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

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



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]