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149 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr J. A. Lyons, Prime Minister

Cablegram 45 LONDON, 21 March 1938, 7.38 p.m.


Prime Minister [1] probably making statement Thursday. [2] Form of
statement is not yet approved but the following points are

Drafting of this portion is peculiarly difficult owing to
necessity of avoiding giving the impression that Britain will
support France in any intervention she may decide on in the case
of action by Germany as this would probably encourage the
Czechoslovak Government to adopt an unreasonable attitude in
respect to the very real burning [3] problem of the position of
the German Minority in Czechoslovakia. On the other hand any
statement to the effect that Britain would not support France
would imperil Anglo-French relations and encourage Germany in an
unreasonable attitude towards Czechoslovakia. Probable line will
be an expression of the United Kingdom's interest in problem of
Czechoslovakia and a suggestion for an immediate examination of
the problem of the German Minority there with a view to a peaceful
settlement. Implication behind the statement will be that in the
event of unreasonable attitude by Czechoslovakia, Britain would
not intervene but that if Czechoslovakia is reasonable and in the
face of this attitude Germany pursued an aggressive policy the
United Kingdom would be compelled to intervene.

Subject to developments statement will probably be maintenance of
existing policy of non-intervention but urging an armistice and
possibly mediation.

This will be strongly reiterated but unlikely any proposal for
compulsion for defence.

Doubtful whether this point will be stressed.

1 Neville Chamberlain.

2 24 March 1938.

3 The word 'burning' was not on the Bruce version of this
cablegram (AA : AA1970/556, item 6(1)).

[AA : A981, GREAT BRITAIN 8B, ii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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