Volume 3 1926~1932

Doc No.

No. 410 NAI DFA 26/95

Letter from Seán Lester to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Geneva, 5 September 1930

A Chara,

Saorstát and the Council

I had a call this morning from Dr. Bodenstein, Secretary of the Department of External Affairs of South Africa, who was accompanied by Major Pienaar.

Dr. Bodenstein could speak to me on only one question: i.e. the recent statement issued by the Minister regarding the Saorstát candidature.1 He described it as most unfortunate from his view point and likely to affect very seriously the prospects of South Africa's election later. If we found that the question of a Dominion group was being used against our candidature, he thought we should have said what was needed to the people concerned, but not publicly to have made a declaration which he felt was definitely antagonistic to the Dominion group idea. He also spoke on the 'over-representation of Europe in the Council' and of the necessity of having a representative there of a Power with the same view of the coloured native and of the question of Asiatic immigration. Even Australia would serve that purpose.

I used all the arguments within my knowledge including the propaganda in England and elsewhere; that the Union's prospects were enhanced rather than diminished by the Minister's statement etc., but I was not satisfied with the impression I made.

Dr. Bodenstein's constitution appears to be slightly choleric, but I was also given the impression that he had a somewhat angry sense of grievance. Almost his final words were 'we promised to support you, but we didn't expect you to disclaim publicly the Dominion group'.

I said I would convey his views on to you and to the Delegation.

Mise, le meas,
[signed] Seán Lester

1 See No. 405.