As always, Winston Churchill said it best. Here he is on March 24, 1938, less than two weeks after the Anschluss, the Nazi annexation of Austria:
For five years I have talked to the House on these matters—not with very great success. I have watched this famous island descending incontinently, fecklessly, the stairway which leads to a dark gulf. It is a fine broad stairway at the beginning, but after a bit the carpet ends. A little farther on there are only flagstones, and a little farther on still these break beneath your feet. . . . That is the position—that is the terrible transformation that has taken place bit by bit.
Churchill didn’t resign himself to this transformation: “Now is the time at last to rouse the nation. Perhaps it is the last time it can be roused with a chance of preventing war.” But the nation was not roused. Six months later was Munich. A year later, war.