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

Extracts LONDON, 1 October 1938, 11.30 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 The Duke of Devonshire, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs Sir Edward Harding, Permanent Under-Secretary of State, Dominions Office 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

A map indicating roughly the positions of Areas I, II, III and IV, as provided in the Munich agreement, was shown to the High Commissioners, who noted with interest that these areas were very much smaller than the red areas of the German memorandum.

MR MACDONALD drew attention to the fact that the total area to be occupied by German troops would be settled by an International Commission, and that it might be that that Commission would allocate for occupation by German troops areas substantially approximating to those contemplated in the Anglo-French proposals.

He mentioned that the great bulk of the Czechoslovak fortifications were outside Areas I to IV.

In reply to a question by Mr Bruce, MR MACDONALD said that the Prime Minister [1] had not given the Cabinet detailed information concerning his conversation with Herr Hitler on the 30th September but would do so after he had had an opportunity to consider his notes. Mr Chamberlain had, however, indicated that this conversation had covered a wide field, including the questions of Spain and Disarmament, but that no reference had been made to the ex-German Colonies. Mr MacDonald said that the important point was that Mr Chamberlain had reached the conclusion that Herr Hitler was a man with whom it would be possible to negotiate a general settlement.

[matter omitted]

MR BRUCE enquired what was now the position with regard to the Polish ultimatum? [2] Mr Machtig gave the meeting the latest information available, as set out in telegram Circular B. No. 354.

[3] MR BRUCE expressed the view that the Four Great Powers should not allow Poland to proceed by way of ultimatum, and that they should get together to stop it. MR MASSEY and MR BRUCE felt it important that the United Kingdom should not act alone in restraining the Poles, but should seek the opinion and co-operation of the other three Powers.

SIR HARRY BATTERBEE, who had left the meeting to consult the Foreign Office, returned to say that the most recent information obtainable was to the effect that the Prime Minister would address a personal appeal to M. Beck [4], that the French Government had already taken action and believed that they had persuaded the Polish Government to defer action for 24 hours, and that His Majesty's Ambassador at Berlin [5] was being instructed to approach the German Government (not Herr Hitler personally) informing them of the Prime Minister's communication to M. Beck, and inviting them to support it. (It was subsequently confirmed that this action had been taken.) THE DOMINION REPRESENTATIVES assumed that the United Kingdom Government would also seek Signor Mussolini's co-operation in the matter.

1 Neville Chamberlain.

2 On 27 September 1938 the Polish Government demanded of Czechoslovakia the immediate cession of part of the districts of Teschen and Freistack, their occupation by Polish troops and arrangements for a plebiscite in other districts where Poles were not so clearly in the majority. When the Czechoslovakian Government did not accede unconditionally, the Polish Government responded with an ultimatum just before midnight on 30 September, requiring that the Czechoslovakian Government agree to thew and additional demands before 1 October 1938. 3 Not printed.

4 Colonel Josef Beck, Polish Foreign Minister.

5 Sir Nevile Henderson.

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

Category: International relations

Topic: History