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Colonialism and Decolonization in National Historical Cultures and Memory Politics in Europe

Modules for History Lessons

Edited By Uta Fenske, Daniel Groth, Klaus-Michael Guse and Bärbel P. Kuhn

Colonialism and decolonization are historical phenomena that are part of the historical experience of many European countries. This volume offers students and teachers a new understanding of how colonialism and decolonization fit into our shared European past and contains teaching materials for history classes in European schools. The contributions have been produced by the EU project CoDec, involving partners from Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Great Britain, Austria, Poland and Switzerland. Analyzing colonial pasts, processes of decolonization and memory politics in different European countries from comparative and transnational perspectives, the study presents useful sources and practical suggestions for cutting-edge history lessons in European schools.
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Reasons for Appeasement: The British Empire

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Introduction to the Module

Appeasement was the main feature of British foreign policy towards Hitler’s Germany between 1933 and 1939. Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940, was its main driving force. He believed that meeting some of Hitler’s territorial demands in Europe could prevent or at least delay another general European war. Appeasement has important connections with the decline of the British Empire. One reason why Chamberlain believed Appeasement could work was Hitler’s friendly stance towards Britain during the early to mid-1930s, a stance Hitler held partly because he admired the way the British ran their Empire. Chamberlain also believed, wrongly, that one way of appeasing Germany was to return some of the colonial territory it had lost following the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Finally, Chamberlain believed Appeasement could help ensure that Britain would not become committed to too many wars, and would thus be able to continue defending her empire. Appeasement also has important connections with decolonization. Governments in self-governing white-majority dominions demonstrated their increasingly independent attitude by adopting their own views on Appeasement rather than simply falling in line with the British government’s view. The growth of pro-German feeling among white South Africans further fuelled the British government’s fear that its grip on the Empire was weakening, and prompted it to increase its determination to pursue Appeasement. By contrast, Indian nationalists saw Appeasement as a betrayal of small countries, and a further reason to have nothing more to do with Britain...

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