347 Mr A. Eden, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Circular Cablegram D76 LONDON, 10 November 1939, 4.25 p.m.

MOST SECRET MOST IMMEDIATE

My immediately preceding telegram. [1]

Following is the text [2] of the draft reply to the Queen of the Netherlands. [3] Reply to the King of the Belgians [4] would be in corresponding terms:-

(1) I have carefully examined, with my Governments in the United Kingdom, Canada, Commonwealth of Australia, New Zealand and Union of South Africa, the appeal which Your Majesty and His Majesty the King of the Belgians addressed to me on 7th November. [5]

(2) I recall the appeal made by His Majesty the King of the Belgians on 23 August in the name of the heads of the states in loyalists group [6] of States, in which His Majesty pleaded for the submission of disputes and claims to open negotiation carried out in the spirit of brotherly co-operation. My Government in the United Kingdom as well as the French Government sent favourable replies to this appeal.

(3) I recall also the joint offer in their offices [7] made by Your Majesty and His Majesty the King of the Belgians to my Government in the United Kingdom and to the French, German, Italian and Polish Governments on 28th August. This offer was welcomed by my Government and by the French, Italian and Polish Governments. A few days later the German Government launched an unprovoked attack on Poland which has been over-run with every circumstance of brutality.

(4) My Governments deeply appreciate the spirit of Your Majesty's offer and they would always be willing to examine a reasonable and assured basis for an equitable peace. It is, as it has always been, our desire that the war should not last one day longer than is absolutely necessary, and I can therefore at once reply that the part [8] of Your Majesty's appeal in which you state your willingness to facilitate the ascertaining of the elements of an agreement to be reached.

(5) The essential conditions upon which we are determined that an honourable peace must be secured have already been plainly stated.

The documents which have been published since the beginning of the war clearly summarizes [9] its origin and establish the responsibility for its outbreak. My peoples took up arms only after every effort had been made to save peace.

(6) The immediate occasion of our one [10] entry into war was the violent Getman aggression against Poland. But this aggression was only a fresh instance of Germany's policy towards her neighbours and largely the purpose [11] for which my peoples are now fighting is to secure that Europe may be redeemed from 'perpetually recurring fear of German aggression so as to enable the peoples of Europe to preserve their independence and their liberties'. In any case the words of the Prime Minister [12] have been amplified and enlarged on a number of occasions, in particular by him on 12th October in the House of Commons and by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs [13] in the House of Lords on 2nd November.

(7) The elements which in the opinion of my Government form [14] part of any settlement emerge clearly and distinctly from these declarations of the policy. Should Your Majesty be able to communicate to me any proposals from Germany of such a character as to afford real prospect of achieving purpose I have described above, I can say at once that my Governments would give them their most earnest consideration.

1 Document 346.

2 The copy of this cablegram in the Public Record Office (see PRO:

DO 114/113) varied in several respects from the Canberra decipher printed here and significant differences are indicated in footnotes.

3 Queen Wilhelmina.

4 King Leopold III.

5 See Document 333.

6 The PRO version read 'Heads of State of the Oslo group'.

7 The PRO version read 'offer of good offices'.

8 The PRO version read 'reply to that part'.

9 The PRO version read 'explain'.

10 The PRO version read 'of our entry'.

11 The PRO version read 'and the larger purpose'.

12 Neville Chamberlain. See House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol. 352, cols 563-8.

13 Lord Halifax. See House of Lords, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol. 114, cols 1690-3.

14 The PRO version read 'my Governments must form'.

[AA: A981, WAR 45B, ii]