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Chamberlain's secret bid to make deal with Hitler

world Updated: Sep 04, 2011 16:05 IST

PTI
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Former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain secretly tried to clinch a deal with Adolf Hitler during World War II over how the Nazis could look more sympathetic to Britons, de-classified documents have revealed.

According to the documents, the cloak-and-dagger meetings in London came shortly after Chamberlain, who led the country through the first eight months of Second World War, signed his disastrous appeasement deal with Hitler in Munich in September 1938, declaring "peace for our time" on his return to Britain.

The meetings were held without the knowledge of the Cabinet and Foreign Office. Foreign secretary Lord Halifax only learned of them later because of an MI5 mole in German embassy, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

In fact, the documents show Chamberlain was ready to make more deals with Hitler after Munich, which would have the "happiest and most far-reaching effects for the relationship between the two countries".

They reveal Chamberlain told Hitler that it would have "the greatest effect on public opinion in England" if, in the event of war, they had a pact in place not to use poison gas, not to bomb each other's civilians and to spare cities with cultural treasures.

The meetings took place between Chamberlain's press secretary George Steward and his counterpart at the German embassy, Dr Fritz Hesse.

MI5 monitored a two-hour meeting between the two on November 23, 1938. When Hesse returned to the German embassy, he prepared a memo for the German Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop.

A copy of the memo was smuggled out of the German embassy by the MI5 mole and given to Sir Alexander Cadogan, permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office.