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

Cablegram 45 LONDON, 21 March 1938, 7.38 p.m.


Prime Minister [1] probably making statement Thursday. [2] Form of statement is not yet approved but the following points are emerging.

CZECHOSLOVAKIA Drafting of this portion is peculiarly difficult owing to necessity of avoiding giving the impression that Britain will support France in any intervention she may decide on in the case of action by Germany as this would probably encourage the Czechoslovak Government to adopt an unreasonable attitude in respect to the very real burning [3] problem of the position of the German Minority in Czechoslovakia. On the other hand any statement to the effect that Britain would not support France would imperil Anglo-French relations and encourage Germany in an unreasonable attitude towards Czechoslovakia. Probable line will be an expression of the United Kingdom's interest in problem of Czechoslovakia and a suggestion for an immediate examination of the problem of the German Minority there with a view to a peaceful settlement. Implication behind the statement will be that in the event of unreasonable attitude by Czechoslovakia, Britain would not intervene but that if Czechoslovakia is reasonable and in the face of this attitude Germany pursued an aggressive policy the United Kingdom would be compelled to intervene.

SPAIN Subject to developments statement will probably be maintenance of existing policy of non-intervention but urging an armistice and possibly mediation.

ACCELERATION OF REARMAMENT This will be strongly reiterated but unlikely any proposal for compulsion for defence.

COLLECTIVE SECURITY Doubtful whether this point will be stressed.

1 Neville Chamberlain.

2 24 March 1938.

3 The word 'burning' was not on the Bruce version of this cablegram (AA : AA1970/556, item 6(1)).

[AA : A981, GREAT BRITAIN 8B, ii]