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

Cablegram 168 LONDON, 26 September 1938

For Prime Minister. Personal and confidential. United Kingdom
Cabinet having heard Prime Minister [1] report have sat all today
[2] considering question of acceptance or rejection of German
memorandum (see Dominions Office Telegram No. 266). [3] All shades
of opinion recognise that rejection means Germans march into
Czechoslovakia, that announcement of United Kingdom and French
support Czechoslovakia in such event would not deter them. Issue
therefore is whether German memorandum is so unreasonable as to
justify war in preference to its acceptance. Those who argue that
it should be accepted maintain that it only deals with method of
giving effect decision already arrived at namely the transference
of Sudeten areas to Germany that is decision was great one for
which it might have been justifiable to go to war and that having
accepted principle it is unthinkable to make method of giving
effect to it the cause of a war.

With regard to specific proposals in memorandum they say:(1) Areas
designated are approximately those which it is contemplated would
go Germany even if these areas are slightly greater than would be
rectified by plebiscite. Action would therefore be anticipating
what would happen in six weeks or two months time. (2) Even if not
handed over until after new delineation destruction was not
contemplated and while certain removals would have been made
provided that reasonable compensation paid where assets result of
Czech expenditure this not unreasonable. (3) As soon as this would
have happened on transference of territory and would only be
anticipating date. (4) Same as (3). (5) An international
commission preferably for alterations to frontier. Limitation of
voters provided some arrangement made with regard to places where
heavy Czech settlement has taken place since October 1918 not

Those in favour of acceptance feel the Prime Minister will be
supported by public opinion in United Kingdom if he gives a bold
lead for acceptance proposals in German memorandum.


1 Neville Chamberlain.

2 Although this cablegram was dispatched on 26 September 1938, it
must have been drafted on 25 September.

3 Not printed; see Document 274, note 2.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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