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290 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr J. A. Lyons, Prime Minister

Cablegram unnumbered LONDON, 28 September 1938, 1.42 p.m.


Reference our telephonic conversation [1] this morning, following personal messages have now been despatched by the Prime Minister [2] to Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini.

To Herr Hitler-

(Begins) After reading your letter [3] I feel certain that you can get all the essentials without war and without delay. I am ready to come to Berlin myself at once to discuss arrangements for the transfer with you and representative of Czech Government; together with representatives of France and Italy if you desire. I feel convinced that we could reach agreement in a week. However much you distrust Prague Government's intentions you cannot doubt the power of the British and French Governments to see that promises are carried out fairly and fully and forthwith. As you know I have stated to the public that we are prepared to undertake that they shall be so carried out.

I cannot believe that you will take the responsibility of starting a world war which may end civilisation for the sake of a few days' delay in settling this long standing problem. (Ends.)

To Signor Mussolini-

(Begins) I have today addressed a last appeal to Herr Hitler to abstain from force to settle the Sudeten problem which I feel sure can be settled by a short discussion and will give him the essential territory, population and protection for both the Sudetens and Czechs during the transfer. I have offered myself to go at once to Berlin to discuss arrangements with German and Czech representatives and if the Chancellor desires representatives also of Italy and France.

I trust that your Excellency will inform the German Chancellor that you are willing to be represented and urge him to agree to my proposal which will keep all our peoples out of war.

I have already guaranteed that the Czech promises shall be carried out and feel confident that full agreement could be reached in a week. (Ends).


1 No record of the substance of this conversation has been found.

Cabinet Minute 193 records that it took place in the Cabinet Office and that it was audible to Cabinet members (see PM&C:

A2694, minute 193, 28 September 1938).

2 Neville Chamberlain.

3 Not printed. The letter was Hitler's reply of 27 September 1938 to Chamberlain's memorandum delivered by Sir Horace Wilson on 26 September.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History