Mr A. Eden, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Circular Cablegram D36 LONDON, 10 October 1939, 11.22 p.m.


My Circulars D.34 [1] and 35. [2]

As a result of further consideration today the draft statement set out in my telegram Circular D-33 [3] has been revised. Paragraphs 1 to 6 stand subject to small verbal changes. The remainder of the draft replacing the former paragraphs 7 to 14 is as follows:-

7. The passages in the speech designed to give fresh assurances to Herr Hitler’s neighbours I pass over, since they will know what value should be attached to them by reference to similar assurances he has given in the past.

8. But it would be easy to quote sentences from his speeches in 1935, 1936 and 1938 stating in the most definite terms his determination not to annex Austria or conclude Anschluss with her, not to fall upon Czechoslovakia, and not to make any further territorial claims in Europe after the Sudetenland question had been settled in September, 1938.

9. Nor can we pass over Herr Hitler’s radical departure from the long professed principles of his policy and creed as instanced by the inclusion in the Reich of many millions of Poles and Czechs and the Pact with the Soviet Union concluded after his repeated and violent denunciations of Bolshevism.

10. This repeated disregard of his word and these sudden reversions of policy bring me to the fundamental difficulty in dealing with the wider proposals in the German Chancellor’s speech. The plain truth is that, after our past experience, it is no longer possible to rely upon the unsupported word of the present German Government.

11. It is no part of our policy to exclude from her right place in Europe the Germany which will live in amity and confidence with the other nations. On the contrary we believe that no effective remedy can be found for the world’s ills that does not take account of the just claims and needs of all countries and whenever the time may come to draw the lines of a new peace settlement, His Majesty’s Government would feel that the future would hold little hope unless such a settlement could be reached through the method of negotiation and agreement.

12. It was not therefore with any vindictive purpose that they embarked on war. Whatever may be the issue of the present struggle and in whatever way it may be brought to a conclusion, the world will not be the same world that we have known before. Deep changes will inevitably leave their marks on every field of men’s thoughts and action and if humanity is to guide aright the new forces that will be in operation all nations will have their part to play.

13. His Majesty’s Government know all too well that in modem war between great powers victor and vanquished must alike suffer a cruel loss. But the surrender to wrong doing would spell the extinction of all hope and the annihilation of all of those values of life which have through the centuries been the mark and inspiration of human progress.

14. I am certain that all the peoples of Europe, including the people of Germany, long for peace, a peace which will enable them to live their lives without fear, and to devote their energies and their gifts to the development of their culture, the pursuit of their ideals and improvement of their material prosperity. The peace which we are determined to secure however must be a real and settled peace not an uneasy truce interrupted by constant alarms and repeated threats. It is the German Government and the German Government alone, for it is they who by repeated acts of aggression have robbed all Europe of tranquillity and implanted in the hearts of all their neighbours an ever-present sense of insecurity and fear.

15. I would therefore sum up the attitude of His Majesty’s Government as follows- Herr Hitler rejected all suggestions for peace until he had overwhelmed Poland as he had previously overthrown Czechoslovakia.

Peace conditions cannot be acceptable which begin by condoning aggression.

The proposals in the German Chancellor’s speech are perplexing and uncertain and contain no suggestion for righting the wrongs done to Czechoslovakia and to Poland.

Even if Herr Hitler’s proposals were more closely defined and contained suggestions to right these wrongs it would still be necessary to ask by what practical means the German Government intend to convince the world that aggression will cease and that pledges will be kept. Past experience has shown that no reliance can be placed upon the promises of the present German Government.

Accordingly, acts-not words alone-must be forthcoming before the allies would be justified in ceasing to wage war to the utmost of their strength. Only when world confidence is restored will it be possible to find solutions of those vital questions of disarmament and restoration of trade which are essential to the well-being of the peoples.

There is thus a primary condition to be satisfied. Only the German Government can fulfil it. If they will not there can as yet be no new or better world order of the kind for which all nations yearn.

The issue is therefore plain. Either the German Government must give convincing proof of the sincerity of their desire for peace by definite acts and by the provision of effective guarantees of their intention to fulfil their undertakings or we must persevere in our duty to the end. It is for Germany to make her choice.


1 Document 280.

2 Not printed (on file AA: A981, War 45B, i).It reported that the latter part of the draft statement was being revised.

3 Document 278.


[AA: A981, WAR 45B, i]