Mr S.M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 349 LONDON, 23 August 1939, 8.44 p.m.


Developments of the last twenty-four hours are practically all recorded in Dominions Office cable [1] and press. Molotov [2] met the Ambassadors’ representations as to the Soviet-German agreement extremely unsatisfactorily accusing the British and French of lack of sincerity and refused information as to whether agreement would contain a clause determining the agreement in the event of aggression against a third party. Appears clear that the Soviet- German agreement not yet finalised but Berlin press reports anticipate it will be in forty-eight hours.

Both the United Kingdom and French Ambassadors in close touch with Beck [3] on the question of negotiations.

Hitler’s [4] reception of the United Kingdom Ambassador frigid and Henderson now awaits written reply. Move by Hitler anticipated as soon as the Soviet-German agreement is signed.

Doubtful whether move will take the form of action of character which would leave the possibility of negotiation open or of so drastic a character as to preclude such a possibility.

In the latter event the effects of assistance by France and the United Kingdom to Poland so limited I have been urging on the United Kingdom Government the possibility of exploring every avenue to keep the door to negotiation open. I think a cable from you to the Prime Minister [5] stressing this would be of great value, particularly in view of your declaration today [6] which has greatly weighed here.



1 Circular cablegram B281 sent 23 August 1939, not printed (on file AA: A981, Germany 67, i).

2 V.M. Molotov, U.S.S.R. People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs.

3 Colonel Joseph Beck, Polish Foreign Minister.

4 Adolf Hitler, German Chancellor.

5 Neville Chamberlain.

6 Document 144.


[AA: A981, GERMANY 72B, i]