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

Cablegram 160 LONDON, 20 September 1938


For Prime Minister. Dominions Office Telegram 241. [1] This
embodies result of conversations which lasted whole of yesterday
[2] between United Kingdom and French Prime Ministers and Foreign
Secretaries [3] which have today been endorsed by both United
Kingdom and French Cabinets. Reason substitution of direct
transfer territory for idea of plebiscite apart from practical
difficulties of latter was view that former would be more
acceptable to Czechs and would render less difficult rejection of
claims Poland and Hungary which have already been put forward with
regard to their minority. [4]

United Kingdom commitments embodied paragraph 6 to join in
international guarantee due to realisation by United Kingdom
Government necessity [5] of such guarantee if Czechoslovakia
consent is to be obtained to proposed transfer of territory, that
unless new boundaries Czechoslovakia guaranteed and stable country
established as bulwark against further German restitutions [6] in
middle and eastern Europe progressively Czechoslovakia, Hungary,
Rumania and Poland would fall under her domination with little if
any serious opposition and there would be nothing to impede path
to Black Sea until clash came with Soviet. To leave way open for
such a development would merely be postponing crisis, would keep
Europe in a ferment and would be no justification for sacrifices
that Czechoslovakia is being asked to agree to or for efforts that
are being made in order to avoid world war at moment. In all
circumstances in my view there was no possibility of United
Kingdom avoiding this new and untraditional commitment and I think
you should consider desirability of your informing United Kingdom
of your appreciation of necessity and value of her action in cause
of peace and at appropriate time of your making a public
announcement to this effect.

Greatest danger at moment in my view is that Czechoslovak
Government will refuse to co-operate in any way. French Government
is confident that they will come into line and United Kingdom are
inclined to take same view. If they do not aid [7] most difficult
situation win be created particularly if some serious incident
occurred in Sudeten area or general mobilisation were immediately
ordered by Czechs.

Pressing United Kingdom Government as to immediate consideration
of course to be followed in extra [8] event.


1 Not printed; see Document 265, note 2.

2 The copy of this cablegram retained by Bruce in London was dated
19 September 1938 (AA : AA1970/556, item 6(2)). 'Yesterday' refers
to 18 September 1938.

3 U.K. Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, and Foreign Secretary,
Viscount Halifax; French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier and
Foreign Secretary, Georges Bonnet.

4 Bruce's copy reads 'minorities'.

5 Bruce's copy reads 'apart from necessity'.

6 Bruce's copy reads 'ambitious'.

7 Bruce's copy reads 'a'.

8 Bruce's copy reads 'such an'.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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