appeasement factsheets. Explain that these statements are all culled from the internet about appeasement, and so they will be able to read them and come to a properly-formed opinion.

c. What the pupils DON'T know is that, in fact, there are TWO different factsheets. One has an overwhelming balance of statements IN FAVOUR of appeasement, the other is hugely biased AGAINST appeasement. The two worksheets LOOK identical, but give copies of one out to one group, copies of the other out to the second group.



2. (5 mins) Give the pupils some reading time.

3. (5 mins) Pair Work
Tell the pupils, working with a partner (within their larger group), to go through the statements, deciding whether they are FOR or AGAINST appeasement, and whether they think that particular statement is a STRONG or a WEAK argument.

4. (5 mins) Group decision

a. Appoint a convener for each group, and get them - using the ideas they have formed from their reading and pair work - to discuss as a group what they think of appeasement.

b. After about 10 minutes, ask the pupils to indicate by a show of hands who has decided for, and who is against appeasement. Given the biased documentation supplied, here should be overwhelming support within the groups for or against appeasement. You can either tell the isolates that they have to change and work with their group, or move them into the other group. Remember, if you move them, to unobtrusively make them leave also their factsheets, so that the pupils might not click that they are being manipulated.

5. (10 mins) Preparation for the Debate

a. Tell the two opposing groups that you are about to arrange an open debate between the two sides. The initial statements will be made by an 'Any Questions' style set-up, with two people from each side making opening statements, but that then you will open up the debate to statements and questions from other people.

b. The side you adjudge to be the winner will get off any homework; the side you adjudge to be the loser will have to do extra homework (obviously they need it), making notes on the factsheets.

c. Set the preparation tasks, therefore, of:

- selecting their two representatives and helping them work out an opening speech which will be hard-hitting and 'make the case'.

- letting them practise making the speech, with a 'coach' to help them deliver it better.

- work out obvious 'help you' questions to ask their own representatives during the wider debate.

- work out hard unaswerable questions to ask the representatives of the other side.



6. (up to 15 mins) Debate

a. Set up the 'Any Questions' table,

b. Start the debate, with the opening statements from the two teams.

c. Throw the debate open to other statements and questions, and sit back and enjoy the sparks! From time to time, draw in pupils who might be happy to sit back and let others do all the talking.

d. At the end, declare the debate a draw and let everybody off their homework!

Judgements on Appeasement


All the following statements about appeasement have been taken from the internet. They are not arranged in any kind of order. They include statements from many different people – one was said by Winston Churchill in the House of Commons in 1938; one was written by ‘Mosquito’ on a children’s web-forum. As you read them, make your mind up about what YOU – on balance – think about the policy of appeasement.


Appeasement is not always wrong. All concessions among enemies cannot be mistaken, or else politics would consist of little more than fighting.

The policy of Appeasement was a system of yields, compromises, and sacrificial offerings to Hitler's Germany that allowed him time to rebuild the German military into an amazing whirlwind machine…

Britain’s small army was too weak to go to war in 1938; Britain needed time to re-arm.
The Americans were determined to be isolationist. France did not want war. And Britain could not fight Germany alone.

Chamberlain's appeasement was not a feeble policy of surrender and unlimited retreat. Chamberlain thought that war was futile and rejected it but never followed peace at any price… the war was going to happen anyway, and appeasement did not make it any more likely than either the weakness of the League of Nations or Hitler's desire to be a world dominator.

Britain could not defend her empire AND fight a war in Europe.

Hitler was evil, and Chamberlain SHOULD have opposed him – end of argument.

It must be understood that [appeasement] was extremely popular both with politicians and the general public.

Appeasement was a reversion to and an extension of traditional British foreign policy and diplomacy, which during the 19th century had sought to avoid entangling itself in the problems of Europe.

"Appeasement" is descended from the Latin word meaning "to bring to peace." While the practice of appeasement in the real world has been a consistent failure, this does not mean that the idea, or the ideal, of appeasing others' grievances peacefully is necessarily a bad thing. It would seem to most sensible people, I think, that a signal mark of a civilized mentality is to refrain from resorting to war or issuing murderous snarls the moment a grievance or disagreement is aired by the other side. Such vulgar, instinctive behavior is best left to animals and beasts like Hitler, Stalin, and the rest of their ilk.

War was recklessness.

The best selling book perpetuating the guilt of various incompetent British statesmen, Guilty Men, was reprinted twenty-two times before October 1940. Its central message was that the appeasers were a bunch of stupid and pathetic men who offered concessions at someone else's expense. These men, led by Chamberlain, should have realized that by 1935 that they were dealing with someone with a insatiable territorial appetite. Churchill commented that, "There was never a war more easier to stop."

At a more sophisticated level, Appeasement was a sensible "middle ground" that would be a highly sensible foreign policy in the light of Britain's economic problems. If not for Hitler's wanton aggression which induced such moral outrage among the hysterical electorate that force Chamberlain's hand in 1939, Appeasement might just work. Thus, the Appeasement was portrayed as more complex issue than a simple failure to heed ominous warnings.

Appeasement was worth trying

Appeasement was useless to stop a man like Hitler, who would never be satisfied in his demands.
Matters at the time were not as clear-cut as we see them nowadays. German propaganda claimed that Germans in the Sudetenland and Poland were being mistreated.

Appeasement was justified by the interaction between the factors of a poorly equipped military that had to provide a global defence for all of Britain's territories, an anti-war mindset among the population, and economic circumstances that pointed to the avoidance of a large-scale conflict.

Appeasement gave Hitler the advantage. He grew stronger and stronger. When war came it was against a strong Germany, in Poland – a country we could never hope to send help to.

The critical factor was that Chamberlain was not a dictator with the right to start a war if he pleased. He could not go to war without the support of the people – and until 1939 most people wanted peace, almost at any price.

Although contemporaries and scholars during and after the war criticized Chamberlain for believing that Hitler could be appeased, recent research argues that Chamberlain was not so naive and that appeasement was a shrewd policy developed to buy time for an ill-prepared Britain to rearm.

At first, appeasement was simply giving Germany justice. The Treaty of Versailles was unfair and Hitler’s actions all seemed reasonable.

It meant that, when war eventually came, Britain had the morale advantage. If Britain had gone to war over the Rhineland, most of the population would have been opposed to war, because most people in Britain at that time agreed with Hitler that the Treaty if Versailles WAS unfair in this respect. Britain could never have won the Second World War with doubt on the home front. Appeasement meant that, when Chamberlain did eventually declare war, the British people went to war knowing that they had done everything in their power AND MORE to keep the peace. And that knowledge helped to keep them going through six years of total war.
The bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War showed what German bombers could do to Britain if there was a war.

Appeasement was a genuine attempt to keep the peace by a good man who did not want to see millions of young men die needlessly.

It was obvious by 1938 that the League of Nations was dead and that only force would stop Japan, Italy and Germany. If Chamberlain had been a statesman of any ability whatsoever he would have realised it.

Chamberlain was undeniably right when he said that ‘war is a fearful thing, and before you embark on it you must make sure that it is the great issues that are involved’. Appeasement was simply the time during which the British people made up their minds about war. And in waiting for that process to take its due course, Chamberlain was absolutely correct. You only have to look at the response in Britain to the 2003 Iraq war to see that it is better to go to war too late, than too early. Appeasement was merely a process of making sure.

Many people – particularly young people - still believed in the League of Nations, and in its assertion that quarrels could be ended by negotiation.

It encouraged Hitler to think he could do anything he wanted. In this way it actually helped to cause World War Two.

Appeasement was based on the experience of 1914, when the nations of Europe tumbled into war. July 1914 seemed to demonstrate the dangers of an excessively confrontational policy when, faced with apparently excessive demands by Austria toward Serbia, all the Powers decided the only thing to do was to stand up for themselves, their rights, their "interests," their allies—and the result had been calamity.

War was an inevitability once Hitler came to power and appeasement was, in reality the only viable option given the circumstances.

In the 1930s, Britain was in the middle of the greatest economic depression ever known. The policy of appeasement was the only policy Britain could afford.

The Labour Party wanted to spend money on housing and social care, not re-armament – and they were right; there was desperate poverty in Britain, and it needed dealing with. It was right that they should out the needs of British people first.


Judgements on Appeasement
All the following statements about appeasement have been taken from the internet. They are not arranged in any kind of order. They include statements from many different people – one was said by Winston Churchill in the House of Commons in 1938; one was written by ‘Mosquito’ on a children’s web-forum. As you read them, make your mind up about what YOU – on balance – think about the policy of appeasement.


Appeasement gave Hitler the advantage. He grew stronger and stronger. When war came it was against a strong Germany, in Poland – a country we could never hope to send help to.

Traditionally, appeasement was regarded as a naive policy that gave the democracies the appearance of weakness and encouraged the Fascist powers in their attempts to construct empires. Its failure in preventing World War II coloured the diplomacy of the immediate post-war period and the decline into Cold War, and continues to impact upon the foreign policies of western nations today.

Hitler was evil, and Chamberlain SHOULD have opposed him – end of argument.

It must be understood that [appeasement] was extremely popular both with politicians and the general public.

At a more sophisticated level, Appeasement was a sensible "middle ground" that would be a highly sensible foreign policy in the light of Britain's economic problems. If not for Hitler's wanton aggression which induced such moral outrage among the hysterical electorate that force Chamberlain's hand in 1939, Appeasement might just work. Thus, the Appeasement was portrayed as more complex issue than a simple failure to heed ominous warnings.

It showed that Chamberlain had no experience of international politics. Hitler made a fool of him.

Appeasement was an indulgence in wishful thinking at the price of principle

The policy of Appeasement was a system of yields, compromises, and sacrificial offerings to Hitler's Germany that allowed him time to rebuild the German military into an amazing whirlwind machine…

Appeasement was not the only policy choice possible. Chamberlain and his colleagues made choices among alternative possibilities, and gave persuasion priority over coercion. In 1938 they could have secured support at home for an anti-German alliance and worked to build a barrier to Hitler's expansion. They chose not to do so. Thus Chamberlain's "powerful, obstinate personality and his skill in debate probably stifled serious chances of preventing the Second World War"
Matters at the time were not as clear-cut as we see them nowadays. German propaganda claimed that Germans in the Sudetenland and Poland were being mistreated.

Appeasement was moral cowardice.

The best selling book perpetuating the guilt of various incompetent British statesmen, Guilty Men, was reprinted twenty-two times before October 1940. Its central message was that the appeasers were a bunch of stupid and pathetic men who offered concessions at someone else's expense. These men, led by Chamberlain, should have realized that by 1935 that they were dealing with someone with a insatiable territorial appetite. Churchill commented that, "There was never a war more easier to stop."

Appeasement did mean, however, that the war took place on a much larger scale than it would have if something had been done sooner as Hitler may have not drawn his entire population of native Germans home from other countries such as Poland and would not have had the scale of army that he had by the time war had commenced.

Appeasement is always wrong

It abandoned millions of Austrians and Czechs to the brutal Nazi terror.

At first, appeasement was simply giving Germany justice. The Treaty of Versailles was unfair and Hitler’s actions all seemed reasonable.

Any man who thought ‘a piece of paper’ would hold Hitler was a fool.

The Conservative Party was rotten at the core. The only thing they cared about was their property and their cash. The only thing they feared was that one day those nasty Communists would come and take it… They made violent, pacifist speeches; and voted steadily against the miserable Defence Estimates for the years 1935-1938.

Appeasement was a mistake, pure and simple. Chamberlain utterly misjudged Hitler.

Appeasement is not always wrong. All concessions among enemies cannot be mistaken, or else politics would consist of little more than fighting.

As it became evident that the policy of appeasement had failed in 1939 and that Britain would in fact go to war, the Liberal Leader Sir Archibald Sinclair expressed his feelings on the achievements of appeasement " We have eaten dirt in vain" This statement is clearly expressing the fact that Britain had tolerated the deceitful acts of Germany to no avail or successes, that the policy of appeasement was deemed to fail from the onset, and concluding that the policy was pointless as it only prolonged the inevitable.

Appeasement was useless to stop a man like Hitler, who would never be satisfied in his demands.

A firm stand by France and Britain, under the authority of the League of Nations, would have been followed by the immediate evacuation of the Rhineland without the shedding of a drop of blood; and the effects of that might have enabled the more prudent elements of the German Army to gain their proper position, and would not have given to Hitler the enormous ascendancy which has enabled him to move forward.

If Britain had stopped Hitler in 1936, before the Luftwaffe grew in strength, there would never have been a Blitz in 1940.

Chamberlain was undeniably right when he said that ‘war is a fearful thing, and before you embark on it you must make sure that it is the great issues that are involved’. Appeasement was simply the time during which the British people made up their minds about war. And in waiting for that process to take its due course, Chamberlain was absolutely correct. You only have to look at the response in Britain to the 2003 Iraq war to see that it is better to go to war too late, than too early. Appeasement was merely a process of making sure.

I believe that in 1938 and 1939 [Chamberlain] genuinely felt that God had sent him into this world to obtain peace. [He] went the wrong way about it. He decided in the early stages of his discussions to treat Hitler as a normal human being and an important human being at that.

It was obvious by 1938 that the League of Nations was dead and that only force would stop Japan, Italy and Germany. If Chamberlain had been a statesman of any ability whatsoever he would have realised it.

The true function of appeasement was to give Hitler a free hand to oppose the spread of Communism, and that the "Allies" -- especially Britain and France -- encouraged Hitler's rise and takeover of the Rhineland, Austria, and Czechoslovakia in the hopes that the Nazis would attack and overthrow the communist Soviet Union.

The Labour Party wanted to spend money on housing and social care, not re-armament – and they were right; there was desperate poverty in Britain, and it needed dealing with. It was right that they should out the needs of British people first.

Appeasement played into Hitler's grand scheme for a greater Germany in a dominant position in Europe.

It encouraged Hitler to think he could do anything he wanted. In this way it actually helped to cause World War Two.

In May 1939 A number of Conservative politicians formed ‘The Right Club’ to ‘oppose the activities of organised Jewry’ – in other words, they formed a fascist group. The fact that Chamberlain knew about this and did nothing shows that he was very right-wing and pro-Hitler in his own views.


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