4 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister
Cablegram 11 LONDON, 5 January , 7.10 p.m.
FOR THE PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET
despatch  which should reach you about 15th January letters
exchanged on 20th December between Halifax  and Benes  with
regard to the formation of a Czechoslovak national committee of
which Benes is actually though not technically the president. In
his letter Halifax, on behalf of the United Kingdom Government,
'[recognises]  that the committee is qualified to represent the
Czechoslovak peoples', in particular for the purposes of the
reconstruction of the Czechoslovak army in France.
Hitherto the United Kingdom Government has been careful to
distinguish between Bohemia and Moravia on the one hand and
Slovakia on the other.
Their attitude, however, is that the step just taken does not
really constitute any change in policy, that they do not at
present propose to enter into any commitments regarding the future
status or boundaries of any territories included in the former
Czechoslovak state, and that the phrase 'Czechoslovak peoples' in
plural was adopted to leave open the question of the future status
and mutual relations of the Czechs and Slovaks. They state that
action was taken for three reasons:-
(1) to encourage resistance of the Czech and Slovak peoples to
(2) to keep in step with the French Government who had already
recognised the national committee of [13th November];
(3) to take account of public feeling aroused here and in the
Dominions and in neutral countries by the treatment inflicted upon
the Czechs and Slovaks in Germany.
Of these (3)  was clearly the deciding factor. I cannot help
feeling that present step will be construed abroad as an intention
to reconstruct former state of Czechoslovakia.
British Minister in Hungary  for instance considered the change
'a matter of the greatest moment to the Hungarian Government' and
urgently requested instructions as to what line he should take
Benes is coming to see me next week having in mind similar
recognition by Australia. I will be entirely non-committal.
1 The dispatch and letters are on file AA: A1608, B41/1/3, iii.
2 U.K. Foreign Secretary.
3 Chairman of Czechoslovak National Committee.
4 Words in square brackets have been inserted from Bruce's file
copy on AA: M100, January 1940.
5 This read '(2)' in Bruce's file copy.
6 O. St C. O'Malley.
[AA: A981, CZECHOSLOVAKIA 6]