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

Cablegram 154 LONDON, 15 September 1938, 1.38 p.m. [1]

SECRET

The position tonight is distinctly better than appeared probable after the incidents in the Sudeten territory yesterday which were in many quarters interpreted as engineered by Germany to justify armed intervention by Germany on the grounds of the necessity of protecting the Sudeten Germans. Although facts still very obscure this view appears not to have been well founded and the incidents seem to have been sponsored' and due to high state of tension which is unjustifiable. [3] Atmosphere has been completely changed by the announcement of the Prime Minister's [4] decision to visit Hitler and probably there will be no further developments in Czechoslovakia pending the results of the interviews.

Your message [5] greatly appreciated by the Prime Minister and your interpretation of the effect of his action on public opinion in the Empire and abroad is in line with the view of those I consider best able to judge.

In my view the solution is tending towards a plebiscite to be taken after a reasonable lapse of time with local autonomy in the meantime although very possible that the issue of an immediate plebiscite or war may have to be faced. This view for the present should be treated as most secret but I send it so that you may be considering the issues involved.

BRUCE

1 Although this cable as deciphered in Canberra was dated Is September 1938, the copy retained by Bruce (see AA : AA1970/556, item 6(2)) was dated 14 September. The word 'tonight' refers to 14 September. Other variations are noted in footnotes below.

2 Bruce's version reads 'spontaneous' for 'sponsored'.

3 Bruce's version reads 'exists' for 'is unjustifiable'.

4 Neville Chamberlain.

5 Document 255.

[AA : A981, CZECHOSLOVAKIA 13]