290 Mr N. Chamberlain, U.K. Prime Minister, to Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 130 LONDON, 12 October 1939

MOST SECRET

Your telegram of 11th October, No. 133. [1] My telegram of 11th October, No. 128 [2] , and my Circular telegram C.92 [3] :

Following from Prime Minister for Prime Minister [4]

Please accept my sincere thanks for your telegram. We have warmly welcomed the opportunity for consultation between us which has been afforded. We have carefully considered whether it was desirable at this stage to formulate our war aims in more definite terms and more especially whether we should be wise to put forward a definite statement of the conditions upon which we should be prepared to negotiate with Germany. After most careful examination and in the light of all the information in our possession from a variety of sources we are convinced that it would be not only unwise but even dangerous at this stage to go further than we have in defining our position.

Our desire, and we are sure yours also, is to bring about peaceful negotiation, if there is any possibility of this being realised upon acceptable terms. In our view the chances of success in this regard are greater if we do not ourselves define precisely in advance the exact conditions required of the German Chancellor [5] but make it possible for him to put forward his own proposals if he so desires in response to our own general statement of our position.

It may be moreover that the German Government have clearly made up their mind and have no intention of negotiating upon any basis which world opinion would regard as acceptable. If this be so, no statement of ours can have any effect upon their attitude. If on the other hand, as we believe may well be the case, the German Chancellor is hesitant, then we believe that the form of words that we have chosen, which does not too precisely define our terms, gives him the best possible opportunity for taking the next step. In other words if Herr Hitler wants to negotiate we have given him the chance to do so.

At the same time we have been very careful so to phrase our statement as to show to world opinion the moderation of our attitude. In this respect we have, as you will observe, considerably modified our original text in the light of the views that you have expressed.

There is a further consideration, the significance of which we feel sure that you will appreciate. It is imperative that we should keep in close step with the French Government at this time.

M. Daladiers [6] has already made the attitude of his Government unmistakably plain. If we were now to attempt to insert any provisions which gave our statement a different emphasis, the effect on Anglo-French solidarity would be very serious.

As we believe [it] may be the fact that the German Government have not yet closed their minds to the possibility of negotiation Herr Hitler may be expected to make a reply to our statement. That will be the moment when in our judgment we should consider whether we can usefully and profitably carry the definition of our war aims a stage further bearing in mind the views that you have expressed.

May I conclude by again expressing our deep appreciation of the thought which you have given to our draft at necessarily very short notice and our gratitude for the help which your views have afforded me.

1 Document 283.

2 Document 286.

3 Cablegram C92 of 12 October 1939, not printed (On file AA: A981, Great Britain 8B, v), contained the text of Chamberlain's reply to Hitler made in the House of Commons on the same day. See Howe of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol. 352, cols 563- 8.

4 This cablegram was sent via the U.K. Dominions Secretary.

5 Adolf Hitler.

6 Edouard Daladier, President of the French Council of Ministers.

[AA: A981, WAR 45B, i]