Why did the invasion of Poland convince England and France to end their policy of appeasement in WWII?

1 Answer
Apr 30, 2018

It was the "final straw" that led to war


The Treaty of Versailles after World War One, stripped Germany of territory (as well as other punitive clauses), it also split up the Austro Hungarian Empire, creating "new" states in Central Europe

One of these was Czechoslovakia and part of its land was the Sudetenland whose population was predominantly ethnic German

Once Hitler came to power and absorbed Austria he began to exert pressure to regain the Sudetenland, in response to this the Czech government began to fortify their border with Germany

In 1938 the tension had risen to an extreme and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain held a series of meetings with Hitler to try and prevent war, the result was the "Munich Agreement" in which Czechoslovakia was forced to cede the Sudetenland to Germany in return Hitler gave the assurance there would be no more territorial demands

However 6 months later the Czech President was called to Berlin and issued an ultimatum that he stood down the Czech army and allowed German troops to enter the country or Prague would be bombed as part of an invasion

So Germany took over Czechoslovakia - This was a clear breach of the Munich Agreement, this led to Britain and France to issue a guarantee to Poland that any aggression by Germany would lead to war (When the Polish border was settled in the Versailles Treaty the City of Danzig remained part of Germany but it was isolated from the remainder of Germany by a strip of land given to Poland allowing them access to the Baltic Sea, this became known as the "Polish Corridor" and was also claimed by Germany

In September 1939 German troops crossed the border into Poland claiming that "Polish special forces has crossed into Germany captured a regional radio station at Gleiwitz and broadcast an anti German message, in fact this was an SS Operation carried out to give an excuse for war

On learning that Germany had invaded Poland Britain issued an Ultimatum to withdraw troops from Poland or Britain would declare war - it was ignored and Britain declared war