What were the effects of the rise of Nazism on England and France?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the effects of Nazism's rise on England and France was embracing appeasement as a way to offset Hitler's growing power. Interestingly enough, another effect was to force both nations to examine their own commitment against war.

The belief that motivated appeasement was that giving into Hitler's demands now would prevent war later.  England and France initially recognized that the rise of Nazism could be best addressed through appeasing German demands. This led to Hitler demanding an increasing amount of territory in Europe, something that both England and France were willing to embrace.  They saw it as a potential avenue to blunt the rising power of Nazi Germany. The Munich Conference in 1938 was one example of how appeasement impacted England and France. At Munich, France and England agreed to Hitler's plans of expanding Nazi Germany and increasing his hold over Europe.  Both nations willingly acquiesced to Hitler's demands in the hopes of containing the rise of Nazism.  

Over time, it became clear that appeasement was a major test of both nations's willingness to avoid war.  England and France embraced appeasement because a large portion of their population did not want to repeat the horrific experiences of World War I.  This was evident as both nations' leaders returned home after Munich.  In England, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain waved a piece of paper with Hitler's signature, later proclaiming to jubilant crowds that he had achieved "peace in our time." French leader Edouard Daladier was expecting to be booed when he returned. When the French crowed cheered, he was reported to have said, "Ah, les cons (morons)!"  Both leaders received a high level of praise as a result of embracing appeasement.  This shows how the rise of Nazism triggered a fear of past experiences in war.  Hitler knew this when he remarked to one of his generals, "Our enemies are small worms.  I saw them at Munich."   Hitler understood that one of the effects of the rise of Nazism on England and France was a fear of escalated warfare.

It has to be understood that "Nazism" then is not the same as it is perceived today.  We now see "Nazism" as a political evil that must be stopped at all costs.  When the term is used, it is meant to inspire action.  However, England and France saw it quite differently as it was on the rise.  They did not see it as something which immediately necessitated action . Rather, they saw it as triggering their own fears of war and something which which negotiation could be undertaken.  Many citizens in England and France did not see Nazism as repugnant.  They saw war are abhorrent, and something to avoid at all costs.