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Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume I

6 — The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

3 September 1939

With reference to my earlier telegram (No. 5). The text of the communication to be handed to the German Minister for Foreign Affairs, or other representative of the German Government, by His Majesty's Ambassador at 9 a.m. today is as follows:


In the communication which I had the honour to make to you on 1 September, I informed you, on instructions from His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs,1 that unless the German Government were prepared to give His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom satisfactory assurances that the German Government had suspended all aggressive action against Poland, and were prepared promptly to withdraw their forces from Polish territory, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom would, without hesitation, fulfil their obligations towards Poland.

Although this communication was made more than twenty-four hours ago, no reply has been received, but German attacks have been continued and intensified. I have accordingly the honour to inform you that unless not later than 11 a.m., British summer time, today satisfactory assurances to the above effect have been given by the German Government and have reached His Majesty's Government in London, a state of war will exist between the two countries as from that hour.

If the desired German assurance is received, the Ambassador must inform His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom before 11 a.m. Failing receipt by that hour, the German representative in London2 will be informed that, as from that hour, a page 6 state of war exists, and His Majesty's Ambassador in Berlin is to act accordingly.

This information should be treated as very secret until the expiry of our time limit.

1 Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs in the United Kingdom Government during the war were:

1 Mar 1938 – 23 Dec 1940Rt. Hon. the Earl of Halifax, KG, PC, OM, GCSI, GCIE (then Viscount Halifax).
23 Dec 1940 – 26 Jul 1945Rt. Hon. R. A. Eden.
26 Jul 1945 – to dateRt. Hon. Ernest Bevin, PC.

2 Dr. Herbert von Dircksen, German Ambassador to the Court of St. James, 1938–39; German Ambassador at Moscow, 1928–33, at Tokyo, 1933–38.