179 Mr M. MacDonald, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Sir Geoffrey Whiskard, U.K. High Commissioner to Australia

Cablegram 80 (copy) LONDON, 1 April 1938

Confidential. My telegram of 25th March Circular telegram B.83 [2] following from Harding [3] BEGINS. It occurs to us that question may be raised with you how it is that change in the status of the Legation in Vienna to Consulate and application to German Government for Exequatur for new Consul-General is regarded as formal recognition of absorption of Austria in Reich whereas corresponding action in case of Abyssinia was not considered as involving de jure recognition of Italian conquest but only de facto recognition of Italian Government as Government of parts of Abyssinia which they controlled.

The reason is that in case of Abyssinia it was essential for political and Parliamentary reasons to proceed first to the stage of de facto recognition. Agreement was accordingly that the request for an exequatur for H.M. Consul-General at Addis Ababa amounted only to de facto recognition and moreover it was arranged with the Italians that they should accept this position (see telegram Circular B 207 of 19th December, 1936 [4]). In the present instance considerations of this kind have not the same force. The absorption of Austria has been carried out in both Austria and Germany by laws which are technically regular and there is not in existence as there is in case of Abyssinia a former head of the State who is in a position to dispute the regularity of absorption. There is therefore in the present case no need for distinguishing between de facto and de jure recognition and the United Kingdom Government are in fact anxious to avoid doing so and to proceed at once to full recognition.

United Kingdom Government are furthermore not only withdrawing from the Legation at Vienna and asking for exequatur for a ConsulGeneral but also proposing to deal with the German Government as the Government which in law exercises sovereignty over Austria.

The above may be of assistance if the Commonwealth Government raise the question with you but unless they do so it is unnecessary to make any communication to them on the point. ENDS.

1 See T. M[athew] to Hodgson, 6 April 1938 on file AA : A981, Austria 17, ii.

2 Document 168.

3 Sir Edward Harding, U.K. Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs.

4 Not printed.

[AA : A981, AUSTRIA 17, ii]