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

Cablegram 154 LONDON, 15 September 1938, 1.38 p.m. [1]


The position tonight is distinctly better than appeared probable
after the incidents in the Sudeten territory yesterday which were
in many quarters interpreted as engineered by Germany to justify
armed intervention by Germany on the grounds of the necessity of
protecting the Sudeten Germans. Although facts still very obscure
this view appears not to have been well founded and the incidents
seem to have been sponsored' and due to high state of tension
which is unjustifiable. [3] Atmosphere has been completely changed
by the announcement of the Prime Minister's [4] decision to visit
Hitler and probably there will be no further developments in
Czechoslovakia pending the results of the interviews.

Your message [5] greatly appreciated by the Prime Minister and
your interpretation of the effect of his action on public opinion
in the Empire and abroad is in line with the view of those I
consider best able to judge.

In my view the solution is tending towards a plebiscite to be
taken after a reasonable lapse of time with local autonomy in the
meantime although very possible that the issue of an immediate
plebiscite or war may have to be faced. This view for the present
should be treated as most secret but I send it so that you may be
considering the issues involved.


1 Although this cable as deciphered in Canberra was dated Is
September 1938, the copy retained by Bruce (see AA : AA1970/556,
item 6(2)) was dated 14 September. The word 'tonight' refers to 14
September. Other variations are noted in footnotes below.

2 Bruce's version reads 'spontaneous' for 'sponsored'.

3 Bruce's version reads 'exists' for 'is unjustifiable'.

4 Neville Chamberlain.

5 Document 255.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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