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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]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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