154 Mr S.M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 358 LONDON, 26 August 1939, 10.15 p.m.

FOR PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET

As no time to consult you, I have advised the United Kingdom Government that I am confident that your view would be that Hitler's proposals [1] must be treated with the utmost seriousness and that reply must be on the grand scale and not limited to the Polish issue and reiterated our determination to stand behind Poland. Reason for my action without waiting your views is the need of countering the influence of those who claim that the proposals amounted to no more than an attempt to obtain a free hand against Poland by vague suggestions of a comprehensive offer to Great Britain after Polish-German problem solved. While this view quite possibly correct to base a reply upon assumption that it is would in my view be a grave mistake because (a) We would miss a great opportunity to put ourselves right with the public opinion of the world;

(b) If Hitler is now as a result of conversation with General Staff and economic and financial advisers (until the last few days it appears that they have had little opportunity to put their views, Hitler almost entirely relying on Ribbentrop [2]) convinced of the dangers of war and desirous of finding a way out it would be a great mistake to close the door.

I have strongly urged that a reply should be down the lines- [3] taking the proposals at face value and after (? in) [4] dealing with Poland, necessity for settlement by negotiation and for a just and reasonable settlement with proper guarantees, and our obligation to support Poland in obtaining this reply should on wider issues emphasise the necessity for their being faced and express our willingness to co-operate in the fullest and most generous way towards finding a solution of them.

BRUCE

1 See Document 153.

2 Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister.

3 Bruce's file copy had 'of' instead of a dash (see AA: M100, August 1939).

4 Bruce's file copy read 'and after dealing with Poland'.

[AA: A981, GERMANY 83B, iii]