General J.C. Smuts, South African Prime Minister, to Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 11 PRETORIA, 14 October 1939, 9.05 p.m

Your telegram 133, to Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs [1]

I congratulate you on your pertinent and statesmanlike observations, part of which were incorporated in Mr Chamberlain’s amended speech. [2] My somewhat similar telegram is being repeated to you in my telegram No. 12. [3] It would be a fatal mistake for us from many points of view to drift into great world war in a fog without having made our position clear well in advance. All moral forces are on our side and if properly mobilised may yet prevent fatal calamity. United opinion of the Dominions on this occasion is certain to have good effect on British policy in the future.

All good wishes to you in your great task.


1 Document 283.

2 See House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol.

352, cols 563-8.

3 Not printed (on file AA: A981, Great Britain 8B, v). Smuts suggested that, while the narrative part of Chamberlain’s statement could not be bettered, the conclusion was too vague to impress public opinion. In particular the U.K. and Dominion reply should call for a specific German promise to restore the independence of Czechoslovakia and Poland.


[AA: CP 290/6, ITEM 9]