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Anthony Eden - History

Anthony Eden - History

Anthony Eden

1897- 1977

British Politician

British politician Anthony Eden became a Conservative Member of Parliament in 1923. He thrice served as Foreign Secretary and was one of the key figures in the Churchill war cabinet.

Eden was considered Churchill's heir apparent and in 1955, he succeeded Churchill as Prime Minister. Eden led the British government during the ill-fated Suez Crisis. After the failure of Britain's actions there, he resigned in 1957.


Anthony Eden

Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon KG MC PC (12 June 1897 – 14 January 1977) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He was better known throughout his time in office as Sir Anthony Eden. He was educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford.

Eden was one of the best-known politicians of his generation. He was appointed Foreign Secretary in 1935 by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, and resigned in 1938 in protest at Chamberlain's appeasement of Adolf Hitler. He was Churchill's Foreign Secretary during World War II, and again in 1951–1955.

He had operation to remove gallstones in 1953. The operation went wrong, and his health was ruined. He became Prime Minister in 1955 when Winston Churchill retired. He stopped being Prime Minister in 1957 when Harold Macmillan replaced him. The Suez Crisis of 1956 was a critical period. This and his health led up to his resignation as Prime Minister. Eden died of liver cancer, aged 79. His widow, Clarissa Eden, Countess of Avon, was born in 1920. She is a niece of Winston Churchill. [1]

Eden's life can be described in two halves. The first half, in the 1930s and in wartime, was brilliant. But he is often ranked among the least successful British Prime Ministers of the 20th century, [2] [3] although two broadly sympathetic biographies (in 1986 and 2003) have gone some way to redressing the balance of opinion. [4] [5] D.R. Thorpe says the Suez Crisis "was a truly tragic end to his premiership, and one that came to assume a disproportionate importance in any assessment of his career". [5]

Eden had three sons. The elder and middle sons died before him. His Earl of Avon title was inherited by the younger son, Nicholas. When Nicholas died, the title became extinct.


Anthony Eden and the Suez Crisis

'In trying to preserve the political conditions of international life, he allowed himself to become unscrupulous' - thirty years on Eden's coup de main against Nasser seems less untimely realpolitik and more moral dilemma.

Is it really 30 years since the 1956 Suez Crisis convulsed Britain, gravely imperilled the Anglo- American Alliance, brought the House of Commons to unparalleled and unrepeated chaos, and nearly brought down a British Government? No political event of modern times, with the possible exception of Munich, aroused such emotion, divided families, and ended friendships. Nor was there any clear Party political alignment. All one's experience at the time is borne out by what polling evidence there is – there were Conservatives who were against their Government, and Labour and Liberal supporters who applauded the operation, which had, if unconvincingly, majority support in the country. In the 1959 General Election Conservatives found that Suez was a factor in their favour, and harmful to Labour, and Labour MPs experienced difficulties with their traditional voters. The casualties on the Conservative side of those who had had the courage – and it required it – to stand against Suez were surprisingly few, given the passions of the time.

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Anthony Eden

Ben Vessey introduces the man whose experiences in the 1930s affected his decision to launch a disastrous operation against Egypt in 1956.

Anthony Eden is perhaps best known for his decision, as Prime Minister, to launch a military operation against Nasser’s Egypt in 1956, the so-called Suez Crisis. Eden made it very plain when justifying this action that he was acting to protect British commercial interests centred on the recently nationalised Suez Canal. However, drawing on the lessons of the 1930s, he was also at pains to stress that an evil dictator should not be allowed to get away with aggression. To appease Nasser could be fatal, just as appeasement in the 1930s had served to encourage Hitler and Mussolini on the path which led to world war. It was a decision that brought to an end a political career that had begun in 1923, and it was certainly influenced by Eden’s belief that not enough had been done to stand up to aggressors in the 1930s, a failure for which he too held some responsibility.

Early Career

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Anthony Eden

Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl o Avon, KG, MC, PC (12 Juin 1897 – 14 Januar 1977) wis a Breetish Conservative politeecian who served three periods as Foreign Secretar an then a relatively brief term as Prime Meenister o the Unitit Kinrick frae 1955 tae 1957.

Achievin rapid promotion as a young Member o Pairlament, he becam Furrin Secretar aged 38, afore resignin in protest at Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policy taewart Mussolini's Italy. [2] [3] He again held that poseetion for maist o the Seicont Warld War, an a third time in the early 1950s. Haein been depute tae Winston Churchill for awmaist 15 years, he succeedit him as the leader o the Conservative Pairty an prime meenister in Apryle 1955, an a month later wan a general election.

Eden's warldwide reputation as an opponent o appeasement, a "man o peace", an a skilled diplomat wis owershaidaed in 1956 whan the Unitit States refuised tae support the Anglo-French militar response tae the Suez Creesis, that creetics athort pairty lines regairdit as an historic setback for Breetish foreign policy, seegnallin the end o Breetish predominance in the Middle East. [4] Maist historians argie that he made a series o blunners, espeicially nae realisin the deepth o American opposeetion tae militar action. [5] Twa month efter orderin an end tae the Suez operation, he resigned as prime meenister on grunds o ill heal an acause he wis widely suspectit o haein misled the Hoose o Commons ower the degree o collusion wi Fraunce an Israel. [6]

Eden is generally rankit amang the least successfu Breetish prime meenisters o the 20t century, [7] awtho twa braidly sympathetic biografies (in 1986 an 2003) hae gane some wey tae shiftin the balance o opeenion. [8] Biografer D. R. Thorpe descrived the Suez Creesis as "a truly tragic end tae his premiership, an ane that came tae assume a disproportionate importance in ony assessment o his career." [9]


Anthony Eden and Suez

Anthony Eden was Prime Minister during the Suez Crisis of 1956. Despite US pressure not to embark on a military solution to Nasser’s nationalisation of the canal, Eden believed that it was the only way ahead after Nasser refused to pull back from the canal-zone. On October 30 th 1956, Eden addressed the House of Commons:

“News was received last night that Israeli forces had crossed the frontier and had penetrated deep into Egyptian territory. Her Majesty’s government and the French government have accordingly agreed that everything possible should be done to bring hostilities to an end as soon as possible in seeking an immediate meeting of the Security Council. In the meantime, as a result of the consultations held in London today, the United Kingdom and French governments have now addressed an urgent communication to the governments of Egypt and Israel. In these we have called upon both sides to stop all warlike actions by land, sea and air forthwith and to withdraw their military forces to a distance of 10 miles from the canal. Further, in order to separate the belligerents and to guarantee freedom of transit through the canal by the ships of all nations, we have asked the Egyptian government to agree that Anglo-French forces should move temporarily – I repeat temporarily – into key positions at Port Said, Ismailia, and Suez.

The governments of Egypt and Israel have been asked to answer this communication within twelve hours. It has been made clear to them that, if at the expiration of that time one or both have not undertaken to comply with these requirements, both British and French forces will intervene in whatever strength may be necessary to secure compliance.”

In 1960, Eden, now the Earl of Avon, wrote in his memoirs:

“The General Assembly of the United Nations met on the morning of November 2 nd . Sir Pierson Dixon rehearsed the case for our police action with his customary clarity and vigour. But the assembly was in an emotional mood. There was talk of collective action against the French and ourselves. It was not Soviet Russia, or any Arab state, but the government of the United States which took the lead in the Assembly against Israel, France and Britain. The Secretary of State said he moved the resolution with a heavy heart. It took no account whatever of events preceding the action. There was no suggestion of going to the root of the matter, or of using the Anglo-French intervention to good purpose, either to create an effective international force, or to negotiate an international agreement for the canal.

The resolution put peace in a straitjacket. Directed against Anglo-French intervention as well as fighting, it declared that all parties should agree to an immediate ceasefire.”


Anthony Eden Dies at 79

Sir Anthony Eden, Earl of Avon, once the prime minister of Britain and three times its foreign secretary, died at his home yesterday in Wiltshire, England. He was 79.

He was visiting W. Averell Harriman, the American elder statesman, at the latter's winter residence near Palm Beach, Fla. last week when a liver ailment took a turn for the worse. When Eden's condition became serious, Prime Minister James Callaghan dispatched a Royal Air Force plane to bring him home.

Callaghan thus assured fulfillment of Eden's wish that he die in England.

The sending of the aircraft also was a tribute to a man who seemed to embody the best that was Britain in the Waning decades of her imperial glory. He fought in World War I, opposed Hitler and fascism when the policy of the British government was appeasement, served as the right hand of Sir Winston Churchill through tragedies and triumphs of World War II, and succeeded Churchill as prime minister in April 1955.

Only 21 months later, Eden's own career came to an abrupt close. He was forced from office by ill health and the outcry that followed the ill-starred. Anglo-French invasion of Suez that he directed in 1956. The purpose of the-expedition was to wrest control of the Suez Canal from Gamal Abdel Nasser, the late Egyptian president. But by then, the glory of the British Empire already had faded in fact if not in name.

In the minds of many, the Suez affair is a blight on Eden's reputation that provides the true measure of his abilities. For more than 25 years prior to that episode, however, he was at the very top of the second rank of worid leaders.

Formal messages of condolence from world leaders yesterday dwelt on Eden's successes and his strength of character - others might call it stubborness - rather than his failures.

Queen Elizabeth II said he had served his country "as a gallant soldier in the first world war and as a statesman in the second . . . He will be remembered in history above all as an outstanding diplomat and as a man of courage and integrity."

A statement issued by No. 10 Downing Street, the official residence of Prime Minister Callaghan, said: "To those who grew up in the '30s, Anthony Eden will always be remembered as a staunch opponent of fascism and the fascist dictators . . . We mourn the passing of a distinguished parliamentation and a statesman of exceptional experience and determination."

A White House spokesman said President Ford had sent telegrams expressing the "sympathy and sorrow" of the American people to Queen Elizabeth and to Lady Avon, who was at her husband's bedside when he died in his sleep.

"The President assured them that Lord Avon's long and distinguished career in government would form an important part of the history of this century," the spokesman said.

Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger - with some of whose predecessors Eden ocassionally had disputes - said Eden was "one of the towering figures of this century's political scene . . . a stalwart leader of the British people in difficult and trying times."

In his lifetime, Eden enjoyed great popularity in his own country and a broad as much because of his good looks, his impeccable dress and his manner and because of his skill as a diplomat. (In matters of personal style such as appearance, he had no equal except, perhaps, the late Dean Acheson, former ULSL Secretary of State).

Eden fulfilled the popular idea of what an English gentleman should be. A significant part of this appeal came from his particularly distinguished combat record in World War I, in which Britain lost 1 million men.

The foreign press frequently - and erroneously - referred to hime as "Sir Anthony" or "Lord Eden." In fact, he was plain Mr. Anthony Eden until 1954, when he was dubbed a Knight of the Garter, the highest honor in the gift of the crown. He did not become a peer until 1961, when he was named Earl of Avon.

In the 1930s, when Churchill was a back-bench member of the House of Commons with a miniscule following. Eden was foreign secretary, the youngest man to hold that post in more than 80 years. He negotiated with Hitler, Mussclini and Stalin. He resigned in 1938 when he no longer could support Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's efforts to bring "peace in our time" by accommodating Hitler.

He returned to office with the outbreak of World War II. Throughout the conflict and again in the 1950s until his final retirement, he took part in the great decisions and conferences that helped shape the post-war period. But always he operated in the shadow of Churchill, his friend and patron.

By his own account, it was the experience of these years that led Eden into the Seuz venture.

The insidious appeal of appeasement leads to a deadly reckoning," he wrote in his memoirs.

This was the situation in 1956. Israel had invaded the Sinai Peninsula. The United States withdrew an offer to help Egypt construct the Aswap High Dam on the Nile. Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal Co., which was largely owned by British and French interests, and announced he would use the canal revenues to finance the dam.

Eden regarded Nasser as an Arab Hitler. In his memoirs, he wrote:

"Nowadays it is considered immoral to recognize an enemy. Some say that Nasser is not Hitler or Mussolini. Allowing for a difference in scale, I am not so sure. He has followed Hitler's pattern, even to concentration camps and the propogation of "Mein Kampf" among his officers. He has understood and used the Goebbels pattern of propaganda in all its lying ruthlessness. Egypt's strategic position increases the threat to others from any aggressive militant dictatorship there."

He addressed the possibility of doing nothing in the face of Nasser's action and rejected it.

"I thought and think that failure to act would have brought the worst of consequences, just as I think the world would have suffered less if Hitler had been resisted on the Rhine, in Austria or in Czechoslovakia, rather than in Poland. This will be for history to determine."

However history determines that question, the lessons that Anthony Eden had learned earlier in the highest reaches of international politics led him - when he finally got his hands on the reins of power - to actions that ended on otherside brilliant career.

After his retirement in 1957, Eden spent much of his time at his country home, The Manor House, Alvediston, on the Salisbury Plain. As Earl of Avon, he spoke occassionally in the House of Lords on foreign affairs, but his public appearaces were few, partly because of the poor health that he had suffered intermittently from the early 1950s.

He finished his three-volume memoirs in 1965. The following year, he published an article criticizing the United States for its deepening involvement in Vietnam. He said the United States must negotiate a settlement of the conflict.

In a television interview at the same time, he said that the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam could never settle the problems in South Vietnam.

"On the contrary, bombing creates a sort of 'David and Goliath' complex in any country that has to suffer - as we had to, and as I expect the Germans had to, in the last war," he said.

It was over the fate of Vietnam that Eden had his first serious disagreement with John Foster Dulles. President Eisenhower's first secretary of state.It came at the 1954 Geneva Conference at which it was agreed that the French would withdraw from Indochina and that free elections would be held in North and South Vietnam. Dulles opposed the elections on the grounds that Ho Chi Minh would not permit them to be free in North Vietnam.

Dulles also refused to support the Suez operation, wishing to work through the United Nations instead, and this further worsened relations with Eden.

In 1969, former Prime Minister Sir Harold MacMillau, Eden's successor, told an interviewer on the BBC that it was not only because of Vietnam and Suez that Eden disliked Dulles, and in so doing MacMillan gave a brief glimpse of Eden the man in contrast to Eden the statesman.

"Eden was sensitive, charming, gay, debonair, frightfully well-informed without ever showing it," MacMillan said. "And so when Dulles would tell you - would take about three-quarters of an hour to tell you - something you knew, practically learned when you were at school, you had to have a good deal of self-control."

Robert Anthony Eden was born on June 12, 1897, at Windlestone Hall in the County of Durham, where the Edens had been prominent members of the landed gentry for several centuries. His father, Sir William Eden, was a baroret and an eccentric devoted to fox-hunting, shooting, and art, and given to wild outbursts of temper.

His mother, Sybil, Lady Eden, was a member of the Grey family, one of whose members was prime minister during the passage of the Reform Bill of 1832, a measure which opened the doors or political power to the middle class.

Another of Eden's ancestors was Sir Robert Eden, the last of the royal governors of Maryland.

Young Eden was educated first by tutors and then sent to boarding school at the age of 9 to prepare for Eton, one of Britain's great training grounds for its elite. He was a student there when World War I broke out in 1914. In 1915, at 18, he entered the army and joined the King's Royal Rifle Corps.

The war, he wrote in his memoirs, "saw the destruction of the world as I knew it."

Two of his brothers were killed. His father died. A third brother was interned in Germany. An uncle was shot down and captured. A brother-in-law was seriously wounded. It is said that one-third of his bousemates at Eton were killed.

Eden escaped without injury, although he took part in some of the heaviest fighting from 1916 until the end of the war in 1918. He won the Military Cross for saving the life of his platoon sergeant who was wounded and pinned down by machine gun fire, became the adjutant of his batalion at the age of 19, and the youngest brigade major in the British army at the age of 20. He finished the war a captain.

When he visited Hitler as British foreign secretary in 1935. Eden and his host discovered that they had fought along the same part of the line during the great German offensive of 1918. The German press referred to him with approval as a "front-soldat."

"We were virtually opposite each other and on the back of our memucard we drew our line, and where everybody was, much more than I think an average corporal could be expected to know."

After the dinner, the then French Ambassador to Germany, Andre Francois-Poncet, said to Eden: "And you missed him. You ought to be show."

After the war, Eden went to Christ Church College, Oxford, where he won first class honors in Persian and Arabic. He took his degree in 1922 and briefly considered a career in the foreign service, but decided on politics instead.

The same year he finished Oxford he lost an election to Parliament from his home constituency, the Spennymore Division of Durham. A year later, he was elected to the House of Conamons for Warwick and Leamington. He held that seat until he resigned it in 1957.

Just before entering Parliament, he married Beatric Beckett, the daughter of Sir Gervase Beckett, one of the owners of the Yorkshire Post. The newspaper was one of the few in Britain that joined Eden in opposing appeasement of Hitler in the 1930s.

Eden began his rise to prominence as the parliamentary private secretary to Sir Austin Chamberlain, the foreign secretary, from 1926 to 1929. In 1931, he became a member of the government as parliamentary under secretary for foreign affairs. He first entered the Cabinet as Lord Privy Seal in 1934. For a brief period in 1935 he was minister for League of Nations Affairs and then, in the same year, became foreign secretary, a post he held until his break with the government over dealing with Hitler in 1938.

On the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, he was called back to office as secretary of state for dominion affairs. He then became secretary of war. Late in 1940, Churchill, who became prime minister in May, 1940, named him foreign secretary for the second time. He held that post until the Conservative Party, of which he was a member throughout his career, was defeated by the Labor Party in 1945.

He became foreign secretary for the third time following the Conservatives' return to power in 1961. He held the office until he succeeded Churchill as prime minister in 1955.

Eden did not find his rule as Churchill's heir apparent easy. Churchill gave him this rule early in World War II and put it in writhing in a letter to King George VI in June, 1942. "The long era as crown prince was established," Eden wrote of Churchill's action, "a position not necessarily enviable in politics."

But the two men remained close. In 1950, Eden divorced his first wife on the ground of desertion, a step which diminished his chances of becoming prime minister in the Britain of that time.

In 1952, he married Clarissa Anne Spencer Churchill, Churchill's niece.

The Church of England disapproved the marriage of divorced persons, and despite a plea from Churchill to the archishop of Canterbury, the couple had to be married in a civil ceremony.

It was in these years that Eden's health began to fail him. In 1953, he underwent a series of operations in Boston for the removal of gallstones. He returned to Boston in 1957 for replacement of a bile duct. In 1962, he underwent surgery for removal of a non-cancerros growth in his chest.

These difficulties did not prevent him from pursuing many of his lifelong interests. As a younger man, he was an avid tennis player. He was a trustee of the National Gallery of Art for several years and continued his interest in art.


Anthony Eden & the Holocaust

Post by Von Schadewald » 29 Feb 2008, 08:25

This article "Sir Anthony Eden - Friend or Foe" appeared in the 31 January 2008 Jewish Tribune.


Is there an anything blatantly wrong or unfair in the following from the article?

Prejudice was common within the establishment but during the Nazi persecutions it crucially left Jews to their
awful fate echelons of the civil service conspired to filter information to Prime Minister Winston Churchill (known to
be sympathetic to Jews) and block his initiatives. Contrary to official protestations, British intelligence actually knew of the Jews' massacres from 39 by eavesdropping on German radio messages. Many of the atrocities committed by the German Order Police (Ordnungspolizei or orpo) were reported in ordinary code which were easily broken in co-operation with Polish intelligence, the British could also decipher the secret Enigma coding machines used by the Einsatzgruppen.

The British followed transports of Jews all the way to the killing grounds, knew the names of the units involved, the
officers in charge, the number of the transported Jews and location of executions. Daily summaries of this raw
intelligence were relayed to Churchill who circled in red the numbers of the Jews killed but after a few months, reports
of Jewish killings were systematically removed from his briefings. British hypocritical affectations of ignorance went
even further when the Polish Underground smuggled in eyewitnesses to the carnage.

A young Polish diplomat, Jan Karski, who had escaped from both the Soviet Army and Gestapo, was smuggled twice into
the Warsaw Ghetto and once into Belzec Death Camp before illegally crossing 39 borders to get to London and Washington
during late '42 to plead for Allied action. But his descriptions of the systematic massacres or German methods of killing
including gas and electric-shock chambers or hammerluft air-pressure were roundly discounted by M15 as unbelievable.

William Cavendish-Bentinck, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee who had access to the Enigma decodes, summed up the reports of atrocities as not credible - Jews and Poles were merely "exaggerating German atrocities to stiffen our resolve" and he was more interested in military intelligence on the Germany Navy than the fate of dying Polish Jews.

All references to Jews were deleted from the War Cabinet minutes concerning Karski's account and when Eden wrote
to Churchill on the subject, he also removed everything which mentioned Jews being murdered. Eden refused to let
Karski report personally to Churchill because he felt it was "his duty to protect the elderly and overworked Prime Minister
from too many petitioners" When Eden met the emissary he was more interested in Polish-Soviet relations and their future borders than any Allied action on behalf of murdered Jews. A minute's silence in the Commons and vague declarations was the most he would offer.

When the Polish Foreign Affairs issued a note to Allied and neutral governments on the mass extermination of Jews in
German-occupied Poland and requested retaliatory bombing of German cities, both British and American governments
refused to act. Yet Eden knew the truth. During Sep '42 Goebbels had delivered an unusually transparent message to 60 Berlin newspaper editors, 'There are still 48.000 Jews in Berlin, they know with vith deadly certainty that as the war progresses they will be packed off to the East and deliveredup to a murderous fate. They already feel the inevitable harshness of physical extermination and therefore harm the Reich whenever possible whilst they yet live."

The British copy of this text is actually initialled by Eden.

When Churchill asked Eden on 14th Dec '42 whether reports about "the wholesale massacre of Jews by electrical methods" were true, Eden replied "Jews are being withdrawn from Norway and sent to Poland, for some such purposes evidently . but am however unable to confirm the method of killing". Months after both England and the American State Dept. had confirmed the dimensions of the Holocaust, Eden met Roosevelt in Washington where Eden expressed his fear Hitler might actually accept an offer from the Allies to move Jews out of areas under German control!

The US Secretary of State Cordell Hull had urgently pressed Eden for a solution to 60-70 thousand Jews threatened with
extermination in Bulgaria and Eden replied, "the whole problem of the Jews in Europe is very difficult and we should
move very cautiously about offering to take all Jews out of a country like Bulgaria. If we do that, the Jews of the world will
be wanting us to make similar offers in Poland and Germany! Hitler might well take US UP on any such offer and there
simply are not enough ships and means of transportation in the world to handle them' The British are ready to take
about 60,000 more Jews to, Palestine but the problem of transportation even from Bulgaria to Palestine is extremely
difficult. Furthermore, any such mass movement would be very dangerous to security because the Germans would be
sure to plant a number.of their agents in the group."

A few months later at Chequers, Churchill saw a captured German film depicting atrocities inflicted on Jews and
inhabitants of occupied countries -"it was quite ghastly and the Prime Minister was very, very moved". Casting about for
whatever means possible to impede or halt the German atrocities, he told the War Cabinet it might have a "salutary
effect" on the Germans if Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union were to make an immediate declaration "to the
effect that a number of German officers or members of the Nazi Party, equal to those put to death by the Germans in
the various countries, would be returned to those countries after the war for judgment." But Eden tried to water down any
explicit declarations, "Broadly, I am most anxious not to get into a position of breathing fire and slaughter against War
Criminals, and promising condign punishments, and a year or two hence having to find a pretext for doing nothing."

Ten months later they locked horns again over Hungarian Jewry. Writing a private but stiff memo, Churchill called it "probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world by scientific machinery by nominally civilised men in the name of a great state and one of the leading races of Europe . this is no ordinary case and should not be subject to negotiations of any kind on this subject".

By then the secret of Auschwitz had become public knowledge when escapees from the prison camp escaped with detailed reports and plans relayed via Rabbi Michoel Ber Weissmandl reaching Zurich, London or Washington amid urgent demands for bombing raids to stop the recently begun Hungarian deportations gassing 12,000 daily. Eden suggested to Churchill, Weizmann and Shertok's request should be discussed by cabinet and relayed to Stalin but Churchill forcefuity repiled, "Is there any reason to raise these matters in Cabinet? You and I are in entire agreement! Get anything out of the Air Force you can and invoke me necessary!".

But Eden did not "get anything he could" or "invoke Churchill. Instead, he accepted Air Minister Archibald
Sinclair's (a close Churchill friend) claim that Allied bombing of Auschwitz's railway spur and extermination facilities could
not be carried out and would be of little benefit to prisoners - try the Americans! Actually, Allied reconnaissance aircraft
were already flying repeatedly over the area taking aerial photograph s. Years later in the JC letter columns in a reply
to an article by R' S B Unsdorfer (late editor of the Jewish Tribune) the Chief of Bomber Command, Sir Arthur"Bomber"
Harris admitted it could have been feasible but he had never even been consulted! Nor was there a good reason against
bombing railway bridges and tunnels as part of the ongoing Allied disruption of communications, as proposed by R'
Michoel Ber Weissmandl.

Fortunately for the remnants of Hungarian Jewry, Providence intervened and three days after Churchill's emphatic endorsement of the bombing of Auschwitz. their deportations to Auschwitz were halted at the request of Hungarian Regent, Admiral Horthy. A few weeks earlier a British diplomat, Elizabeth Wiskemann, deliberately sent an open, un-coded telegram to the Foreign Office in London listed Budapest government buildings involved, including police and railway ministries, and home addresses of relevant officials and suggested bombing them to force the Hungarian Government to stop the deportations the cable was duly read by the Hungarian intelligence as intended.

Soon afterwards a regular American daylight bombing raid on Budapest fuel depots and railway marshalling yards went
wrong and "accidentally" hit several government buildings and private homes of senior government officials including
a large group of auxiliary police brought in to supervise deportations from Budapest. The intelligence services
wrongly concluded the air raid was in deliberate response to the cable, clearly implying this could be repeated, and a
terrified Horthy ordered Eichmann and Wiessenmayer to reluctantly stop.

A month after inadequately pressing for bombing Auschwitz, declassified papers reveal Eden also frustrated plans to save Jewish dignitaries sheltering under the protection of South American passports. Many were prominent Agudists or religious leaders who had received these life-saving passports from the Sternbuchs and instead of being condemned to death had been recognised as foreign Austauschjuden (exchange-Jews) and kept in preferential camps like Vittel orTheresienstadt to be bartered for Germans abroad. But the Red Cross and South American governments suspected their citizenship was not genuine and hesitated to recognise them the Gestapo allowed them a month to contact abroad and authenticate their credentials - which produced a flood of desperate letters, phone-calls and cables - until they were shipped off to Bergen-Belsen.

The American War Refugee Board asked Britain to accept a swap with expatriate German nationals in Latin America
but Eden rejected the proposal because he was concerned the freed Jews would emigrate to Palestine and stir up
trouble! "Most holders of these documents are of Jewish race who have been accepted as immigrants to Palestine
and the passports are good for a journey thither provided the holders succeed in leaving enemy or enemy-occupied
territory. In these circumstances it appears doubtful it will ever be possible to carry out the exchange envisaged by the
US Government."

Though he must have known those Jews' lives were literally on the line, he however "hoped the German Government
will abstain from exterminating these people and will keep them in camps open to outside inspection" if it was made
aware they might at some point be bartered for Germans. In the event some were killed quite quickly while conditions in
Belsen deteriorated so awfully, the film of its liberation is still shown today as a showcase of German barbarity.

With such a background, how come Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden encouraged and co-operated with Israel in the
'56 Suez invasion? Indeed it was more his intense loathing for Nasserw whom he saw as a latter-day Mussolini or Hitler that-as described by one of his biographers -"forced him into a pact with the devil!" Like Harbonah of old, he was motivated less by "love of Mordechai" and more bv "hatred of Haman".

Whatever 'the reason, Suez brought about his downfall and political demise – and signaled the end of England as a colonial power.


The Far Eastern Context

The outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war in July 1937 threatened British interests, particularly in China. Japanese policy was to dominate mainland China before risking armed conflict with other major powers, but Tokyo had strong links to Berlin and Rome. Chamberlain sought back-channel negotiations with Japan to try and avert the danger of a Triple Alliance against Britain Eden put his faith more in the Americans, though Roosevelt, while making speeches about lawless behaviour, was unwilling to commit the US to action. Chamberlain considered it ‘best and safest to count on nothing from the Americans but words’, but though Eden shared his frustration with American isolationism, he was horrified when in January 1938 Chamberlain gave a dismissive reply to a rather vague Roosevelt initiative for a peace plan. FO policy was to keep the Americans close at all costs, and the profound disagreement between Eden and Chamberlain on this point contributed to the crisis culminating in Eden’s resignation.

In the end, it was personal incompatibility rather than policy that was decisive in Eden’s resignation. As Cadogan put it: ‘an ordinary man ought to have stayed. A., being what he is, was right to go.’ Over the past 80 years, that resignation has enhanced Eden’s reputation, while Chamberlain’s has declined. In the context of British policy, this is unfair.

Suggestions for further reading

Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919-1939, Second Series, Volumes XIX and XXI

George C. Peden, ‘Sir Horace Wilson and Appeasement’, Historical Journal, 2010, 53(4)


Watch the video: Sir Winston Churchills Funeral: A World In Remembrance 1965. British Pathé (November 2021).