The Chips Channon diaries: ‘Churchill is a devil and must never be trusted’
The third extract of the series, featuring redacted extracts published for the first time, reveals his mistrust of the future Prime Minister
By Simon Heffer. 23 February 2021 •
Note from Scradge: this is a warning from history. From Wiki:
Sir Henry Channon (7 March 1897 – 7 October 1958), often known as Chips Channon, was an American-born British Conservative politician, author and diarist. Channon moved to England in 1920 and became strongly anti-American, feeling that American cultural and economic views threatened traditional European and British civilisation. He wrote extensively about these views. Channon quickly became enamoured of London society and became a social and political climber.
In 1936, Channon became the Parliamentary Private Secretary for Rab Butler, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office. Butler was from the appeasement wing of the Conservative Party.
Channon began writing a private diary that was so incendiary that it has been kept under wraps until now.
Channon is the historical equivalent of the many ghouls in western politics and journalism today who shill for a fascist invader, thief, mass murderer and poisoner. Article follows:
When the abridged version of the diaries was published in 1967 the text prepared by Channon’s devoted friend and partner, Peter Coats, took care to play down his enthusiasm for appeasement and his disdain for Churchill and others, whom Channon considered dangerous warmongers.
The text marked in bold indicates redacted information that has never been seen before and shows that, although the general narrative of those months leading up to the Munich crisis (which ends this volume of the diaries) was preserved, much of its flavour was diluted to make Channon appear more sensible to posterity. Also, certain key players from the time – Anthony Eden (by then Earl of Avon) and R A “Rab” Butler in particular – were still alive.
After Eden resigned as Foreign Secretary in February 1938 over appeasement, Butler answered for his successor, Lord Halifax, Channon’s uncle by marriage, in the House of Commons. And as Butler’s parliamentary private secretary, Channon had privileged access to what was going on between London and Berlin.
Still convinced of Hitler’s role as a bulwark against Soviet communism, he was unequivocally against a war with Germany and never gave any indication of embarrassment at being on the wrong side of history. Like many politicians, before and since, he took the view that one should never apologise and never explain.
People are buying ‘Churchills’, and saying once more that he ought to be in the govt; that it is too bad to keep so brilliant a man out of office. But were he to be given it, it would mean, what? War with Germany?
Winston C spoke again this afternoon in his usual fluent way. To hear him is to believe that the Germans are arriving tonight. What utter nonsense, but his fear and dislike of them amount to an obsession and threaten seriously to undermine his judgement on other matters. He is becoming a man with une idée fixe.
There is terrific excitement because Hitler has pulled off yet another political coup; he cannot do wrong, really. Now he has assumed supreme control of his army. All the hysterical anti-Germans in this country are up in arms. But surely internal changes are none of our business.
Winston Churchill rose and in a vicious biting speechdefended Eden and attacked the govt. It was yet another bid on the part of the old ruffian to lead an independent group, perhaps a centre party. The attempt failed.
Winston Churchill has written a wicked article half-heartedly attacking Chamberlain. He is a devil and must never be trusted.
An unbelievable day in which two things occurred: I fell in love with the Prime Minister, and Hitler took Vienna.
Appointments all day at the H of C, where I am becoming both feared and respected. Is Winston, that fat, brilliant, unbalanced, illogical, porcine orator more than that? Is he the male Cassandra? Is he perhaps right, banging his head against an uncomprehending country and unsympathetic government? I think not, for he is always wrong. Now he is a man with [a] fixed idea, i.e. the German menace. All his life he has hated and preached against them and thus done much to poison our relations with Germany.
I rushed to the Foreign Office, where I found an atmosphere of suppressed excitement. The Germans were moving troops, or possibly even mobilising; their rage against the Czechs is almost boiling over. A shiver has passed through every chancellery in Europe. Is it 1914 all over again? Was the the world to commit suicide?
A long talk with the Aga Khan. He says that there are only three men in Europe who want war, Göring, Winston Churchill and President Beneš of Czechoslovakia. Göring assured me, however, again and again that he doesn’t want war, and so there are only two, Beneš and Winston.
We talked of charm and turning to his French wife, who is beautiful, chic and delightfully attractive, he asked her who [is] the most charming person she had ever met, ‘Hitler,’ she retorted. Evidently the dictator turned all his persuasive power upon her and succeeded completely in demolishing her French prejudices.
Princess Helen of Romania rang me up and asked me to go and see her secretly at the Dorchester. We had a long talk, and she told me that she had been to Berlin recently and had seen Göring, who deplored the cool relations existing between Germany and England. He added that if our relations did not now improve they never would. Germany didn’t want war: but England refused or was incapable of understanding the Germany [sic] point of view. She believes, like all royalties really, in Germany and in Hitler.
The Czech telegrams are alarming but I am convinced that Hitler is too canny to risk a war. He is always right, the greatest diplomat of modern times.
A long day of waiting for Hitler’s big speech tonight, in which he is to decide the fate of Europe. Bits began to come through at dinner time. I secretly agreed, indeed sympathised with Hitler’s demands and refuse to look upon him as an Antichrist, as he is considered here.
Neville, on his own initiative, seeing war coming closer and closer, had telegraphed to Hitler, asking him to have an immediate rendezvous. The German govt surprised, flattered, instantly accepted. It is one of the finest, most inspiring acts of all history! Of course a way will be found now. Neville by his imagination, his practical sense, has saved the world. I am staggered.
The Chamberlain–Hitler meeting seems to have been a huge success. Neville is returning to London today to lay Hitler’s proposition before the Cabinet.
We all awoke to realities and the impending war. There is now no doubt: the foul Czechs have missed the boat. By their wicked, short-sighted, pusillanimous policy they have brought Europe to the brink of war.
News came through that the PM had a stormy meeting with Hitler yesterday on his arrival; and that this morning Chamberlain remained in his hotel, instead of proceeding to his rendezvous on the other side of the Rhine with the Führer. It is grave, a bad omen.
The PM flew back to London yesterday. London is now, including the King and Queen, fitted out with gas masks.
Winston as PM would be worse than a war, the two together would mean the destruction of civilisation. The newspapers made harrowing reading!! The fleet mobilised! Trenches dug in Hyde Park! London semi-evacuated. I went to the H of C, where a crowd was waiting outside. The PM rose and in stately slow English began the breathless tale of his negotiations with Hitler. He told how Hitler had invited him to Munich tomorrow morning, that Mussolini had accepted the same invitation, that M. Daladier, in all probability, would do so. The House rose and in a scene of riotous delight, cheered, bellowed their approval. We stood on our benches, waved our order papers, shouted until we were hoarse. Peace must now be saved and with it the world.
I was called at 8am. By my side lay the newspapers – ‘Agreement signed at 12.53 in Munich’. So it is peace, and a Chamberlain, respectable gentleman’s peace. The whole world rejoices whilst a few malcontents jeer. All last evening the Big Four sat in Munich, discussing, arguing, Chamberlain gave in on a few minor points, but he saved the world.