Henderson, Sir Nevile, 1882-1942

Henderson was the British Ambassador to Berlin from 1937 until the outbreak of the war and was a leading supporter of CHAMBERLAIN’s appeasement policy. Henderson was blind to the excesses of the Nazi regime and said in 1938 that HITLER would not dare to make war ‘if we really showed our teeth.’ Henderson had a good relationship with GOERING with whom he went hunting. Henderson persistently ignored Foreign Office instructions to express his own opinions: for example he condemned Schuschnigg’s behavior during the Austrian Anschluss and later played down the help Britain would give Poland. After the Anschluss Lord Halifax criticized his behavior. Eventually on 3 September 1939 Henderson handed RIBBENTROP Britain’s ultimatum at 0900 giving the Germans two hours to withdraw from Poland. Britain was at war. Henderson was very disappointed and wrote an account of his experiences in Failure of a Mission. During the war Henderson founded a British War Refugees Fund. He also offered to return to Belgrade as Ambassador but this was turned down. He died shortly afterwards.

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