Hitler Receives an Opportunistic Endorsement
Friday 4th September 1936
The former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George visited Adolf Hitler at his home in Berchtesgaden after lunching with Germany's ambassador designate to London, Joachim von Ribbentrop. Lloyd George had long admired Hitler, who appeared to him to be conducting a bold and visionary policy of economic and national reconstruction in a way that Britain's more cautious statesmen were definitely not doing. He shrugged of Nazi suppression of trades unions and the persecution of the Jews, pointing lamely at pogroms elsewhere in Europe.
Lloyd George had long been out of office and had no realistic prospect of coming back into government, failing some major upset, so the visit served no diplomatic purpose. In the darkest days of the Second World War he thought his moment might have come. "I shall wait until Winston is bust" he told a confidant. Had Britain been invaded, he might well have played the same role as Petain in France, heading a collaborationist, puppet government. In the meanwhile, it was only Hitler's prestige that benefited from so ringing an endorsement from an elder statesman who had played such a large part in Germany's defeat in the First world War.