The British War Bluebook
Sir N. Henderson to Viscount Halifax (Received August 24).
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No. 58.

Sir N. Henderson to Viscount Halifax (received August 24).

(Telegraphic.) Berlin, August 24, 1939.

FOLLOWING is continuation of my telegram of the 23rd August.

After my first talk yesterday 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 from 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 fighting 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 contemptuous rejection. I referred to Prime Minister's efforts of last year and his desire for co-operation 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 finally 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 period. (Text of agreement signed to-day 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 war seemed to me quite inevitable if Herr Hitler persisted in direct action against Poland and expressed regret at failure of my mission in general to Berlin and of 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 now ever convince him of British desire for good relations.

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