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

LONDON, 28 September 1938, 11.50 a.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 W. J. Jordan, High Commissioner for New Zealand J. W. Dulanty, High Commissioner for Eire Sir Edward Harding, Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs Sir Harry Batterbee, Assistant Under-Secretary of State, Dominions Office E. G. Machtig, Assistant Under-Secretary of State, Dominions Office N. E. Archer, Dominions Office

MR BRUCE read to the meeting a cable which he had received from his Prime Minister after a telephone conversation which Mr Lyons had had with Mr Chamberlain. [1] This cable suggested that the Prime Minister should make a personal appeal to Signor Mussolini to use his influence with Herr Hitler, in the interests of peace;

and indicated that Mr Bruce would be available to fly to Rome with a message if desired. [2] Mr Bruce had visited No. 10 Downing Street earlier in the morning and had there learnt that Mr Chamberlain had already sent a message to Signor Mussolini.

MR MACDONALD read to the meeting the two messages sent by the Prime Minister early in the morning of the 28th September to Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini. [3]

Warm appreciation of these two messages was expressed by the Dominion representatives.

MR BRUCE referred to Mr Roosevelt's [4] message to Herr Hitler which had, he understood, been sent just before the meeting.

MR MACDONALD read to the meeting a Press version of Mr Roosevelt's message.

MR MASSEY said that he did not feel that the reference to the United States' detached attitude, in the latter part of the message, was necessarily harmful.

MR TE WATER thought that any tendency to place the blame on Herr Hitler in such messages was psychologically wrong.

MR MACDONALD then informed the meeting as. to Dr Krofta's [5] favourable reaction to the Prime Minister's latest proposals to Germany, Dr Benes' [6] more guarded attitude to the message conveyed to him, and the preliminary view expressed by the German State Secretary [7] to H.M. Ambassador at Berlins [8] (Berlin telegram No.546) [9] that the latest plan came too late. He also informed the High Commissioners regarding the message sent to the French Government (No. 342 to Paris) [10] and the French Foreign Minister's [11] reply (No. 318 from Paris) [12] indicating that neither Government should take any offensive measures, including a declaration of war, without previous consultation with and agreement by the other.

The Dominion representatives expressed satisfaction with this arrangement and MR MASSEY remarked that this placed the United Kingdom Government once more in control.

MR BRUCE inquired whether anything could be done in Parliament to prevent bellicose statements likely to aggravate the present difficulties, and expressed the hope that whatever action could be taken to this end would be taken.

MR MASSEY thought that whilst it might be undesirable to apply a closure by the use of the Government's majority, it should be possible to secure the same result by means of an appeal to Members not to prejudice current negotiations.

1 U.K. Prime Minister.

2 Document 288.

3 See Document 290.

4 Franklin D. Roosevelt, U.S. President.

5 Dr Kamil Krofta, Czechoslovakian Foreign Minister.

6 Dr Eduard Bents, President of Czechoslovakia.

7 Baron Ernst von Weizsacker.

8 Sir Nevile Henderson.

9 Not printed.

10 Not printed.

11 Georges Bonnet.

12 Not printed.

[PRO : DO 114/94]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History