Appeasement Before it Became the A...... Word

Thursday 5th November 1936

The King’s speech two days before had promised that the government would pursue its policy of the “appeasement “ of Europe. The word had yet to acquire its pejorative connotations and meant no more than the bringing of peace to. So much was clear from the speech by Anthony Eden in the debate on foreign policy. It was a thoroughly pacific performance.

The main goal seemed to be to restore faith in the League of Nations after a “single failure”. Italy, the author of this failure came in for gentle treatment with an assurance that he recognized that the Mediterranean was “vital” to Italy as well. The only hint of firmness was to reject German claims that they had been financially oppressed. The commitment to rearmament crept in as an afterthought in terms that made it painfully clear that the programme was merely to remedy gross weakness.