Four autograph letters signed on his hopes for averting the Second World War
HENDERSON, Sir Nevile
Berlin, No Publlisher. 1938.
Four autograph letters signed written whilst British Ambassador to Germany, to Lord Noel-Buxton, February to October 1938, 8 pages, quarto and octavo, annotated in pencil by the recipient. On 13 February 1938 Henderson puts forward his hopes for averting war ("...the Great War was fought not to increase British territory overseas but to preserve what we already had & to end wars in future. The Versailles Conference missed the point, but it is not too late to uproot the seeds of future war which Versailles sowed..."), on 7 April, giving a detailed exposition of a possible solution to the Czechoslovakian crisis, and, in October, registering his reaction to Hitler's occupation of the Sudetenland ("...It has all made me feel rather sick. it c'ld have been so easily avoided. But perhaps Providence preferred the clean cut: & certainly it sh'ld save further crises in the future. Czechoslovakia was as a house built upon the sands & it c'ld never have stood ag'st the rising tide of Germany...")."...I w'ld not, if I had the arranging of it, begin by a plebiscite. I w'ld first persuade Benes, with French help if possible but without if unattainable, that he must accord at least cultural autonomy & self administration to those areas in which the Sudeten are in the majority. Once the country is to that extent federalised as a state of nationalities, instead of as now being governed as a centralised national state, I w'ld provide for the right of those self-administrating areas to hold a plebiscite. But I w'ld defer the date of exercising such right for a period of years. Only then can those areas really & calmly make up their minds whether they wish to remain in the E:Slovak state or go over to Germany..." Sir Nevile Henderson (1882-1942) held the unenviable post of Britain's ambassador to Germany in the lead-up to World War II. He supported Chamberlain's efforts to avoid war over Czechoslovakia and genuinely believed that the Germans had rightful grievances over the Versailles settlement, but he was swiftly disillusioned by German bullying tactics and the cynical carve-up of Czechoslovakia after the Munich agreement . Noel Edward Noel-Buxton, 1st Baron Noel-Buxton, PC (1869 – 1948) was a British Liberal and later Labour politician. He served as Minister under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and between 1929 and 1930.