146 Mr S.M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 349 LONDON, 23 August 1939, 8.44 p.m.

SECRET FOR PRIME MINISTER

Developments of the last twenty-four hours are practically all recorded in Dominions Office cable [1] and press. Molotov [2] met the Ambassadors' representations as to the Soviet-German agreement extremely unsatisfactorily accusing the British and French of lack of sincerity and refused information as to whether agreement would contain a clause determining the agreement in the event of aggression against a third party. Appears clear that the Soviet- German agreement not yet finalised but Berlin press reports anticipate it will be in forty-eight hours.

Both the United Kingdom and French Ambassadors in close touch with Beck [3] on the question of negotiations.

Hitler's [4] reception of the United Kingdom Ambassador frigid and Henderson now awaits written reply. Move by Hitler anticipated as soon as the Soviet-German agreement is signed.

Doubtful whether move will take the form of action of character which would leave the possibility of negotiation open or of so drastic a character as to preclude such a possibility.

In the latter event the effects of assistance by France and the United Kingdom to Poland so limited I have been urging on the United Kingdom Government the possibility of exploring every avenue to keep the door to negotiation open. I think a cable from you to the Prime Minister [5] stressing this would be of great value, particularly in view of your declaration today [6] which has greatly weighed here.

BRUCE

1 Circular cablegram B281 sent 23 August 1939, not printed (on file AA: A981, Germany 67, i).

2 V.M. Molotov, U.S.S.R. People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs.

3 Colonel Joseph Beck, Polish Foreign Minister.

4 Adolf Hitler, German Chancellor.

5 Neville Chamberlain.

6 Document 144.

[AA: A981, GERMANY 72B, i]