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British War Blue Book: Telegram Sir Neville Henderson to 
Viscount Halifax 
dated Berlin, August [unreadable], 1939.

Two difficulties were raised last night before visit to Herr 
Hitler was actually arranged. In first place it was asked whether 
I would not be ready to wait until Herr von Ribbentrop's return. 
I said that I could not wait as my instructions were to hand letter 
myself as soon as possible. An hour or so later I was rung up again 
by State Secretary on the telephone asking for gist of letter and 
referring to publication of some private letter addressed to Herr 
Hitler last year. I told Baron von  [unreadable] that I had no 
recollection of publication of any private letter last year and assured 
him that there was no intention of publishing this one. As regards 
Prime Minister's letter I said that its three main points were (1) that 
His Majesty's Government  was determined to fulfill its obligations 
to Poland, (2) that they were prepared, provided a peace atmosphere 
was created to discuss all problems affecting our two countries, and 
(3) that during period of truce they would welcome direct discussions 
between Poland and Germany in regard to minorities.

State Secretary appeared to regard these replies as likely to be 
satisfactory, but deferred a final answer to 2 a.m. this morning. 
At that hour he telephoned me to say that arrangements made 
had been confirmed and that he would accompany me to 
Berchtesgaden, leaving Berlin at 9:30 a.m.

We arrived Salzburg soon after 11 a.m. and motored to 
Berchtesgaden, where I was received by Herr Hitler shortly 
after 1 p.m. I had derived impression that atmosphere was 
likely to be  most unfriendly  and that probability was that 
interview would be exceedingly brief.

In order to forestall this I began conversation by stating that 
I had been instructed to hand to Chancellor personally a 
letter from Prime Minister on behalf of His Majesty's 
Government, but before doing so I wished to make some 
preliminary remarks. I was grateful to his Excellency for 
receiving me so promptly as it would have been impossible 
for me to wait for Herr von Ribbentrop's return inasmuch 
as the fact was that His Majesty's Government were afraid that 
the situation brooked no delay. I asked his Excellency to read the

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letter, not from the point of view of the past, but from that 
of the present and the future. What had been done could 
not now be undone, and there could be no peace in Europe 
without Anglo-German cooperation. We had guaranteed 
Poland against attack and we would keep our word. 
Throughout the centuries of history we had never, so far 
as I know, broken our word. We could not do so now and 
remain Britain.

During the whole of this first conversation Herr Hitler 
was excitable and uncompromising. He made no long 
speeches but his language was violent and exaggerated 
both as regards England and Poland. He began by asserting 
that the Poland situation could have been settled on the 
most generous terms if it had not been for England's [unreadable] 
support. I drew attention to the inaccuracies of this statement, our 

[rest of GIF unreadable]

00010388.GIF  page 34

[first half of GIF unreadable]
Following is continuation of my telegram of the 23rd August

After my first talk [unreadable] I returned to Salzburg on 
understanding that if Herr Hitler wished to see me again 
I would be at his disposal, or, if he had nothing new to say, 
he could merely send me his reply to Prime Minister by hand.

As in the event he asked to see me,I went back to Berchtesgaden. 
He was quite calm the second time and never raised his voice 
once. Conversation lasted about 20 minutes to half an hour 
but produced little new, except that verbally he was far more 
categoric than in written reply as to his determination to attack 
Poland if "another German were ill-treated in Poland."

I spoke of tragedy of war and of his immense responsibility 
but his answer was that it would be all England's fault. I 
refuted this only to learn from him that England was 
determined to destroy and exterminate Germany. He was, 
he said, 50 years old: he preferred war now to when he 
would be 55 or 60. I told him that it was absurd to talk of 
extermination. Nations could not be exterminated and 
peaceful and prosperous Germany was a British interest. 
His answer was that it was England who was fighting for 
lesser races whereas he was fight-

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ing only for Germany: the Germans would this time fight 
to the last man: it would have been different in 1914 if he 
had been Chancellor then.

He spoke several times of his repeated offers of friendship to
England and their invariable and [unreadable] reaction. I 
referred to Prime Minister's effort of last year and his desire for
 cooperation with Germany. He said that he had believed in 
Mr. Chamberlain's good-will at the time, but, and especially 
since encirclement efforts of last few months, he did so no 
longer. I pointed out fallacy of this view but his answer was 
that he was now fully convinced of the rightness of views 
held formerly to him by others that England and Germany 
could never agree.

In referring to Russian non-aggression pact he observed 
that it was England which had forced him into agreement 
with Russia. He did not seem enthusiastic over it but added 
that once he made agreement it would be for a long time 
period. (Text of agreement signed today confirms this and 
I shall be surprised if it is not supplemented later by something 
more than mere non-aggression).

I took line at end that was seemed inevitable to me if Herr 
Hitler persisted in direct action against Poland and expressed 
regret at failure of my mission in general to Berlin and my 
visit to him. Herr Hitler's attitude was that it was England's 
fault and that nothing short of complete change of her policy 
towards Germany could ever convince him of British desire 
for good relations.
pp. 130-131

Telegram Sir Neville Henderson to Viscount Halifax, 
dated Berlin August 28, 1939

I saw the Chancellor at 10:30 this evening. He asked me to 
come at 10 p.m. but I sent word that I could not have the 
translation ready before the later hour. Herr von Ribbentrop 
was present, also Dr. Schmidt. Interview lasted one and a 
quarter hour.

2. Her Hitler began by reading the German translation. (ready 
before the later hour. Herr von Ribbentrop was) When he had 
finished, I said that I wished to make certain observations....
3. Our word was our word, and we had never and would 
never break it. In the old days Germany's word had the 
same value, and I quoted a passage from a German book 
(which Herr Hitler had read) about Marshal Blucher's 
exhortation to his troops

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when hurrying to the support of Wellington at 
Waterloo: "Forward, my children. I have given my 
word to my brother Wellington, and you cannot wish 
me to break it."
4. Herr Hitler at once intervened to observe that 
things were different 125 years ago.


6. I told Herr Hitler that he must choose between England 
and Poland. If he put forward immoderate demands there 
was no hope of a peaceful solution. Corridor was inhabited 
almost entirely by Poles.  Herr Hitler interrupted me here by 
observing that this was only true because a million Germans 
have been drive out of that district since the war. I again said 
the choice lay with him. He had offered a Corridor over the 
Corridor in March, and I must honestly tell him that anything 
more that that, if that, would have no hope of acceptance. I begged 
him very earnestly to reflect before raising the price. He said his 
original offer had been contemptuously and he would not 
make it again. I observed that it had been made in the form 
of a dictate and therein lay the whole difference.

7. Herr Hitler continued to argue that Poland could 
never be reasonable: She had England and France 
behind her, and imagined that even if she were beaten 
she would later recover, thanks to their help, more 
than she might lose. He spoke of annihilating Poland. 
I said that reminded me of a similar talk last year of 
annihilation of the Czechs. He retorted that we were 
incapable of inducing Poland to be reasonable. I said 
that it was just because we remembered the experience 
of Czecho-Solvakia last year that we hesitated to press 
Poland too far today. Nevertheless, we reserved to 
ourselves the right to form our own judgment as to 
what was or what was not reasonable so far as Poland 
or Germany were concerned. We kept our hands free 
in that respect.

8. Generally speaking, Herr Hitler kept harping on 
Poland, and I kept on just as consistently telling 
Herr Hitler that he had to choose between friendship 
with England which we offered to him and excessive 
demands on Poland which would put to an end all 
hope of British friendship. If we were to come to an 
understanding it would entail sacrifices on our part. 
If he was not prepared to make sacrifices on his part 
there was nothing to be done. Herr Hitler said that 
he had to satisfy the demands of his people, his army 
was ready and eager for battle, his people were united
 behind him, and he would not tolerate further ill-treatment 
of Germans in Poland, etc.

9. It is unnecessary to recall the details of a long and 
earnest conversation in the course of which the only 
occasion in which Herr Hitler became at all excited was 
when I observed that it was not a question of Danzig 
and the Corridor, but one of our determination to 
resist force by force. This evoked

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a tirade about the Rhineland, Austria and Sudenten and 
their peaceful reacquisition by Germany. He also resented 
my reference to 15th March.
pp.  165-168

Following are additional points in amplification of my 
telegram of 28th August:-- Telegram Sir Neville Henderson 
to Viscount Halifax, 
dated Berlin, August 29, 1939

Herr Hitler insisted that he was not bluffing, and that 
people would make a great mistake if they believed that 
he was. I replied that I was fully aware of the fact and that 
we were not bluffing either. Herr Hitler stated that he fully 
realized that that was not the case. In answer to a suggestion 
by him that Great Britain might offer something at once in 
the way of colonies as evidence of her good intentions, I 
retorted that concessions were easier of realization in a 
good rather than a bad atmosphere.

Telegram Sir Neville Henderson to Viscount Halifax 
dated Berlin August 29, 1939.

Interview this evening was of a stormy character and 
Herr Hitler far less reasonable than yesterday. Press 
announcement this evening of five more Germans 
killed in Poland and news of Polish mobilization had 
obviously excited him.
2. He kept saying that he wanted British friendship more 
than anything in the world, but he could not sacrifice Germany's 
vital interests therefore, and that for His Majesty's Government 
to make a bargain over such a matter was an unendurable 
proposition. All my attempts to correct this complete 
misrepresentation of the case did not seem to impress him.

Telegram Sir Neville Henderson to Viscount Halifax
 dated Berlin August 30, 1939

Your message was conveyed to the Minister for Foreign 
Affairs at 4 a.m. this morning. I had made similar 
observation to Herr Hitler yesterday evening, his reply 
being that one could fly from Warsaw to Berlin in 
one and a half hours.
4. Nevertheless if Herr Hitler is allowed to continue to 
have the initiative, it seems to me that result can only be 
either war or once again victory for him by a display of 
force and encouragement thereby to pursue the same 
course again next year or the year after.
p. 180-181

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