A Man with a Mission

Part of the Studies in Diplomacy book series


Nevile Henderson’s appointment to the Berlin Embassy came as a surprise. He had, after all, seemingly been cast out of the ‘charmed European Inner Circle’ of the Foreign Office and been ‘moved very much to the periphery in Buenos Aires’.1 At the time he recorded his reaction in his memoirs, recognising ‘a sense of my own inadequacy for what was obviously the most difficult and most important post in the whole of the diplomatic service’. Henderson also believed that he had been ‘specially selected by Providence for the definite mission of, as I trusted, helping to preserve the peace of the world’.2 In this messianic spirit Henderson came back to Britain, reading Hitler’s Mein Kampf in its original German on the way home. While awaiting his transfer to Berlin, Henderson had an interview with Neville Chamberlain, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister designate, who

outlined to me his views on general policy towards Germany, and I think I may honestly say that to the last and bitter end I followed the general line which he set me, all the more easily and faithfully since it corresponded so closely with my private conception of the service which I could best render in Germany to my own country.3


Prime Minister Nazi Regime British Policy Downing Street Private Letter 
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  1. 9.
    Lord Vansittart, The Mist Procession, London, 1958, p. 360.Google Scholar
  2. 12.
    J. Harvey (ed.), The Diplomatic Diaries of Oliver Harvey 1937–40, 12/4/37, London, 1970.Google Scholar
  3. 13.
    Lord Avon, Facing the Dictators, London, 1961, p. 504.Google Scholar
  4. 17.
    A. Goldman, ‘Two Views of Germany: Nevile Henderson and Vansittart’, British Journal of International Studies, 6 (1980), p. 247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 24.
    Vaughan B. Baker, ‘Nevile Henderson in Berlin: a Re-evaluation’, Red River Valley Historical Journal, No. 4, Winter 1977, p. 343.Google Scholar
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    J. Charmley, Chamberlain and the Lost Peace, London, 1989, p. 14.Google Scholar
  7. 74.
    C. King, With Malice towards None, London, 1970, p. 54.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Peter Neville 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WolverhamptonUK

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