By P. Neville
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Extra resources for Appeasing Hitler: The Diplomacy of Sir Nevile Henderson, 1937-39
Apart from his appreciation of Henderson's good qualities, and promise of a key post in 1935 (cited in the previous chapter), Vansittart may have had another motive for the promotion. For at the time of the Abyssinian crisis of 1935-36 and the ill-fated Hoare-Laval Pact, which would have conceded much of Abyssinia to Mussolini, Henderson had been conspicuously loyal to the plan's author, Vansittart. Deploring the way Vansittart was under attack for his role in formulating the plan, Henderson wrote from Buenos Aires in January 1936 to support Foreign Office policy.
His critics would argue that this was one of several instances where Henderson exceeded his brief, and undermined existing British policy. Further trouble had been caused on 1 June 1937 by a speech which Henderson had made to the Deutsche-Englische Gesellschaft. '49 Henderson went on to say that more notice should be taken of the great social experiment that was going on in Germany, and given the opportunity, Britain could prove to be a valuable friend to the Reich Government. 50 But Henderson had allies in his search for Anglo-German accommodation.
I do hope the trouble will prove amenable to prompt treatment ... 59 These were early inklings of the serious cancer which was to force Henderson to take four months' sick leave in 1938-39, and ultimately kill him at the age of 60 in 1942. 60 Berlin was a stressful enough post for a diplomat without the double burden of a serious illness as well. Nevertheless in those early days of his mission in Berlin, Henderson was zealous in trying to attract influential adherents to his cause. On 24 October 1937 he was a weekend guest of the Astors at 38 Appeasing Hitler Cliveden, those well-known supporters of Chamberlain, and also found himself in the company of Geoffrey Dawson, the pro-appeasement editor of The Times, Lord Lothian and Anthony Eden.