By P. Neville
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Extra info for Appeasing Hitler: The Diplomacy of Sir Nevile Henderson, 1937-39
It was quite wrong, Vansittart pointed out, for Henderson to have spoken in this off-the-cuff manner, which would incur a great deal of domestic criticism and leave the Foreign Office 'to clear up the mess'. Thus 'consultation with us is absolutely necessary before anybody in so high a position as the Ambassador takes or announces such a decision'. As in the case of his unauthorised private letter to Prince Paul about Yugoslav-Italian relations in 1935, Henderson appeared to be contrite. But he denied that he had told Frangois-Poncet that he would go to Nuremberg without prior Foreign Office permission (angrily Vansittart wrote in the margin against this comment 'No, he did not say this in his letter' [to Harvey]).
In Henderson's view, there were two options if no accommodation could be reached with the Nazi regime. One would be to 'protest vehemently' but do nothing in the event of an enforced Anschluss with Austria or seizure of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia. The other was to revert to what Henderson called the 'Block System' of pre-war alliances and prepare for war, in less favourable conditions than those of 1914. 57 Henderson was not as naive as Vansittart's numerous angry interventions may suggest.
Henderson had complained about Italy's backing for separatist Croatian terrorists, but Vansittart believed Mussolini would expel any on his territory. ' Henderson claimed, however, that he had not distorted British views and that if he had talked about Italy's disruptive policy vis a vis Yugoslavia or her protectionist policy vis a vis Albania, it is the Yugoslav point of view that I am referring to; not mine and still less that of His Majesty's Government. It distresses me that you, as I gather you do, should even imagine that I take any other line with the Yugoslavs....