Lot 608: NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN

Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

January 31, 2013, 11:00 AM EST
Stamford, CT, US
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Description: NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN
(1869 - 1940) British Prime Minister best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the Sudetenland region and declaring that he had won "peace for our time". The next year, Germany invaded Poland, and Chamberlain led Britain through the first eight months of the conflict before being replaced by Winston Churchill. Historic (and ironic) content typed document, signed on his official Prime Minister's letterhead, 2pp. 4to., London, [n.d., 1938], a 1938 statement issued to the "German [Hitler] Youth Movement" incredibly praising the organization and its efforts leading to "appeasement of the world". This statement was prepared as a foreword to a Hitler Youth magazine edition dedicated to the subject of England, a copy of which is included in this lot. Chamberlain writes: "...I gladly accept the invitation to contribute to a project which I regard as a sign of the growing desire for mutual understanding between our two countries...A great responsibility lies upon you - the responsibility for your country's future. All the hopes of Germany are set upon you - to your care is committed your national heritage and traditions, your national honour...I am confident that you will prove worthy of the trust...You have a responsibility for the future of your country: but you have also...a joint responsibility for the future of the world. It is already...the happy fortune of the organisations of youth now flourishing in many lands to foster - by means of mutual interchange of visits and otherwise - that understanding between nations which is so essential to the settlement of differences and the appeasement of the world. The admirable motto 'The Year of Understanding', which you have chosen for the year 1938, shows the part you are playing in this work...". Boldly signed in full. Folds, a few very small corner chips and light soiling, seal offset slightly on first page: overall very good. Also present is a copy of the March 15, 1938 special edition of Wille und Macht ("Will and Might"), 64pp. 8vo., issued by the Hitler Youth. The issue, dedicated to "German-English problems", expresses the publisher's hopes that the Hitler Youth will help the two nations come closer together and help "better organize" Europe. Chamberlain's letter is reproduced on page two under the heading: "Message to the German Youth" with a similar message on the next page by Lord Halifax. Regarding this letter in a historical perspective, more ironic content could not fit on two pages: these same Hitler Youth would indeed "visit" other countries, many within a year or two, but they would be clad in military uniforms and would be riding tanks and in aircraft. And of course, the "appeasement" which Chamberlain himself would practice a few months later in ceding the Sudetenland to Germany would only embolden Hitler to attack Poland in 1939. Excellent content demonstrating Chamberlain's naivite in dealing with Hitler and the Nazi mentality.
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