By P. Neville
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Extra resources for Appeasing Hitler: The Diplomacy of Sir Nevile Henderson, 1937-39
Sir N. Henderson seems to have failed to grasp the responsibilities of his position. It seems incredible that he should have sent us a copy of the letter like this without apparently realising what he has done.... In 35 years' experience I cannot recall such a series of incidents created by an Ambassador and in so short a while. He is exceeding his functions and exceeding them lightheartedly. 56 This celebrated attack on Henderson by Vansittart shows Henderson in the worst possible light. Yet were the views expressed so outrageous?
Vansittart's post-war feud with Selby is of particular interest, because Selby knew Henderson well, and Henderson had been a frequent visitor to the Vienna embassy while he was posted to Belgrade between 1929 and 1935. According to Selby, Henderson made no secret of his sympathy for German aspirations. 20 Various other suggestions have been put forward to explain Henderson's appointment. One is the 'Buggins' turn' argument, as Henderson had been in the Diplomatic Service since 1905 and was in line for a major post (although the posting to remote Buenos Aires had been a disconcerting career blip for him).
Chamberlain, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, could not have been involved in Henderson's appointment. Vansittart's comments in his memoirs seem to suggest that Henderson was appointed to carry out Chamberlain's policy of appeasement with Germany, but there is no evidence to support such an assertion. Vansittart's post-war feud with Selby is of particular interest, because Selby knew Henderson well, and Henderson had been a frequent visitor to the Vienna embassy while he was posted to Belgrade between 1929 and 1935.