Monday, October 12, 2015

Neville Chamberlain's 1938 Letter to the Hitler Youth

In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain wrote a letter to the Hitler Youth. In it he praised them for "taking responsibility" for their "country's future," "national heritage and traditions," "national honour" and "national sovereignty." He broadened the letter to a general admonition to the youth of Germany to be mindful of their responsibility for "the future of the world," naming the year 1938 as "The Year of Understanding."(1)

Today, Chamberlain's critics, particularly pro-Israel neoconservatives who enjoy using his legacy as an "appeaser" to ridicule enemies of US interventionism, peddle ignorance about Hitler's real goals. They use this letter as proof of Chamberlain's moral laxity in the face of Hitler's aims. Chamberlain's critics are right to argue that Hitler was bent on war, but he wanted Britain as an ally; the war Hitler wanted was a war against the USSR.

(1) This letter turned up while searching for interwar correspondence. This letter was written and sent within a year prior to the outbreak of British and German hostilities. It evidences a strain of thought in Chamberlain's worldview that inclined to Anglo-German peace.