The Runciman Mission was Neville Chamberlain's instrument to stall on resolving the impasse at Prague between the government and its Sudeten German minority, which was directed and financed from abroad. When Hitler declared himself the virtual guarantor of Sudeten rights and claims, the controversy began to threaten the Prague government. The mission quickly gained the aspect of negotiator between aggressive Germany and hapless Czechoslovakia. The role of impartial mediator was assumed by the British leaders whose secret new policy was to give greedy Adolf Hitler "his bellyful of Europe." But this revised policy was kept secret and had to be rendered acceptable to public opinion wherever.
Viscount Walter Runciman had impeccable qualifications for the job. He could be counted on for loyalty to the Foreign Office and its objectives. As an ex-minister of wide and varied experience, he had an international reputation for integrity and impartiality. He was a man of wit and charm who was esteemed in aristocratic circles, as elsewhere. One of the British government insiders said of him: "Someone would have to accompany him and do most of the work, but he could be relied on to put results across."1
Sir Frank Ashton Gwatkin was appointed as that "someone," the "workhorse" deputy to Lord Runciman. Ashton Gwatkin was an internationalist of competence and experience, especially in the sphere of German relations. As high counselor of the Foreign Office, he had served as aide to Sir Horace Wilson, who later became Chamberlaln's special envoy to Berlin.2
Arriving in Prague with his wife and staff on August 3rd, Runciman
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Publication information: Book title: Czechoslovakia:Anvil of the Cold War. Contributors: John O. Crane - Author, Sylvia E. Crane - Author. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1991. Page number: 131.
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