477 Commonwealth Government to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 329 30 May 1941,

Your M. 95. [1] Recognition of Czechoslovak Government:

Commonwealth Government considers that objections to Dr. Benes' [2] request set out in paragraph 3 of your telegram under reference are substantial and that it is doubtful whether the full recognition of Provisional Government would not on balance prejudice position of Dr. Benes' followers in protectorate and impair present degree of collaboration with Hacha [3] Government.

Moreover, Commonwealth Government attaches importance to the reservations made at time of recognition of Provisional Government, namely that such recognition should not be taken as committing us to recognise or support the establishment in the future of any particular frontiers in Europe or as binding us to any particular position as regards continued juridical existence of Czechoslovak Republic.

In spite of personal assurances which Dr. Benes might give, it seems not unlikely that the accordance of full recognition as requested by Governments of the British Commonwealth would, in fact, be construed in other countries as committing us to restoration of Czechoslovakia in original form.

We believe we should not undertake at the present stage anything which can be regarded as a commitment.

In general, we do not feel that there is justification for altering existing status of Czechoslovakian Provisional Government.

Czechoslovak Consul-General in Australia [4] has full status and recognition as representative of Provisional Government and present position is on a satisfactory basis from our point of view. [5]

1 See Document 471, note 1.

2 President of the Czechoslovak Provisional Govt (in London).

3 President of the German-occupied Bohemia-Moravia Protectorate.

4 Dr Adolf Solansky.

5 On 2 July Cranborne replied in circular cablegram M131 that, while the U.K. Govt fully appreciated the difficulties raised by the Commonwealth Govt, it felt that it was important to give further encouragement to the Czechoslovak people. It therefore proposed to delete the prefix 'provisional' from references to the Czechoslovak Govt in London and to appoint to it a 'British Diplomatic Representative'. The U.K. Govt was not, however, prepared to commit itself to the re-establishment of any particular frontiers in Central Europe, to the juridical continuity of the Czechoslovak Republic or to the Czechoslovak Govt's legislative authority over certain Czechoslovak nationals (in particular Sudeten Germans) in the United Kingdom. S. M.

Bruce, High Commissioner in London, expressed surprise that the U.K. Govt had not taken' a firmer line' with Benes, whom he considered to have been motivated by a desire for personal prestige (see cablegram 500 of 3 July). R. G. Menzies, however, informed Cranborne cablegram 429 of 10 July that the Commonwealth Govt had no objection to the U.K. proposal provided that the reservations were made clear to Benes.

On 9 July the U.S.S.R. Govt advised Berns that it recognised him as President of Czechoslovakia and accepted the juridical continuity and frontiers of the pre-war Czechoslovak Republic. In consequence the U.K. Govt decided to accord Benes full diplomatic recognition, subject to the reservations previously made, and to appoint a minister to the Czechoslovak Govt in London (see Cranborne's cablegrams M146 of 11 July, M159 of 16 July and M160 of 17 July). The Commonwealth Govt approved this action in cablegram 447 of 18 July. All cablegrams are on file AA: A981, Czechoslovakia 6.

[AA: A981, CZECHOSLOVAKIA 6]