Statement by Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Extract CANBERRA, 25 August 1939, evening

It may very well be that Germany still has some grievances which would be all the better for ventilation and unprejudiced discussion. But if, instead of entering into discussion, instead of going into friendly conference, instead of recognising that there are, after all, two sides to most questions, the attitude of Germany is to be, ‘We will take whatever our military strength will permit us to take, and we will not negotiate with our military inferiors,’ there is obviously an end of all law and order among the nations, and the absorption of Poland would lead to attacks upon other smaller European countries, upon one ground or another, until a vast domination of force has been established.

Realising that, in the long run, the happiness and well-being of every nation in the world depends upon a peaceful and civilised means of determining differences, the British and French Governments have given their pledge to Poland and to several other European countries, and they have, in the last few days, under circumstances of grave responsibility, made it abundantly clear that those pledges will be honoured.

We in Australia are involved, because the destruction or defeat of Great Britain would be the destruction or defeat of the British Empire, and leave us with a precarious tenure of our own independence.

At this moment, therefore, Europe and the world are at the point of crisis.