European History/Sir Nevile Henderson


Hi Marc,

Can you please tell me if Sir Nevile Henderson, the British ambassador to Germany, had any German or if he had to rely solely on interpreters during negotiations with Adolf Hitler in 1938/39? I know they worked through interpreters...just wondering if he knew some basic German.

Thank you very much!

Adriana Allegri

Hi Adriana,

The evidence I've found strongly indicates that Sir Nevile had at least a rudimentary grasp of German. An account of him delivering an ultimatum to von Ribbontrop describes that he went alone - meaning he didn't bring a translator. Now, maybe the Germans were happy to speak English. But I think it's fair to say that if Sir Nevile didn't speak at least a little German he would have brought along a translator on such an important mission. And, for a high ranking diplomat to speak German wouldn't be improbable, especially in the 1930s. So, taking the circumstantial evidence with reasonable assumptions - and finding no contrary evidence - I think we can say that Sir Nevile at least was conversant in German.

I hope this helps, Adriana!

- Marc

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Marc Aperio


I'm comfortable with each period of European history. I will be glad to respond to any question, and promise a clear, accurate, and simple reply. My personal interests include Medieval Europe, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and Nazi Germany.


I've studied history for nealy 20 years. I'm currently volunteering in the US and European history categories.

My newest book WE NEED TO TALK: 27 DIALOGUES ON RACE IN AMERICA is available in the Amazon Kindle store. Also the author of AMERICAN REVOLUTION 2016: RATIONALE AND AIMS FOR RADICAL CHANGE

BA History (High Honors)

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