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270 Mr P. Liesching, U.K. Acting High Commissioner to Australia, to Lord Stanley, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 184 21 September 1938,

My telegram No. 182, of the 20th of September. [1] Impressed by
what was said to Stirling [2] in London as to the need for extreme
reticence on the present state of affairs affecting Czechoslovakia
Prime Minister [3] announced in the House of Representatives that
in view of the delicacy of the situation he would defer his
proposed statement until to-morrow. [4] There is no change in the
attitude of the Cabinet as described in my telegram No. 1765 and
previous messages. Public opinion, in so far as I can gauge it, is
still ready to support United Kingdom policy to the point where
the Sudeten areas might be ceded under pressure from the United
Kingdom and France on the ground that the preservation of
Czechoslovakia's territorial integrity has from the first been a
lost cause not worth a war for the United Kingdom and the Empire.

But in view of Press reports of remarkable accuracy which have
appeared since Berchtesgaden conversations the last few days have
seen the growth of a genuine and more outspoken apprehension
(similar to that being voiced in some sections of the English
Press and cabled here) at the prospect that our influence in
favour of cession, if it is set in a context of anticipating a
German ultimatum and is not accompanied by some wider settlement
and by a clear indication that Germany will be halted at that
point, will certainly fail to save us from a war on which we shall
have to embark after now suffering 'a staggering blow to British
prestige' (these words were used in a recent telegram from Bruce
to Lyons) [6] and incurring a dishonour from which we shall not
deserve to recover. Some newspapers (including influential Sydney
Morning Herald) speak daily of 'dismay and incredulity' which such
a policy must provoke but others and with them I think the bulk of
the general public are waiting with a patient if slightly impaired
confidence a clearer view of the outcome as a whole before passing

1 Not printed.

2 External Affairs Officer in London.

3 J. A. Lyons.

4 Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, vol. 157, p. 3. His
statement was eventually made on 28 September (ibid., PP. 306-26).

5 Document 253.

6 Document 262. The word actually used by Bruce was 'shattering'.

[PRO : DO 114/94]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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