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

Cablegram 362 LONDON, 28 August 1939, 6.55 p.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET FOR PRIME MINISTER

Cabinet has now approved reply to Hitler [1] and Henderson [2] leaving immediately for Berlin. As anticipated in my previous cable [3] Hitler's reply to Daladier [4] is ignored. Understand it was not contemplated in Berlin that the communications between Hitler and Daladier could be published. Daladier however gave substance in interview with French press last night and Berlin then published full text this morning. A verbatim copy of the United Kingdom reply is being cabled for your personal information and I have been specially requested not to summarize or paraphrase and to stress most secret and confidential as through secret contact in that quarter [5] which I have referred to and which is proving most valuable. Hitler has insisted that the United Kingdom reply must be secret and not published the reason given being that Hitler desires to consider and to have an opportunity to make suggestions for modification.

Mussolini [6] and Ciano [7] are doing everything in their power to find a way out and avert war. Considerable volume of opinion considers that if war comes Italian participation is by no means certain and this view is confirmed by telegram today from the Minister to the Vatican. [8] Some difference of opinion has existed as to the desirability for strategical reasons of Italy being involved in the event of war but I understand that the United Kingdom and French General Staffs have now agreed that it is preferable if possible to keep her out although this view is subject to modification in the light of circumstances particularly the United Kingdom's relations with Italy upon the outbreak of war.

Parliament called for tomorrow. Arrangement arrived at with Labour and Liberal Opposition to confine speeches to three leaders and it is hoped that this will be observed.

BRUCE

1 See Document 161.

2 Sir Nevile Henderson, U.K. Ambassador to Germany, was in London for consultations.

3 Cablegram 361 from Bruce to Menzies, sent 28 August 1939, 3.47 p.m., not printed, on file AA: A981, Germany 67, ii.

4 Edouard Daladier, President of French Council of Ministers.

5 The copy cited was here footnoted 'word apparently omitted'. The phrase 'in that quarter' does not, however, appear in Bruce's copy (see AA: M100, August 1939).

6 Benito Mussolini, Italian Head of State.

7 Count Galeazzo Ciano, Italian Foreign Minister.

8 F. D'A. G. Osborne.

[AA: CP290/6, ITEM 27]