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274 Note of Meeting of U.K. and Dominions 274 Representatives

Extracts LONDON, 24 September 1938, 8.30 p.m.

MOST SECRET

PRESENT

Malcolm MacDonald, acting for Secretary of State for Dominion
Affairs
S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner for Australia
C. T. te Water, High Commissioner for South Africa
Vincent Massey, High Commissioner for Canada
F. T. Sandford, Secretary, New Zealand High Commission
J. W. Dulanty, High Commissioner for Eire
The Duke of Devonshire, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for
Dominion Affairs
Sir Edward Harding, Permanent Under-Secretary of State for
Dominion Affairs
E. G. Machtig, Assistant Under-Secretary of State, Dominions
Office
C. W. Dixon, Assistant Secretary, Dominions Office

MR MACDONALD said that the further information as to Herr Hitler's
proposals which had become available since the morning's meeting
[1], and especially the map accompanying the German memorandum
[2], was disappointing. It appeared that the area to be ceded
immediately included some districts where the German population
was less than 50 per cent. Moreover, the proposal that only
persons who had been-resident in the areas concerned in 1918
should be entitled to vote in the plebiscite, added to the
advantage of the proposals to the German side. He criticized
various other details.

The Prime Minister [3] had given the Cabinet a full account of his
conversations with Herr Hitler. It appeared that Herr Hitler had
referred to the position of the Polish and Hungarian minorities in
Czechoslovakia, though he had not pressed the question. He had
refused to participate in any international guarantee of
Czechoslovakia (though the Prime Minister had pointed out that no
one suggested this) and had said that Germany could not conclude
any non-aggression pact with Czechoslovakia unless the position of
the Polish and Hungarian minorities were settled. He had told the
Prime Minister that, if it had not been for their meeting at
Berchtesgaden, German troops would have invaded Czechoslovakia and
he would then have established a frontier based on military, and
not racial, considerations. Nevertheless the Prime Minister was
convinced that Herr Hitler's objectives were limited and that he
was mainly concerned with racial questions and he was hopeful
that, if the Czechoslovak problem were settled, this would prove
the prelude to a general European settlement. Herr Hitler had
referred to the Colonial question as outstanding, but had said
that this was not a matter for war.

The French and Czechoslovak Governments had not yet expressed any
views on Herr Hitler's proposals. The Czechoslovak Government
might consult the United Kingdom Government before replying, and
in any case would probably send their reply through the United
Kingdom Government.

MR MACDONALD asked the Dominion representatives what was likely to
be the effect on public opinion in the various Dominions if the
German proposals were adopted.

[matter omitted]

MR BRUCE thought that the dominant consideration in Australia
would be fear of the aftermath if the present proposals were put
into force.

[matter omitted]

It was clear that all the High Commissioners personally were in
favour of the German proposals being accepted in the
circumstances.

1 Not printed. See PRO: DO 114/94.

2 Not printed. The text is given in circular cablegram B266 from
the Dominions Secretary, 24 September 1938 (see AA: A981,
Czechoslovakia 18, ii).

3 Neville Chamberlain.


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