American Appeasement: United States Foreign Policy and Germany, 1933-1938

By Arnold A. Offner | Go to book overview
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PREFACE

Crisis at home and abroad seems to be the prevalent state of modern society, and this condition was especially characteristic of the 1930's. The administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, from the moment of its inauguration, confronted the consequences of the Great Depression and the challenges that Germany and Japan posed to international stability. Historians of the era have tended to focus first on the domestic reform of 1933-1938, and only later have they turned full attention to foreign affairs, especially the events in Asia that precipitated United States entry into the Second World War.

Germany under Adolf Hitler, however, did not wait for other nations to alleviate their domestic problems, and during 1933-1938 the Roosevelt government had to deal with successive crises that undermined European and ultimately American security and contributed significantly to the tragedies that soon engulfed the world. For the United States, the "German problem" was difficult and ironic. In the 1920's Americans had used diplomacy and dollars energetically to reintegrate Germany into the Western political and economic community, and German diplomats had emphasized good relations with the United States as one means of revising the Treaty of Versailles and altering, the balance of power in Europe.

From the historical record--and the luxury of retrospect--we see that Hitler's accession to power and the dynamics of National Socialism quickly made inappropriate or irrelevant many traditional assumptions about problems old and new. At the time, honest men could and did differ about the nature of the problems they faced and the solutions that were needed. The record also makes clear that some men were more prescient than others, and that American and European diplomats for a variety of reasons missed opportunities to shape events to the benefit of their own and later generations. The following book is a history of America's role in the appeasement of Germany during the European crises of 1933-1938.

-vii-

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