256 Note by Mr M. MacDonald, U.K. Secretary of State for the Colonies, of Conversation with Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London

LONDON, 15 September 1938

I had a talk with Mr Bruce on his return from Geneva yesterday evening, and asked him what his views were on the present situation in Central Europe. He said that it seemed that things were moving rapidly towards a plebiscite for the Sudeten Deutsch.

A plebiscite at the present time would be an absolute outrage and he could scarcely express in language his feelings about it.

Nevertheless, he thought that, contrary to his own inclination, opinion in Australia would prefer this solution to the problem to a resort to war. He felt that opinion in this country as well as in the other Dominions would be the same.

I said that I entirely agreed that a plebiscite at the present time would be outrageous, but that I personally was inclined to agree with public opinion as he had described it. Certainly the telegrams which we had received from Australia indicated that Mr Lyons [1] and his colleagues felt strongly in this way. However, we could still hope that an immediate plebiscite would not become the issue. I then indicated to him the various alternatives which were in our minds, starting with the idea that Lord Runciman might be made arbitrator in the dispute. Mr Bruce doubted whether this particular proposal was practical politics, but very strongly hoped that we would be able to resist a proposal for an immediate plebiscite, and that we could get some other much more satisfactory alternative.

M. M[ACDONALD]

1 Prime Minister.

[PRO : DO 35/554]