The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden

"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.

Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

Postby admin » Tue Apr 30, 2019 12:28 am

Chapter 8: War and Peace, 1915-1920

The Milner Group was out of power for a decade from 1906 to 1915. We have already indicated our grounds for believing that this condition was not regarded with distaste, since its members were engaged in important activities of their own and approved of the conduct of foreign policy (their chief field of interest) by the Liberal Party under Asquith, Grey, and Haldane. During this period came the Union of South Africa, The Morley- Minto reforms, the naval race with Germany, the military conversations with France, the agreement of 1907 with Russia, the British attitude against Germany in the Agadir crisis (a crisis to whose creation The Times had contributed no little material) — in fact, a whole series of events in which the point of view of the Milner Group was carried out just as if they were in office. To be sure, in domestic matters such as the budget dispute and the ensuing House of Lords dispute, and in the question of Home Rule for Ireland, the Milner Group did not regard the Liberal achievements with complete satisfaction, but in none of these were the members of the Milner Group diehards (as members of the Cecil Bloc sometimes were). (1) But with the outbreak of war, the Milner Group and the Cecil Bloc wanted to come to power and wanted it badly, chiefly because control of the government in wartime would make it possible to direct events toward the postwar settlement which the Group envisaged. The Group also believed that the war could be used by them to fasten on Britain the illiberal economic regulation of which they had been dreaming since Chamberlain resigned in 1903 (at least).

The Group got to power in 1916 by a method which they repeated with the Labour Party in 1931. By a secret intrigue with a parvenu leader of the government, the Group offered to make him head of a new government if he would split his own party and become Prime Minister, supported by the Group and whatever members he could split off from his own party. The chief difference between 1916 and 1931 is that in the former year the minority that was being betrayed was the Group's own social class — in fact, the Liberal Party members of the Cecil Bloc. Another difference is that in 1916 the plot worked — the Liberal Party was split and permanently destroyed — while in 1931 the plotters broke off only a fragment of the Labour Party and damaged it only temporarily (for fourteen years). This last difference, however, was not caused by any lack of skill in carrying out the intrigue but by the sociological differences between the Liberal Party and the Labour Party in the twentieth century. The latter was riding the wave of the future, while the former was merely one of two "teams" put on the field by the same school for an intramural game, and, as such, it was bound to fuse with its temporary antagonist as soon as the future produced an extramural challenger. This strange (to an outsider) point of view will explain why Asquith had no real animosity for Bonar Law or Balfour (who really betrayed him) but devoted the rest of his life to belittling the actions of Lloyd George. Asquith talked later about how he was deceived (and even lied to) in December 1915, but never made any personal attack on Bonar Law, who did the prevaricating (if any). The actions of Bonar Law were acceptable in the code of British politics, a code largely constructed on the playing fields of Eton and Harrow, but Lloyd George's actions, which were considerably less deliberate and cold-blooded, were quite unforgivable, coming as they did from a parvenu who had been built up to a high place in the Liberal Party because of his undeniable personal ability, but who, nonetheless, was an outsider who had never been near the playing fields of Eton.

In the coalition governments of May 1915 and December 1916, members of the Cecil Bloc took the more obvious positions (as befitted their seniority), while members of the Milner Group took the less conspicuous places, but by 1918 the latter group had the whole situation tied up in a neat package and held all the strings.

In the first coalition (May 1915), Lansdowne came into the Cabinet without portfolio, Curzon as Lord Privy Seal, Bonar Law at the Colonial Office, Austen Chamberlain at the India Office, Balfour at the Admiralty, Selborne as President of the Board of Agriculture, Walter Long as President of the Local Government Board, Sir Edward Carson as Attorney General, F. E. Smith as Solicitor General, Lord Robert Cecil as Under Secretary in the Foreign Office, and Arthur Steel-Maitland as Under Secretary in the Colonial Office. Of these eleven names, at least nine were members of the Cecil Bloc, and four were close to the Milner Group (Cecil, Balfour, Steel-Maitland, and Selborne).

In the second coalition government (December 1916), Milner was Minister without Portfolio; Curzon was Lord President of the Council; Bonar Law, Chancellor of the Exchequer; Sir Robert Finlay, Lord Chancellor; the Earl of Crawford, Lord Privy Seal; Sir George Cave, Home Secretary; Arthur Balfour, Foreign Secretary; The Earl of Derby, War Secretary; Walter Long, Colonial Secretary; Austen Chamberlain, at the India Office; Sir Edward Carson, First Lord of the Admiralty; Henry E. Duke, Chief Secretary for Ireland; H. A. L. Fisher, President of the Board of Education; R. E. Prothero, President of the Board of Agriculture; Sir Albert Stanley, President of the Board of Trade; F. E. Smith, Attorney General; Robert Cecil, Minister of Blockade; Lord Hardinge, Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs; Steel-Maitland, Under Secretary for the Colonies; and Lord Wolmer (son of Lord Selborne), assistant director of the War Trade Department. Of these twenty names, eleven, at least, were members of the Cecil Bloc, and four or five were members of the Milner Group.

Milner himself became the second most important figure in the government (after Lloyd George), especially while he was Minister without Portfolio. He was chiefly interested in food policy, war trade regulations, and postwar settlements. He was chairman of a committee to increase home production of food (1915) and of a committee on postwar reconstruction (1916). From the former came the food- growing policy adopted in 1917, and from the latter came the Ministry of Health set up in 1919. In 1917 he went with Lloyd George to a meeting of the Allied War Council in Rome and from there on a mission to Russia. He went to France after the German victories in March 1918, and was the principal influence in the appointment of Foch as Supreme Commander in the west. In April he became Secretary of State for War, and, after the election of December 1918, became Colonial Secretary. He was one of the signers of the Treaty of Versailles. Of Milner's role at this time, John Buchan wrote in his memoirs: "In the Great War from 1916 to 1918, he was the executant of the War Cabinet who separated the sense from the nonsense in the deliberations of that body, and was responsible for its chief practical achievements. To him were largely due the fruitful things which emerged from the struggle, the new status of the Dominions, and the notable advances in British social policy." In all of these actions Milner remained as unobtrusive as possible. Throughout this period Milner's opinion of Lloyd George was on the highest level. Writing twenty years later in The Commonwealth of God, Lionel Curtis recorded two occasions in which Milner praised Lloyd George in the highest terms. On one of these he called him a greater war leader than Chatham.

At this period it was not always possible to distinguish between the Cecil Bloc and the Milner Group, but it is notable that the members of the former who were later clearly members of the latter were generally in the fields in which Milner was most interested. In general, Milner and his Group dominated Lloyd George during the period from 1917 to 1921. As Prime Minister, Lloyd George had three members of the Group as his secretaries (P. H. Kerr, 1916-1922; W. G. S. Adams, 1916-1919; E. W. M. Grigg, 1921- 1922) and Waldorf Astor as his parliamentary secretary (1917-1918). The chief decisions were made by the War Cabinet and Imperial War Cabinet, whose membership merged and fluctuated but in 1917-1918 consisted of Lloyd George, Milner, Curzon, and Smuts — that is, two members of the Milner Group, one of the Cecil Bloc, with the Prime Minister himself. The secretary to these groups was Maurice Hankey (later a member of the Milner Group), and the editor of the published reports of the War Cabinet was W. G. S. Adams. Amery was assistant secretary, while Meston was a member of the Imperial War Cabinet in 1917. Frederick Liddell (Fellow of All Souls) was made First Parliamentary Counsel in 1917 and held the position for eleven years, following this post with a fifteen-year period of service as counsel to the Speaker (1928-1943). (2)

Within the various government departments a somewhat similar situation prevailed. The Foreign Office in its topmost ranks was held by the Cecil Bloc, with Balfour as Secretary of State (1916-1919), followed by Curzon (1919-1924). When Balfour went to the United States on a mission in 1917, he took along Ian Malcolm (brother-in-law of Dougal Malcolm). Malcolm was later Balfour's private secretary at the Peace Conference in 1919. In Washington, Balfour had as deputy chairman to the mission R. H. Brand. In London, as we have seen, Robert Cecil was Parliamentary Under Secretary and later Assistant Secretary. In the Political Intelligence Department, Alfred Zimmern was the chief figure. G. W. Prothero was director of the Historical Section and was, like Cecil and Zimmern, chiefly concerned with the future peace settlement. He was succeeded by J. W. Headlam-Morley, who held the post of historical adviser from 1920 to his death in 1928. All of these persons were members of the Cecil Bloc or Milner Group.

In the India Office we need mention only a few names, as this subject will receive a closer scrutiny later. Austen Chamberlain was Secretary of State in 1915-1917 and gave the original impetus toward the famous act of 1919. Sir Frederick Duke (a member of the Round Table Group, whom we shall mention later) was chief adviser to Chamberlain's successor, E. S. Montagu, and became Permanent Under Secretary in 1920. Sir Malcolm Seton (also a member of the Round Table Group from 1913 onward) was Assistant Under Secretary (1919-1924) and later Deputy Under Secretary.

In blockade and shipping, Robert Cecil was Minister of Blockade (1916-1918), while Reginald Sothern Holland organized the attack on German trade in the earlier period (1914). M. L. Gwyer was legal adviser to the Ministry of Shipping during the war and to the Ministry of Health after the war (1917-1926), while J. Arthur Salter (later a contributor to The Round Table and a Fellow of All Souls for almost twenty years) was director of ship requisitioning in 1917 and later secretary to the Allied Maritime Transport Council and chairman of the Allied Maritime Transport Executive (1918). After the war he was a member of the Supreme Economic Council and general secretary to the Reparations Commission (1919-1922).

A. H. D. R. Steel-Maitland was head of the War Trade Department in 1917-1919, while Lord Wolmer (son of Lord Selborne and grandson of Lord Salisbury) was assistant director in 1916-1918. Henry Birchenough was a member or chairman of several committees dealing with related matters. R. S. Rait was a member of the department from its creation in 1915 to the end of the war; H. W. C. Davis was a member in 1915 and a member of the newly created War Trade Advisory Committee thereafter. Harold Butler was secretary to the Foreign Trade Department of the Foreign Office (1916-1917). H. D. Henderson (who has been a Fellow of All Souls since 1934) was secretary of the Cotton Control Board (1917-1919).

The Board of Agriculture was dominated by members of the Cecil Bloc and Milner Group. Lord Selborne was President of the board in 1915-1916, and Prothero (Lord Ernie) in 1916-1919. Milner and Selborne were chairmen of the two important committees of the board in 1915 and 1916. These sought to establish as a war measure (and ultimately as a postwar measure also) government-guaranteed prices for agricultural products at so high a level that domestic production of adequate supplies would be insured. This had been advocated by Milner for many years but was not obtained on a permanent basis until after 1930, although used on a temporary basis in 1917-1919. The membership of these committees was largely made up of members of the Cecil Bloc. The second Viscount Goschen (son of Milner's old friend and grandfather-in-law of Milner's step-grandson) was Parliamentary Secretary to the Board; Lord Astor was chairman of a dependent committee on milk supplies; Sothern Holland was controller of the Cultivation Department within the Food Production Department of the board (1918); Mrs. Alfred Lyttelton was deputy director of the Women's Branch; Lady Alicia Cecil was assistant director of horticulture in the Food Production Department; and Edward Strutt (brother- in-law of Balfour), who had been a member of both the Milner and Selborne Committees, was technical adviser to Prothero during his term as President and was the draftsman of the Corn Production Act of 1917. He later acted as one of Milner's assistants in the effort to establish a tariff in 1923. His sketch in the Dictionary of National Biography was written by his nephew (and Balfour's nephew) Lord Rayleigh.  

In the Colonial Office, Milner was Secretary of State in 1918-1921; George Fiddes (of the Milner Kindergarten) was Permanent Under Secretary in 1916-1921; Steel-Maitland was Parliamentary Under Secretary in 1915-1917; while Amery was in the same position in 1919-1921.

In intelligence and public information, we find John Buchan as head of the Information Department of the War Office, with John Dove and B. H. Sumner (the present Warden of All Souls) in military intelligence. H. W. C. Davis was general editor of the Oxford Pamphlets justifying Britain's role in the war, while Algernon Cecil (nephew of Lord Salisbury) was in the intelligence division of the Admiralty and later in the historical section of the Foreign Office. J. W. Headlam-Morley was adviser on all historical matters at Wellington House (the propaganda department) in 1915-1918 and assistant director of political intelligence in the Department of Information in 1917-1918, ultimately being shifted to similar work in the Foreign Office in 1918.

In the War Office, Milner was Secretary of State in 1918, while Amery was assistant to the Secretary from 1917 until Milner took him to the Colonial Office a year or so later.

This enumeration, by no means complete, indicates the all-pervasive influence of this small clique in the later years of the war. This influence was not devoted exclusively to winning the war, and, as time went on, it was directed increasingly toward the postwar settlement. As a result, both groups tended more and more to concentrate in the Foreign Office. There G. W. Prothero, an old member of the Cecil Bloc, was put in charge of the preparations for the future peace conference. Depending chiefly on his own branch of the Foreign Office (the Historical Section), but also using men and materials from the War Trade Intelligence Department and the Intelligence Section of the Admiralty, he prepared a large number of reports on questions that might arise at the Peace Conference (1917- 1919). In 1920, 155 volumes of these reports were published under the title Peace Handbooks. A glance at any complete list of these will show that a very large number of the "experts" who wrote them were from the Cecil Bloc and Milner Group. About the same time, Phillimore and Zimmern prepared drafts for the organization of the future League of Nations. Most of the group went en masse to the Peace Conference at Paris as expert advisers, and anyone familiar with the history of the Peace Conference cannot fail to recognize names which we have mentioned frequently. At about this time, Lloyd George began to get out of hand as far as the Milner Group was concerned, and doubtless also as far as the Cecil Bloc was concerned. Some of this was caused by the weakness of Balfour, titular head of the latter group, but much more was caused by the fact that the Group could not control Lloyd George either in his electoral campaign in December 1918 or in his negotiations in the Council of Four from March to June 1919. Lloyd George was perfectly willing to use the abilities of the Milner Group in administration, but, when it came to an appeal to the electorate, as in the "khaki election," he had no respect for the Group's judgment or advice. Lloyd George realized that the electorate was hysterical with hatred of Germany, and was willing to appeal to that feeling if he could ride into office again on its impetus. The Milner Croup, on the other hand, was eager to get rid of the Kaiser, the Prussian officers' corps, and even the Junker landlords, but, once Germany was defeated, their feeling of animosity against her (which had waxed strong since before 1896) vanished. By 1919 they began to think in terms of balance of power and of the need to reconstruct Germany against the dangers of "bolshevism" on one hand and of "French militarism" on the other, and they felt that if Germany were made democratic and treated in a friendly fashion she could be incorporated into the British world system as well as the Cape Boers had been. The intellectual climate of the Milner Group early in 1919 has been described by a man who was, at this time, close to the Group, Harold Nicolson, in his volume Peacemaking, 1919.

This point of view was never thoroughly thought out by the Group. It was apparently based on the belief that if Germany were treated in a conciliatory fashion she could be won from her aggressive attitudes and become a civilized member of the British world system. This may have been possible, but, if so, the plan was very badly executed, because the aggressive elements in Germany were not eliminated and the conciliatory elements were not encouraged in a concrete fashion. This failure, however, was partly caused by the pressure of public opinion, by the refusal of the French to accept this concept as an adequate goal of foreign policy, and by the failure to analyze the methods of the policy in a sound and adequate fashion. The first step toward this policy was made by Milner himself as early as October 1918, when he issued a warning not to denounce "the whole German nation as monsters of iniquity" or to carry out a policy of punishment and reprisal against them." The outburst of public indignation at this sentiment was so great that "the whole band of men who had learned under him in South Africa to appreciate his patriotism united to testify to him their affectionate respect." This quotation from one of the band, Basil Williams, refers to a testimonial given by the Group to their leader in 1918.

Another evidence of this feeling will be found in a volume of Alfred Zimmern's, published in 1922 under the title Europe in Convalescence and devoted to regretting Britain's postwar policies and especially the election of 1918. Strangely enough, Zimmern, although most articulate in this volume, was basically more anti-German than the other members of the Group and did not share their rather naive belief that the Germans could be redeemed merely by the victors tossing away the advantages of victory. Zimmern had a greater degree of sympathy for the French idea that the Germans should give more concrete examples of a reformed spirit before they were allowed to run freely in civilized society.(3) Halifax, on the other hand, was considerably more influenced by popular feeling in 1918 and years later. He shared the public hysteria against Germany in 1918 to a degree which he later wished to forget, just as in 1937 he shared the appeasement policy toward Germany to a degree he would now doubtless want to forget. Both of these men, however were not of the inner circle of the Milner Group. The sentiments of that inner circle, men like Kerr, Brand, and Dawson, can be found in the speeches of the first, The Times editorials of the last, and the articles of The Round Table. They can also be seen in the letters of John Dove. The latter, writing to Brand, 4 October 1923, stated: "It seems to me that the most disastrous affect of Poincare's policy would be the final collapse of democracy in Germany, the risk of which has been pointed out in The Round Table. The irony of the whole situation is that if the Junkers should capture the Reich again, the same old antagonisms will revive and we shall find ourselves, willy-nilly, lined up again with France to avert a danger which French action has again called into being.... Even if Smuts follows up his fine speech, the situation may have changed so much before the Imperial Conference is over that people who think like him and us may find themselves baffled.... I doubt if we shall again have as good a chance of getting a peaceful democracy set up in Germany."  
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

Postby admin » Tue Apr 30, 2019 12:46 am

Part 1 of 2

Chapter 9: Creation of the Commonwealth

The evolution of the British Empire into the Commonwealth of Nations is to a very great extent a result of the activities of the Milner Group. To be sure, the ultimate goal of the Group was quite different from the present system, since they wanted a federation of the Empire, but this was a long-run goal, and en route they accepted the present system as a temporary way station. However, the strength of colonial and Dominion feeling, which made the ideal of federation admittedly remote at all times, has succeeded in making this way-station a permanent terminal and thus had eliminated, apparently forever, the hope for federation. With the exception of a few diehards (of whom Milner and Curtis were the leaders), the Group has accepted the solution of imperial cooperation and "parallelism" as an alternative to federation. This was definitely stated in The Round Table of December 1920. In that issue the Group adopted the path of cooperation as its future policy and added: "Its [The Round Tables] promoters in this country feel bound to state that all the experience of the war and of the peace has not shaken in the least the fundamental conviction with which they commenced the publication of this Review.... The Round Table has never expressed an opinion as to the form which this constitutional organization would take, nor as to the time when it should be undertaken. But it has never disguised its conviction that a cooperate system would eventually break down." In September 1935, in a review of its first twenty-five years, the journal stated: "Since the war, therefore, though it has never abandoned its view that the only final basis for freedom and enduring peace is the organic union of nations in a commonwealth embracing the whole world or, in the first instance, a lesser part of it, The Round Table has been a consistent supporter ... of the principles upon which the British Empire now rests, as set forth in the Balfour Memorandum of 1926.... It has felt that only by trying the cooperation method to the utmost and realizing its limitations in practice would nations within or without the British Empire be brought to face the necessity for organic union."

There apparently exists within the Milner Group a myth to the effect that they invented the expression "Commonwealth of Nations," that it was derived from Zimmern's book The Greek Commonwealth (published in 1911) and first appeared in public in the title of Curtis's book in 1916. This is not quite accurate, for the older imperialists of the Cecil Bloc had used the term "commonwealth" in reference to the British Empire on various occasions as early as 1884. In that year, in a speech at Adelaide, Australia, Lord Rosebery referred to the possibility of New Zealand seceding from the Empire and added: "God forbid. There is no need for any nation, however great, leaving the Empire, because the Empire is a Commonwealth of Nations."

If the Milner Group did not invent the term, they gave it a very definite and special meaning, based on Zimmern's book, and they popularized the use of the expression. According to Zimmern, the expression "commonwealth" referred to a community based on freedom and the rule of law, in distinction to a government based on authority or even arbitrary tyranny. The distinction was worked out in Zimmern's book in the contrast between Athens, as described in Pericles's funeral oration, and Sparta (or the actual conduct of the Athenian empire). As applied to the modern world, the contrast was between the British government, as described by Dicey, and the despotisms of Philip II, Wilhelm II, and Nicholas II. In this sense of the word, commonwealth was not originally an alternative to federation, as it later became, since it referred to the moral qualities of government, and these could exist within either a federated or a nonfederated Empire.

The expression "British Commonwealth of Nations" was, then, not invented by the Group but was given a very special meaning and was propagated in this sense until it finally became common usage. The first step in this direction was taken on 15 May 1917, when General Smuts, at a banquet in his honor in the Houses of Parliament, used the expression. This banquet was apparently arranged by the Milner Group, and Lord Milner sat at Smuts's right hand during the speech. The speech itself was printed and given the widest publicity, being disseminated throughout Great Britain, the Commonwealth, the United States, and the rest of the world. In retrospect, some persons have believed that Smuts was rejecting the meaning of the expression as used by the Milner Group, because he did reject the project for imperial federation in this speech. This, however, is a mistake, for, as we have said, the expression "commonwealth" at that time had a meaning which could include either federation or cooperation among the members of the British imperial system. The antithesis in meaning between federation and commonwealth is a later development which took place outside the Group. To this day, men like Curtis, Amery, and Grigg still use the term "commonwealth" as applied to a federated Empire, and they always define the word "commonwealth" as "a government of liberty under the law" and not as an arrangement of independent but cooperating states.

The development of the British Empire into the Commonwealth of Nations and the role which the Milner Group played in this development cannot be understood by anyone who feels that federation and commonwealth were mutually exclusive ideas.

In fact, there were not two ideas, but three, and they were not regarded by the Group as substitutes for each other but as supplements to each other. These three ideas were: (1) the creation of a common ideology and world outlook among the peoples of the United Kingdom, the Empire, and the United States; (2) the creation of instruments and practices of cooperation among these various communities in order that they might pursue parallel policies; and (3) the creation of a federation on an imperial, Anglo-American, or world basis. The Milner Group regarded these as supplementary to one another and worked vigorously for all of them, without believing that they were mutually exclusive alternatives. They always realized, even the most fanatical of them, that federation, even of the Empire only, was very remote. They always, in this connection, used such expressions as "not in our lifetime" or "not in the present century." They always insisted that the basic unity of any system must rest on common ideology, and they worked in this direction through the Rhodes Scholarships, the Round Table Groups, and the Institutes of International Affairs, even when they were most ardently seeking to create organized constitutional relationships. And in these constitutional relationships they worked equally energetically and simultaneously for imperial federation and for such instruments of cooperation as conferences of Prime Ministers of Dominions. The idea, which seems to have gained currency, that the Round Table Group was solely committed to federation and that the failure of this project marked the defeat and eclipse of the Group is erroneous. On the contrary, by the 1930s, the Round Table Group was working so strongly for a common ideology and for institutions of cooperation that many believers in federation regarded them as defeatist. For this reason, some believers in federation organized a new movement called the "World Commonwealth Movement." Evidence of this movement is an article by Lord Davies in The Nineteenth Century and After for January 1935, called "Round Table or World Commonwealth?" This new movement was critical of the foreign policy rather than the imperial policy of the Round Table Group, especially its policy of appeasement toward Germany and of weakening the League of Nations, and its belief that Britain could find security in isolation from the Continent and a balance-of-power policy supported by the United Kingdom, the Dominions, and the United States.

The effort of the Round Table Group to create a common ideology to unite the supporters of the British way of life appears in every aspect of their work. It was derived from Rhodes and Milner and found its most perfect manifestation in the Rhodes Scholarships. As a result of these and of the Milner Group's control of so much of Oxford, Oxford tended to become an international university. Here the Milner Group had to tread a narrow path between the necessity of training non-English (including Americans and Indians) in the English way of life and the possibility of submerging that way of life completely (at Oxford, at least) by admitting too many non-English to its cloistered halls. On the whole, this path was followed with considerable success, as will be realized by anyone who has had any experience with Rhodes Scholars. To be sure, the visitors from across the seas picked up the social customs of the English somewhat more readily than they did the English ideas of playing the game or the English ideas of politics, but, on the whole, the experiment of Rhodes, Milner, and Lothian cannot be called a failure. It was surely a greater success in the United States than it was in the Dominions or in India, for in the last, at least, the English idea of liberty was assimilated much more completely than the idea of loyalty to England.

The efforts of the Milner Group to encourage federation of the Empire have already been indicated. They failed and, indeed, were bound to fail, as most members of the Group soon realized. As early as 1903, John Buchan and Joseph Chamberlain had given up the attempt. By 1917, even Curtis had accepted the idea that federation was a very remote possibility, although in his case, at least, it remained as the beckoning will-o-the-wisp by which all lesser goals were measured and found vaguely dissatisfying. (1)

The third string to the bow — imperial cooperation — remained. It became in time the chief concern of the Group. The story of these efforts is a familiar one, and no attempt will be made here to repeat it. We are concerned only with the role played by the Milner Group in these efforts. In general this role was very large, if not decisive.

The proposals for imperial cooperation had as their basic principle the assumption that communities which had a common ideology could pursue parallel courses toward the same goal merely by consultation among their leaders. For a long time, the Milner Group did not see that the greater the degree of success obtained by this method, the more remote was the possibility that federation could ever be attained. It is very likely that the Group was misled in this by the fact that they were for many years extremely fortunate in keeping members of the Group in positions of power and influence in the Dominions. As long as men like Smuts, Botha (who did what Smuts wanted), Duncan, Feetham, or Long were in influential positions in South Africa; as long as men like Eggleston, Bavin, or Dudley Braham were influential in Australia; as long as men like Glazebrook, Massey, Joseph Flavelle, or Percy Corbett were influential in Canada — in a nutshell, as long as members of the Milner Group were influential throughout the Dominions, the technique of the parallel policy of cooperation would be the easiest way to reach a common goal. Unfortunately, this was not a method that could be expected to continue forever, and when the Milner Group grew older and weaker, it could not be expected that their newer recruits in England (like Hodson, Coupland, Actor, Woodward, Elton, and others) could continue to work on a parallel policy with the newer arrivals to power in the Dominions. When that unhappy day arrived, the Milner Group should have had institutionalized modes of procedure firmly established. They did not, not because they did not want them, but because their members in the Dominions could not have remained in influential positions if they had insisted on creating institutionalized links with Britain when the people of the Dominions obviously did not want such links.

The use of Colonial or Imperial Conferences as a method for establishing closer contact with the various parts of the Empire was originally established by the Cecil Bloc and taken over by the Milner Group. The first four such Conferences (in 1887, 1897, 1902, and 1907) were largely dominated by the former group, although they were not technically in power during the last one. The decisive changes made in the Colonial Conference system at the Conference of 1907 were worked out by a secret group, which consulted on the plans for eighteen months and presented them to the Royal Colonial Institute in April 1905. These plans were embodied in a dispatch from the Colonial Secretary, Alfred Lyttelton, and carried out at the Conference of 1907. As a result, it was established that the name of the meeting was to be changed to Imperial Conference; it was to be called into session every four years; it was to consist of Prime Ministers of the self-governing parts of the Empire; the Colonial Secretary was to be eliminated from the picture; and a new Dominion Department, under Sir Charles Lucas, was to be set up in the Colonial Office. As the future Lord Lothian wrote in The Round Table in 1911, the final result was to destroy the hopes for federation by recognizing the separate existence of the Dominions. (2)

At the Conference of 1907, at the suggestion of Haldane, there was created a Committee of Imperial Defence, and a plan was adopted to organize Dominion defense forces on similar patterns, so that they could be integrated in an emergency. The second of these proposals, which led to a complete reorganization of the armies of New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa in 1909-1912, with very beneficial results in the crisis of 1914-1918, is not of immediate concern to us. The Committee of Imperial Defence and its secretarial staff were creations of Lord Esher, who had been chairman of a special committee to reform the War Office in 1903 and was permanent member of the Committee of Imperial Defence from 1905 to his death. As a result of his influence, the secretariat of this committee became a branch of the Milner Group and later became the secretariat of the Cabinet itself, when that body first obtained a secretariat in 1917.

From this secretarial staff the Milner Group obtained three recruits in the period after 1918. These were Maurice Hankey, Ernest Swinton, and W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore (now Lord Harlech). Hankey was assistant secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence from 1908 to 1912 and was secretary from 1912 to 1938. Swinton was assistant secretary from 1917 to 1925. Both became members of the Milner Group, Hankey close to the inner circle, Swinton in one of the less central rings. Ormsby-Gore was an assistant secretary in 1917-1918 at the same time that he was private secretary to Lord Milner. All three of these men are of sufficient importance to justify a closer examination of their careers.

Maurice Pascal Alers Hankey (Sir Maurice after 1916, Baron Hankey since 1939), whose family was related by marriage to the Wyndhams, was born in 1877 and joined the Royal Marines when he graduated from Rugby in 1895. He retired from that service in 1918 as a lieutenant colonel and was raised to colonel on the retired list in 1929. He was attached for duty with the Naval Intelligence Department in 1902 and by this route reached the staff of the Committee of Imperial Defence six years later. In 1917, when it was decided to give the Cabinet a secretariat for the first time, and to create the Imperial War Cabinet by adding overseas representatives to the British War Cabinet (a change in which Milner played the chief role), the secretariat of the Committee of Imperial Defence became also the secretariat of the other two bodies. At the same time, as we have seen, the Prime Minister was given a secretariat consisting of two members of the Milner Group (Kerr and Adams). In this way Hankey became secretary and Swinton assistant secretary to the Cabinet, the former holding that post, along with the parallel post in the Committee of Imperial Defence, until 1938. It was undoubtedly through Hankey and the Milner Group that Swinton became Chichele Professor of Military History and a Fellow of All Souls in 1925. As for Hankey himself, he became one of the more significant figures in the Milner Group, close to the inner circle and one of the most important (although relatively little-known) figures in British history of recent times. He was clerk of the Privy Council in 1923-1938; he was secretary to the British delegation at the Peace Conference of 1919, at the Washington Conference of 1921, at the Genoa Conference of 1922, and at the London Reparations Conference of 1924. He was secretary general of the Hague Conference of 1929-1930, of the London Naval Conference of 1930, and of the Lausanne Conference of 1932. He was secretary general of the British Imperial Conferences of 1921, 1923, 1926, 1930, and 1937. He retired in 1938, but became a member of the Permanent Mandates Commission (succeeding Lord Hailey) in 1939. He was British government director of the Suez Canal Company in 1938-1939, Minister without Portfolio in 1939-1940, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1940-1941, Paymaster General in 1941-1942, chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee and of the Engineering Advisory Committee in 1942-1943. At the present time he is a director of the Suez Canal Company (since 1945), chairman of the Technical Personnel Committee (since 1941), chairman of the Interdepartmental Committee on Further Education and Training and of the Committee on Higher Appointments in the Civil Service (since 1944), and chairman of the Colonial Products Research Committee (since 1942). Hankey, in 1903, married Adeline de Smidt, daughter of a well-known South African political figure. His oldest son, Robert, is now a First Secretary in the diplomatic service, while his daughter, Ursula, has been married since 1929 to John A. Benn, chairman of the board of Benn Brothers, publishers.

Hankey was Lord Esher's chief protege in the Milner Group and in British public life. They were in constant communication with one another, and Esher gave Hankey a constant stream of advice about his conduct in his various official positions. The following scattered examples can be gleaned from the published Journals and Letters of Reginald, Viscount Esher. On 18 February 1919, Esher wrote Hankey, advising him not to accept the position as Secretary General of the League of Nations. On 7 December 1919, he gave him detailed advice on how to conduct himself as secretary to the Conference of Dominion Prime Ministers, telling him to work for "a League of Empire" based on cooperation and not on any "rigid constitutional plan," to try to get an Imperial General Staff, and to use the Defence Committee as such a staff in the meantime. In 1929, when Ramsay MacDonald tried to exclude Hankey from a secret Cabinet meeting, Esher went so far in support of his protege as to write a letter of admonition to the Prime Minister. This letter, dated 21 July 1929, said: "What is this I see quoted from a London paper that you are excluding your Secretary from Cabinet meetings? It probably is untrue, for you are the last person in the world to take a retrograde step toward 'secrecy' whether in diplomacy or government. The evolution of our Cabinet system from 'Cabal' has been slow but sure. When the Secretary to the Cabinet became an established factor in conducting business, almost the last traces of Mumbo Jumbo, cherished from the days when Bolingbroke was a danger to public peace, disappeared."

Hankey was succeeded as secretary of the Cabinet in 1938 by Edward E. Bridges, who has been close to the Milner Group since he became a Fellow of All Souls in 1920. Bridges, son of the late Poet Laureate Robert Bridges, had the advantages of a good education at Eton and Magdalen. He was a Treasury civil servant from 1919, was knighted in 1939, and since 1945 has combined with his Cabinet position the exalted post of Permanent Secretary of the Treasury and head of His Majesty's Civil Service.

The Imperial Conference of 1911 has little concern with our story, although Asquith's opening speech could have been written in the office of The Round Table. Indeed, it is quoted with approval by Lionel Curtis in his The Problem of the Commonwealth, published five years later. Asquith pointed out that the Empire rested on three foundations: (a) the reign of law, in Dicey's sense, (b) local autonomy, and (c) trusteeship of the interests and fortunes of fellow subjects who have not yet attained "to the full stature of self-government." He then pointed out the two principles of centralization and disintegration which had applied to the Empire in the early Victorian period, and declared: "Neither of these theories commands the faintest support today, either at home or in any part of our self-governing Empire.... Whether in this United Kingdom or in any one of the great communities which you represent, we each of us are, and we each of us intend to remain, master in our own household. This is, here at home and throughout the Dominions, the lifeblood of our polity." Thus spoke Asquith, and even the ultra-federalist Curtis approved. He also approved when Asquith squelched Sir John Ward's suggestion for the creation of an Imperial Council, although doubtless from quite a different motivation.

At the Conference of 1911, as is well known, the overseas members were for the first time initiated into the mysteries of high policy, because of the menace of Germany. Except for this, which paid high dividends in 1914, the Conference was largely wasted motion.

The Conference of 1915 was not held, because of the war, but as soon as Milner came into the government in December 1915, The Round Table's argument that the war should be used as a means for consolidating the Empire, rather than as an excuse for postponing consolidation, began to take effect. The Round Table during 1915 was agitating for an immediate Imperial Conference with Indian participation for the first time. As soon as Milner joined the Cabinet in December 1915, he sent out cables to the Dominions and to India, inviting them to come. It was Milner also who created the Imperial War Cabinet by adding Dominion members to the British War Cabinet. These developments were foretold and approved by The Round Table. In its June 1917 issue it said, in the course of a long article on "New Developments in the Constitution of the Empire":

"At a date which cannot be far distant an Imperial Conference will assemble, the purpose of which will be to consider what further steps can be taken to transform the Empire of a State in which the main responsibilities and burdens of its common affairs are sustained and controlled by the United Kingdom into a commonwealth of equal nations conducting its foreign policy and common affairs by some method of continuous consultation and concerted action.... The decision today is against any federated reconstruction after the war.... It is evident, however, that the institution through which the improved Imperial system will chiefly work will be the newly constituted Imperial Cabinet. The Imperial Cabinet will be different in some important respects from the Imperial Conference. It will meet annually instead of once in four years. It will be concerned more particularly with foreign policy, which the Imperial Conference has never yet discussed.... Its proceedings will consequently be secret.... It will also consist of the most important British Ministers sitting in conclave with the Overseas Ministers instead of the Secretary of State for the Colonies alone as has been usually the case hitherto."


As is well known, the Imperial War Cabinet met fourteen times in 1917, met again in 1918, and assembled at Paris in 1918-1919 as the British Empire delegation to the Peace Conference. Parallel with it, the Imperial War Conference met in London in 1917, under the Colonial Secretary, to discuss non-war problems. At the meetings of the former body it was decided to hold annual meetings in the future and to invite the Dominions to establish resident ministers in London to insure constant consultation. At a meeting in 1917 was drawn up the famous Imperial Resolution, which excluded federation as a solution of the imperial problem and recognized the complete equality of the Dominions and the United Kingdom under one King. These developments were not only acceptable to Milner but apparently were largely engineered by him. On 9 July 1919, he issued a formal statement containing the sentences, "The only possibility of a continuance of the British Empire is on a basis of absolute-out-and-out-equal partnership between the United Kingdom and the Dominions. I say that without any kind of reservation whatever."

When Milner died, in May 1925, The Times obituary had this to say about this portion of his life:

"With the special meeting of the War Cabinet attended by the Dominion Prime Ministers which, beginning on March 20, came to be distinguished as the Imperial War Cabinet . . . Milner was more closely concerned than any other British statesman. The conception of the Imperial War Cabinet and the actual proposal to bring the Dominion Premiers into the United Kingdom Cabinet were his. And when, thanks to Mr. Lloyd George's ready acceptance of the proposal, Milner's conception was realized, it proved to be not only a solution of the problem of Imperial Administrative unity in its then transient but most urgent phase, but a permanent and far-reaching advance in the constitutional evolution of the Empire. It met again in 1918, and was continued as the British Empire Delegation in the peace negotiations at Versailles in 1919. Thus, at the moment of its greatest need, the Empire was furnished by Milner with a common Executive. For the Imperial War Cabinet could and did, take executive action, and its decisions bound the Empire at large." (3)


It was also Milner who insisted on and made the arrangements for the Imperial Conference of 1921, acting in his capacity as Colonial Secretary, although he was forced, by reason of poor health, to resign before the conference assembled. It was in this period as Colonial Secretary that Milner, assisted by Amery, set up the plans for the new "dyarchic" constitution for Malta, gave Egypt its full freedom, set Curtis to work on the Irish problem, and gave Canada permission to establish its own legation in the United States — the latter post filled only in 1926, and then by the son-in-law of Milner's closest collaborator in the Rhodes Trust.

The Imperial Conferences of 1921 and 1923 were largely in the control of the Cecil Bloc, at least so far as the United Kingdom delegation was concerned. Three of the five members of this delegation in 1921 were from this Bloc (Balfour, Curzon, and Austen Chamberlain), the other two being Lloyd George and Winston Churchill. Of the members of the other five delegations, only Smuts, from South Africa, is of significance to us. On the secretarial staff for the United Kingdom delegation, we might point out the presence of Hankey and Grigg.

In the Imperial Conference of 1923 we find a similar situation. Three of the four delegates from the United Kingdom were of the Cecil Bloc (Lord Salisbury, Curzon, and the Duke of Devonshire), the other being Prime Minister Baldwin. Smuts again led the South African delegation. The secretarial staff was headed by Hankey, while the separate Indian secretarial group was led by L. F. Rushbrook Williams. The latter, whom we have already mentioned, had been associated with the Milner Group since he was elected a Fellow of All Souls in 1914, had done special work in preparation of the Government of India Act of 1919, and worked under Marris in applying that act after it became law. His later career carried him to various parts of the Milner Group's extensive system, as can be seen from the fact that he was a delegate to the Assembly of the League of Nations in 1925, Foreign Minister of Patiala State in 1925-1931, a member of the Indian Round Table Conference in 1920-1932, a significant figure in the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Ministry of Information in delegation. There is nothing to indicate that Mr. Latham (later Sir John) was a member of the Milner Group, but in later years his son, Richard, clearly was. Sir John had apparently made his first contact with the Milner Group in 1919, when he, a Professor of Law at the University of Melbourne, was a member of the staff of the Australian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference and, while there, became an assistant secretary to the British delegation. In 1922, at the age of forty- five, he began a twelve-year term as an Australian M. P. During that brief period he was Attorney General in 1925-1929, Minister of Industry in 1928-1929, Leader of the Opposition in 1929-1931, Deputy Leader of the Majority in 1931-1932, and Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney General, and Minister for Industry in 1932-1934. In addition, he was British secretary to the Allied Commission on Czechoslovak Affairs in 1919, first president of the League of Nations Union, Australian delegate to the League of Nations in 1926 and 1932, Australian representative to the World Disarmament Conference in 1932, Chancellor of the University of Melbourne in 1939-1941; Australian Minister of Japan in 1940-1941, and vice-president of the period 1932-1944, and is now a member of the editorial staff of The Times.

At these two conferences, various members of the Cecil Bloc and Milner Group were called in for consultation on matters within their competence. Of these persons, we might mention the names of H. A. L. Fisher, Sir Eyre Crowe, Sir Cecil Hurst, Robert Cecil, Leopold Amery, Samuel Hoare, and Sir Fabian Ware (of the Kindergarten).

The Imperial Conference of 1926 is generally recognized as one of the most important of the postwar period. The Cecil Bloc and Milner Group again had three out of five members of the United Kingdom delegation (Balfour, Austen Chamberlain, and Leopold Amery), with Baldwin and Churchill the other two. Hankey was, as usual, secretary of the conference. Of the other seven delegations, nothing is germane to our investigation except that Vincent Massey was an adviser to the Canadian, and John Greig Latham was a member of the Australian, Australian Red Cross in 1944. Since 1934, he has been Chief Justice of Australia. In this brilliant, if belated, career, Sir John came into contact with the Milner Group, and this undoubtedly assisted his son, Richard, in his more precocious career. Richard Latham was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford until 1933 and a Fellow of All Souls from 1935. He wrote the supplementary legal chapter in W. K. Hancock's Survey of British Commonwealth Affairs and was one of the chief advisers of K. C. Wheare in his famous book, The Statute of Westminister and Dominion Status (1938). Unfortunately, Richard Latham died a few years later while still in his middle thirties. It is clear from Professor Wheare's book that Sir John Latham, although a member of the opposition at the time, was one of the chief figures in Australia's acceptance of the Statute of Westminster.

The new status of the Dominions, as enunciated in the Report of the conference and later known as the "Balfour Declaration," was accepted by the Milner Group both in The Round Table and in The Times. In the latter, on 22 November 1926, readers were informed that the"Declaration" merely described the Empire as it was, with nothing really new except the removal of a few anachronisms. It concluded: "In all its various clauses there is hardly a statement or a definition which does not coincide with familiar practice."

The Imperial Conference of 1930 was conducted by a Labour government and had no members of the Cecil Bloc or Milner Group among its chief delegates. Sir Maurice Hankey, however, was secretary of the conference, and among its chief advisers were Maurice Gwyer and H. D. Henderson. Both of these were members of All Souls and probably close to the Milner Group.

The Imperial Conference of 1937 was held during the period in which the Milner Group was at the peak of its power. Of the eight members of the United Kingdom delegation, five were from the Milner Group (Lord Halifax, Sir John Simon, Malcolm MacDonald, W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore, and Sir Samuel Hoare). The others were Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain, and J. Ramsay MacDonald. In addition, the chief of the Indian delegation was the Marquess of Zetland of the Cecil Bloc. Sir Maurice Hankey was secretary of the conference, and among the advisers were Sir Donald Somervell (of All Souls and the Milner Group), Vincent Massey, Sir Fabian Ware, and the Marquess of Harrington.

In addition to the Imperial Conferences, where the influence of the Milner Group was probably more extensive than appears from the membership of the delegations, the Group was influential in the administration of the Commonwealth, especially in the two periods of its greatest power, from 1924 to 1929 and from 1935 to 1939. An indication of this can be seen in the fact that the office of Colonial Secretary was held by the Group for seven out of ten years from 1919 to 1929 and for five out of nine years from 1931 to 1940, while the office of Dominion Secretary was held by a member of the Group for eight out of the fourteen years from its creation in 1925 to the outbreak of the war in 1939 (although the Labour Party was in power for two of those years). The Colonial Secretaries to whom we have reference were:

Lord Milner, 1919-1921
Leopold Amery, 1924-1929
Malcolm MacDonald, 1935
W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore, 1936-1938
Malcolm MacDonald, 1938-1940


The Dominion Secretaries to whom we have reference were:

Leopold Amery, 1925-1929
Malcolm MacDonald, 1935-1938, 1938-1939


The lesser positions within the Colonial Office were not remote from the Milner Group. The Permanent Under Secretary was Sir George Fiddes of the Kindergarten in 1916-1921. In addition, James Masterton-Smith, who had been Balfour's private secretary previously, was Permanent Under Secretary in succession to Fiddes in 1921-1925, and John Maffey, who had been Lord Chelmsford's secretary while the latter was Viceroy in 1916-1921, was Permanent Under Secretary from 1933 to 1937. The position of Parliamentary Under Secretary, which had been held by Lord Selborne in 1895-1900 and by Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland in 1915-1917, was held by Amery in 1919-1921, by Edward Wood (Lord Halifax) in 1921-1922, by Ormsby-Gore in 1922-1924, 1924-1929, and by Lord Dufferin (brother of Lord Blackwood of the Kindergarten) from 1937 to 1940.

Most of these persons (probably all except Masterton-Smith, Maffey, and Lord Dufferin) were members of the Milner Group. The most important, of course, was Leopold Amery, whom we have already shown as Milner's chief political protege. We have not yet indicated that Malcolm MacDonald was a member of the Milner Group, and must be satisfied at this point with saying that he was a member, or at least an instrument, of the Group, from 1931 or 1932 onward, without ever becoming a member of the inner circle. The evidence indicating this relationship will be discussed later.

At this point we should say a few words about W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore (Lord Harlech since 1938), who was a member of the Cecil Bloc by marriage and of the Milner Group by adoption. A graduate of Eton in 1930, he went to New College as a contemporary of Philip Kerr and Reginald Coupland. He took his degree in 1908 and was made a Fellow of New College in 1936. A Conservative member of Parliament from 1910 until he went to the Upper House in 1938, he spent the early years of the First World War in military intelligence, chiefly in Egypt. In 1913 he married Lady Beatrice Cecil, daughter of the fourth Marquess of Salisbury, and four years later became Parliamentary Private Secretary to Lord Milner as well as assistant secretary to the War Cabinet (associated in the latter post with Hankey, Kerr, W. G. S. Adams, and Amery of the Milner Group). Ormsby-Gore went on a mission to Palestine in 1918 and was with the British delegation at the Paris Peace Conference as an expert on the Middle East. He was Under Secretary for the Colonies with the Duke of Devonshire in 1922-1924 and with Leopold Amery in 1924-1929, becoming Colonial Secretary in his own right in 1936-1938. In the interval he was Postmaster General in 1931 and First Commissioner of Works in 1931-1936. He was a member of the Permanent Mandates Commission (1921-1923) and of the Colonial Office Mission to the British West Indies (1921-1922), and was Chairman of the East African Parliamentary Commission in 1924. He was High Commissioner of South Africa and the three native protectorates in 1941-1944. He has been a director of the Midland Bank and of the Standard Bank of South Africa. He was also one of the founders of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, a member of Lord Lothian's committee on the African Survey, and a member of the council of the Institute.

The Milner Group also influenced Commonwealth affairs by publicity work of great quantity and good quality. This was done through the various periodicals controlled by the Group, such as The Round Table, The Times, International Affairs and others; by books published by the Royal Institute of International Affairs and individual members of the Group; by academic and university activities by men like Professor Coupland, Professor Zimmern, Professor Harlow, and others; by public and private discussion meetings sponsored by the Round Table Groups throughout the Commonwealth, by the Institute of International Affairs everywhere, by the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR), by the Council on Foreign Relations, by the Williamstown Institute of Politics, by the Rhodes Scholarship group; and through the three unofficial conferences on British Commonwealth relations held by the Group since 1933. Some of these organizations and activities have already been mentioned. The last will be discussed here. The rest are to be described in Chapter 10.

The three unofficial conferences on British Commonwealth relations were held at Toronto in 1933, at Sydney in 1938, and at London in 1945. They were initiated and controlled by the Milner Group, acting through the various Institutes of International Affairs, in the hope that they would contribute to the closer union of the Commonwealth by inclining the opinion of prominent persons in the Dominions in that direction. The plan was originated by the British Empire members of the Institute of Pacific Relations at the Kyoto meeting in 1929. The members from Great Britain consisted of Lord Robert Cecil, Sir Herbert Samuel, Sir Donald Somervell, Sir John Power, P. J. Noel-Baker, G. M. Gathorne-Hardy, H. V. Hodson, H. W. Kerr, A. J. Toynbee, J. W. Wheeler-Bennett, and A. E. Zimmern. Of these, two were from the Cecil Bloc and five from the Milner Group. Discussion was continued at the Shanghai meeting of the Institute of Pacific Relations in 1931, and a committee under Robert Cecil drew up an agenda for the unofficial conference. This committee made the final arrangements at a meeting in Chatham House in July 1932 and published as a preliminary work a volume called Consultation and Cooperation in the British Commonwealth.

The conference was held at the University of Toronto, 11-21 September 1933, with forty-three delegates and thirty-three secretaries, the traveling expenses being covered by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation. The United Kingdom delegation consisted of the eleven names mentioned above plus R. C. M. Arnold as private secretary to Lord Cecil and J. P. Maclay (the famous shipbuilder) as private secretary to Sir Herbert Samuel. The Australian delegation of six included Professor A. H. Charteris, Professor Ernest Scott, A. Smithies (a Rhodes Scholar of 1929), Alfred Stirling (an Oxford B.A.), W. J. V. Windeyer, and Richard Latham (a Rhodes Scholar of 1933). The Canadian delegation consisted of N. W. Rowell, Sir Robert Borden, Louis Cote, John W. Dafoe, Sir Robert Falconer, Sir Joseph Flavelle, W. Sanford Evans, Vincent Massey, Rene L. Morin, J. S. Woodsworth, W. M. Birks, Charles J. Burchell, Brooke Claxton, Percy E. Corbett, W. P. M. Kennedy, J. J. MacDonnell (Rhodes Trustee for Canada), and E. J. Tarr. The secretary to the delegation was George Parkin Glazebrook (Balliol 1924). Most of these names are significant, but we need only point out that at least four of them, including the secretary were members of the Milner Group (Massey, Corbett, Flavelle, Glazebrook). The New Zealand delegation had three members, one of which was W. Downie Stewart, and the South African delegation had five members, including F. S. Malan and Professor Eric A. Walker. The secretariat to the whole conference was headed by I. S. Macadam of the Royal Institute of International Affairs. The secretary to the United Kingdom delegation was H. V. Hodson. Thus it would appear that the Milner Group had eight out of forty- three delegates, as well as the secretaries to the Canadian and United Kingdom delegations.

The conference was divided into four commissions, each of which had a chairman and a rapporteur. In addition, the first commission (on foreign policy) was subdivided into two subcommittees. The chairmen of the four commissions were Robert Cecil, Vincent Massey, F. S. Malan, and W. Downie Stewart. Thus the Milner Group had two out of four. The rapporteurs (including the two subcommittees) were A. L. Zimmern, H. V. Hodson, P. E. Corbett, E. A. Walker, P. J. Noel-Baker, D. B. Somervell, and A. H. Charteris. Thus the Milner Group had four out of seven and possibly more (as Walker may be a member of the Group).

The discussions at the conference were secret, the press was excluded, and in the published Proceedings, edited by A. J. Toynbee, all remarks were presented in indirect discourse and considerably curtailed, without identification of the speakers. The conference made a number of recommendations, including the following: (1) Dominion High Commissioners in London should be given diplomatic status with direct access to the Foreign Office; (2) junior members of Dominion Foreign Offices should receive a period of training in the Foreign Office in London; (3) diplomatic representatives should be exchanged between Dominions; (4) Commonwealth tribunals should be set up to settle legal disputes between Dominions; (5) collective security and the League of Nations should be supported; (6) cooperation with the United States was advocated.

The second unofficial conference on British Commonwealth relations was held near Sydney, Australia, 3-17 September 1938. The expenses were met by grants from the Carnegie Corporation and the Rhodes Trustees. The decision to hold the second conference was made by the British members at the Yosemite meeting of the Institute of Pacific Relations in 1936. A committee under Viscount Samuel met at Chatham House in June 1937 and drew up the arrangements and the agenda. The selection of delegates was left to the various Institutes of International Affairs. From the United Kingdom went Lord Lothian (chairman), Lionel Curtis, W. K. Hancock, Hugh A. Wyndham, A. L. Zimmern, Norman Bentwich, Ernest Bevin, V. A. Cazalet, A. M. Fraser, Sir John Burnett-Stuart, Miss Grace Hadow, Sir Howard Kelly, Sir Frederick Minter, Sir John Pratt, and James Walker. At least five out of fifteen, including the chairman, were of the Milner Group. From Australia came thirty-one members, including T. R. Bavin (chairman of the delegation), K. H. Bailey (a Rhodes Scholar), and A. H. Charteris. From Canada came fifteen, including E. J. Tarr (chairman of the delegation) and P. E. Corbett. From India came four Indians. From Ireland came five persons. From New Zealand came fourteen, with W. Downie Stewart as chairman. From South Africa came six, including P. Van der Byl (chairman) and G. R. Hofmeyr (an old associate of the Milner Kindergarten in the Transvaal).

Of ninety delegates, nine were members of the Milner Group and three others may have been. This is a small proportion, but the conduct of the conference was well controlled. The chairmen of the three most important delegations were of the Milner Group (Eggleston, Downie Stewart, and Lothian); the chairman of the conference itself (Bavin) was. The secretary of the conference was Macadam, the recorder was Hodson, and the secretary to the press committee was Lionel Vincent Massey (grandson of George Parkin). The Proceedings of the conference were edited by Hodson, with an Introduction by Bavin, and published by the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Again, no indication was given of who said what.
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

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Part 2 of 2

The third unofficial conference on British Commonwealth relations was similar to the others, although the war emergency restricted its membership to persons who were already in London. As background material it prepared sixty-two books and papers, of which many are now published. Among these was World War; Its Cause and Cure by Lionel Curtis. The committee on arrangements and agenda, with Lord Astor as chairman, met in New York in January 1944. The delegations outside the United Kingdom were made up of persons doing war duty in London, with a liberal mixture of Dominion Rhodes Scholars. The chairmen of the various delegations included Professor K. H. Bailey from Australia, E. J. Tarr from Canada, Sir Sardar E. Singh from India, W. P. Morrell (whom we have already seen as a Beit Lecturer, a Rhodes Scholar, and a co- editor with the Reverend K. N. Bell of All Souls), Professor S. H. Frankel from South Africa, and Lord Hailey from the United Kingdom. There were also observers from Burma and Southern Rhodesia. Of the fifty-three delegates, sixteen were from the United Kingdom. Among these were Lord Hailey, Lionel Curtis, V. T. Harlow, Sir Frederick Whyte, A. G. B. Fisher, John Coatman, Miss Kathleen Courtney, Viscount Hinchingbrooke, A. Creech Jones, Sir Walter Layton, Sir Henry Price, Miss Heather Harvey, and others. Of the total of fifty-three members, no more than five or six were of the Milner Croup. The opening speech to the conference was made by Lord Robert Cecil, and the Proceedings were published in the usual form under the editorship of Robert Frost, research secretary of the Royal Institute of International Affairs and author of the imperial sections of The History of the Times.

In all the various activities of the Milner Group in respect to Commonwealth affairs, it is possible to discern a dualistic attitude. This attitude reveals a wholehearted public acceptance of the existing constitutional and political relationships of Great Britain and the Dominions, combined with an intense secret yearning for some form of closer union. The realization that closer union was not politically feasible in a democratic age in which the majority of persons, especially in the Dominions, rejected any effort to bind the various parts of the Empire together explains this dualism. The members of the Group, as The Round Table pointed out in 1919, were not convinced of the effectiveness or workability of any program of Dominion relations based solely on cooperation without any institutional basis, but publicly, and in the next breath, the Group wholeheartedly embraced all the developments that destroyed one by one the legal and institutional links which bound the Dominions to the mother country. In one special field after another — in defense, economic cooperation, raw materials conservation, war graves, intellectual cooperation, health measures, etc., etc. — the Group eagerly welcomed efforts to create new institutional links between the self-governing portions of the Commonwealth. But all the time the Group recognized that these innovations were unable to satisfy the yearning that burned in the Group's collective heart. Only as the Second World War began to enter its second, and more hopeful, half, did the Group begin once again to raise its voice with suggestions for some more permanent organization of the constitutional side of Commonwealth relations. All of these suggestions were offered in a timid and tentative fashion, more or less publicly labeled as trial balloons and usually prefaced by an engaging statement that the suggestion was the result of the personal and highly imperfect ideas of the speaker himself. "Thinking aloud," as Smuts called it, became epidemic among the members of the Group. These idle thoughts could be, thus, easily repudiated if they fell on infertile or inhospitable ground, and even the individual whence these suggestions emanated could hardly be held responsible for "thinking aloud." All of these suggestions followed a similar pattern: (1) a reflection on the great crisis which the Commonwealth survived in 1940-1942; (2) an indication that this crisis required some reorganization of the Commonwealth in order to avoid its repetition; (3) a passage of high praise for the existing structure of the Commonwealth and an emphatic statement that the independence and autonomy of its various members is close to the speaker's heart and that nothing he suggests must be taken as implying any desire to infringe in the slightest degree on that independence; and (4) the suggestion itself emerges. The logical incompatibility of the four sections of the pattern is never mentioned and if pointed out by some critic would undoubtedly be excused on the grounds that the English are practical rather than logical — an excuse behind which many English, even outside the Milner Group, frequently find refuge.

We shall give three examples of the Milner Group's suggestions for Commonwealth reform in the second half of the recent war. They emanated from General Smuts, Lord Halifax, and Sir Edward Grigg. All of them were convinced that the British Commonwealth would be drastically weaker in the postwar world and would require internal reorganization in order to take its place as a balancing force between the two great powers, the United States and the Soviet Union. Smuts, in an article in the American weekly magazine Life for 28 December 1942, and in a speech before the United Kingdom branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association in London on 25 November 1943, was deliberately vague but hoped to use the close link between the United Kingdom and the dependent colonies as a means of bringing the self-governing Dominions closer to the United Kingdom by combining the Dominions with the colonies in regional blocs. This plan had definite advantages, although it had been rejected as impractical by Lionel Curtis in 1916. If regional blocs could be formed by dividing the British Commonwealth into four or five geographic groupings, with a Dominion in each region closely associated with the colonies in the same region, and if this could be done without weakening the link between the United Kingdom and the colonies, it would serve to strengthen the link between the United Kingdom and the Dominions. This latter goal was frankly admitted by Smuts. He also suggested that a federated Western Europe be included in the United Kingdom regional bloc.

Sir Edward Grigg's suggestion, made in his book The British Commonwealth, appeared also in 1943. It was very similar to Smuts's, even to the use of the same verbal expressions. For example, both spoke of the necessity for ending the "dual Empire," of which one part was following a centralizing course and the other a decentralizing course. This expression was derived from Lord Milner (and was attributed to this source by Sir Edward) and referred to the difference between the dependent and the self-governing portions of the Commonwealth. Sir Edward advocated creation of five regional blocs, with Western Europe, associated by means of a military alliance with the United Kingdom, in one. Without any sacrifice of sovereignty by anyone, he visualized the creation of a regional council ("like a miniature Imperial Conference") and a joint parliamentary assembly in three of these regions. The members of the council would be representatives of legislatures and not of governments; the assembly would consist of select members from the existing national parliaments in proper ratio; and each region would have a permanent secretariat to carry out agreed decisions.
How this elaborate organization could be reconciled with the continuance of unrestricted national sovereignty was not indicated.

Lord Halifax's suggestion, made in a speech before the Toronto Board of Trade on 24 January 1944, was somewhat different, although he clearly had the same goal in view and the same mental picture of existing world conditions. He suggested that Britain could not maintain her position as a great power, in the sense in which the United States and Russia were great powers, on the basis of the strength of the United Kingdom alone. Accordingly, he advocated the creation of some method of coordination of foreign policy and measures of defense by which the Dominions could participate in both and a united front could be offered to other powers.

That these trial balloons of Smuts, Grigg, and Halifax were not their isolated personal reactions but were the results of a turmoil of thought within the Milner Group was evident from the simultaneous suggestions which appeared in The Times editorials during the first week in December 1943 and the issue of The Round Table for the same month. The Winnipeg Free Press, a paper which has frequently shown knowledge of the existence of the Milner Group, in editorials of 26 and 29 January 1944, pointed out this effusion of suggestions for a reconstruction of the Empire and said:

"Added to the record of earlier statements, the Halifax speech affords conclusive evidence that there is a powerful movement on foot in the United Kingdom for a Commonwealth which will speak with a single voice. And it will be noted that Lord Halifax believes that this change in the structure of the Commonwealth will be the first consideration of the next Imperial Conference.... Running through all these speeches and articles is the clear note of fear. The spokesmen are obsessed by the thought of power as being the only force that counts. The world is to be governed by Leviathans.... It is tragic that the sincere and powerful group of public men in England, represented by Lord Halifax and Field Marshal Smuts, should react to the problem of maintaining peace in this way."


These suggestions were met by an uproar of protests that reached unnecessary heights of denunciation, especially in Canada. They were rejected in South Africa, repulsed by Mackenzie King and others in Canada, called "isolationist" by the CCF party, censured unanimously by the Quebec Assembly, and repudiated by Prime Minister Churchill. Except in New Zealand and Australia, where fear of Japan was having a profound effect on public opinion, and in the United Kingdom, where the Milner Group's influence was so extensive, the suggestions received a cold reception. In South Africa only The Cape Times was favorable, and in Canada The Vancouver Province led a small band of supporters. As a result, the Milner Group once again rejected any movement toward closer union. It continued to toy with Grigg's idea of regional blocs within the Commonwealth, but here it found an almost insoluble problem. If a regional bloc were to be created in Africa, the natives of the African colonial areas would be exposed to the untender mercies of the South African Boers, and it would be necessary to repudiate the promises of native welfare which the Group had supported in the Kenya White Paper of 1923, its resistance to Boer influence in the three native protectorates in South Africa, the implications in favor of native welfare in The African Survey of 1938, and the frequent pronouncements of The Round Table on the paramount importance of protecting native rights. Such a repudiation was highly unlikely, and indeed was specifically rejected by Grigg himself in his book. (4)

The Milner Group itself had been one of the chief, if not the chief, forces in Britain intensifying the decentralizing influences in the self-governing portions of the Empire. This influence was most significant in regard to India, Palestine, Ireland, and Egypt, each of which was separated from Great Britain by a process in which the Milner Group was a principal agent. The first of these is so significant that it will be discussed in a separate chapter, but a few words should be said about the other three here.

The Milner Group had relatively little to do with the affairs of Palestine except in the early period (1915-1919), in the later period (the Peel Report of 1937), and in the fact that the British influence on the Permanent Mandates Commission was always exercised through a member of the Group.

The idea of establishing a mandate system for the territories taken from enemy powers as a result of the war undoubtedly arose from the Milner Group's inner circle. It was first suggested by George Louis Beer in a report submitted to the United States Government on 1 January 1918, and by Lionel Curtis in an article called "Windows of Freedom" in The Round Table for December 1918. Beer was a member of the Round Table Group from about 1912 and was, in fact, the first member who was not a British subject. That Beer was a member of the Group was revealed in the obituary published in The Round Table for September 1920. The Group's attention was first attracted to Beer by a series of Anglophile studies on the British Empire in the eighteenth century which he published in the period after 1893. A Germanophobe as well as an Anglophile, he intended by writing, if we are to believe The Round Table, "to counteract the falsehoods about British Colonial policy to be found in the manuals used in American primary schools." When the Round Table Group, about 1911, began to study the causes of the American Revolution, they wrote to Beer, and thus began a close and sympathetic relationship. He wrote the reports on the United States in The Round Table for many years, and his influence is clearly evident in Curtis's The Commonwealth of Nations. He gave a hint of the existence of the Milner Group in an article which he wrote for the Political Science Quarterly of June 1915 on Milner. He said: "He stands forth as the intellectual leader of the most progressive school of imperial thought throughout the Empire." Beer was one of the chief supporters of American intervention in the war against Germany in the period 1914-1917; he was the chief expert on colonial questions on Colonel House's "Inquiry," which was studying plans for the peace settlements; and he was the American expert on colonial questions at the Peace Conference in Paris. The Milner Group was able to have him named head of the Mandate Department of the League of Nations as soon as it was established. He was one of the originators of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London and its American branch, The Council on Foreign Relations. With Lord Eustace Percy, he drew up the plan for the History of the Peace Conference which was carried out by Harold Temperley.

Curtis's suggestion for a mandates system was published in The Round Table after discussions with Kerr and other members of the inner circle. It was read by Smuts before it was printed and was used by the latter as the basis for his memorandum published in December 1918 with the title The League of Nations: A Practical Suggestion. This embodied a constitution for the League of Nations in twenty-one articles. The first nine of these dealt with the question of mandates. The mandates article of the final Covenant of the League (Article 22) was drafted by Smuts and Kerr (according to Temperley) and was introduced by Smuts to the League Commission of the Peace Conference. The mandates themselves were granted under conditions drawn up by Lord Milner. Since it was felt that this should be done on an international basis, the Milner drafts were not accepted at once but were submitted to an international committee of five members meeting in London. On this committee Milner was chairman and sole British member and succeeded in having his drafts accepted. (5)

The execution of the terms of the mandates were under the supervision of a Permanent Mandates Commission of nine members (later ten). The British member of this commission was always of the Milner Group, as can be seen from the following list:

W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore, February 1921-July 1923
LordLugard, July 1923-July 1936
Lord Hailey, September 1936-March 1939
Lord Hankey, May 1939-September 1939 Lord Hailey, September 1939-


The origins and the supervision power of the mandates system were thus largely a result of the activities of the Milner Group. This applied to Palestine as well as the other mandates. Palestine, however, had a peculiar position among mandates because of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which states that Britain would regard with favor the establishment of a national home for the Jews in Palestine. This declaration, which is always known as the Balfour Declaration, should rather be called "the Milner Declaration," since Milner was the actual draftsman and was, apparently, its chief supporter in the War Cabinet. This fact was not made public until 21 July 1937. At that time Ormsby-Gore, speaking for the government in Commons, said, "The draft as originally put up by Lord Balfour was not the final draft approved by the War Cabinet. The particular draft assented to by the War Cabinet and afterwards by the Allied Governments and by the United States . . . and finally embodied in the Mandate, happens to have been drafted by Lord Milner. The actual final draft had to be issued in the name of the Foreign Secretary, but the actual draftsman was Lord Milner." Milner had referred to this fact in a typically indirect and modest fashion in the House of Lords on 27 June 1923, when he said, "I was a party to the Balfour Declaration." In the War Cabinet, at the time, he received strong support from General Smuts.

Once the mandate was set up, also in terms drafted by Milner, the Milner Group took little actual part in the administration of Palestine. None of the various high commissioners was a member of the Group, and none of the various commissions concerned with this problem possessed a member from the Group until the Peel Commission of 1936. Reginald Coupland was one of the six members of the Peel Commission and, according to unofficial information, was the chief author of its report. In spite of this lack of direct contact with the subject, the Milner Group exercised a certain amount of influence in regard to Palestine because of its general power in the councils of the Conservative Party and because Palestine was administered through the Colonial Office, where the Milner Group's influence was considerable.

The general attitude of the Milner Group was neither pro-Arab nor pro-Zionist, although tending, if at all, toward the latter rather than the former. The Group were never anti-Semitic, and not a shred of evidence in this direction has been found. In fact, they were very sympathetic to the Jews and to their legitimate aspirations to overcome their fate, but this feeling, it must be confessed, was rather general and remote, and they did not, in their personal lives, have much real contact with Jews or any real appreciation of the finer qualities of those people. Their feeling against anti-Semitism was, on the whole, remote and academic. On the other hand, as with most upper-class English, their feeling for the Arabs was somewhat more personal. Many members of the Group had been in Arab countries, found their personal relationships with the Arabs enjoyable, and were attracted to them. However, this attraction of the Arabs never inclined the Milner Group toward that pro-Arab romanticism that was to be found in people like W. S. Blunt or T. E. Lawrence. The reluctance of the Milner Group to push the Zionist cause in Palestine was based on more academic considerations, chiefly two in number: (1) the feeling that it would not be fair to allow the bustling minority of Zionists to come into Palestine and drive the Arabs either out or into an inferior economic and social position; and (2) the feeling that to do this would have the effect of alienating the Arabs from Western, and especially British, culture, and that this would be especially likely to occur if the Jews obtained control of the Mediterranean coast from Egypt to Syria. Strangely enough, there is little evidence that the Milner Group was activated by strategic or economic considerations at all. Thus the widely disseminated charges that Britain failed to support Zionism in Palestine because of anti-Semitism or strategic and economic considerations is not supported by any evidence found within the Milner Group. This may be true of other sections of British public opinion, and certainly is true of the British Labour Party, where the existence of anti-Semitism as an influence seems clearly established.

In Palestine, as in India and probably in Ireland, the policy of the Milner Group seems to have been motivated by good intentions which alienated the contending parties, encouraged extremism, and weakened British influence with both. In the long run, this policy was pro- Arab, just as in India it was pro-Moslem, and in both cases it served to encourage an uncompromising obstructionism which could have been avoided if Britain had merely applied the principles to which she stood committed.

The attitude of the Milner Group toward the Arabs and Jews can be seen from some quotations from members of the Group. At the Peace Conference of 1919, discussing the relative merits of the Jews and Arabs, Smuts said: "They haven't the Arabs' attractive manners. They do not warm the heart by graceful subjection. They make demands. They are a bitter, recalcitrant little people, and, like the Boers, impatient of leadership and ruinously quarrelsome among themselves. They see God in the shape of an Oriental potentate." A few years later, John Dove, in a letter to Brand, asked himself why there was so much pro-Arab feeling among the British, especially "the public school caste," and attributed it to the Arabs' good manners, derived from desert life, and their love for sports, especially riding and shooting, both close to the heart of the public-school boy. A little later, in another letter, also written from Palestine, Dove declared that the whole Arab world should be in one state and it must have Syria and Palestine for its front door, not be like South Africa, with Delagoa Bay in other hands. The Arab world, he explained, needs this western door because we are trying to westernize the Arabs, and without it they would be driven to the east and to India, which they hate. He concluded:

"If the Arab belongs to the Mediterranean, as T. E. Lawrence insists, we should do nothing to stop him getting back to it. Why our own nostrum for the ills of mankind everywhere is Western Civilization, and, if it is a sound one, what would be the good of forcing a people who want direct contact with us to slink in and out of their country by a back door which, like the Persian Gulf, opens only on the East? It would certainly check development, if it did not actually warp it. I suggest then that partition should not be permanent, but this does not mean that a stage of friendly tutelage is necessarily a bad thing for the Arabs. On the contrary, advanced peoples can give so much to stimulate backward ones if they do it with judgment and sympathy. Above all, it must not be the kind of help which kills individuality.... Personally, I don't see the slightest harm in Jews coming to Palestine under reasonable conditions. They are the Arabs' cousins as much as the Phoenicians, and if Zionism brings capital and labour which will enable industries to start, it will add to the strength of the larger unit which some day is going to include Palestine. But they must be content to be part of such a potential unit. They need have no fear of absorption, for they have everything to gain from an Arab Federation. It would mean a far larger field for their activities."


The attitude of the Milner Group toward the specific problem of Zionism was expressed in explicit terms by Lord Milner himself in a speech in the House of Lords on 27 June 1923. After expressing his wholehearted agreement with the policy of the British government as revealed in its actions and in its statements, like the Balfour Declaration and the White Paper of 1922 (Cmd. 1700), he added:

"I am not speaking of the policy which is advocated by the extreme Zionists, which is a totally different thing.... I believe that we have only to go on steadily with the policy of the Balfour Declaration as we have ourselves interpreted it in order to see great material progress in Palestine and a gradual subsistence of the present [Arab] agitation, the force of which it would be foolish to deny, but which I believe to be largely due to artificial stimulus and, to a very great extent, to be excited from without. The symptoms of any real and general dissatisfaction among the mass of the Arab population with the conditions under which they live, I think it would be very difficult to discover.... There is plenty of room in that country for a considerable immigrant population without injuring in any way the resident Arab population, and, indeed, in many ways it would tend to their extreme benefit.... There are about 700,000 people in Palestine, and there is room for several millions.... I am and always have been a strong supporter of the pro- Arab policy which was first advocated in this country in the course of the war. I believe in the independence of the Arab countries, which they owe to us and which they can only maintain with our help. I look forward to an Arab Federation.... I am convinced that the Arab will make a great mistake ... in claiming Palestine as a part of the Arab Federation in the same sense as are the other countries of the Near East which are mainly inhabited by Arabs."


He then went on to say that he felt that Palestine would require a permanent mandate and under that condition could become a National Home for the Jews, could take as many Jewish immigrants as the country could economically support, but "must never become a Jewish state."

This was the point of view of the Milner Group, and it remained the point of view of the British government until 1939. Like the Milner Group's point of view on other issues, it was essentially fair, compromising, and well-intentioned. It broke down in Palestine because of the obstructionism of the Arabs; the intention of the Zionists to have political control of their National Home, if they got one; the pressure on both Jews and Arabs from the world depression after 1929; and the need for a refuge from Hitler for European Jews after 1933. The Milner Group did not approve of the efforts of the Labour government in 1929-1931 to curtail Zionist rights in Palestine. They protested vigorously against the famous White Paper of 1930 (Cmd. 3692), which was regarded as anti- Zionist. Baldwin, Austen Chamberlain, and Leopold Amery protested against the document in a letter to The Times on 30 October 1930. Smuts sent a telegram of protest to the Prime Minister, and Sir John Simon declared it a violation of the mandate in a letter to The Times. Seven years later, the report of the Peel Commission said that the White Paper "betrayed a marked insensitiveness to Jewish feelings." As a result of this pressure, Ramsay MacDonald wrote a letter to Dr. Weizmann, interpreting the document in a more moderate fashion.

As might be expected, in view of the position of Reginald Coupland on the Peel Commission, the report of that Commission met with a most enthusiastic reception from the Milner Group. This report was a scholarly study of conditions in Palestine, of a type usually found in any document with which the Milner Group had direct contact. For the first time in any government document, the aspirations of Jews and Arabs in Palestine were declared to be irreconcilable and the existing mandate unworkable. Accordingly, the report recommended the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a neutral enclave containing the Holy Places. This suggestion was accepted by the British government in a White Paper (Cmd. 5513) issued through Ormsby-Gore. He also defended it before the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations. In the House of Lords it was defended by Lord Lugard, but recently retired as the British member of the Permanent Mandates Commission. It was also supported by Lord Dufferin and Archbishop Lang. In the House of Commons the motion to approve the government's policy as outlined in the White Paper Cmd. 5513 was introduced by Ormsby-Gore. The first speech in support of the motion, which was passed without a division, was from Leopold Amery.

Amery's speech in support of this motion is extremely interesting and is actually an evolution, under the pressure of hard facts, from the point of view described by Lord Milner in 1923. Amery said: "However much we may regret it, we have lost the situation in Palestine, as we lost it in Ireland, through a lack of wholehearted faith in ourselves and through the constitutional inability of the individual Briton, and indeed of the country as a whole, not to see the other fellow's point of view and to be influenced by it, even to the detriment of any consistent policy." According to Amery, the idea of partition occurred to the Peel Commission only after it had left Palestine and the report was already written. Thus the commission was unable to hear any direct evidence on this question or make any examination of how partition should be carried out in detail. He said:

"Of the 396 pages of the Report almost the whole of the first 368 pages, including the whole of chapters 7 to 19, represent an earlier Report of an entirely different character. That earlier Report envisaged the continuation of the Mandate in its present form.... Throughout all these chapters to which I have referred, the whole text of the chapters deals with the assumption that the Mandate is continued, but here and there, at the end of some chapter, there is tacked on in a quite obviously added last paragraph, something to this effect: "All the rest of the chapter before is something that might have been considered if, as a matter of fact, we were not going to pursue an entirely different policy." These last paragraphs were obviously added by the Secretary, or whoever helped draft the Report, after the main great conclusion was reached at a very late stage."


Since the Milner Group supported partition in Palestine, as they had earlier in Ireland and as they did later in India, it is not too much to believe that Coupland added the additional paragraphs after the commission had returned to England and he had had an opportunity to discuss the matter with other members of the inner circle. In fact, Amery's remarks were probably based on knowledge rather than internal textual evidence and were aimed to get the motion accepted, with the understanding that it approved no more than the principle of partition, with the details to be examined by another commission later. This, in fact, is what was done.

Amery's speech is also interesting for its friendly reference to the Jews. He said that in the past the Arabs had obtained 100 percent of what they were promised, while the Jews had received "a raw deal," in spite of the fact that the Jews had a much greater need of the country and would make the best use of the land.

To carry out the policy of partition, the government appointed a new royal commission of four members in March 1938. Known as the Woodhead Commission, this body had no members of either the Milner Group or the Cecil Bloc on it, and its report (Cmd. 5854) rejected partition as impractical on the grounds that any acceptable method of partition into two states would give a Jewish state with an annual financial surplus and an Arab state with an annual financial deficit. This conclusion was accepted by the government in another White Paper (Cmd. 5893 of 1938). As an alternative, the government called a Round Table Conference of Jews and Arabs from Palestine along with representatives of the Arab states outside of Palestine. During all this, the Arabs had been growing increasingly violent; they refused to accept the Peel Report; they boycotted the Woodhead Commission; and they finally broke into open civil war. In such conditions, nothing was accomplished at the Round Table meetings at London in February-March 1939. The Arab delegation included leaders who had to be released from prison in order to come and who refused to sit in the same conference with the Jews. Compromise proposals presented by the government were rejected by both sides.

After the conference broke up, the government issued a new statement of policy (Cmd. 6019 of May 1939). It was a drastic reversal of previous statements and was obviously a turn in favor of the Arabs. It fixed Jewish immigration into Palestine at 75,000 for the whole of the next five years (including illegal immigration) and gave the Arabs a veto on any Jewish immigration after the five-year period was finished. As a matter of principle, it shifted the basis for Jewish immigration from the older criterion of the economic absorptive capacity of Palestine to the political absorptive capacity. This was really an invitation to the Arabs to intensify their agitation and constituted a vital blow at the Jews, since it was generally conceded that Jewish immigration increased the economic absorptive capacity for both Jews and Arabs.

The Milner Group were divided on this concrete policy. In general, they continued to believe that the proper solution to the Zionist problem could be found in a partitioned Palestine within a federation of Arab states. The Round Table offered this as its program in March 1939 and repeated it in June of the same year. But on the issue of an immediate and concrete policy, the Group was split. It is highly unlikely that this split originated with the issue of Zionism. It was, rather, a reflection of the more fundamental split within the Group, between those, like Amery and Salter, who abandoned the appeasement policy in March 1939 and those, like the Astors and Lothian, who continued to pursue it in a modified form.

The change in the policy of the government resulted in a full debate in the House of Commons. This debate, and the resulting division, revealed the split within the Milner Group. The policy of the White Paper was denounced by Amery as a betrayal of the Jews and of the mandate, as the final step in a scaling down of Jewish hopes that began in 1922, as a yielding of principle to Arab terrorists, as invalid without the approval of the League of Nations, and as unworkable because the Jews would and could resist it. The speeches for the government from Malcolm MacDonald and R. A. Butler were weak and vague. In the division, the government won approval of the White Paper by 268 to 179, with Major Astor, Nancy Astor, Hoare, Simon, Malcolm MacDonald, and Sir Donald Somervell in the majority and Amery, Noel-Baker, and Arthur Salter in the minority. On the same day, a similar motion in the House of Lords was approved without a division.

The government at once began to put the White Paper policy into effect, without waiting for the approval of the Permanent Mandates Commission. In July 1939 rumors began to circulate that this body had disapproved of the policy, and questions were asked in the House of Commons, but MacDonald evaded the issue, refused to give information which he possessed, and announced that the government would take the issue to the Council of the League. As the Council meeting was canceled by the outbreak of war, this could not be done, but within a week of the announcement the minutes of the Permanent Mandates Commission were released. They showed that the commission had, by unanimous vote, decided that the policy of the White Paper was contrary to the accepted interpretations of the mandate, and, by a vote of 4-3, that the White Paper was inconsistent with the mandate under any possible interpretation. In this last vote Hankey, at his first session of the commission, voted in the minority.

As a result of the release of this information, a considerable section of the House was disturbed by the government's high-handed actions and by the Colonial Secretary's evasive answers in July 1939. In March 1940, Noel-Baker introduced a motion of censure on this issue. The motion did not go to a division, but Amery once again objected to the new policy and to inviting representatives of the Arab states to the abortive Round Table Conference of 1939. He called the presence of agents of the Mufti at the Round Table "surrender."

By this time the Milner Group was badly shattered on other issues than Palestine. Within two months of this debate, it was reunited on the issue of all-out war against Germany, and Amery had resumed a seat in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for India. The Palestine issue declined in importance and did not revive to any extent until the Labour government of 1945 had taken office. From that time on the members of the Milner Group were united again on the issue, objecting to the Labour government's anti-Jewish policy and generally following the line Amery had laid down in 1939. In fact, it was Amery who did much of the talking in 1946-1949, but this is not strictly part of our story.

In Irish affairs, the Milner Group played a much more decisive role than in Palestine affairs, although only for the brief period from 1917 to 1925. Previous to 1917 and going back to 1887, Irish affairs had been one of the most immediate concerns of the Cecil Bloc. A nephew of Lord Salisbury was Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1887-1891, another nephew held the post in 1895-1900, and the private secretary and protege of the former held the post in 1900-1905. The Cecil Bloc had always been opposed to Home Rule for Ireland, and when, in 1912-1914, the Liberal government took steps to grant Home Rule, Sir Edward Carson took the lead in opposing these steps. Carson was a creation of the Cecil Bloc, a fact admitted by Balfour in 1929, when he told his niece, "I made Carson." Balfour found Carson a simple Dublin barrister in 1887, when he went to Ireland as Chief Secretary. He made Carson one of his chief prosecuting attorneys in 1887, an M.P. for Dublin University in 1892, and Solicitor General in his own government in 1900-1906. When the Home Rule Bill of 1914 was about to pass, Carson organized a private army, known as the Ulster Volunteers, armed them with guns smuggled in from Germany, and formed a plot to seize control of Belfast at a given signal from him. This signal, in the form of a code telegram, was written in 1914 and on its way to be dispatched by Carson when he received word from Asquith that war with Germany was inevitable. Accordingly, the revolt was canceled and the date on which the Home Rule Bill was to go into effect was postponed by special act of Parliament until six months after peace should be signed.

The information about the telegram of 1914 was revealed to Lionel Curtis by Carson in a personal conversation after war began. Curtis's attitude was quite different, and he thoroughly disapproved of Carson's plot. This difference is an indication of the difference in point of view in regard to Ireland between the Milner Group and the Cecil Bloc. The latter was willing to oppose Home Rule even to the point where it would condone illegal actions; the former, on the contrary, was in favor of Home Rule because it believed that Ireland would aid Britain's enemies in every crisis and leave the Commonwealth at the first opportunity unless it were given freedom to govern itself.

The Milner Group's attitude toward the Irish question was expressed by The Round Table in a retrospective article in the September 1935 issue in the following words:

"The root principle of The Round Table remained freedom — 'the government of men by themselves" — and it demanded that within the Empire this principle should be persistently pursued and expressed in institutions. For that reason it denounced the post- war attempt to repress the Irish demand for national self-government by ruthless violence after a century of union had failed to win Irish consent, as a policy in conflict with British institutions and inconsistent with the principle of the British Commonwealth; and it played its part in achieving the Irish Treaty and the Dominion settlement."


The part which the Group played in the Irish settlement was considerably more than this brief passage might indicate, but it could not take effect until the group in Britain advocating repression and the group in Ireland advocating separation from the crown had brought each other to some realization of the advantages of compromise.

These advantages were pointed out by the Group, especially by Lionel Curtis, who began a two-year term as editor of The Round Table immediately after his great triumph in the Government of India Act of 1919. In the March 1920 issue, for example, he discussed and approved a project, first announced by Lloyd George in December 1919, to separate northern and southern Ireland and give self-government to both as autonomous parts of Great Britain. This was really nothing but an application of the principle of devolution, whose attractiveness to the Milner Group has already been mentioned.

The Irish Settlement in the period 1920-1923 is very largely a Milner Group achievement. For most of this period Amery's brother-in-law, Hamar Greenwood (Viscount Greenwood since 1937), was Chief Secretary for Ireland. He was, indeed, the last person to hold this office before it was abolished at the end of 1922. Curtis was adviser on Irish affairs to the Colonial Office in 1921-1924, and Smuts and Feetham intervened in the affair at certain points.

A settlement of the Irish problem along lines similar to those advocated by The Round Table was enacted in the Government of Ireland Act of December 1920. Drafted by H. A. L. Fisher and piloted through Commons by him, it passed the critical second reading by a vote of 348-94. In the majority were Amery, Nancy Astor, Austen Chamberlain, H. A. L. Fisher, Hamar Greenwood, Samuel Hoare, G. R. Lane-Fox (brother-in-law of Lord Halifax), and E. F. L. Wood (Lord Halifax). In the minority were Lord Robert Cecil and Lord Wolmer (son of Lord Selborne). In the House of Lords the bill passed by 164-75. In the majority were Lords Curzon, Lytton, Onslow (brother-in-law of Lord Halifax), Goschen, Hampden (brother of Robert Brand), Hardinge, Milner, Desborough, Ernie, Meston, Monson, Phillimore, Riddell, and Wemyss. In the minority were Lords Linlithgow, Beauchamp (father-in-law of Samuel Hoare), Midleton, Bryce, Ampthill (brother-in-law of Samuel Hoare), and Leconfield (brother of Hugh Wyndham).

The act of 1920 never went into effect because the extremists on both sides were not yet satiated with blood. By June 1921 they were. The first movement in this direction, according to W. K. Hancock, "may be said to open as early as October 1920 when The Times published suggestions for a truce and negotiations between plenipotentiaries of both sides." The same authority lists ten voices as being raised in protest at British methods of repression. Three of these were of the Milner Group {The Times, The Round Table, and Sir John Simon). He quotes The Round Table as saying: "If the British Commonwealth can only be preserved by such means, it would become a negation of the principle for which it has stood." (6) Similar arguments were brought to bear on the Irish leaders by Jan Smuts.

Smuts left South Africa for England at the end of May 1921, to attend the Imperial Conference of that year, which was to open on a Monday. He arrived in England the preceding Saturday and went to Oxford to stay with friends of the Milner Group. In the evening he attended a Rhodes dinner, which means he saw more of the Group. The following day, he was called by the King to Windsor Castle and went immediately. The King told Smuts that he was going to make a speech at the opening of the new Ulster Parliament. He asked Smuts to write down suggestions for this speech. Smuts stayed the night at Windsor Castle, drafted a speech, and gave it to the King's private secretary. The sequel can best be told in Smuts's own words as recorded in the second volume of S. G. Millin's biography: "The next day Lloyd George invited me to attend a committee meeting of the Cabinet, to give my opinion of the King's speech. And what should this King's speech turn out to be but a typewritten copy of the draft I had myself written the night before. I found them working on it. Nothing was said about my being the author. They innocently consulted me and I innocently answered them. But imagine the interesting position. Well, they toned the thing down a bit, they made a few minor alterations, but in substance the speech the King delivered next week in Belfast was the one I prepared." (7) Needless to say, this speech was conciliatory.

Shortly afterward, Tom Casement, brother of Sir Roger Casement, who had been executed by the British in 1916, opened negotiations between Smuts and the Irish leaders in Dublin. Tom Casement was an old friend of Smuts, for he had been British Consul at Delagoa Bay in 1914 and served with Smuts in East Africa in 1916-1917. As a result, Smuts went to Ireland in June 1921 under an alias and was taken to the hiding place of the rebels. He tried to persuade them that they would be much better off with Dominion status within the British Commonwealth than as a republic, offering as an example the insecure position of the Transvaal before 1895 in contrast with its happy condition after 1909. He said in conclusion, "Make no mistake about it, you have more privilege, more power, more peace, more security in such a sisterhood of equal nations than in a small, nervous republic having all the time to rely on goodwill, and perhaps the assistance, of foreigners. What sort of independence do you call that? By comparison with real independence it is a shadow. You sell the fact for the name." Smuts felt that his argument was having an effect on Arthur Griffith and some others, but de Valera remained suspicious, and Erskine Childers was "positively hostile." Nevertheless, the Irish decided to open negotiations with London, and Smuts promised to arrange an armistice. The armistice went into effect on 11 July 1921, and three days later the conference began.

The Irish Conference of 1921 was held in two sessions: a week in July and a series of meetings from 1 1 October to 6 December 1921. The secretary to the conference was Lionel Curtis, who resigned his editorship of The Round Table for the purpose and remained as chief adviser on Irish affairs to the Colonial Office for the next three years. As a result of the conference, the Irish moderates negotiated the Articles of Agreement of 6 December 1921. De Valera had refused to form part of the Irish delegation at the second session of the conference, and refused to accept Dominion status, although Smuts begged him to do so in a letter published in The Times on 15 August.

As a result of the Articles of Agreement of December 1921 and the Irish Free State Act of March 1922, Southern Ireland became an independent Dominion within the British Commonwealth. Its boundary with Northern Ireland was to be settled by a Boundary Commission of three members representing the three interested parties. On this commission, Richard Feetham of the Milner Group was the British member and also chairman.

The subsequent revolt of de Valera and the Irish Republicans against the Free State government, and the ultimate victory of their ideas, is not part of our story. It was a development which the Milner Group were powerless to prevent. They continued to believe that the Irish, like others, could be bound to Britain by invisible ties if all visible ones were destroyed. This extraordinary belief, admirable as it was, had its basis in a profoundly Christian outlook and, like appeasement of Hitler, self-government for India, or the Statute of Westminister, had its ultimate roots in the Sermon on the Mount. Unfortunately, such Christian tactics were acutely dangerous in a non-Christian world, and in this respect the Irish were only moderately different from Hitler.

The Milner Group's reward for their concessions to Ireland was not to be obtained in this world. This became clear during the Second World War, when the inability of the British to use Irish naval bases against German submarines had fatal consequences for many gallant British seamen. These bases had been retained for Britain as a result of the agreement of 1922 but were surrendered to the Irish on 25 April 1938, just when Hitler's threat to Britain was becoming acute. The Round Table of June 1938 welcomed this surrender, saying: "The defence of the Irish coast, as John Redmond vainly urged in 1914, should be primarily a matter for Irishmen."

As the official links between Eire and Britain were slowly severed, the Croup made every effort to continue unofficial relationships such as those through the Irish Institute of International Affairs and the unofficial British Commonwealth relations conference, which had Irish members in 1938.

The relationships of Britain with Egypt were also affected by the activity of the Milner Group. The details need not detain us long. It is sufficient to state that the Egyptian Declaration of 1922 was the result of the personal negotiations of Lord Milner in Egypt in his capacity as Colonial Secretary. In this post his Permanent Under Secretary was Sir George Fiddes of the Kindergarten, his Parliamentary Under Secretary was Amery, and his chief adviser in Egypt was M. S. O. Walrond, also of the Kindergarten.

Without going into the very extensive influence which members of the Milner Group have had on other parts of the Commonwealth (especially tropical Africa), it must be clear that, however unsatisfactory Commonwealth relations may be to the Group now, they nevertheless were among the chief creators of the existing system. This will appear even more clearly when we examine their influence in the history of India.  
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

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Chapter 10: The Royal Institute of International Affairs

The Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA) is nothing but the Milner Group "writ large." It was founded by the Group, has been consistently controlled by the Group, and to this day is the Milner Group in its widest aspect. It is the legitimate child of the Round Table organization, just as the latter was the legitimate child of the "Closer Union" movement organized in South Africa in 1907. All three of these organizations were formed by the same small group of persons, all three received their initial financial backing from Sir Abe Bailey, and all three used the same methods for working out and propagating their ideas (the so-called Round Table method of discussion groups plus a journal). This similarity is not an accident. The new organization was intended to be a wider aspect of the Milner Group, the plan being to influence the leaders of thought through The Round Table and to influence a wider group through the RIIA.

The real founder of the Institute was Lionel Curtis, although this fact was concealed for many years and he was presented to the public as merely one among a number of founders. In more recent years, however, the fact that Curtis was the real founder of the Institute has been publicly stated by members of the Institute and by the Institute itself on many occasions, and never denied. One example will suffice. In the Annual Report of the Institute for 1942-1943 we read the following sentence: "When the Institute was founded through the inspiration of Mr. Lionel Curtis during the Peace Conference of Paris in 1919, those associated with him in laying the foundations were a group of comparatively young men and women."

The Institute was organized at a joint conference of British and American experts at the Hotel Majestic on 30 May 1919. At the suggestion of Lord Robert Cecil, the chair was given to General Tasker Bliss of the American delegation. We have already indicated that the experts of the British delegation at the Peace Conference were almost exclusively from the Milner Group and Cecil Bloc. The American group of experts, "the Inquiry," was manned almost as completely by persons from institutions (including universities) dominated by J. P. Morgan and Company. This was not an accident. Moreover, the Milner Group has always had very close relationships with the associates of J. P. Morgan and with the various branches of the Carnegie Trust. These relationships, which are merely examples of the closely knit ramifications of international financial capitalism, were probably based on the financial holdings controlled by the Milner Group through the Rhodes Trust. The term "international financier" can be applied with full justice to several members of the Milner Group inner circle, such as Brand, Hichens, and above all, Milner himself.

At the meeting at the Hotel Majestic, the British group included Lionel Curtis, Philip Kerr, Lord Robert Cecil, Lord Eustace Percy, Sir Eyre Crowe, Sir Cecil Hurst, J. W. Headlam-Morley, Geoffrey Dawson, Harold Temperley, and G. M. Gathorne-Hardy. It was decided to found a permanent organization for the study of international affairs and to begin by writing a history of the Peace Conference. A committee was set up to supervise the writing of this work. It had Lord Meston as chairman, Lionel Curtis as secretary, and was financed by a gift of £2000 from Thomas W. Lamont of J. P. Morgan and Company. This group picked Harold Temperley as editor of the work. It appeared in six large volumes in the years 1920-1924, under the auspices of the RIIA.

The British organization was set up by a committee of which Lord Robert Cecil was chairman, Lionel Curtis was honorary secretary and the following were members: Lord Eustace Percy, J. A. C. (later Sir John) Tilley, Philip Noel-Baker, Clement Jones, Harold Temperley, A. L. Smith (classmate of Milner and Master of Balliol), George W. Prothero, and Geoffrey Dawson. This group drew up a constitution and made a list of prospective members. Lionel Curtis and Gathorne Hardy drew up the by-laws.

The above description is based on the official history of the RIIA published by the Institute itself in 1937 and written by Stephen King Hall. It does not agree in its details (committees and names) with information from other sources, equally authoritative, such as the journal of the Institute or the preface to Temperley's History of the Peace Conference. The latter, for example, says that the members were chosen by a committee consisting of Lord Robert Cecil, Sir Valentine Chirol, and Sir Cecil Hurst. As a matter of fact, all of these differing accounts are correct, for the Institute was formed in such an informal fashion, as among friends, that membership on committees and lines of authority between committees were not very important. As an example, Mr. King-Hall says that he was invited to join the Institute in 1919 by Philip Kerr (Lord Lothian), although this name is not to be found on any membership committee. At any rate, one thing is clear: The Institute was formed by the Cecil Bloc and the Milner Group, acting together, and the real decisions were being made by members of the latter.

As organized, the Institute consisted of a council with a chairman and two honorary secretaries, and a small group of paid employees. Among these latter, A. J. Toynbee, nephew of Milner's old friend at Balliol, was the most important. There were about 300 members in 1920, 714 in 1922, 17D7 in 1929, and 2414 in 1936. There have been three chairmen of the council: Lord Meston in 1920-1926, Major-General Sir Neill Malcolm in 1926-1935, and Lord Astor from 1935 to the present. All of these are members of the Milner Group, although General Malcolm is not yet familiar to us.

General Malcolm, from Eton and Sandhurst, married the sister of Dougal Malcolm of Milner's Kindergarten in 1907, when he was a captain in the British Army. By 1916 he was a lieutenant colonel and two years later a major general. He was with the British Military Mission in Berlin in 1919-1921 and General Officer Commanding in Malaya in 1921-1924, retiring in 1924. He was High Commissioner for German Refugees (a project in which the Milner Group was deeply involved) in 1936-1938 and has been associated with a number of industrial and commercial firms, including the British North Borneo Company, of which he is president and Dougal Malcolm is vice-president. It must not be assumed that General Malcolm won advancement in the world because of his connections with the Milner Group, for his older brother, Sir Ian Malcolm was an important member of the Cecil Bloc long before Sir Neill joined the Milner Group. Sir Ian, who went to Eton and New College, was assistant private secretary to Lord Salisbury in 1895-1900, was parliamentary private secretary to the Chief Secretary for Ireland (George Wyndham) in 1901-1903, and was private secretary to Balfour in the United States in 1917 and at the Peace Conference in 1919. He wrote the sketch of Walter Long of the Cecil Bloc (Lord Long of Wraxall) in the Dictionary of National Biography.

From the beginning, the two honorary secretaries of the Institute were Lionel Curtis and G. M. Gathorne-Hardy. These two, especially the latter, did much of the active work of running the organization. In 1926 the Report of the Council of the RIIA said: "It is not too much to say that the very existence of the Institute is due to those who have served as Honorary Officers." The burden of work was so great on Curtis and Gathorne-Hardy by 1926 that Sir Otto Beit, of the Rhodes Trust, Milner Group, and British South Africa Company, gave £1000 for 1926 and 1927 for secretarial assistance. F. B. Bourdillon assumed the task of providing this assistance in March 1926. He had been secretary to Feetham on the Irish Boundary Commission in 1924-1925 and a member of the British delegation to the Peace Conference in 1919. He has been in the Research Department of the Foreign Office since 1943.

The active governing body of the Institute is the council, originally called the executive committee. Under the more recent name, it generally had twenty-five to thirty members, of whom slightly less than half were usually of the Milner Group. In 1923, five members were elected, including Lord Meston, Headlam-Morley, and Mrs. Alfred Lyttelton. The following year, seven were elected, including Wilson Harris, Philip Kerr, and Sir Neill Malcolm. And so it went. In 1936, at least eleven out of twenty-six members of the council were of the Milner Group. These included Lord Astor (chairman), L. Curtis, G. M. Gathorne-Hardy, Lord Hailey, H. D. Henderson, Stephen King-Hall, Mrs. Alfred Lyttelton, Sir Neill Malcolm, Lord Meston, Sir Arthur Salter, J. W. Wheeler-Bennett, E. L. Woodward, and Sir Alfred Zimmern. Among the others were A. V. Alexander, Sir John Power, Sir Norman Angell, Clement Jones, Lord Lytton, Harold Nicolson, Lord Snell, and C. K. Webster. Others who were on the council at various times were E. H. Carr, Harold Butler, G. N. Clark, Geoffrey Crowther, H. V. Hodson, Hugh Wyndham, G. W. A. Ormsley-Gore, Walter Layton, Austen Chamberlain, Malcolm MacDonald (elected 1933), and many other members of the Group.

The chief activities of the RIIA were the holding of discussion meetings, the organization of study groups, the sponsoring of research, and the publication of information and materials based on these. At the first meeting, Sir Maurice Hankey read a paper on "Diplomacy by Conference," showing how the League of Nations grew out of the Imperial Conferences. This was published in The Round Table. No complete record exists of the meetings before the fall of 1921, but, beginning then, the principal speech at each meeting and resumes of the comments from the floor were published in the Journal. At the first of these recorded meetings, D. G. Hogarth spoke on "The Arab States," with Lord Chelmsford in the chair. Stanley Reed, Chirol, and Meston spoke from the floor. Two weeks later, H. A. L. Fisher spoke on "The Second Assembly of the League of Nations," with Lord Robert Cecil in the chair. Temperley and Wilson Harris also spoke. In November, Philip Kerr was the chief figure for two evenings on "Pacific Problems as They Would Be submitted to the Washington Conference." At the end of the same month, A. J. Toynbee spoke on "The Greco-Turkish Question," with Sir Arthur Evans in the chair, and early in December his father-in-law, Gilbert Murray, spoke on "Self- Determination," with Lord Sumner in the chair. In January 1922, Chaim Weizmann spoke on "Zionism"; in February, Chirol spoke on "Egypt"; in April, Walter T. Layton spoke on "The Financial Achievement of the League of Nations," with Lord Robert Cecil in the chair. In June, Wilson Harris spoke on "The Genoa Conference," with Robert H. Brand in the chair. In October, Ormsby-Gore spoke on "Mandates," with Lord Lugard in the chair. Two weeks later, Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland spoke on "The League of Nations," with H. A. L. Fisher in the chair. In March 1923, Harold Butler spoke on the "International Labour Office," with G. N. Barnes in the chair. Two weeks later, Philip Kerr spoke on "The Political Situation in the United States," with Arthur Balfour in the chair. In October 1923, Edward F. L. Wood (Lord Halifax) spoke on "The League of Nations," with H. A. L. Fisher in the chair. In November 1924, E. R. Peacock (Parkin's protege) spoke on "Mexico," with Lord Eustace Percy in the chair. In October 1925, Leopold Amery spoke on "The League of Nations," with Robert Cecil as chairman, while in May 1926, H. A. L. Fisher spoke on the same subject, with Neill Malcolm as chairman. In November 1925, Paul Mantoux spoke on "The Procedure of the League," with Brand as chairman. In June 1923, Edward Grigg spoke on "Egypt," with D. G. Hogarth in the chair. In the season of 1933-1934 the speakers included Ormsby-Gore, Oliver Lyttelton, Edward Grigg, Donald Somervell, Toynbee, Zimmern, R. W. Seton- Watson, and Lord Lothian. In the season of 1938-1939 the list contains the names of Wilson Harris, C. A. Macartney, Toynbee, Lord Hailey, A. G. B. Fisher, Harold Butler, Curtis, Lord Lothian, Zimmern, Lionel Hichens, and Lord Halifax. These rather scattered observations will show how the meetings were peppered by members of the Milner Group. This does not mean that the Group monopolized the meetings, or even spoke at a majority of them. The meetings generally took place once a week from October to June of each year, and probably members of the Group spoke or presided at no more than a quarter of them. This, however, represents far more than their due proportion, for when the Institute had 2500, members the Milner Group amounted to no more than 100.

The proceedings of the meetings were generally printed in abbreviated form in the Journal of the Institute. Until January 1927, this periodical was available only to members, but since that date it has been open to public subscription. The first issue was as anonymous as the first issue of The Round Table: no list of editors, no address, and no signature to the opening editorial introducing the new journal. The articles, however, had the names of the speakers indicated. When it went on public sale in January 1927, the name of the Institute was added to the cover. In time it took the name International Affairs. The first editor, we learn from a later issue, was Gathorne-Hardy. In January 1932 an editorial board was placed in charge of the publication. It consisted of Meston, Gathorne-Hardy, and Zimmern. This same board remained in control until war forced suspension of publication at the end of 1939, When publication was resumed in 1944 in Canada, the editorial board consisted of Hugh Wyndham, Geoffrey Crowther, and H. A. R. Gibb. Wyndham is still chairman of the board, but since the war the membership of the board has changed somewhat. In 1948 it had six members, of whom three are employees of the Institute, one is the son-in-law of an employee, the fifth is Professor of Arabic at Oxford, and the last is the chairman, Hugh Wyndham. In 1949 Adam Marris was added.

In addition to the History of the Peace Conference and the journal International Affairs, the Institute publishes the annual Survey of International Affairs. This is written either by members of the Group or by employees of the Institute. The chief writers have been Toynbee; his second wife, V. M. Boulter; Robert J. Stopford, who appears to be one of R. H. Brand's men and who wrote the reparations section each year;' H. V. Hodson, who did the economic sections from 1930-1938; and A. G. B. Fisher, who has done the economic sections since Hodson. Until 1928 the Survey had an appendix of documents, but since that year these have been published in a separate volume, usually edited by J. W. Wheeler-Bennett. Mr. Wheeler-Bennett became a member of the Milner Group and the Institute by a process of amalgamation. In 1924 he had founded a document service, which he called Information Service on International Affairs, and in the years following 1924 he published a number of valuable digests of documents and other information on disarmament, security, the World Court, reparations, etc., as well as a periodical called the Bulletin of International News. In 1927 he became Honorary Information Secretary of the RIIA, and in 1930 the Institute bought out all his information services for £3500 and made them into the Information Department of the Institute, still in charge of Mr. Wheeler-Bennett. Since the annual Documents on International Affairs resumed publication in 1944, it has been in charge of Monica Curtis (who may be related to Lionel Curtis), while Mr. Wheeler-Bennett has been busy elsewhere. In 1938-1939 he was Visiting Professor of International Relations at the University of Virginia: in 1939-1944 he was in the United States in various propaganda positions with the British Library of Information and for two years as Head of the British Political Warfare Mission in New York. Since 1946, he has been engaged in editing, from the British side, an edition of about twenty volumes of the captured documents of the German Foreign Ministry. He has also lectured on international affairs at New College, a connection obviously made through the Milner Group.

The Survey of International Affairs has been financed since 1925 by an endowment of £20,000 given by Sir Daniel Stevenson for this purpose and also to provide a Research Chair of International History at the University of London. Arnold J. Toynbee has held both the professorship and the editorship since their establishment. He has also been remunerated by other grants from the Institute. When the first major volume of the Survey, covering the years 1920-1923, was published, a round-table discussion was held at Chatham House, 17 November 1925, to criticize it. Headlam-Morley was chairman, and the chief speakers were Curtis, Wyndham, Gathorne-Hardy, Gilbert Murray, and Toynbee himself.

Since the Survey did not cover British Commonwealth affairs, except in a general fashion, a project was established for a parallel Survey of British Commonwealth Relations. This was financed by a grant of money from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The task was entrusted to W. K. Hancock, a member of All Souls since 1924 and Chichele Professor of Economic History residing at All Souls since 1944. He produced three substantial volumes of the Survey in 1940-1942, with a supplementary legal chapter in volume I by R. T. E. Latham of All Souls and the Milner Group.

The establishment of the Stevenson Chair of International History at London, controlled by the RIIA, gave the Croup the idea of establishing similar endowed chairs in other subjects and in other places. In 1936, Sir Henry Price gave £20,000 to endow for seven years a Chair of International Economics at Chatham House. This was filled by Allan G. B. Fisher of Australia.

In 1947 another chair was established at Chatham House: the Abe Bailey Professorship of Commonwealth Relations. This was filled by Nicholas Mansergh, who had previously written a few articles on Irish affairs and has since published a small volume on Commonwealth affairs.

By the terms of the foundation, the Institute had a voice in the election of professors to the Wilson Chair of International Politics at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth. As a result, this chair has been occupied by close associates of the Group from its foundation. The following list of incumbents is significant:

A. E. Zimmern, 1919-1921
C. K. Webster, 1922-1932
J. D Greene, 1932-1934
J. F. Vranek, (Acting), 1934-1936
E. H. Carr, 1936 to now


Three of these names are familiar. Of the others, Jiri Vranek was secretary to the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation (to be discussed in a moment). Jerome Greene was an international banker close to the Milner Group. Originally Mr. Greene had been a close associate of J. D. Rockefeller, but in 1917 he shifted to the international banking firm Lee, Higginson, and Company of Boston. In 1918 he was American secretary to the Allied Maritime Transport Council in London (of which Arthur Salter was general secretary). He became a resident of Toynbee Hall and established a relationship with the Milner Group. In 1919 he was secretary to the Reparations Commission of the Peace Conference (a post in which his successor was Arthur Salter in 1920-1922). He was chairman of the Pacific Council of the Institute of Pacific Relations in 1929-1932. This last point will be discussed in a moment. Mr. Greene was a trustee and secretary of the Rockefeller Foundation in 1913-1917, and was a trustee of the Rockefeller Institute and of the Rockefeller General Education Board in 1912-1939.

The study groups of the RIIA are direct descendants of the roundtable meetings of the Round Table Group. They have been defined by Stephen King-Hall as "unofficial Royal Commissions charged by the Council of Chatham House with the investigation of specific problems." These study groups are generally made up of persons who are not members of the Milner Group, and their reports are frequently published by the Institute. In 1932 the Rockefeller Foundation gave the Institute a grant of £8000 a year for five years to advance the study-group method of research. This was extended for five years more in 1937.

In 1923, Lionel Curtis got a Canadian, Colonel R. W. Leonard, so interested in the work of the Institute that he bought Lord Kinnaird's house at 10 St. James Square as a home for the Institute. Since William Pitt had once lived in the building, it was named "Chatham House," a designation which is now generally applied to the Institute itself. The only condition of the grant was that the Institute should raise an endowment to yield at least £10,000 a year for upkeep. Since the building had no adequate assembly hall, Sir John Power, the honorary treasurer, gave £10,000 to build one on the rear. The building itself was renovated and furnished under the care of Mrs. Alfred Lyttelton, who, like her late husband but unlike her son, Oliver, was a member of the Milner Group.

The assumption of the title to Chatham House brought up a major crisis within the Institute when a group led by Professor A. F. Pollard (Fellow of All Souls but not a member of the Milner Group) opposed the acceptance of the gift because of the financial commitment involved. Curtis put on an organized drive to mobilize the Group and put the opposition to flight. The episode is mentioned in a letter from John Dove to Brand, dated 9 October 1923.

This episode opens up the whole question of the financial resources available to the Institute and to the Milner Group in general. Unfortunately, we cannot examine the subject here, but it should be obvious that a group with such connections as the Milner Group would not find it difficult to finance the RIIA. In general, the funds came from the various endowments, banks, and industrial concerns with which the Milner Group had relationships. The original money in 1919, only £200, came from Abe Bailey. In later years he added to this, and in 1928 gave £5000 a year in perpetuity on the condition that the Institute never accept members who were not British subjects. When Sir Abe died in 1940, the annual Report of the Council said: "With the passing of Sir Bailey the Council and all the members of Chatham House mourn the loss of their most munificent Founder." Sir Abe had paid various other expenses during the years. For example, when the Institute in November 1935 gave a dinner to General Smuts, Sir Abe paid the cost. All of this was done as a disciple of Lord Milner, for whose principles of imperial policy Bailey always had complete devotion.

Among the other benefactors of the Institute, we might mention the following. In 1926 the Carnegie United Kingdom Trustees (Hichens and Dame Janet Courtney) gave £3000 for books; the Bank of England gave £600; J. D. Rockefeller gave £3000. In 1929 pledges were obtained from about a score of important banks and corporations, promising annual grants to the Institute. Most of these had one or more members of the Milner Group on their boards of directors. Included in the group were the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company; the Bank of England; Barclay's Bank; Baring Brothers; the British American Tobacco Company; the British South Africa Company; Central Mining and Investment Corporation; Erlangers, Ltd; the Ford Motor Company; Hambros' Bank; Imperial Chemical Industries; Lazard Brothers; Lever Brothers; Lloyd's; Lloyd's Bank; the Mercantile and General Insurance Company; the Midland Bank; Reuters; Rothschild and Sons; Stern Brothers; Vickers-Armstrong; the Westminster Bank; and Whitehall Securities Corporation.

Since 1939 the chief benefactors of the Institute have been the Astor family and Sir Henry Price. In 1942 the latter gave £50,000 to buy the house next door to Chatham House for an expansion of the library (of which E. L. Woodward was supervisor). In the same year Lord Astor, who had been giving £2000 a year since 1937, promised £3000 a year for seven years to form a Lord Lothian Memorial Fund to promote good relations between the United States and Britain. At the same time, each of Lord Astor's four sons promised £1000 a year for seven years to the general fund of the Institute.

Chatham House had close institutional relations with a number of other similar organizations, especially in the Dominions. It also has a parallel organization, which was regarded as a branch, in New York. This latter, the Council on Foreign Relations, was not founded by the American group that attended the meeting at the Hotel Majestic in 1919, but was taken over almost entirely by that group immediately after its founding in 1919. This group was made up of the experts on the American delegation to the Peace Conference who were most closely associated with J. P. Morgan and Company. The Morgan bank has never made any real effort to conceal its position in regard to the Council on Foreign Relations. The list of officers and board of directors are printed in every issue of Foreign Affairs and have always been loaded with partners, associates, and employees of J. P. Morgan and Company. According to Stephen King-Hall, the RIIA agreed to regard the Council on Foreign Relations as its American branch. The relationship between the two has always been very close. For example, the publications of one are available at reduced prices to the members of the other; they frequently sent gifts of books to each other (the Council, for example, giving the Institute a seventy-five- volume set of the Foreign Relations of the United States in 1933); and there is considerable personal contact between the officers of the two (Toynbee, for example, left the manuscript of Volumes 7-9 of A Study of History in the Council's vault during the recent war).

Chatham House established branch institutes in the various Dominions, but it was a slow process. In each case the Dominion Institute was formed about a core consisting of the Round Table Group's members in that Dominion. The earliest were set up in Canada and Australia in 1927. The problem was discussed in 1933 at the first unofficial British Commonwealth relations conference (Toronto), and the decision made to extend the system to New Zealand, South Africa, India, and Newfoundland. The last-named was established by Zimmern on a visit there the same year. The others were set up in 1934- 1936.

As we have said, the members of the Dominion Institutes of International Affairs were the members of the Milner Group and their close associates. In Canada, for example, Robert L. Borden was the first president (1927-1931); N. W. Rowell was the second president; Sir Joseph Flavelle and Vincent Massey were vice-presidents; Glazebrook was honorary secretary; and Percy Corbett was one of the most important members. Of these, the first three were close associates of the Milner Group (especially of Brand) in the period of the First World War; the last four were members of the Group itself. When the Indian Institute was set up in 1936, it was done at the Viceroy's house at a meeting convened by Lord Willingdon (Brand's cousin). Robert Cecil sent a message, which was read by Stephen King-Hall. Sir Maurice Gwyer of All Souls became a member of the council. In South Africa, B. K. Long of the Kindergarten was one of the most important members. In the Australian Institute, Sir Thomas Bavin was president in 1934-1941, while F. W. Eggleston was one of its principal founders and vice-president for many years. In New Zealand, W. Downie Stewart was president of the Institute of International Affairs from 1935 on. Naturally, the Milner Group did not monopolize the membership or the official positions in these new institutes any more than they did in London, for this would have weakened the chief aim of the Group in setting them up, namely to extend their influence to wider areas.

Closely associated with the various Institutes of International Affairs were the various branches of the Institute of Pacific Relations. This was originally founded at Atlantic City in September 1924 as a private organization to study the problems of the Pacific Basin. It has representatives from eight countries with interests in the area. The representatives from the United Kingdom and the three British Dominions were closely associated with the Milner Group. Originally each country had its national unit, but by 1939, in the four British areas, the local Institute of Pacific Relations had merged with the local Institute of International Affairs. Even before this, the two Institutes in each country had practically interchangeable officers, dominated by the Milner Group. In the United States, the Institute of Pacific Relations never merged with the Council on Foreign Relations, but the influence of the associates of J. P. Morgan and other international bankers remained strong on both. The chief figure in the Institute of Pacific Relations of the United States was, for many years, Jerome D. Greene, Boston banker close to both Rockefeller and Morgan and for many years secretary to Harvard University.

The Institutes of Pacific Relations held joint meetings, similar to those of the unofficial conferences on British Commonwealth relations and with a similar group of delegates from the British member organizations. These meetings met every two years at first, beginning at Honolulu in 1925 and then assembling at Honolulu again (1927), at Kyoto (1929), at Shanghai (1931), at Banff (1933), and at Yosemite Park (1936). F. W. Eggleston, of Australia and the Milner Group, presided over most of the early meetings. Between meetings, the central organization, set up in 1927, was the Pacific Council, a self-perpetuating body. In 1930, at least five of its seven members were from the Milner Group, as can be seen from the following list:

The Pacific Council, 1930

Jerome D. Greene of the United States
F. W. Eggleston of Australia
N. W. Rowell of Canada
D. Z. T. Yui of China
Lionel Curtis of the United Kingdom
I. Nitobe of Japan
Sir James Allen of New Zealand


The close relationships among all these organizations can be seen from a tour of inspection which Lionel Curtis and Ivison S. Macadam (secretary of Chatham House, in succession to F. B. Bourdillon, since 1929) made in 1938. They not only visited the Institutes of International Affairs of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada but attended the Princeton meeting of the Pacific Council of the IPR. Then they separated, Curtis going to New York to address the dinner of the Council on Foreign Relations and visit the Carnegie Foundation, while Macadam went to Washington to visit the Carnegie Endowment and the Brookings Institution.

Through the League of Nations, where the influence of the Milner Group was very great, the RIIA was able to extend its intellectual influence into countries outside the Commonwealth. This was done, for example, through the Intellectual Cooperation Organization of the League of Nations. This Organization consisted of two chief parts: (a) The International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation, an advisory body; and (b) The International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation, an executive organ of the Committee, with headquarters in Paris. The International Committee had about twenty members from various countries; Gilbert Murray was its chief founder and was chairman from 1928 to its disbandment in 1945. The International Institute was established by the French government and handed over to the League of Nations (1926). Its director was always a Frenchman, but its deputy director and guiding spirit was Alfred Zimmern from 1926 to 1930. It also had a board of directors of six persons; Gilbert Murray was one of these from 1926.

It is interesting to note that from 1931 to 1939 the Indian representative on the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation was Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. In 1931 he was George V Professor of Philosophy at Calcutta University. His subsequent career is interesting. He was knighted in 1931, became Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at Oxford in 1936, and became a Fellow of All Souls in 1944.

Beginning in 1928 at Berlin, Professor Zimmern organized annual round-table discussion meetings under the auspices of the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation. These were called the International Studies Conferences and devoted themselves to an effort to obtain different national points of view on international problems. The members of the Studies Conferences were twenty-five organizations. Twenty of these were Coordinating Committees created for the purpose in twenty different countries. The other five were the following international organizations: The Academy of International Law at The Hague; The European Center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; the Geneva School of International Studies; the Graduate Institute of International Studies at Geneva; the Institute of Pacific Relations. In two of these five, the influence of the Milner Group and its close allies was preponderant. In addition, the influence of the Group was decisive in the Coordinating Committees within the British Commonwealth, especially in the British Coordinating Committee for International Studies. The members of this committee were named by four agencies, three of which were controlled by the Milner Group. They were: (1) the RIIA, (2) the London School of Economics and Political Science, (3) the Department of International Politics at University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and (4) the Montague Burton Chair of International Relations at Oxford. We have already indicated that the Montague Burton Chair was largely controlled by the Milner Group, since the Group always had a preponderance on the board of electors to that chair. This was apparently not assured by the original structure of this board, and it was changed in the middle 1930s. After the change, the board had seven electors: (1) the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, ex officio; (2) the Master of Balliol, ex officio; (3) Viscount Cecil of Chelwood; (4) Gilbert Murray, for life; (5) B. H. Sumner; (6) Sir Arthur Salter; and (7) Sir. J. Fischer Williams of New College. Thus, at least four of this board were members of the Group. In 1947 the electoral board to the Montague Burton Professorship consisted of R. M. Barrington-Ward (editor of The Times); Miss Agnes Headlam-Morley (daughter of Sir James Headlam-Morley of the Group); Sir Arthur Salter; R. C. K. Ensor; and one vacancy, to be filled by Balliol College. It was this board, apparently, that named Miss Headlam-Morley to the Montague Burton Professorship when E. L. Woodward resigned in 1947. As can be seen, the Milner Group influence was predominant, with only one member out of five (Ensor) clearly not of the Group.

The RIIA had the right to name three persons to the Coordinating Committee. Two of these were usually of the Milner Group. In 1933, for example, the three were Lord Meston, Clement Jones, and Toynbee.

The meetings of the International Studies Conferences were organized in a fashion identical with that used in other meetings controlled by the Milner Group — for example, in the unofficial conferences on British Commonwealth relations — and the proceedings were published by the Institute of Intellectual Cooperation in a similar way to those of the unofficial conferences just mentioned, except that the various speakers were identified by name. As examples of the work which the International Studies Conferences handled, we might mention that at the fourth and fifth sessions (Copenhagen in 1931 and Milan in 1932), they examined the problem of "The State and Economic Life"; at the seventh and eighth session (Paris in 1934 and London in 1935), they examined the problem of "Collective Security"; and at the ninth and tenth sessions (Madrid in 1936 and Paris 1937) they examined the problem of "University Teaching of International Relations."

In all of these conferences the Milner Group played a certain part. They could have monopolized the British delegations at these meetings if they had wished, but, with typical Milner Group modesty they made no effort to do so. Their influence appeared most clearly at the London meeting of 1935. Thirty-nine delegates from fourteen countries assembled at Chatham House to discuss the problem of collective security. Great Britain had ten delegates. They were Dr. Hugh Dalton, Professor H. Lauterpacht, Captain Liddell Hart, Lord Lytton, Professor A. D. McNair, Professor C. A. W. Manning, Dr. David Mitrany, Rear Admiral H. G. Thursfield, Arnold J. Toynbee, and Professor C. K. Webster. In addition,
the Geneva School of International Studies sent two delegates: J. H. Richardson and A. E. Zimmern. The British delegation presented three memoranda to the conference. The first, a study of "Sanctions," was prepared by the RIIA and has been published since. The second, a study of "British Opinion on Collective Security," was prepared by the British Coordinating Committee. The third, a collection of "British Views on Collective Security," was prepared by the delegates. It had an introduction by Meston and nine articles, of which one was by G. M. Gathorne-Hardy and one by H. V. Hodson. Zimmern also presented a memorandum on behalf of the Geneva School. Opening speeches were made by Austen Chamberlain, Allen W. Dulles (of the Council on Foreign Relations), and Louis Eisenmann of the University of Paris. Closing speeches were made by Lord Meston, Allen Dulles, and Gilbert Murray. Meston acted as president of the conference, and Dulles as chairman of the study meetings. The proceedings were edited and published by a committee of two Frenchmen and A. J. Toynbee.

At the sessions on "Peaceful Change" in 1936-37, Australia presented one memorandum ("The Growth of Australian Population"). It was written by F. W. Eggleston and G. Packer. The United Kingdom presented fifteen memoranda. Eight of these were prepared by the RIIA, and seven by individuals. Of the seven individual works, two were written by members of All Souls who were also members of the Milner Group (C. A. Macartney and C. R. M. F. Cruttwell). The other five were written by experts who were not members of the Group (A. M. Carr-Saunders, A. B. Keith, D. Harwood, H. Lauterpacht, and R. Kuczynski).

In the middle 1930s the Milner Group began to take an interest in the problem of refugees and stateless persons, as a result of the persecutions of Hitler and the approaching closing of the Nansen Office of the League of Nations. Sir Neill Malcolm was made High Commissioner for German Refugees in 1936. The following year the RIIA began a research program in the problem. This resulted in a massive report, edited by Sir John Hope Simpson who was not a member of the Group and was notoriously unsympathetic to Zionism (1939). In 1938 Roger M. Makins was made secretary to the British delegation to the Evian Conference on Refugees. Mr. Makins' full career will be examined later. At this point it is merely necessary to note that he was educated at Winchester School and at Christ Church, Oxford, and was elected to a Fellowship at All Souls in 1925, when only twenty-one years old. After the Evian Conference (where the British, for strategic reasons, left all the responsible positions to the Americans), Mr. Makins was made secretary to the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees. He was British Minister in Washington from 1945 to 1947 and is now Assistant Under Secretary in the Foreign Office.

Before leaving the subject of refugees, we might mention that the chief British agent for Czechoslovakian refugees in 1938-1939 was R. J. Stopford, an associate of the Milner Group already mentioned.

At the time of the Czechoslovak crisis in September 1938, the RIIA began to act in an unofficial fashion as an adviser to the Foreign Office. When war began a year later, this was made formal, and Chatham House became, for all practical purposes, the research section of the Foreign Office. A special organization was established in the Institute, in charge of A. J. Toynbee, with Lionel Curtis as his chief support acting "as the permanent representative of the chairman of the Council, Lord Astor." The organization consisted of the press-clipping collection, the information department, and much of the library. These were moved to Oxford and set up in Balliol, All Souls, and Rhodes House. The project was financed by the Treasury, All Souls, Balliol, and Chatham House jointly. Within a brief time, the organization became known as the Foreign Research and Press Service (FRPS). It answered all questions on international affairs from government departments, prepared a weekly summary of the foreign press, and prepared special research projects. When Anthony Eden was asked a question in the House of Commons on 23 July 1941, regarding the expense of this project, he said that the Foreign Office had given it £53,000 in the fiscal year 1940-1941.

During the winter of 1939-1940 the general meetings of the Institute were held in Rhodes House, Oxford, with Hugh Wyndham generally presiding. The periodical International Affairs suspended publication, but the Bulletin of International News continued, under the care of Hugh Latimer and A. J. Brown. The latter had been an undergraduate at Oxford in 1933-1936, was elected a Fellow of All Souls in 1938, and obtained a D.Phil, in 1939. The former may be Alfred Hugh Latimer, who was an undergraduate at Merton from 1938 to 1946 and was elected to the foundation of the same college in 1946.

As the work of the FRPS grew too heavy for Curtis to supervise alone, he was given a committee of four assistants. They were G. N. Clark, H. J. Paton, C. K. Webster, and A. E. Zimmern. About the same time, the London School of Economics established a quarterly journal devoted to the subject of postwar reconstruction. It was called Agenda, and G. N. Clark was editor. Clark had been a member of All Souls since 1912 and was Chichele Professor of Economic History from 1931 to 1943. Since 1943 he has been Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge. Not a member of the Milner Group, he is close to it and was a member of the council of Chatham House during the recent war.

At the end of 1942 the Foreign Secretary (Eden) wrote to Lord Astor that the government wished to take the FRPS over completely. This was done in April 1943. The existing Political Intelligence Department of the Foreign Office was merged with it to make the new Research Department of the Ministry. Of this new department Toynbee was director and Zimmern deputy director.

This brief sketch of the Royal Institute of International Affairs does not by any means indicate the very considerable influence which the organization exerts in English- speaking countries in the sphere to which it is devoted. The extent of that influence must be obvious. The purpose of this chapter has been something else: to show that the Milner Group controls the Institute. Once that is established, the picture changes. The influence of Chatham House appears in its true perspective, not as the influence of an autonomous body but as merely one of many instruments in the arsenal of another power. When the influence which the Institute wields is combined with that controlled by the Milner Group in other fields — in education, in administration, in newspapers and periodicals — a really terrifying picture begins to emerge. This picture is called terrifying not because the power of the Milner Group was used for evil ends. It was not. On the contrary, it was generally used with the best intentions in the world — even if those intentions were so idealistic as to be almost academic. The picture is terrifying because such power, whatever the goals at which it may be directed, is too much to be entrusted safely to any group. That it was too much to be safely entrusted to the Milner Group will appear quite clearly in Chapter 12. No country that values its safety should allow what the Milner Group accomplished in Britain — that is, that a small number of men should be able to wield such power in administration and politics, should be given almost complete control over the publication of the documents relating to their actions, should be able to exercise such influence over the avenues of information that create public opinion, and should be able to monopolize so completely the writing and the teaching of the history of their own period.  
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

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Part 1 of 2

Chapter 11: India, 1911-1945

India was one of the primary concerns of both the Cecil Bloc and Milner Group. The latter probably devoted more time and attention to India than to any other subject. This situation reached its peak in 1919, and the Government of India Act of that year is very largely a Milner Group measure in conception, formation, and execution. The influence of the two groups is not readily apparent from the lists of Governors-general (Viceroys) and Secretaries of State for India in the twentieth century:

Viceroys

Lord Curzon, 1898-1905
Lord Minto, 1905-1910
Lord Hardinge of Penshurst, 1910-1916
Lord Chelmsford, 1916-1921
Lord Reading, 1921-1926
Lord Irwin, 1926-1931
Lord Willingdon, 1931-1936
Lord Linlithgow, 1936-1943

Secretaries of State

Lord George Hamilton, 1895-1903
St. John Brodrick, 1903-1908
John Morley, 1908-1910
Lord Crewe, 1910-1915
Austen Chamberlain, 1915-1917
Edward Montagu, 1917-1922
Lord Peel, 1922-1924
Lord Olivier, 1924
Lord Birkenhead, 1924-1928
Lord Peel, 1928-1929
Wedgwood Benn, 1929-1931
Samuel Hoare, 1931-1935
Lord Zetland, 1935-1940
Leopold Amery, 1940-1945


Of the Viceroys only one (Reading) is clearly of neither the Cecil Bloc nor the Milner Group; two were members of the Milner Group (Irwin and Willingdon); another was a member of both groups (Chelmsford); the rest were of the Cecil Bloc, although in two cases (Minto and Linlithgow) in a rather peripheral fashion. Three of the eight were members of All Souls. According to Lord Esher, the appointment of Lord Hardinge in 1910 was made at his suggestion, by John Morley. At the time, Esher's son, the present Viscount Esher, was acting as unpaid private secretary to Morley, a position he held for five years (1905-1910). From the same source we learn that the Viceroyship was offered to Selborne in 1903 and to Esher himself in 1908. The former failed of appointment because Curzon refused to retire, while the latter rejected the post as of too limited influence.

Of the thirteen Secretaries of State, two were Labour and two Liberals. One of these latter (Morley) was close to the Milner Group. Of the other nine, three were of the Cecil Bloc (St. John Brodrick, Austen Chamberlain, and Lord Zetland), two were of the Milner Group (Hoare and Amery), and four were of neither group.

The political and constitutional history of India in the twentieth century consists largely of a series of investigations by various committees and commissions, and a second, and shorter, series of legislative enactments. The influence of the Milner Group can be discerned in both of these, especially in regard to the former.

Of the important commissions that investigated Indian constitutional questions in the twentieth century, every one has had a member of the inner circle of the Milner Group. The following list gives the name of the commission, the dates of its existence, the number of British members (in distinction from Indian members), the names of representatives from the Cecil Bloc and Milner Group (with the latter italicized), and the command number of its report:

1. The Royal Commission on Decentralization in India, 1907-1909, five members including W. L. Hichens (Cmd. 4360- of 1908).

2. The Royal Commission on Public Services in India, 1912-1915, nine members including Baron Islington, the Earl of Ronaldshay (later Marquess of Zetland), Sir Valentine Chirol, and H. A. L. Fisher. The chairman of this commission, Lord Islington, was later father-in-law to Sir Edward Grigg (Lord Altrincham) (Cmd. 8382 of 1916).

3. The Government of India Constitutional Reform Committee on Franchise, 1919, four members, including Malcolm Hailey.

4. The Government of India Constitutional Reform Committee on Functions, 1919, four members, including Richard Feetham as chairman.

5. The Joint Select Committee on the Government of India Bill, 1919, fourteen members, including Lord Selborne (chairman), Lord Midleton (St. John Brodrick), Lord Islington, Sir Henry Craik (whose son was in Milner's Kindergarten), and W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore (now Lord Harlech) (Cmd. 97 of 1919).

6. The Committee on Home Administration of Indian Affairs, 1919, eight members, including W. G A. Ormsby-Gore (Lord Harlech) (Cmd. 207 of 1919).

7. The Royal Commission on Superior Civil Services in India, 1923-1924, five members, including Lord Lee of Fareham as chairman and Reginald Coupland (Cmd. 2128 of 1924).

8. The Indian Statutory Commission, 1927-1930, seven members, with Sir John Simon as chairman (Cmd. 3568 and 3569 of 1930).

9. The Indian Franchise Committee, 1931-1932, eight members, including Lord Lothian as chairman and Lord Dufferin (whose brother, Lord Basil Blackwood, had been in Milner's Kindergarten) (Cmd. 4086 of 1932).

10. The three Indian Round Table Conferences of 1930-1932 contained a number of members of the Milner Croup. The first session (November 1930-January 1931) had eighty-nine delegates, sixteen from Britain, sixteen from the Indian States, and fifty- seven from British India. Formed as they were by a Labour government, the first two sessions had eight Labour members among the sixteen from Britain. The other eight were Earl Peel, the Marquess of Zetland, Sir Samuel Hoare, Oliver Stanley, the Marquess of Reading, the Marquess of Lothian, Sir Robert Hamilton, and Isaac Foot. Of these eight, two were of the Milner Croup (Hoare and Lothian) and two of the Cecil Bloc (Zetland and Stanley). The chief adviser to the Indian States Delegation was L. F. Rushbrook Williams of the Milner Group, who was named to his position by the Chamber of Princes Special Organization. Among the five officials called in for consultation by the conference, we find the name of Malcolm Hailey (Cmd. 3778).

The membership of delegations at the second session (September-December 1931) was practically the same, except that thirty-one additional members were added and Rushbrook Williams became a delegate as the representative of the Maharaja of Nawanagar (Cmd. 3997).

At the third session (November-December 1932) there were no Labour Party representatives. The British delegation was reduced to twelve. Four of these were of the Milner Group (Hoare, Simon, Lothian, and Irwin, now Halifax). Rushbrook Williams continued as a delegate of the Indian States (Cmd. 4238).

11. The Joint Select Committee on Indian Constitutional Reform, appointed in April 1933, had sixteen members from the House of Commons and an equal number of Lords. Among these were such members of the Milner Group as Sir Samuel Hoare, Sir John Simon, Lord Lothian, and Lord Irwin (Halifax). The Cecil Bloc was also well represented by Archbishop Lang of Canterbury, Austen Chamberlain, Lord Eustace Percy, Lord Salisbury, Lord Zetland, Lord Lytton, and Lord Hardinge of Penshurst.

12. The Cripps Mission, 1942, four members, including Reginald Coupland, who wrote an unofficial but authoritative book on the mission as soon as it returned to England (Cmd. 6350).


The chief legislative events in this period were five in number: the two Indian Councils Acts of 1892 and 1909, the two Government of India Acts of 1919 and 1935, and the achievement of self-government in 1947.

The Indian Councils Act of 1892 was put through the House of Commons by George Curzon, at that time Under Secretary in the India Office as the protege of Lord Salisbury, who had discovered him in All Souls nine years earlier. This act was important for two reasons: (1) it introduced a representative principle into the Indian government by empowering the Governor-General and Provincial Governors to seek nominations to the"unofficial" seats in their councils from particular Indian groups and associations; and (2) it accepted a "communal" basis for this representation by seeking these nominations separately from Hindus, Moslems, and others. From these two sources flowed ultimately self-government and partition, although it is perfectly evident that neither of these was anticipated or desired by the persons who supported the act.

The nominations for "unofficial" members of the councils provided in the Act of 1892 became elections in practice, because the Governor-General always accepted the suggested nominations as his nominees. This practice became law in the Act of 1909.

The Indian Councils Act of 1909 was passed under a Liberal government and was only remotely influenced by the Cecil Bloc or Milner Group. The Prime Minister, Asquith, was practically a member of the Cecil Bloc, being an intimate friend of Balfour and Rosebery. This relationship had been tightened when he married Margot Tennant, a member of "the Souls," in 1894. Margot Tennant's sister, Laura, had previously married Alfred Lyttelton, and both sisters had been intimate friends of Curzon and other members of "the Souls." Asquith had also been, as we have stated, a close associate of Milner's. Asquith, however, was never a member of the Milner Group. After 1890, and especially after 1915, he increasingly became a member of the Cecil Bloc. It was Balfour who persuaded Asquith to write his Memories and Reflections after he (Balfour) had discussed the matter with Margot Asquith over a tete-a-tete dinner. These dinners were a not infrequent occurrence on the evenings when Asquith himself dined at his club, Asquith usually stopping by later in the evening to get his wife and escort her home. Another indication of Asquith's feeling toward the Cecil Bloc can be found in his autobiography under the date 22 December 1919. On that occasion Asquith told Lady Hartington, daughter of Lord Salisbury, that he "had not expected to live to see the day when the best safeguard for true liberalism would be found in an unreformed House of Lords and the Cecil family."

In 1908-1909, however, the situation was somewhat different, and Asquith could hardly be called a member of the Cecil Bloc. In a somewhat similar situation, although much closer to the Milner Group (through H. A. L. Fisher and All Souls), was John Morley, the Secretary of State for India. Lord Minto, the Governor-General in India, was also a member of the Cecil Bloc in a peripheral fashion but held his appointment through a family claim on the Governor-Generalship rather than by favor of the Cecils.

The Act of 1909, however, while not a product of the groups with which we are concerned, was formed in the same social tradition, drawn up from the same intellectual and social outlook, and put into effect in the same fashion. It legalized the principle of election (rather than nomination) to Indian councils, enlarged their membership to provide majorities of non-officials in the provincial councils, and gave them the power to discuss affairs and pass resolutions. The seats were allotted to communal groups, with the minorities (like Moslems and Sikhs) receiving more than their proportionate share and the Moslems having, in addition, a separate electorate for the incumbents of Moslem seats. This served to encourage extremism among the Moslems and, while a logical development of 1892, was a long step on the road to Pakistan. This Act of 1909 was, as we have mentioned, put through the House of Commons by Sir Thomas Buchanan, a Fellow of All Souls and an associate of the Cecil Bloc.

The Government of India Act of 1919 is outstanding in many ways. It is the most drastic and most important reform made in Indian government in the whole period from 1861 to the achievement of self-government. Its provisions for the central government of India remained in force, with only slight changes, from 1919 to 1946. It is the only one of these acts whose "secret" legislative background is no longer a secret. And it is the only one which indicated a desire on the part of the British government to establish in India a responsible government patterned on that in Britain.

The legislative history of the Act of 1919 as generally known is simple enough. It runs as follows. In August 1917 the Secretary of State for India, Edwin S. Montagu, issued a statement which read: "The policy of H.M. Government, with which the Government of India are in complete accord, is that of the increasing association of Indians in every branch of the administration and the gradual development of self-government institutions with a view to the progressive realization of responsible government in India as an integral part of the British Empire." The critical word here is responsible government, since the prospect of eventual self-government had been held out to India for years. In accordance with this promise, Montagu visited India and, in cooperation with the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford, issued the Montagu-Chelmsford Report, indicating the direction of future policy. This report became the basis for the bill of 1918, which, after a certain amount of amendment by Lord Selborne's Joint Select Committee, came into force as the Government of India Act of 1919.

The secret history of this Act is somewhat different, and begins in Canada in 1909, when Lionel Curtis accepted from his friend William Marris the idea that responsible government on the British pattern should be extended to India. Two years later, Curtis formed a study group of six or eight persons within the London Round Table Group. We do not know for certain who were the members of the study group, but apparently it included Curtis, Kerr, Fisher, and probably Brand. To these were added three officials of the India Office. These included Malcolm Seton (Sir Malcolm after 1919), who was secretary to the Judicial Department of the India Office and joined Curtis's group about 1913; and Sir William Duke, who was Lieutenant Governor of Bengal in 1911-1912, senior member of the council of the Governor of Bengal in 1912-1914, and a member of the Council of India in London after 1914. At this last date he joined the Curtis group. Both of these men were important figures in the India Office later, Sir William as Permanent Under Secretary from 1920 to his death in 1924, and Sir Malcolm as Assistant Under Secretary (1919-1924) and Deputy Under Secretary (1924-1933). Sir Malcolm wrote the biographical sketch of Sir William in the Dictionary of National Biography, and also wrote the volume on The India Office in the Whitehall Series (1926). The third member from this same source was Sir Lionel Abrahams, Assistant Under Secretary in the India Office.

The Curtis study group was not an official committee, although some persons (both at the time and since) have believed it was. Among these persons would appear to be Lord Chelmsford, for in debate in the House of Lords in November 1927 he said:

"I came home from India in January 1916 for six weeks before I went out again as Viceroy, and, when I got home, I found that there was a Committee in existence at the India Office, which was considering on what lines future constitutional development might take place. That Committee, before my return in the middle of March gave me a pamphlet containing in broad outline the views which were held with regard to future constitutional development. When I reached India I showed this pamphlet to my Council and also to my noble friend, Lord Meston, who was then Lieutenant Governor of the United Provinces. It contained, what is now known as the diarchic principle.... Both the Council and Lord Meston, who was then Sir James Meston, reported adversely on the proposals for constitutional development contained in that pamphlet."


Lord Chelmsford then goes on to say that Austen Chamberlain combated their objections with the argument that the Indians must acquire experience in self- government, so, after the announcement to this effect was made publicly in August 1917, the officials in India accepted dyarchy.

If Lord Chelmsford believed that the pamphlet was an official document from a committee in the India Office, he was in error. The other side of the story was revealed by Lionel Curtis in 1920 in his book Dyarchy. According to Curtis, the study group was originally formed to help him write the chapter on India in the planned second volume of The Commonwealth of Nations. It set as its task "to enquire how self-government could be introduced and peacefully extended to India." The group met once a fortnight in London and soon decided on the dyarchy principle. This principle, as any reader of Curtis's writings knows, was basic in Curtis's political thought and was the foundation on which he hoped to build a federated Empire. According to Curtis, the study group asked itself: "Could not provincial electorates through legislatures and ministers of their own be made clearly responsible for certain functions of government to begin with, leaving all others in the hands of executives responsible as at present to the Government of India and the Secretary of State? Indian electorates, legislatures, and executives would thus be given a field for the exercise of genuine responsibility. From time to time fresh powers could be transferred from the old governments as the new elective authorities developed and proved their capacity for assuming them." From this point of view, Curtis asked Duke to draw up such "a plan of Devolution" for Bengal. This plan was printed by the group, circulated, and criticized in typical Milner Group fashion. Then the whole group went to Oxford for three days and met to discuss it in the old Bursary of Trinity College. It was then rewritten. "No one was satisfied." It was decided to circulate it for further criticism among the Round Table Groups throughout the world, but Lord Chelmsford wrote from New South Wales and asked for a copy. Apparently realizing that he was to be the next Viceroy of India, the group sent a copy to him and none to the Round Table Groups, "lest the public get hold of it and embarrass him." It is clear that Chelmsford was committed to a program of reform along these or similar lines before he went out as Viceroy. This was revealed in debate in the House of Lords by Lord Crewe on 12 December 1919.

After Chelmsford went to India in March 1916, a new, revised version of the study group's plan was drawn up and sent to him in May 1916. Another copy was sent to Canada to catch up with Curtis, who had already left for India by way of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This itinerary was undoubtedly followed by Curtis in order to consult with members of the Group in various countries, especially with Brand in Canada. On his arrival in India, Curtis wrote back to Kerr in London:

"The factor which impressed me most in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia was the rooted aversion these peoples have to any scheme which meant their sharing in the Government of India.... To these young democratic communities the principle of self- government is the breath of their nostrils. It is almost a religion. They feel as if there were something inherently wrong in one people ruling another. It is the same feeling as that which makes the Americans dislike governing the Philippines and decline to restore order in Mexico. My first impressions on this subject were strongly confirmed on my recent visit to these Dominions. I scarcely recall one of the numerous meetings I addressed at which I was not asked why India was not given self-government and what steps were being taken in that direction."


Apparently this experience strengthened Curtis's idea that India must be given responsible government. He probably felt that by giving India what it and the Dominions wanted for India, both would be bound in loyalty more closely to Britain. In this same letter to Kerr, Curtis said, in obvious reference to the Round Table Group:

"Our task then is to bring home to the public in the United Kingdom and the Dominions how India differs from a country like Great Britain on the one hand and from Central Africa on the other, and how that difference is now reflected in the character of its government. We must outline clearly the problems which arise from the contact of East and West and the disaster which awaits a failure to supply their adequate solution by realizing and expressing the principle of Government for which we stand. We must then go on to suggest a treatment of India in the general work of Imperial reconstruction in harmony with the facts adduced in the foregoing chapters. And all this must be done with the closest attention to its effects upon educated opinion here. We must do our best to make Indian Nationalists realize the truth that like South Africa all their hopes and aspirations are dependent on the maintenance of the British Commonwealth and their permanent membership therein."


This letter, written on 13 November 1916, was addressed to Philip Kerr but was intended for all the members of the Group. Sir Valentine Chirol corrected the draft, and copies were made available for Meston and Marris. Then Curtis had a thousand copies printed and sent to Kerr for distribution. In some way, the extremist Indian nationalists obtained a copy of the letter and published a distorted version of it. They claimed that a powerful and secret group organized about The Round Table had sent Curtis to India to spy out the nationalist plans in order to obstruct them. Certain sentences from the letter were torn from their context to prove this argument. Among these was the reference to Central Africa, which was presented to the Indian people as a statement that they were as uncivilized and as incapable of self-government as Central Africans. As a result of the fears created by this rumor, the Indian National Congress and the Moslem League formed their one and only formal alliance in the shape of the famous Lucknow Compact of 29 December 1916. The Curtis letter was not the only factor behind the Lucknow agreement, but it was certainly very influential. Curtis was present at the Congress meeting and was horrified at the version of his letter which was circulating. Accordingly, he published the correct version with an extensive commentary, under the title Letters to the People of India (1917). In this he said categorically that he believed: "(1) That it is the duty of those who govern the whole British Commonwealth to do anything in their power to enable Indians to govern themselves as soon as possible. (2) That Indians must also come to share in the government of the British Commonwealth as a whole." There can be no doubt that Curtis was sincere in this and that his view reflected, perhaps in an extreme form, the views of a large and influential group in Great Britain. The failure of this group to persuade the Indian nationalists that they were sincere is one of the great disasters of the century, although the fault is not entirely theirs and must be shared by others, including Gandhi.

In the first few months of 1917, Curtis consulted groups of Indians and individual British (chiefly of the Milner Group) regarding the form which the new constitution would take. The first public use of the word "dyarchy" was in an open letter of 6 April 1917, which he wrote to Bhupendra Nath Basu, one of the authors of the Lucknow Compact, to demonstrate how dyarchy would function in the United Provinces. In writing this letter, Curtis consulted with Valentine Chirol and Malcolm Hailey. He then wrote an outline, "The Structure of Indian Government," which was revised by Meston and printed. This was submitted to many persons for comment. He then organized a meeting of Indians and British at Lord Sinha's house in Darjeeling and, after considerable discussion, drew up a twelve-point program, which was signed by sixty-four Europeans and ninety Indians. This was sent to Chelmsford and to Montagu.

In the meantime, in London, preparations were being made to issue the historic declaration of 20 August 1917, which promised "responsible" government to India. There can be no doubt that the Milner Group was the chief factor in issuing that declaration. Curtis, in Dyarchy, says: "For the purpose of the private enquiry above described the principle of that pronouncement was assumed in 1915." It is perfectly clear that Montagu (Secretary of State in succession to Austen Chamberlain from June 1917) did not draw up the declaration. He drew up a statement, but the India Office substituted for it one which had been drawn up much earlier, when Chamberlain was still Secretary of State. Lord Ronaldshay (Lord Zetland), in the third volume of his Life of Curzon, prints both drafts and claims that the one which was finally issued was drawn up by Curzon. Sir Stanley Reed, who was editor of The Times of India from 1907 to 1923, declared at a meeting of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in 1926 that the declaration was drawn up by Milner and Curzon. It is clear that someone other than Curzon had a hand in it, and the strongest probability would be Milner, who was with Curzon in the War Cabinet at the time. The fact is that Curzon could not have drawn it up alone unless he was unbelievably careless, because, after it was published, he was horrified when the promise of "progressive realization of responsible government in India" was pointed out to him.

Montagu went to India in November 1917, taking Sir William Duke with him. Curtis, who had been moving about India as the guest of Stanley Reed, Chirol, Chelmsford, Meston, Marris, and others, was invited to participate in the Montagu-Chelmsford conferences on several occasions. Others who were frequently consulted were Hailey, Meston, Duke, and Chirol. The Montagu-Chelmsford Report was written by Sir William Marris of Milner's Kindergarten after Curtis had returned to England. Curtis wrote in Dyarchy in 1920: "It was afterwards suggested in the press that I had actually drafted the report. My prompt denial has not prevented a further complaint from many quarters that Lord Chelmsford and Mr. Montagu were unduly influenced by an irresponsible tourist.... With the exception of Lord Chelmsford himself I was possibly the only person in India with firsthand knowledge of responsible government as applied in the Dominions to the institutions of provinces. Whether my knowledge of India entitled me to advance my views is more open to question. Of this the reader can judge for himself. But in any case the interviews were unsought by me." Thus Curtis does not deny the accusation that he was chiefly responsible for dyarchy. It was believed at the time by persons in a position to know that he was, and these persons were both for and against the plan. On the latter side, we might quote Lord Ampthill, who, as a former acting Viceroy, as private secretary to Joseph Chamberlain, as Governor of Madras, and as brother-in-law of Samuel Hoare, was in a position to know what was going on. Lord Ampthill declared in the House of Lords in 1919: "The incredible fact is that, but for the chance visit to India of a globe- trotting doctrinaire, with a positive mania for constitution-mongering, nobody in the world would ever have thought of so peculiar a notion as Dyarchy. And yet the Joint Committee tells us in an airy manner that no better plan can be conceived."

The Joint Committee's favorable report on the Dyarchy Bill was probably not unconnected with the fact that five out of fourteen members were from the Cecil Bloc or Milner Group, that the chairman had in his day presided over meetings of the Round Table Groups and was regarded by them as their second leader, and that the Joint Committee spent most of its time hearing witnesses who were close to the Milner Group. The committee heard Lord Meston longer than any other witness (almost four days), spent a day with Curtis on the stand, and questioned, among others, Feetham, Duke, Thomas Holland (Fellow of All Souls from 1875 to his death in 1926), Michael Sadler (a close friend of Milner's and practically a member of the Group), and Stanley Reed. In the House of Commons the burden of debate on the bill was supported by Montagu, Sir Henry Craik, H. A. L. Fisher, W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore, and Thomas J. Bennett (an old journalist colleague of Lord Salisbury and principal owner of The Times of India from 1892). Montagu and Craik both referred to Lionel Curtis. The former said: "It is suggested in some quarters that this bill arose spontaneously in the minds of the Viceroy and myself without previous inquiry or consideration, under the influence of Mr. Lionel Curtis. I have never yet been able to understand that you approach the merits of any discussion by vain efforts to approximate to its authorship. I do not even now understand that India or the Empire owes anything more or less than a great debt of gratitude to the patriotic and devoted services Mr. Curtis has given to the consideration of this problem."

Sir Henry Craik later said: "I am glad to join in the compliment paid to our mutual friend, Mr. Lionel Curtis, who belongs to a very active, and a very important body of young men, whom I should be the last to criticize. I am proud to know him, and to pay that respect to him due from age to youth. He and others of the company of the Round Table have been doing good work, and part of that good work has been done in India."

Mr. Fisher had nothing to say about Lionel Curtis but had considerable to say about the bill and the Montagu-Chelmsford Report. He said: "There is nothing in this Bill which is not contained in that Report. That Report is not only a very able and eloquent State Paper, but it is also one of the greatest State Papers which have been produced in Anglo-Indian history, and it is an open-minded candid State Paper, a State Paper which does not ignore or gloss over the points of criticism which have since been elaborated in the voluminous documents which have been submitted to us." He added, a moment later: "This is a great Bill." (2) The Round Table, which also approved of the bill, as might be imagined, referred to Fisher's speech in its issue of September 1919 and called him "so high an authority." The editor of that issue was Lionel Curtis.

In the House of Lords there was less enthusiasm. Chief criticism centered on two basic points, both of which originated with Curtis: (1) the principle of dyarchy — that is, that government could be separated into two classes of activities under different regimes; and (2) the effort to give India "responsible" government rather than merely "self- government" — that is, the effort to extend to India a form of government patterned on Britain's. Both of these principles were criticized vigorously, especially by members of the Cecil Bloc, including Lord Midleton, Lord Lansdowne, Lord Selborne, Lord Salisbury, and others. Support for the bill came chiefly from Lord Curzon (Leader in the Upper House) and Lord Islington (Under Secretary in the India Office).

As a result of this extensive criticism, the bill was revised considerably in the Joint Committee but emerged with its main outlines unchanged and became law in December 1919. These main outlines, especially the two principles of "dyarchy" and "responsibility," were, as we have said, highly charged with Curtis's own connotations. These became fainter as time passed, both because of developments in India and because Curtis from 1919 on became increasingly remote from Indian affairs. The refusal of the Indian National Congress under Gandhi's leadership to cooperate in carrying on the government under the Act of 1919 persuaded the other members of the Group (and perhaps Curtis himself) that it was not possible to apply responsible government on the British model to India. This point of view, which had been stated so emphatically by members of the Cecil Bloc even before 1900, and which formed the chief argument against the Act of 1919 in the debates in the House of Lords, was accepted by the Milner Group as their own after 1919. Halifax, Grigg, Amery, Coupland, Fisher, and others stated this most emphatically from the early 1920s to the middle 1940s. In 1943 Grigg stated this as a principle in his book The British Commonwealth and quoted with approval Amery's statement of 30 March 1943 to the House of Commons, rejecting the British parliamentary system as suitable for India. Amery, at that time Secretary of State for India, had said: "Like wasps buzzing angrily up and down against a window pane when an adjoining window may be wide open, we are all held up, frustrated and irritated by the unrealized and unsuperable barrier of our constitutional prepossessions." Grigg went even further, indeed, so far that we might suspect that he was deprecating the use of parliamentary government in general rather than merely in India. He said:

"It is entirely devoid of flexibility and quite incapable of engendering the essential spirit of compromise in countries where racial and communal divisions present the principal political difficulty. The idea that freedom to be genuine must be accommodated to this pattern is deeply rooted in us, and we must not allow our statesmanship to be imprisoned behind the bars of our own experience. Our insistence in particular on the principle of a common roll of electors voting as one homogeneous electorate has caused reaction in South Africa, rebellion or something much too like it in Kenya, and deadlock in India, because in the different conditions of those countries it must involve the complete and perpetual dominance of a single race or creed."


Unfortunately, as Reginald Coupland has pointed out in his book, India, a Re- statement (1945), all agreed that the British system of government was unsuited to India, but none made any effort to find an indigenous system that would be suitable. The result was that the Milner Group and their associates relaxed in their efforts to prepare Indians to live under a parliamentary system and finally cut India loose without an indigenous system and only partially prepared to manage a parliamentary system.

This decline in enthusiasm for a parliamentary system in India was well under way by 1921. In the two year-interval from 1919 to 1921, the Group continued as the most important British factor in Indian affairs. Curtis was editor of The Round Table in this period and continued to agitate the cause of the Act of 1919. Lord Chelmsford remained a Viceroy in this period. Meston and Hailey were raised to the Viceroy's Executive Council. Sir William Duke became Permanent Under Secretary, and Sir Malcolm Seton became Assistant Under Secretary in the India Office. Sir William Marris was made Home Secretary of the Government of India and Special Reforms Commissioner in charge of setting up the new system. L. F. Rushbrook Williams was given special duty at the Home Department, Government of India, in connection with the reforms. Thus the Milner Group was well placed to put the new law into effect. The effort was largely frustrated by Gandhi's boycott of the elections under the new system. By 1921 the Milner Group had left Indian affairs and shifted its chief interest to other fields. Curtis became one of the chief factors in Irish affairs in 1921; Lord Chelmsford returned home and was raised to a Viscounty in the same year; Meston retired in 1919; Marris became Governor of Assam in 1921; Hailey became Governor of the Punjab in 1924; Duke died in 1924; and Rushbrook Williams became director of the Central Bureau of Information, Government of India, in 1920.

This does not indicate that the Milner Group abandoned all interest in India by 1924 or earlier, but the Group never showed such concentrated interest in the problem of India again. Indeed, the Group never displayed such concentrated interest in any problem either earlier or later, with the single exception of the effort to form the Union of South Africa in 1908-1909.

The decade 1919-1929 was chiefly occupied with efforts to get Gandhi to permit the Indian National Congress to cooperate in the affairs of government, so that its members and other Indians could acquire the necessary experience to allow the progressive realization of self-government. The Congress Party, as we have said, boycotted the elections of 1920 and cooperated in those of 1924 only for the purpose of wrecking them. Nonetheless, the system worked, with the support of moderate groups, and the British extended one right after another in steady succession. Fiscal autonomy was granted to India in 1921, and that country at once adopted a protective tariff, to the considerable injury of British textile manufacturing. The superior Civil Services were opened to Indians in 1924. Indians were admitted to Woolwich and Sandhurst in the same year, and commissions in the Indian Army were made available to them.

The appointment of Baron Irwin of the Milner Group to be Viceroy in 1926 — an appointment in which, according to A. C. Johnson's biography Viscount Halifax (1941), "the influence of Geoffrey Dawson and other members of The Times' editorial staff" may have played a decisive role — was the chief step in the effort to achieve some real progress under the Act of 1919 before that Act came under the critical examination of another Royal Commission, scheduled for 1929. The new Viceroy's statement of policy, made in India, 17 July 1926, was, according to the same source, embraced by The Times in an editorial "which showed in no uncertain terms that Irwin's policy was appreciated and underwritten by Printing House Square."

Unfortunately, in the period 1924-1931 the India Office was not in control of either the Milner Group or Cecil Bloc. For various reasons, of which this would seem to be the most important, coordination between the Secretary of State and the Viceroy and between Britain and the Indian nationalists broke down at the most crucial moments. The Milner Group, chiefly through The Times, participated in this situation in the period 1926-1929 by praising their man, Lord Irwin, and adversely criticizing the Secretary of State, Lord Birkenhead. Relationships between Birkenhead and the Milner (and Cecil) Group had not been cordial for a long time, and there are various indications of feuding from at least 1925. We may recall that in April 1925 a secret, or at least unofficial, "committee" of Milner Group and Cecil Bloc members had nominated Lord Milner for the post of Chancellor of Oxford University. Lord Birkenhead had objected both to the candidate and to the procedure. In regard to the candidate, he would have preferred Asquith. In regard to the procedure, he demanded to know by what authority this "committee" took upon itself the task of naming a chancellor to a university of which he (Lord Birkenhead) had been High Steward since 1922. This protest, as usual when Englishmen of this social level are deeply moved, took the form of a letter to The Times. It received a tart answer in a letter, written in the third person, in which he was informed that this committee had existed before the World War, and that, when it was reconstituted at the end of the war, Mr. F. E. Smith had been invited to be a member of it but had not seen fit even to acknowledge the invitation.
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

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Part 2 of 2

The bad relationship between the Milner Group and Lord Birkenhead was not the result of such episodes as this but rather, it would seem, based on a personal antipathy engendered by the character of Lord Birkenhead and especially by his indiscreet and undiplomatic social life and political activity. Nonetheless, Lord Birkenhead was a man of unquestioned vigor and ability and a man of considerable political influence from the day in 1906 when he had won a parliamentary seat for the Conservatives in the face of a great Liberal tidal wave. As a result, he had obtained the post of Secretary of State for India in November 1924 at the same time that Leopold Amery went to the Colonial Office. The episode regarding the Milner candidacy to the Oxford Chancellorship occurred six months later and was practically a direct challenge from Birkenhead to Amery, since at that time the latter was Milner's active political lieutenant and one of the chief movers in the effort to make him Chancellor.

Thus, in the period 1926-1929, the Milner Group held the Viceroy's post but did not hold the post of Secretary of State. The relationship between these two posts was such that good government could not be obtained without close cooperation between them. Such cooperation did not exist in this period. As far as the constitutional development was concerned, this lack of cooperation appeared in a tendency on the part of the Secretary of State to continue to seek a solution of the problem along the road marked by the use of a unilateral British investigatory commission, and a tendency on the part of Irwin (and the Milner Group) to seek a solution along the newer road of cooperative discussion with the Indians. These tendencies did not appear as divergent routes until after the Simon Commission had begun its labors, with the result that accumulating evidence that the latter road would be used left that unilateral commission in an unenviable position.

The Government of India Act of 1919 had provided that an investigation should be made of the functioning of the Act after it had been in effect for ten years. The growing unrest of the Indians and their failure to utilize the opportunities of the Act of 1919 persuaded many Englishmen (including most of the Milner Group) that the promised Statutory Commission should begin its work earlier than anticipated and should direct its efforts rather at finding the basis for a new constitutional system than at examining the obvious failure of the system provided in 1919.

The first official hint that the date of the Statutory Commission would be moved up was given by Birkenhead on 30 March 1927, in combination with some rather "arrogant and patronizing" remarks about Indian politics. The Times, while criticizing Birkenhead for his additional remarks, took up the suggestion regarding the commission and suggested in its turn "that the ideal body would consist of judicially minded men who were able to agree." This is, of course, exactly what was obtained. The authorized biography Viscount Halifax, whence these quotations have been taken, adds at this point: "It is interesting to speculate how far Geoffrey Dawson, the Editor, was again expressing Irwin's thoughts and whether a deliberate ballon d'essai was being put up in favor of Sir John Simon."

The Simon Commission was exactly what The Times had wanted, a body of "judicially minded men who were able to agree." Its chairman was the most expensive lawyer in England, a member of the Cecil Bloc since he was elected to All Souls in 1897, and in addition a member of the two extraordinary clubs already mentioned, Grillion's and The Club. Although he was technically a Liberal, his associations and inclinations were rather on the Conservative side, and it was no surprise in 1931 when he became a National Liberal and occupied one of the most important seats in the Cabinet, the Foreign Office. From this time on, he was closely associated with the policies of the Milner Group and, in view of his personal association with the leaders of the Group in All Souls, may well be regarded as a member of the Group. As chairman of the Statutory Commission, he used his legal talents to the full to draw up a report on which all members of the commission could agree, and it is no small example of his abilities that he was able to get an unanimous agreement on a program which in outline, if not in all its details, was just what the Milner Group wanted.

Of the six other members of the Commission, two were Labourite (Clement Attlee and Vernon Hartshorn). The others were Unionist or Conservative. Viscount Burnham of Eton and Balliol (1884) had been a Unionist supporter of the Cecil Bloc in Commons from 1885 to 1906, and his father had been made baronet and baron by Lord Salisbury. His own title of Viscount came from Lloyd George in 1919.

The fifth member of the Commission, Donald Palmer Howard, Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, of Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, had no special claim to fame except that he had been a Unionist M.P. in 1922-1926.

The sixth member, Edward Cecil Cadogan of Eton and Balliol (1904), was the sixth son of Earl Cadogan and thus the older brother of Sir Alexander Cadogan, British delegate to the United Nations. Their father, Earl Cadogan, grandnephew of the first Duke of Wellington, had been Lord Privy Seal in Lord Salisbury's second government and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in Salisbury's third government. Edward, who was knighted in 1939, had no special claim to fame except that he was a Unionist M.P. from 1922 to 1935 and was Chairman of the House of Commons under the National Government of 1931-1935.

The seventh member, George R. Lane-Fox (Baron Bingley since 1933) of Eton and New College, was a Unionist M.P. from 1906 to 1931 and Secretary of Mines from 1922 to 1928. He is a brother-in-law and lifelong friend of Lord Halifax, having married the Honourable Mary Wood in 1903.

The most extraordinary fact about the Simon Commission was the lack of qualification possessed by its members. Except for the undoubted advantages of education at Eton and Oxford, the members had no obvious claims to membership on any committee considering Indian affairs. Indeed, not one of the eight members had had any previous contact with this subject. Nevertheless, the commission produced an enormous two-volume report which stands as a monumental source book for the study of Indian problems in this period. When, to the lack of qualifications of its members, we add the fact that the commission was almost completely boycotted by Indians and obtained its chief contact with the natives by listening to their monotonous chants of "Simon, go back," it seems more than a miracle that such a valuable report could have emerged from their investigations. The explanation is to be found in the fact that they received full cooperation from the staff of the Government of India, including members of the Milner Group.

It is clear that by the end of 1928 the Milner Group, as a result of the strong Indian opposition to the Simon Commission, the internal struggle within that commission between Simon and Burnham (because of the latter's refusal to go as far as the former desired in the direction of concessions to the Indians), and their inability to obtain cooperation from the Secretary of State (as revealed in the steady criticism of Birkenhead in The Times), had decided to abandon the commission method of procedure in favor of a round-table method of procedure. It is not surprising that the Round Table Groups should prefer a roundtable method of procedure even in regard to Indian affairs, where many of the participants would have relatively little experience in the typical British procedure of agreement through conference. To the Milner Group, the round-table method was not only preferable in itself but was made absolutely necessary by the widespread Indian criticism of the Simon Commission for its exclusively British personnel. This restriction had been adopted originally on the grounds that only a purely British and purely parliamentary commission could commit Parliament in some degree to acceptance of the recommendations of the commission — at least, this was the defense of the restricted membership made to the Indians by the Viceroy on 8 November 1927. In place of this argument, the Milner Group now advanced a somewhat more typical idea, namely, that only Indian participation on a direct and equal basis could commit Indians to any plans for the future of India. By customary Milner Group reasoning, they decided that the responsibility placed on Indians by making them participate in the formulation of plans would moderate the extremism of their demands and bind them to participate in the execution of these plans after they were enacted into law. This basic idea — that if you have faith in people, they will prove worthy of that faith, or, expressed in somewhat more concrete terms, that if you give dissatisfied people voluntarily more than they expect and, above all, before they really expect to get it, they will not abuse the gift but will be sobered simultaneously by the weight of responsibility and the sweetness of gratitude — was an underlying assumption of the Milner Group's activities from 1901 to the present. Its validity was defended (when proof was demanded) by a historical example — that is, by contrasting the lack of generosity in Britain's treatment of the American Colonies in 1774 with the generosity in her treatment of the Canadian Colonies in 1839. The contrast between the "Intolerable Acts" and the Durham Report was one of the basic ideas at the back of the minds of all the important members of the Milner Group. In many of those minds, however, this assumption was not based on political history at all but had a more profound and largely unconscious basis in the teachings of Christ and the Sermon on the Mount. This was especially true of Lionel Curtis, John Dove, Lord Lothian, and Lord Halifax. Unless this idea is recognized, it is not possible to see the underlying unity behind the actions of the Group toward the Boers in 1901-1910, toward India in 1919 and 1935, and toward Hitler in 1934-1939.

These ideas as a justification of concessions to India are to be found in Milner Group discussions of the Indian problem at all periods, especially just before the Act of 1919. A decade later they were still exerting their influence. They will be found, for example, in The Round Table articles on India in September 1930 and March 1931. The earlier advocated the use of the round-table method but warned that it must be based on complete equality for the Indian members. It continued: "Indians should share equally with Great Britain the responsibility for reaching or failing to reach an agreement as to what the next step in Indian constitutional development should be. It is no longer a question, as we see it, of Great Britain listening to Indian representatives and then deciding for herself what the next Indian constitution should be.... The core of the round table idea is that representative Britons and representative Indians should endeavour to reach an agreement, on the understanding that if they can reach an agreement, each will loyally carry it through to completion, as was the case with Ireland in 1922." As seen by the Milner Group, Britain's responsibility was

"her obligation to help Indians to take maximum responsibility for India's government on their own shoulders, and to insist on their doing so, not only because it is the right thing in itself, but because it is the most certain antidote to the real danger of anarchy which threatens India unless Indians do learn to carry responsibility for government at a very early date There is less risk in going too fast in agreement and cooperation with political India than in going at a more moderate pace without its agreement and cooperation. Indeed, in our view, the most successful foundation for the Round Table Conference would be that Great Britain should ask the Indian delegates to table agreed proposals and then do her utmost to accept them and place on Indian shoulders the responsibility for carrying them into effect."


It is very doubtful if the Milner Group could have substituted the round-table method for the commission method in quite so abrupt a fashion as it did, had not a Labour government come to office early in 1929. As a result, the difficult Lord Birkenhead was replaced as Secretary of State by the much more cooperative Mr. Wedgewood Benn (Viscount Stansgate since 1941). The greater degree of cooperation which the Milner Group received from Benn than from Birkenhead may be explained by the fact that their hopes for India were not far distant from those held in certain circles of the Labour Party. It may also be explained by the fact that Wedgewood Benn was considerably closer, in a social sense, to the Milner Group than was Birkenhead. Benn had been a Liberal M.P. from 1906 to 1927; his brother Sir Ernest Benn, the publisher, had been close to the Milner Group in the Ministry of Munitions in 1916-1917 and in the Ministry of Reconstruction in 1917-1918; and his nephew John, oldest son of Sir Ernest, married the oldest daughter of Maurice Hankey in 1929. Whatever the cause, or combination of causes, Lord Irwin's suggestion that the round-table method be adopted was accepted by the Labour government. The suggestion was made when the Viceroy returned to London in June 1929, months before the Simon Report was drafted and a year before it was published. With this suggestion Lord Irwin combined another, that the government formally announce that its goal for India was "Dominion status." The plan leaked out, probably because the Labour government had to consult with the Liberal Party, on which its majority depended. The Liberals (Lord Reading and Lloyd George) advised against the announcement, but Irwin was instructed to make it on his return to India in October. Lord Birkenhead heard of the plan and wrote a vigorous letter of protest to The Times. When Geoffrey Dawson refused to publish it, it appeared in the Daily Telegraph, thus repeating the experience of Lord Lansdowne's even more famous letter of 1917.

Lord Irwin's announcement of the Round Table Conference and of the goal of Dominion status, made in India on 31 October 1929, brought a storm of protest in England. It was rejected by Lord Reading and Lloyd George for the Liberals and by Lord Birkenhead and Stanley Baldwin for the Conservatives. It is highly unlikely that the Milner Group were much disturbed by this storm. The reason is that the members of the Croup had already decided that "Dominion status" had two meanings — one meaning for Englishmen, and a second, rather different, meaning for Indians. As Lord Irwin wrote in a private memorandum in November 1929:

"To the English conception, Dominion Status now connotes, as indeed the word itself implies, an achieved constitutional position of complete freedom and immunity from interference by His Majesty's Government in London.... The Indian seems generally to mean something different. . . . The underlying element in much of Indian political thought seems to have been the desire that, by free conference between Great Britain and India, a constitution should be fashioned which may contain within itself the seed of full Dominion Status, growing naturally to its full development in accordance with the particular circumstances of India, without the necessity — the implications of which the Indian mind resents — of further periodic enquiries by way of Commission. What is to the Englishman an accomplished process is to the Indian rather a declaration of right, from which future and complete enjoyment of Dominion privilege will spring." (3)


This distinction, without any reference to Lord Irwin (whose memorandum was not published until 1941), was also made in the September 1930 issue of The Round Table. On this basis, for the sake of appeasement of India, the Milner Group was willing to promise India "Dominion status" in the Indian meaning of the expression and allow the English who misunderstood to cool off gradually as they saw that the development was not the one they had feared. Indeed, to the Milner Group, it probably appeared that the greater the rage in Britain, the greater the appeasement in India.

Accordingly, the first session of the Round Table Conference was called for November 1930. It marked an innovation not only because of the status of equality and responsibility which it placed on the Indians, but also because, for the first time, it tried to settle the problem of the Indian States within the same framework as it settled the constitutional problem of British India. This was a revolutionary effort, and its degree of success was very largely due to the preparatory work of Lord Irwin, acting on the advice of Malcolm Hailey.

The Indian States had remained as backward, feudalistic, and absolutist enclaves, within the territorial extent of British India and bound to the British Raj by individual treaties and agreements. As might be expected from the Milner Group, the solution which they proposed was federation. They hoped that devolution in British India would secure a degree of provincial autonomy that would make it possible to bind the provinces and the Indian States within the same federal structure and with similar local autonomy. However, the Group knew that the Indian States could not easily be federated with British India until their systems of government were raised to some approximation of the same level. For this reason, and to win the Princes over to federation, Lord Irwin had a large number of personal consultations with the Princes in 1927 and 1928. At some of these he lectured the Princes on the principles of good government in a fashion which came straight from the basic ideology of the Milner Group. The memorandum which he presented to them, dated 14 June 1927 and published in Johnson's biography, Viscount Halifax, could have been written by the Kindergarten. This can be seen in its definitions of the function of government, its emphasis on the reign of law, its advocacy of devolution, its homily on the duty of princes, its separation of responsibility in government from democracy in government, and its treatment of democracy as an accidental rather than an essential characteristic of good government.

The value of this preparatory work appeared at the first Round Table Conference, where, contrary to all expectations, the Indian Princes accepted federation. The optimism resulting from this agreement was, to a considerable degree, dissipated, however, by the refusal of Gandhi's party to participate in the conference unless India were granted full and immediate Dominion status. Refusal of these terms resulted in an outburst of political activity which made it necessary for Irwin to find jails capable of holding sixty thousand Indian agitators at one time.

The view that the Round Table Conference represented a complete repudiation of the Simon Commission's approach to the Indian problem was assiduously propagated by the Milner Group in order to prevent Indian animosity against the latter from being carried over against the former. But the differences were in detail, since in main outline both reflected the Group's faith in federation, devolution, responsibility, and minority rights. The chief recommendations of the Simon Commission were three in number: (1) to create a federation of British India and the Indian States by using the provinces of the former as federative units with the latter; (2) to modify the central government by making the Legislative Assembly a federal organization but otherwise leave the center unchanged; (3) to end dyarchy in the provinces by making Indians responsible for all provincial activities. It also advocated separation of Burma from India.

These were also the chief conclusions of the various Round Table Conferences and of the government's White Papers of December 1931 (Cmd. 3972) and of March 1933 (Cmd. 4268). The former was presented to Parliament and resulted in a debate and vote of confidence on the government's policy in India as stated in it. The attack was led by Winston Churchill in the Commons and by Lords Lloyd, Salisbury, Midleton, and Sumner in the House of Lords. None of these except Churchill openly attacked the government's policy, the others contenting themselves with advising delay in its execution. The government was defended by Samuel Hoare, John Simon, and Stanley Baldwin in the Commons and by Lords Lothian, Irwin, Zetland, Dufferin, and Hailsham, as well as Archbishop Lang, in the Lords. Lord Lothian, in opening the debate, said that while visiting in India in 1912 he had written an article for an English review saying that the Indian Nationalist movement "was essentially healthy, for it was a movement for political virtue and self-respect," although the Indian Civil Servant with whom he was staying said that Indian Nationalism was sedition. Lord Lothian implied that he had not changed his opinion twenty years later. In the Lower House the question came to a vote, which the government easily carried by 369 to 43. In the majority were Leopold Amery, John J. Astor, John Buchan, Austen Chamberlain, Viscount Cranborne, Samuel Hoare, W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore, Lord Eustace Percy, John Simon, and D. B. Somervell. In the minority were Churchill, George Balfour, and Viscount Wolmer.

Practically the same persons appeared on the same sides in the discussion regarding the White Paper of 1933. This document, which embodied the government's suggestions for a bill on Indian constitutional reform, was defended by various members of the Milner Group outside of Parliament, and anonymously in The Round Table. John Buchan wrote a preface to John Thompson's India: The White Paper (1933), in which he defended the extension of responsible government to India, saying, "We cannot exclude her from sharing in what we ourselves regard as the best." Samuel Hoare defended it in a letter to his constituents at Chelsea. Malcolm Hailey defended it before the Royal Empire Society Summer School at Oxford, in a speech afterwards published in The Asiatic Review. Hailey had resigned as Governor of the United Provinces in India in order to return to England to help the government put through its bill. During the long period required to accomplish this, Samuel Hoare, who as Secretary of State for India was the official government spokesman on the subject, had Hailey constantly with him as his chief adviser and support. It was this support that permitted Hoare, whose knowledge of India was definitely limited, to conduct his astounding campaign for the Act of 1935.

The White Paper of 1933 was presented to a Joint Select Committee of both Houses. It was publicly stated as a natural action on the part of the government that this committee be packed with supporters of the bill. For this reason Churchill, George Balfour, and Lord Wolmer refused to serve on it, although Josiah Wedgwood, a Labour Member who opposed the bill, asked to be put on the committee because it was packed.

The Joint Select Committee, as we have seen, had thirty-two members, of whom at least twelve were from the Cecil Bloc and Milner Group and supported the bill. Four were from the inner circles of the Milner Group. The chief witnesses were Sir Samuel Hoare; who gave testimony for twenty days; Sir Michael O'Dwyer, who gave testimony for four days; and Winston Churchill, who gave testimony for three days. The chief witness was thus Hoare, who answered 5594 questions from the committee. At all times Hoare had Malcolm Hailey at his side for advice. The fashion in which the government conducted the Joint Select Committee aroused a good deal of unfavorable comment. Lord Rankeillour in the House of Lords criticized this, especially the fashion in which Hoare used his position to push his point of view and to influence the evidence which the committee received from other witnesses. He concluded: "This Committee was not a judicial body, and its conclusions are vitiated thereby. You may say that on their merits they have produced a good or a bad Report, but what you cannot say is that the Report is the judicial finding of unbiased or impartial minds." As a result of such complaints, the House of Commons Committee on Privilege investigated the conduct of the Joint Select Committee. It found that Hoare's actions toward witnesses and in regard to documentary evidence could be brought within the scope of the Standing Orders of the House if a distinction were made between judicial committees and non-judicial committees and between witnesses giving facts and giving opinions. These distinctions made it possible to acquit Sir Samuel of any violation of privilege, but aroused such criticism that a Select Committee on Witnesses was formed to examine the rules for dealing with witnesses. In its report, on 4 June 1935, this Select Committee rejected the validity of the distinctions between judicial and non-judicial and between fact and opinion made by the Committee on Privilege, and recommended that the Standing Rules be amended to forbid any tampering with documents that had been received by a committee. The final result was a formal acquittal, but a moral condemnation, of Hoare's actions in regard to the Joint Select Committee on the Government of India.

The report of the Joint Select Committee was accepted by nineteen out of its thirty- two members. Nine voted against it (five Conservative and four Labour Members). A motion to accept the report and ask the government to proceed to draw up a bill based on it was introduced in the House of Lords by the President of the Board of Education, Lord Halifax (Lord Irwin), on 12 December 1934, in a typical Milner Group speech. He said: "As I read it, the whole of our British and Imperial experience shouts at us the warning that representative government without responsibility, once political consciousness has been aroused, is apt to be a source of great weakness and, not impossibly, great danger. We had not learned that lesson, let me remind the House, in the eighteenth century, and we paid very dearly for it. We learned it some sixty years later and, by having learned it, we transformed the face and history of Canada." Lord Salisbury once again advised delay, and attacked the idea that parliamentary government could work in India or indeed had worked anywhere outside the British Commonwealth. Lord Snell, speaking for the Labour opposition, objected to the lack of protection against economic exploitation for the Indian masses, the omission of any promise of Dominion status for India, the weighing of the franchise too heavily on the side of the landlords and too lightly on the side of women or of laborers, the provisions for a second chamber, and the use of indirect election for the first chamber. Lord Lothian answered both speakers, supporting only one criticism, that against indirect election to the central assembly. He made the significant statement that he did not fear to turn India over to the Congress Party of Gandhi because (1) "though I disagree with almost everything that they say in public and most of their political programme, I have a sneaking sympathy with the emotion which lies underneath them . . . the aspiration of young impetuous India anxious to take responsibility on its own shoulders"; and (2) "because I believe that the one political lesson, which has more often been realized in the British Commonwealth of Nations than anywhere else in the world, is that the one corrective of political extremism is to put responsibility upon the extremists, and, by these proposals, that is exactly what we are doing." These are typical Milner Group reasons.

In the debate, Halifax was supported by Archbishop Lang and Lords Zetland, Linlithgow, Midleton, Hardinge of Penshurst, Lytton, and Reading. Lord Salisbury was supported by Lords Phillimore, Rankeillour, Ampthill, and Lloyd. In the division, Salisbury's motion for delay was beaten by 239 to 62. In addition to the lords mentioned, the majority included Lords Dufferin, Linlithgow, Cranbrook, Cobham, Cecil of Chelwood, Goschen, Hampden, Elton, Lugard, Meston, and Wemyss, while the minority included Lords Birkenhead, Westminster, Carnock, Islington, and Leconfield. It is clear that the Milner Group voted completely with the majority, while the Cecil Bloc was split.

The bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 6 February 1935 by Sir Samuel Hoare. As was to be expected, his argument was based on the lessons to be derived from the error of 1774 and the success of 1839 in North America. The government's actions, he declared, were based on "plain, good intentions." He was mildly criticized from the left by Attlee and Sir Herbert Samuel; supported by Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland, Sir Edward Grigg, and others; and then subjected to a long-sustained barrage from Winston Churchill. Churchill had already revealed his opinion of the bill over the BBC when he said, on 29 January 1935, that it was "a monstrous monument of sham built by the pygmies." He continued his attack in a similar vein, with the result that almost every government speaker felt the need to caution him that his intemperance was hurting his own cause. From our point of view, his most interesting statement, and one which was not contradicted, said: "I have watched this story from its very unfolding, and what has struck me more than anything else about it has been the amazingly small number of people who have managed to carry matters to their present lamentable pitch. You could almost count them on the fingers of one hand. I have also been struck by the prodigious power which this group of individuals have been able to exert and relay, to use a mechanical term, through the vast machinery of party, of Parliament, and of patronage, both here and in the East. It is tragical that they should have been able to mislead the loyalties and use the assets of the Empire to its own undoing. I compliment them on their skill, and I compliment them also on their disciples. Their chorus is exceedingly well drilled." This statement was answered by Lord Eustace Percy, who quoted Lord Hugh Cecil on "profitable mendacity." This led to an argument, in which both sides appealed to the Speaker. Order was restored when Lord Eustace said of Churchill, "I would never impute to him . . . any intention of making a charge which he did not believe himself."

It is quite clear that Churchill believed his charge and was referring to what we have called the Milner Group, although he would not have known it under that name, nor would he have realized its extreme ramifications. He was merely referring to the extensive influence of that close group of associates which included Hoare, Hailey, Curtis, Lothian, Dawson, Amery, Grigg, and Halifax.

After four days of debate on the second reading, the opposition amendment was rejected by 404-133, and the bill passed to the committee stage. In the majority were Amery, Buchan, Grigg, Hoare, Ormsby-Gore, Simon, Sir Donald Somervell, and Steel- Maitland. The minority consisted of three ill-assorted groups: the followers of Churchill, the leaders of the Labour Party, and a fragment of the Cecil Bloc with a few others.

The Government of India Act of 1935 was the longest bill ever submitted to Parliament, and it underwent the longest debate in history (over forty days in Commons). In general, the government let the opposition talk itself out and then crushed it on each division. In the third reading, Churchill made his final speech in a tone of baneful warning regarding the future of India. He criticized the methods of pressure used by Hoare and said that in ten years' time the Secretary of State would be haunted by what had been done, and it could be said of him,

"God save thee, ancient Mariner,
From the fiends that plague thee thus.
Why look'st thou so?' With my cross-bow,
I shot the Albatross."


These somber warnings were answered by Leopold Amery, who opened his rejoinder with the words, "Here endeth the last chapter of the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah."

In the House of Lords the bill was taken through its various stages by Lord Zetland (who replaced Hoare as Secretary of State for India in June 1935), and the final speech for the government was from Halifax (recently made Secretary of State for War). The Act received the Royal Assent on 1 August 1935.

The Act never went into effect completely, and by 1939 the Milner Group was considering abandoning it in favor of complete self-government for India. The portions of the Act of 1935 dealing with the central government fell to the ground when the refusal of the Princes of the Indian States to accept the Act made a federal solution impossible. The provincial portion began to function in 1937, but with great difficulty because of the extremist agitation from the Congress Party. This party obtained almost half of the seats in the eleven provinces and had a clear majority in six provinces. The provincial governments, started in 1937, worked fairly well, and the emergency powers of the central governments, which continued on the 1919 model, were used only twice in over two years. When the war began, the Congress Party ordered its ministries to resign. Since the Congress Party members in the legislatures would not support non-Congress ministries, the decree powers of the Provincial Governors had to be used in those provinces with a Congress majority. In 1945 six out of the eleven provinces had responsible government.

From 1939 on, constitutional progress in India was blocked by a double stalemate: (1) the refusal of the Congress Party to cooperate in government unless the British abandoned India completely, something which could not be done while the Japanese were invading Burma; and (2) the growing refusal of the Moslem League to cooperate with the Congress Party on any basis except partition of India and complete autonomy for the areas with Moslem majorities. The Milner Group, and the British government generally, by 1940 had given up all hope of any successful settlement except complete self-government for India, but it could not give up to untried hands complete control of defense policy during the war. At the same time, the Milner Group generally supported Moslem demands because of its usual emphasis on minority rights.

During this period the Milner Group remained predominant in Indian affairs, although the Viceroy (Lord Linlithgow) was not a member of the Group. The Secretary of State for India, however, was Leopold Amery for the whole period 1940-1945. A number of efforts were made to reach agreement with the Congress Party, but the completely unrealistic attitude of the party's leaders, especially Gandhi, made this impossible. In 1941, H. V. Hodson, by that time one of the most important members of the Milner Group, was made Reforms Commissioner for India. The following year the most important effort to break the Indian stalemate was made. This was the Cripps Mission, whose chief adviser was Sir Reginald Coupland, another member of the inner circle of the Milner Group. As a result of the failure of this mission and of the refusal of the Indians to believe in the sincerity of the British (a skepticism that was completely without basis), the situation dragged on until after the War. The election of 1945, which drove the Conservative Party from office, also removed the Milner Group from its positions of influence. The subsequent events, including complete freedom for India and the division of the country into two Dominions within the British Commonwealth, were controlled by new hands, but the previous actions of the Milner Group had so committed the situation that these new hands had no possibility (nor, indeed, desire) to turn the Indian problem into new paths. There can be little doubt that with the Milner Group still in control the events of 1945-1948 in respect to India would have differed only in details.

The history of British relations with India in the twentieth century was disastrous. In this history the Milner Group played a major role. To be sure, the materials with which they had to work were intractable and they had inconvenient obstacles at home (like the diehards within the Conservative Party), but these problems were made worse by the misconceptions about India and about human beings held by the Milner Group. The bases on which they built their policy were fine — indeed, too fine. These bases were idealistic, almost Utopian, to a degree which made it impossible for them to grow and function and made it highly likely that forces of ignorance and barbarism would be released, with results exactly contrary to the desires of the Milner Group. On the basis of love of liberty, human rights, minority guarantees, and self- responsibility, the Milner Group took actions that broke down the lines of external authority in Indian society faster than any lines of internal self-discipline were being created. It is said that the road to perdition is paved with good intentions. The road to the Indian tragedy of 1947-1948 was also paved with good intentions, and those paving blocks were manufactured and laid down by the Milner Group. The same good intentions contributed largely to the dissolution of the British Empire, the race wars of South Africa, and the unleashing of the horrors of 1939-1945 on the world.

To be sure, in India as elsewhere, the Milner Group ran into bad luck for which they were not responsible. The chief case of this in India was the Amritsar Massacre of 1919, which was probably the chief reason for Gandhi's refusal to cooperate in carrying out the constitutional reforms of that same year. But the Milner Group's policies were self-inconsistent and were unrealistic. For example, they continually insisted that the parliamentary system was not fitted to Indian conditions, yet they made no real effort to find a more adaptive political system, and every time they gave India a further dose of self-government, it was always another dose of the parliamentary system. But, clinging to their beliefs, they loaded down this system with special devices which hampered it from functioning as a parliamentary system should. The irony of this whole procedure rests in the fact that the minority of agitators in India who wanted self- government wanted it on the parliamentary pattern and regarded every special device and every statement from Britain that it was not adapted to Indian conditions as an indication of the insincerity in the British desire to grant self-government to India.

A second error arises from the Milner Group's lack of enthusiasm for democracy. Democracy, as a form of government, involves two parts: (1) majority rule and (2) minority rights. Because of the Group's lack of faith in democracy, they held no brief for the first of these but devoted all their efforts toward achieving the second. The result was to make the minority uncompromising, at the same time that they diminished the majority's faith in their own sincerity. In India the result was to make the Moslem League almost completely obstructionist and make the Congress Party almost completely suspicious. The whole policy encouraged extremists and discouraged moderates. This appears at its worst in the systems of communal representation and communal electorates established in India by Britain. The Milner Group knew these were bad, but felt that they were a practical necessity in order to preserve minority rights. In this they were not only wrong, as proved by history, but were sacrificing principle to expediency in a way that can never be permitted by a group whose actions claim to be so largely dictated by principle. To do this weakens the faith of others in the group's principles.

The Group made another error in their constant tendency to accept the outcry of a small minority of Europeanized agitators as the voice of India. The masses of the Indian people were probably in favor of British rule, for very practical reasons. The British gave these masses good government through the Indian Civil Service and other services, but they made little effort to reach them on any human, intellectual, or ideological level. The "color line" was drawn — not between British and Indians but between British and the masses, for the educated upperclass Indians were treated as equals in the majority of cases. The existence of the color line did not bother the masses of the people, but when it hit one of the educated minority, he forgot the more numerous group of cases where it had not been applied to him, became anti-British and began to flood the uneducated masses with a deluge of anti-British propaganda. This could have been avoided to a great extent by training the British Civil Servants to practice racial toleration toward all classes, by increasing the proportion of financial expenditure on elementary education while reducing that on higher education, by using the increased literacy of the masses of the people to impress on them the good they derived from British rule and to remove those grosser superstitions and social customs which justified the color line to so many English. All of these except the last were in accordance with Milner Group ideas. The members of the Group objected to the personal intolerance of the British in India, and regretted the disproportionate share of educational expenditure which went to higher education (see the speech in Parliament of Ormsby-Gore, 11 December 1934), but they continued to educate a small minority, most of whom became anti-British agitators, and left the masses of the people exposed to the agitations of that minority. On principle, the Group would not interfere with the superstitions and grosser social customs of the masses of the people, on the grounds that to do so would be to interfere with religious freedom. Yet Britain had abolished suttee, child marriage, and thuggery, which were also religious in foundation. If the British could have reduced cow-worship, and especially the number of cows, to moderate proportions, they would have conferred on India a blessing greater than the abolition of suttee, child marriage, and thuggery together, would have removed the chief source of animosity between Hindu and Moslem, and would have raised the standard of living of the Indian people to a degree that would have more than paid for a system of elementary education.

If all of these things had been done, the agitation for independence could have been delayed long enough to build up an electorate capable of working a parliamentary system. Then the parliamentary system, which educated Indians wanted, could have been extended to them without the undemocratic devices and animadversions against it which usually accompanied any effort to introduce it on the part of the British.  
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

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Part 1 of 5

Chapter 12: Foreign Policy, 1919-1940

Any effort to write an account of the influence exercised by the Milner Group in foreign affairs in the period between the two World Wars would require a complete rewriting of the history of that period. This cannot be done within the limits of a single chapter, and it will not be attempted. Instead, an effort will be made to point out the chief ideas of the Milner Group in this field, the chief methods by which they were able to make those ideas prevail, and a few significant examples of how these methods worked in practice.

The political power of the Milner Group in the period 1919-1939 grew quite steadily. It can be measured by the number of ministerial portfolios held by members of the Group. In the first period, 1919-1924, they generally held about one-fifth of the Cabinet posts. For example, the Cabinet that resigned in January 1924 had nineteen members; four were of the Milner Group, only one from the inner circle. These four were Leopold Amery, Edward Wood, Samuel Hoare, and Lord Robert Cecil. In addition, in the same period other members of the Group were in the government in one position or another. Among these were Milner, Austen Chamberlain, H. A. L. Fisher, Lord Ernie, Lord Astor, Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland, and W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore. Also, relatives of these, such as Lord Onslow (brother-in-law of Lord Halifax), Captain Lane-Fox (brother-in-law of Lord Halifax), and Lord Greenwood (brother-in-law of Amery), were in the government.

In this period the influence of the Milner Group was exercised in two vitally significant political acts. In the first case, the Milner Group appears to have played an important role behind the scenes in persuading the King to ask Baldwin rather than Curzon to be Prime Minister in 1923. Harold Nicolson, in Curzon: The Last Phase (1934), says that Balfour, Amery, and Walter Long intervened with the King to oppose Curzon, and "the cumulative effect of these representations was to reverse the previous decision." Of the three names mentioned by Nicolson, two were of the Cecil Bloc, while the third was Milner's closest associate. If Amery did intervene, he undoubtedly did so as the representative of Milner, and if Milner opposed Curzon to this extent through Amery, he was in a position to bring other powerful influences to bear on His Majesty through Lord Esher as well as through Brand's brother, Viscount Hampden, a lord-in-waiting to the King, or more directly through Milner's son-in-law, Captain Alexander Hardinge, a private secretary to the King. In any case, Milner exercised a very powerful influence on Baldwin during the period of his first government, and it was on Milner's advice that Baldwin waged the General Election of 1924 on the issue of protection. The election manifesto issued by the party and advocating a tariff was written by Milner in consultation with Arthur Steel-Maitland.

In the period 1924-1929 the Milner Group usually held about a third of the seats in the Cabinet (seven out of twenty-one in the government formed in November 1924). These proportions were also held in the period 1935-1940, with a somewhat smaller ratio in the period 1931-1935. In the Cabinet that was formed in the fall of 1931, the Milner Group exercised a peculiar influence. The Labour Party under Ramsay MacDonald was in office with a minority government from 1929 to September 1931. Toward the end of this period, the Labour government experienced increasing difficulty because the deflationary policy of the Bank of England and the outflow of gold from the country were simultaneously intensifying the depression, increasing unemployment and public discontent, and jeopardizing the gold standard. In fact, the Bank of England's policy made it almost impossible for the Labour Party to govern. Without informing his Cabinet, Ramsay MacDonald entered upon negotiations with Baldwin and King George, as a result of which MacDonald became Prime Minister of a new government, supported by Conservative votes in Parliament. The obvious purpose of this intrigue was to split the Labour Party and place the administration back in Conservative hands.

In this intrigue the Milner Group apparently played an important, if secret, role. That they were in a position to play such a role is clear. We have mentioned the pressure which the bankers were putting on the Labour government in the period 1929-1931. The Milner Group were clearly in a position to influence this pressure. E. R. Peacock (Parkin's old associate) was at the time a director of the Bank of England and a director of Baring Brothers; Robert Brand, Thomas Henry Brand, and Adam Marris (son of Sir William Marris) were all at Lazard and Brothers; Robert Brand was also a director of Lloyd's Bank; Lord Selborne was a director of Lloyd's Bank; Lord Lugard was a director of Barclay's Bank; Major Astor was a director of Hambros Bank; and Lord Goschen was a director of the Westminster Bank.

We have already indicated the ability of the Milner Group to influence the King in respect to the choice of Baldwin as Prime Minister in 1923. By 1931 this power was even greater. Thus the Milner Group was in a position to play a role in the intrigue of 1931. That they may have done so is to be found in the fact that two of the important figures in this intrigue within the Labour Party were ever after closely associated with the Milner Group. These two were Malcolm MacDonald and Godfrey Elton.

Malcolm MacDonald, son and intimate associate of Ramsay MacDonald, clearly played an important role in the intrigue of 1931. He was rewarded with a position in the new government and has never been out of office since. These offices included Parliamentary Under Secretary in the Dominions Office (1931-1935), Secretary of State for the Dominions (1935-1938 and 1938-1939), Secretary of State for the Colonies (1935-and 1938-1940), Minister of Health (1940-1941), United Kingdom High Commissioner in Canada (1941-1946), Governor-General of Malaya and British South- East Asia (since 1946). Since all of these offices but one (Minister of Health) were traditionally in the sphere of the Milner Group, and since Malcolm MacDonald during this period was closely associated with the Group in its other activities, such as Chatham House and the unofficial British Commonwealth relations conferences, Malcolm MacDonald should probably be regarded as a member of the Group from about 1932 onward.

Godfrey Elton (Lord Elton since 1934), of Rugby and Balliol, was a Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford, from 1919, as well as lecturer on Modern History at Oxford. In this role Elton came in contact with Malcolm MacDonald, who was an undergraduate at Queen's in the period 1920-1925. Through this connection, Elton ran for Parliament on the Labour Party ticket in 1924 and again in 1929, both times without success. He was more successful in establishing himself as an intellectual leader of the Labour Party, capping this by publishing in 1931 a study of the early days of the party. As a close associate of the MacDonald family, he supported the intrigue of 1931 and played a part in it. For this he was expelled from the party and became honorary political secretary of the new National Labour Committee and editor of its News-Letter (1932-1938). He was made a baron in 1934, was on the Ullswater Committee on the Future of Broadcasting the following year, and in 1939 succeeded Lord Lothian as Secretary to the Rhodes Trustees. By his close association with the MacDonald family, he became the obvious choice to write the "official" life of J. R. (Ramsey) MacDonald, the first volume of which was published in 1939. In 1945 he published a history of the British Empire called Imperial Commonwealth.

After the election of 1935, the Milner Group took a substantial part in the government, with possession of seven places in a Cabinet of twenty-one seats. By the beginning of September of 1939, they had only five out of twenty-three, the decrease being caused, as we shall see, by the attrition within the Group on the question of appeasement. In the War Cabinet formed at the outbreak of the war, they had four out of nine seats. In this whole period from 1935 to 1940, the following members of the Group were associated with the government as officers of state: Halifax, Simon, Malcolm MacDonald, Zetland, Ormsby- Gore, Hoare, Somervell, Lothian, Hankey, Grigg, Salter, and Amery.

It would appear that the Milner Group increased its influence on the government until about 1938. We have already indicated the great power which they exercised in the period 1915-1919. This influence, while great, was neither decisive nor preponderant. At the time, the Milner Group was sharing influence with at least two other groups and was, perhaps, the least powerful of the three. It surely was less powerful than the Cecil Bloc, even as late as 1929, and was less powerful, perhaps, than the rather isolated figure of Lloyd George as late as 1922. These relative degrees of power on the whole do not amount to very much, because the three that we have mentioned generally agreed on policy. When they disagreed, the views of the Milner Group did not usually prevail. There were two reasons for this. Both the Cecil Bloc and Lloyd George were susceptible to pressure from the British electorate and from the allies of Britain. The Milner Group, as a non-elected group, could afford to be disdainful of the British electorate and of French opinion, but the persons actually responsible for the government, like Lloyd George, Balfour, and others, could not be so casual. As a consequence, the Milner Group were bitterly disappointed over the peace treaty with Germany and over the Covenant of the League of Nations. This may seem impossible when we realize how much the Group contributed to both of these. For they did contribute a great deal, chiefly because of the fact that the responsible statesmen generally accepted the opinion of the experts on the terms of the treaty, especially the territorial terms. There is only one case where the delegates overruled a committee of experts that was unanimous, and that was the case of the Polish Corridor, where the experts were more severe with Germany than the final agreement. The experts, thus, were of very great importance, and among the experts the Milner Group had an important place, as we have seen. It would thus seem that the Milner Group's disappointment with the peace settlement was largely criticism of their own handiwork. To a considerable extent this is true. The explanation lies in the fact that much of what they did as experts was done on instructions from the responsible delegates and the fact that the Group ever after had a tendency to focus their eyes on the few blemishes of the settlement, to the complete neglect of the much larger body of acceptable decisions. Except for this, the Group could have no justification for their dissatisfaction except as self-criticism. When the original draft of the Treaty of Versailles was presented to the Germans on 7 May 1919, the defeated delegates were aghast at its severity. They drew up a detailed criticism of 443 pages. The answer to this protest, making a few minor changes in the treaty but allowing the major provisions to stand, was drafted by an inter-allied committee of five, of which Philip Kerr was the British member. The changes that were made as concessions to the Germans were made under pressure from Lloyd George, who was himself under pressure from the Milner Group. This appears clearly from the minutes of the Council of Four at the Peace Conference. The first organized drive to revise the draft of the treaty in the direction of leniency was made by Lloyd George at a meeting of the Council of Four on 2 June 1919. The Prime Minister said he had been consulting with his delegation and with the Cabinet. He specifically mentioned George Barnes ("the only Labour representative in his Cabinet"), the South African delegation (who"were also refusing to sign the present Treaty"), Mr. Fisher ("whose views carried great weight"), Austen Chamberlain, Lord Robert Cecil, and both the Archbishops. Except for Barnes and the Archbishops, all of these were close to the Milner Group. The reference to H. A. L. Fisher is especially significant, for Fisher's views could "carry great weight" only insofar as he was a member of the Milner Group. The reference to the South African delegation meant Smuts, for Botha was prepared to sign, no matter what he felt about the treaty, in order to win for his country official recognition as a Dominion of equal status with Britain. Smuts, on the other hand, refused to sign from the beginning and, as late as 23 June 1919, reiterated his refusal (according to Mrs. Millen's biography of Smuts).

Lloyd George's objections to the treaty as presented in the Council of Four on 2 June were those which soon became the trademark of the Milner Group. In addition to criticisms of the territorial clauses on the Polish frontier and a demand for a plebiscite in Upper Silesia, the chief objections were aimed at reparations and the occupation of the Rhineland. On the former point, Lloyd George's advisers"thought that more had been asked for than Germany could pay." On the latter point, which "was the main British concern," his advisers were insistent. "They urged that when the German Army was reduced to a strength of 100,000 men it was ridiculous to maintain an army of occupation of 200,000 men on the Rhine. They represented that it was only a method of quartering the French Army on Germany and making Germany pay the cost. It had been pointed out that Germany would not constitute a danger to France for 30 years or even 50 years; certainly not in 15 years.... The advice of the British military authorities was that two years was the utmost limit of time for the occupation." To these complaints, Clemenceau had replied that "in England the view seemed to prevail that the easiest way to finish the war was by making concessions. In France the contrary view was held that it was best to act firmly. The French people, unfortunately, knew the Germans very intimately, and they believed that the more concessions we made, the more the Germans would demand.... He recognized that Germany was not an immediate menace to France. But Germany would sign the Treaty with every intention of not carrying it out. Evasions would be made first on one point and then on another. The whole Treaty would go by the board if there were not some guarantees such as were provided by the occupation." (1)

Under such circumstances as these, it seems rather graceless for the Milner Group to have started at once, as it did, a campaign of recrimination against the treaty. Philip Kerr was from 1905 to his death in 1940 at the very center of the Milner Group. His violent Germanophobia in 1908-1918, and his evident familiarity with the character of the Germans and with the kind of treaty which they would have imposed on Britain had the roles been reversed, should have made the Treaty of Versailles very acceptable to him and his companions, or, if not, unacceptable on grounds of excessive leniency. Instead, Kerr, Brand, Curtis, and the whole inner core of the Milner Group began a campaign to undermine the treaty, the League of Nations, and the whole peace settlement. Those who are familiar with the activities of the "Cliveden Set" in the 1930s have generally felt that the appeasement policy associated with that group was a manifestation of the period after 1934 only. This is quite mistaken. The Milner Group, which was the reality behind the phantom-like Cliveden Set, began their program of appeasement and revision of the settlement as early as 1919. Why did they do this?

To answer this question, we must fall back on the statements of the members of the Group, general impressions of their psychological outlook, and even a certain amount of conjecture. The best statement of what the Group found objectionable in the peace of 1919 will be found in a brilliant book of Zimmern's called Europe in Convalescence (1922). More concrete criticism, especially in regard to the Covenant of the League, will be found in The Round Table. And the general mental outlook of the Group in 1919 will be found in Harold Nicolson's famous book Peace-Making. Nicolson, although on close personal relationships with most of the inner core of the Milner Group, was not a member of the Group himself, but his psychology in 1918-1920 was similar to that of the members of the inner core.

In general, the members of this inner core took the propagandist slogans of 1914-1918 as a truthful picture of the situation. I have indicated how the Group had worked out a theory of history that saw the whole past in terms of a long struggle between the forces of evil and the forces of righteousness. The latter they defined at various times as "the rule of law" (a la Dicey), as "the subordination of each to the welfare of all," as "democracy," etc. They accepted Wilson's identification of his war aims with his war slogans ("a world safe for democracy," "a war to end wars," "a war to end Prussianism," "self- determination," etc.) as meaning what they meant by "the rule of law." They accepted his Fourteen Points (except "freedom of the seas") as implementation of these aims. Moreover, the Milner Group, and apparently Wilson, made an assumption which had a valid basis but which could be very dangerous if carried out carelessly. This was the assumption that the Germans were divided into two groups, "Prussian autocrats" and "good Germans." They assumed that, if the former group were removed from positions of power and influence, and magnanimous concessions were made to the latter, Germany could be won over on a permanent basis from "Asiatic despotism" to "Western civilization." In its main outlines, the thesis was valid. But difficulties were numerous.

In the first place, it is not possible to distinguish between "good" Germans and "bad" Germans by any objective criterion. The distinction certainly could not be based on who was in public office in 1914-1918. In fact, the overwhelming mass of Germans — almost all the middle classes, except a few intellectuals and very religious persons; a considerable portion of the aristocratic class (at least half); and certain segments of the working class (about one-fifth) — were "bad" Germans in the sense in which the Milner Group used that expression. In their saner moments, the Group knew this. In December 1918, Curtis wrote in The Round Table on this subject as follows: "No one class, but the nation itself was involved in the sin. There were Socialists who licked their lips over Brest-Litovsk. All but a mere remnant, and those largely in prison or exile, accepted or justified the creed of despotism so long as it promised them the mastery of the world. The German People consented to be slaves in their own house as the price of enslaving mankind." If these words had been printed and posted on the walls of All Souls, of Chatham House, of New College, of The Times office in Printing House Square, and of The Round Table office at 175 Piccadilly, there need never have been a Second World War with Germany. But these words were not remembered by the Group. Instead, they assumed that the "bad" Germans were the small group that was removed from office in 1918 with the Kaiser. They did not see that the Kaiser was merely a kind of facade for four other groups: The Prussian Officers' Corps, the Junker landlords, the governmental bureaucracy (especially the administrators of police and justice), and the great industrialists. They did not see that these four had been able to save themselves in 1918 by jettisoning the Kaiser, who had become a liability. They did not see that these four were left in their positions of influence, with their power practically intact — indeed, in many ways with their power greater than ever, since the new "democratic" politicians like Ebert, Scheidemann, and Noske were much more subservient to the four groups than the old imperial authorities had ever been. General Groner gave orders to Ebert over his direct telephone line from Kassel in a tone and with a directness that he would never have used to an imperial chancellor. In a word, there was no revolution in Germany in 1918. The Milner Group did not see this, because they did not want to see it. Not that they were not warned. Brigadier General John H. Morgan, who was almost a member of the Group and who was on the Inter- allied Military Commission of Control in Germany in 1919- 1923, persistently warned the government and the Group of the continued existence and growing power of the German Officers' Corps and of the unreformed character of the German people. As a graduate of Balliol and the University of Berlin (1897-1905), a leader-writer on The Manchester Guardian (1904-1905), a Liberal candidate for Parliament with Amery in 1910, an assistant adjutant general with the military section of the British delegation to the Peace Conference of 1919, the British member on the Prisoners of War Commission (1919), legal editor of The Encyclopedia Britannica (14th edition), contributor to The Times, reader in constitutional law to the Inns of Court (1926- 1936), Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of London, Rhodes Lecturer at London (1927-1932), counsel to the Indian Chamber of Princes (1934-1937), counsel to the Indian State of Gwalior, Tagore Professor at Calcutta (1939) — as all of these things, and thus close to many members of the Group, General Morgan issued warnings about Germany that should have been heeded by the Group. They were not. No more attention was paid to them than was paid to the somewhat similar warnings coming from Professor Zimmern. And the general, with less courage than the professor, or perhaps with more of that peculiar group loyalty which pervades his social class in England, kept his warnings secret and private for years. Only in October 1924 did he come out in public with an article in the Quarterly Review on the subject, and only in 1945 did he find a wider platform in a published book (Assize of Arms), but in neither did he name the persons who were suppressing the warnings in his official reports from the Military Commission.

In a similar fashion, the Milner Group knew that the industrialists, the Junkers, the police, and the judges were cooperating with the reactionaries to suppress all democratic and enlightened elements in Germany and to help all the forces of "despotism" and "sin" (to use Curtis's words). The Group refused to recognize these facts. For this, there were two reasons. One, for which Brand was chiefly responsible, was based on certain economic assumptions. Among these, the chief was the belief that "disorder" and social unrest could be avoided only if prosperity were restored to Germany as soon as possible. By "disorder," Brand meant such activities as were associated with Trotsky in Russia, Bela Kun in Hungary, and the Spartacists or Kurt Eisner in Germany. To Brand, as an orthodox international banker, prosperity could be obtained only by an economic system under the control of the old established industrialists and bankers. This is perfectly clear from Brand's articles in The Round Table, reprinted in his book, War and National Finance (1921). Moreover, Brand felt confident that the old economic groups could reestablish prosperity quickly only if they were given concessions in respect to Germany's international financial position by lightening the weight of reparations on Germany and by advancing credit to Germany, chiefly from the United States. This point of view was not Brand's alone. It dominated the minds of all international bankers from Thomas Lamont to Montague Norman and from 1918 to at least 1931. The importance of Brand, from out point of view, lies in the fact that, as "the economic expert" of the Milner Group and one of the leaders of the Group, he brought this point of view into the Group and was able to direct the great influence of the Group in this direction. (2)

Blindness to the real situation in Germany was also encouraged from another point of view. This was associated with Philip Kerr. Roughly, this point of view advocated a British foreign policy based on the old balance-of-power system. Under that old system, which Britain had followed since 1500, Britain should support the second strongest power on the Continent against the strongest power, to prevent the latter from obtaining supremacy on the Continent. For one brief moment in 1918, the Group toyed with the idea of abandoning this traditional policy; for one brief moment they felt that if Europe were given self-determination and parliamentary governments, Britain could permit some kind of federated or at least cooperative Europe without danger to Britain. The moment soon passed. The League of Nations, which had been regarded by the Group as the seed whence a united Europe might grow, became nothing more than a propaganda machine, as soon as the Group resumed its belief in the balance of power. Curtis, who in December 1918 wrote in The Round Table: "That the balance of power has outlived its time by a century and that the world has remained a prey to wars, was due to the unnatural alienation of the British and American Commonwealths" — Curtis, who wrote this in 1918, four years later (9 January 1923) vigorously defended the idea of balance of power against the criticism of Professor A. F. Pollard at a meeting of the RIIA.

This change in point of view was based on several factors. In the first place, the Group, by their practical experience at Paris in 1919, found that it was not possible to apply either self-determination or the parliamentary form of government to Europe. As a result of this experience, they listened with more respect to the Cecil Bloc, which always insisted that these, especially the latter, were intimately associated with the British outlook, way of life, and social traditions, and were not articles of export. This issue was always the chief bone of contention between the Group and the Bloc in regard to India. In India, where their own influence as pedagogues was important, the Group did not accept the Bloc's arguments completely, but in Europe, where the Group's influence was remote and indirect, the Group was more receptive.

In the second place, the Croup at Paris became alienated from the French because of the latter's insistence on force as the chief basis of social and political life, especially the French insistence on a permanent mobilization of force to keep Germany down and on an international police force with autonomous power as a part of the League of Nations. The Group, although they frequently quoted Admiral Mahan's kind words about force in social life, did not really like force and shrank from its use, believing, as might be expected from their Christian background, that force could not avail against moral issues, that force corrupts those who use it, and that the real basis of social and political life w as custom and tradition. At Paris the Group found that they were living in a different world from the French. They suddenly saw not only that they did not have the same outlook as their former allies, but that these allies embraced the "despotic" and "militaristic" outlook against which the late war had been waged. At once, the Group began to think that the influence which they had been mobilizing against Prussian despotism since 1907 could best be mobilized, now that Prussianism was dead, against French militarism and Bolshevism. And what better ally against these two enemies in the West and the East shall the newly baptized Germany? Thus, almost without realizing it, the Group fell back into the old balance-of-power pattern. Their aim became the double one of keeping Germany in the fold of redeemed sinners by concessions, and of using this revived and purified Germany against Russia and France. (3)

In the third place, the Group in 1918 had been willing to toy with the idea of an integrated Europe because, in 1918, they believed that a permanent system of cooperation between Britain and the United States was a possible outcome of the war. This was the lifelong dream of Rhodes, of Milner, of Lothian, of Curtis. For that they would have sacrificed anything within reason. When it became clear in 1920 that the United States had no intention of underwriting Britain and instead would revert to her prewar isolationism, the bitterness of disappointment in the Milner Group were beyond bounds. Forever after, they blamed the evils of Europe, the double-dealing of British policy, and the whole train of errors from 1919 to 1940 on the American reversion to isolationism. It should be clearly understood that by American reversion to isolationism the Milner Croup did not mean the American rejection of the League of Nations. Frequently they said that they did mean this, that the disaster of 1939-1940 became inevitable when the Senate rejected the League of Nations in 1920. This is completely untrue, both as a statement of historical fact and as a statement of the Group's attitude toward that rejection at the time. As we shall see in a moment, the Group approved of the Senate's rejection of the League of Nations, because the reasons for that rejection agreed completely with the Group's own opinion about the League. The only change in the Group's opinion, as a result of the Senate's rejection of the League, occurred in respect to the Group's opinion regarding the League itself. Previously they had disliked the League; now they hated it — except as a propaganda agency. The proofs of these statements will appear in a moment.

The change in the Group's attitude toward Germany began even before the war ended. We have indicated how the Group rallied to give a public testimonial of faith in Lord Milner in October 1918, when he became the target of public criticism because of what was regarded by the public as a conciliatory speech toward Germany. The Group objected violently to the anti-German tone in which Lloyd George conducted his electoral campaign in the "khaki election' of December 1918. The Round Table in March 1919 spoke of Lloyd George and "the odious character of his election campaign." Zimmern, after a devastating criticism of Lloyd George's conduct in the election, wrote: "He erred, not, like the English people, out of ignorance but deliberately, out of cowardice and lack of faith." In the preface to the same volume (Europe in Convalescence) he wrote: "Since December, 1918, when we elected a Parliament pledged to violate a solemn agreement made but five weeks earlier, we stand shamed, dishonoured, and, above all, distrusted before mankind." The agreement to which Zimmern referred was the so-called Pre-Armistice Agreement of 5 November 1918, made with the Germans, by which, if they accepted an armistice, the Allies agreed to make peace on the basis of the Fourteen Points. It was the thesis of the Milner Group that the election of 1918 and the Treaty of Versailles as finally signed violated this Pre- Armistice Agreement. As a result, the Group at once embarked on its campaign for revision of the treaty, a campaign whose first aim, apparently, was to create a guilty conscience in regard to the treaty in Britain and the United States. Zimmern's book, Brand's book of the previous year, and all the articles of The Round Table were but ammunition in this campaign. However, Zimmern had no illusions about the Germans, and his attack on the treaty was based solely on the need to redeem British honor. As soon as it became clear to him that the Group was going beyond this motive and was trying to give concessions to the Germans without any attempt to purge Germany of its vicious elements and without any guarantee that those concessions would not be used against everything the Group held dear, he left the inner circle of the Group and moved to the second circle. He was not convinced that Germany could be redeemed by concessions made blindly to Germany as a whole, or that Germany should be built up against France and Russia. He made his position clear in a brilliant and courageous speech at Oxford in May 1925, a speech in which he denounced the steady sabotage of the League of Nations. It is not an accident that the most intelligent member of the Group was the first member to break publicly with the policy of appeasement.

The Milner Group thus regarded the Treaty of Versailles as too severe, as purely temporary, and as subject to revision almost at once. When The Round Table examined the treaty in its issue of June 1919, it said, in substance: "The punishment of Germany was just, for no one can believe in any sudden change of heart in that country, but the treaty is too severe. The spirit of the Pre- Armistice Commitments was violated, and, in detail after detail, Germany was treated unjustly, although there is broad justice in the settlement as a whole. Specifically the reparations are too severe, and Germany's neighbors should have been forced to disarm also, as promised in Wilson's Fourth Point. No demand should have been made for William II as a war criminal. If he is a menace, he should be put on an island without trial, like Napoleon. Our policy must be magnanimous, for our war was with the German government, not with the German people." Even earlier, in December 1918, The Round Table said: "It would seem desirable that the treaties should not be long term, still less perpetual, instruments. Perpetual treaties are indeed a lien upon national sovereignty and a standing contradiction of the principle of the democratic control of foreign policy. ... It would establish a salutary precedent if the network of treaties signed as a result of the war were valid for a period of ten years only." In March 1920, The Round Table said: "Like the Peace Conference, the Covenant of the League of Nations aimed too high and too far. Six months ago we looked to it to furnish the means for peaceful revision of the terms of the peace, where revision might be required. Now we have to realize that national sentiment sets closer limits to international action than we were willing then to recognize." The same article then goes on to speak of the rejection of the treaty by the United States Senate. It defends this action and criticizes Wilson severely, saying: "The truth of the matter is that the American Senate has expressed the real sentiment of all nations with hard-headed truthfulness.... The Senate has put into words what has already been demonstrated in Europe by the logic of events — namely that the Peace of Versailles attempted too much, and the Covenant which guarantees it implies a capacity for united action between the Allies which the facts do not warrant. The whole Treaty was, in fact, framed to meet the same impractical desire which we have already noted in the reparation terms — the desire to mete out ideal justice and to build an ideal world."

Nowhere is the whole point of view of the Milner Group better stated than in a speech of General Smuts to the South African Luncheon Club in London, 23 October 1923. After violent criticism of the reparations as too large and an attack on the French efforts to enforce these clauses, he called for a meeting "of principals" to settle the problem. He then pointed out that a continuation of existing methods would lead to the danger of German disintegration, "a first-class and irreparable disaster.... It would mean immediate economic chaos, and it would open up the possibility of future political dangers to which I need not here refer. Germany is both economically and politically necessary to Central Europe." He advocated applying to Germany "the benevolent policy which this country adopted toward France after the Napoleonic War.... And if, as I hope she will do, Germany makes a last appeal ... I trust this great Empire will not hesitate for a moment to respond to that appeal and to use all its diplomatic power and influence to support her, and to prevent a calamity which would be infinitely more dangerous to Europe and the world than was the downfall of Russia six or seven years ago." Having thus lined Britain up in diplomatic opposition to France, Smuts continued with advice against applying generosity to the latter country on the question of French war debts, warning that this would only encourage "French militarism."

"Do not let us from mistaken motives of generosity lend our aid to the further militarization of the European continent. People here are already beginning to be seriously alarmed about French armaments on land and in the air. In addition to these armaments, the French government have also lent large sums to the smaller European States around Germany, mainly with a view to feeding their ravenous military appetites. There is a serious danger lest a policy of excessive generosity on our part, or on the part of America, may simply have the effect of enabling France still more effectively to subsidize and foster militarism on the Continent.... If things continue on the present lines, this country may soon have to start rearming herself in sheer self-defence."


This speech of Smuts covers so adequately the point of view of the Milner Group in the early period of appeasement that no further quotations are necessary. No real change occurred in the point of view of the Group from 1920 to 1938, not even as a result of the death of democratic hopes in Germany at the hands of the Nazis. From Smuts's speech of October 1923 before the South African Luncheon Club to Smuts's speech of November 1934 before the RIIA, much water flowed in the river of international affairs, but the ideas of the Milner Group remained rigid and, it may be added, erroneous. Just as the speech of 1923 may be taken as the culmination of the revisionist sentiment of the Group in the first five years of peace, so the speech of 1934 may be taken as the initiation of the appeasement sentiment of the Group in the last five years of peace. The speeches could almost be interchanged. We may call one revisionist and the other appeasing, but the point of view, the purpose, the method is the same. These speeches will be mentioned again later.

The aim of the Milner Group through the period from 1920 to 1938 was the same: to maintain the balance of power in Europe by building up Germany against France and Russia; to increase Britain's weight in that balance by aligning with her the Dominions and the United States; to refuse any commitments (especially any commitments through the League of Nations, and above all any commitments to aid France) beyond those existing in 1919; to keep British freedom of action; to drive Germany eastward against Russia if either or both of these two powers became a threat to the peace of Western Europe.

The sabotage of the peace settlement by the Milner Group can be seen best in respect to reparations and the League of Nations. In regard to the former, their argument appeared on two fronts: in the first place, the reparations were too large because they were a dishonorable violation of the Pre-Armistice Agreement; and, in the second place, any demand for immediate or heavy payments in reparation would ruin Germany's international credit and her domestic economic system, to the jeopardy of all reparation payments immediately and of all social order in Central Europe in the long run.

The argument against reparations as a violation of the Pre- Armistice Agreement can be found in the volumes of Zimmern and Brand already mentioned. Both concentrated their objections on the inclusion of pension payments by the victors to their own soldiers in the total reparation bill given to the Germans. This was, of course, an obvious violation of the Pre-Armistice Agreement, which bound the Germans to pay only for damage to civilian property. Strangely enough, it was a member of the Group, Jan Smuts, who was responsible for the inclusion of the objectionable items, although he put them in not as a member of the Group, but as a South African politician. This fact alone should have prevented him from making his speech of October 1923. However, love of consistency has never prevented Smuts from making a speech.

From 1921 onward, the Milner Group and the British government (if the two policies are distinguishable) did all they could to lighten the reparations burden on Germany and to prevent France from using force to collect reparations. The influence of the Milner Group on the government in this field may perhaps be indicated by the identity of the two policies. It might also be pointed out that a member of the Group, Arthur (now Sir Arthur) Salter, was general secretary of the Reparations Commission from 1920 to 1922. Brand was financial adviser to the chairman of the Supreme Economic Council (Lord Robert Cecil) in 1919; he was vice-president of the Brussels Conference of 1920; and he was the financial representative of South Africa at the Genoa Conference of 1922 (named by Smuts). He was also a member of the International Committee of Experts on the Stabilization of the German Mark in 1922. Hankey was British secretary at the Genoa Conference of 1922 and at the London Reparations Conference of 1924. He was general secretary of the Hague Conference of 1929-1930 (which worked out the detailed application of the Young Plan) and of the Lausanne Conference (which ended reparations).

On the two great plans to settle the reparations problem, the Dawes Plan of 1924 and the Young Plan of 1929, the chief influence was that of J. P. Morgan and Company, but the Milner Group had half of the British delegation on the former committee. The British members of the Dawes Committee were two in number: Sir Robert Molesworth (now Lord) Kindersley, and Sir Josiah (later Lord) Stamp. The former was chairman of the board of directors of Lazard Brothers and Company. Of this firm, Brand was a partner and managing director for many years. The instigation for the formation of this committee came chiefly from the parliamentary agitations of H. A. L. Fisher and John Simon in the early months of 1923.

The Milner Group was outraged at the efforts of France to compel Germany to pay reparations. Indeed, they were outraged at the whole policy of France: reparations, the French alliances in Eastern Europe, the disarmament of Germany, French "militarism," the French desire for an alliance with Britain, and the French desire for a long-term occupation of the Rhineland. These six things were listed in The Round Table of March 1922 as "the Poincare system." The journal then continued: "The Poincare system, indeed, is hopeless. It leads inevitably to fresh war, for it is incredible that a powerful and spirited people like the Germans will be content to remain forever meekly obeying every flourish of Marshal Foch's sword." Earlier, the reader was informed: "The system is impracticable. It assumes that the interests of Poland and the Little Entente are the same as those of France.... It forgets that the peoples of Europe cannot balance their budgets and recover prosperity unless they cut down their expenditures on armaments to a minimum.... It ignores the certainty that British opinion can no more tolerate a French military hegemony over Europe than it could a German or Napoleonic, with its menace to freedom and democracy everywhere."

When the French, in January 1923, occupied the Ruhr in an effort to force Germany to pay reparations, the rage of the Milner Group almost broke its bounds. In private, and in the anonymity of The Round Table, they threatened economic and diplomatic retaliation, although in public speeches, such as in Parliament, they were more cautious. However, even in public Fisher, Simon, and Smuts permitted their real feelings to become visible.

In the March 1923 issue The Round Table suggested that the reparations crisis and the Ruhr stalemate could be met by the appointment of a committee of experts (including Americans) to report on Germany's capacity to pay reparations. It announced that H. A. L. Fisher would move an amendment to the address to this effect in Parliament. This amendment was moved by Fisher on 19 February 1923, before The Round Table in question appeared, in the following terms:

"That this House do humbly represent to your Majesty that, inasmuch as the future peace of Europe cannot be safeguarded nor the recovery of reparations be promoted by the operations of the French and Belgian Governments in the Ruhr, it is urgently necessary to seek effective securities against aggression by international guarantees under the League of Nations, and to invite the Council of the League without delay to appoint a Commission of Experts to report upon the capacity of Germany to pay reparations and upon the best method of effecting such payments, and that, in view of the recent indication of willingness on the part of the Government of the United States of America to participate in a Conference to this end, the British representatives on the Council of the League should be instructed to urge that an invitation be extended to the American government to appoint experts to serve upon the Commission."


This motion had, of course, no chance whatever of passing, and Fisher had no expectation that it would. It was merely a propaganda device. Two statements in it are noteworthy. One was the emphasis on American participation, which was to be expected from the Milner Group. But more important than this was the thinly veiled threat to France contained in the words "it is urgently necessary to seek effective securities against aggression by international guarantees." This clause referred to French aggression and was the seed from which emerged, three years later, the Locarno Pacts. There were also some significant phrases, or slips of the tongue, in the speech which Fisher made in support of his motion. For example, he used the word "we" in a way that apparently referred to the Milner Group; and he spoke of "liquidation of the penal clauses of the Treaty of Versailles" as if that were the purpose of the committee he was seeking. He said: "We are anxious to get the amount of the reparation payment settled by an impartial tribunal. We propose that it should be remitted to the League of Nations.... But I admit that I have always had a considerable hesitation in asking the League of Nations to undertake the liquidation of the penal clauses of the Treaty of Versailles.... It is an integral part of this Amendment that the Americans should be brought in." Lord Robert Cecil objected to the amendment on the ground that its passage would constitute a censure of the government and force it to resign. John Simon then spoke in support of the motion. He said that France would never agree to any reparations figure, because she did not want the reparations clauses fulfilled, since that would make necessary the evacuation of the Rhineland. France went into the Ruhr, he said, not to collect reparations, but to cripple Germany; France was spending immense sums of money on military occupation and armaments but still was failing to pay either the principal or interest on her debt to Britain.

When put to a vote, the motion was defeated, 305 to 196. In the majority were Ormsby-Gore, Edward Wood, Amery, three Cecils (Robert, Evelyn, and Hugh), two Astors (John and Nancy), Samuel Hoare, Eustace Percy, and Lord Wolmer. In the minority were Fisher, Simon, and Arthur Salter.

By March, Fisher and Simon were more threatening to France. On the sixth of that month, Fisher said in the House of Commons: "I can only suggest this, that the Government make it clear to France, Germany, and the whole world that they regard this present issue between France and Germany, not as an issue affecting two nations, but as an issue affecting the peace and prosperity of the whole world. We should keep before ourselves steadily the idea of an international solution. We should work for it with all our power, and we should make it clear to France that an attempt to effect a separate solution of this question could not be considered otherwise than as an unfriendly act." Exactly a week later, John Simon, in a parliamentary maneuver, made a motion to cut the appropriation bill for the Foreign Office by £100 and seized the opportunity to make a violent attack on the actions of France. He was answered by Eustace Percy, who in turn was answered by Fisher.

In this way the Group tried to keep the issue before the minds of the British public and to prepare the way for the Dawes settlement. The Round Table, appealing to a somewhat different public, kept up a similar barrage. In the June 1923 issue, and again in September, it condemned the occupation of the Ruhr. In the former it suggested a three- part program as follows: (1) find out what Germany can pay, by an expert committee's investigation; (2) leave Germany free to work and produce, by an immediate evacuation of the Rhineland; and (3) protect France and Germany from each other [another hint about the future Locarno Pacts]. This program, according to The Round Table, should be imposed on France with the threat that if France did not accept it, Britain would withdraw from the Rhineland and Reparations Commissions and formally terminate the Entente. It concluded: "The Round Table has not hesitated in recent months to suggest that [British] neutrality . . . was an attitude inconsistent either with the honour or the interests of the British Commonwealth." The Round Table even went so far as to say that the inflation in Germany was caused by the burden of reparations. In the September 1923 issue it said (probably by the pen of Brand): "In the last two years it is not inflation which has brought down the mark; the printing presses have been engaged in a vain attempt to follow the depreciation of the currency. That depreciation has been a direct consequence of the world's judgment that the Allied claims for reparation were incapable of being met. It will continue until that judgment, or in other words, those claims are revised."
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

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Part 2 of 5

In October 1923, Smuts, who was in London for the Imperial Conference and was in close contact with the Group, made speeches in which he compared the French occupation of the Ruhr with the German attack on Belgium in 1914 and said that Britain "may soon have to start rearming herself in sheer self-defence" against French militarism. John Dove, writing to Brand in a private letter, found an additional argument against France in the fact that her policy was injuring democracy in Germany. He wrote:

"It seems to me that the most disastrous effect of Poincare's policy would be the final collapse of democracy in Germany, the risk of which has been pointed out in The Round Table. The irony of the whole situation is that if the Junkers should capture the Reich again, the same old antagonisms will revive and we shall find ourselves willy-nilly, lined up again with France to avert a danger which French action has again called into being. . . . Even if Smuts follows up his fine speech, the situation may have changed so much before the Imperial Conference is over that people who think like him and us may find ourselves baffled.... I doubt if we shall again have as good a chance of getting a peaceful democracy set up in Germany."


After the Dawes Plan went into force, the Milner Group's policies continued to be followed by the British government. The "policy of fulfillment" pursued by Germany under Stresemann was close to the heart of the Group. In fact, there is a certain amount of evidence that the Group was in a position to reach Stresemann and advise him to follow this policy. This was done through Smuts and Lord D'Abernon. There is little doubt that the Locarno Pacts were designed in the Milner Group and were first brought into public notice by Stresemann, at the suggestion of Lord D Abernon.

Immediately after Smuts made his speech against France in October 1923, he got in touch with Stresemann, presumably in connection with the South African Mandate in South-West Africa. Smuts himself told the story to Mrs. Millen, his authorized biographer, in these words:

"I was in touch with them [the Germans] in London over questions concerning German South-West. They had sent a man over from their Foreign Office to see me. (4) I can't say the Germans have behaved very well about German South-West, but that is another matter. Well, naturally, my speech meant something to this fellow. The English were hating the Ruhr business; it was turning them from France to Germany, the whole English-speaking world was hating it. Curzon, in particular, was hating it. Yet very little was being done to express all this feeling. I took it upon myself to express the feeling. I acted, you understand, unofficially. I consulted no one. But I could see my action would not be abhorrent to the Government — would, in fact, be a relief to them. When the German from the Foreign Office came to me full of what this sort of attitude would mean to Stresemann I told him I was speaking only for myself. "But you can see," I said, 'that the people here approve of my speech. If my personal advice is any use to you, I would recommend the Germans to give up their policy of non-cooperation, to rely on the goodwill of the world and make a sincere advance towards the better understanding which I am sure can be brought about.' I got in touch with Stresemann. Our correspondence followed those lines. You will remember that Stresemann's policy ended in the Dawes Plan and the Pact of Locarno and that he got the Nobel Peace for this work!"


In this connection it is worthy of note that the German Chancellor, at a Cabinet meeting on 12 November 1923, quoted Smuts by name as the author of what he (Stresemann) considered the proper road out of the crisis.

Lord D'Abernon was not a member of the Milner Group. He was, however, a member of the Cecil Bloc's second generation and had been, at one time, a rather casual member of "The Souls." This, it will be recalled, was the country-house set in which George Curzon, Arthur Balfour, Alfred Lyttelton, St. John Brodrick, and the Tennant sisters were the chief figures. Born Edgar Vincent, he was made Baron DAbernon in 1914 by Asquith who was also a member of "The Souls" and married Margot Tennant in 1894. DAbernon joined the Coldstream Guards in 1877 after graduating from Eton, but within a few years was helping Lord Salisbury to unravel the aftereffects of the Congress of Berlin. By 1880 he was private secretary to Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, brother of Lord Lansdowne and Commissioner for European Turkey. The following year he was assistant to the British Commissioner for Evacuation of the Territory ceded to Greece by Turkey. In 1882 he was the British, Belgian, and Dutch representative on the Council of the Ottoman Public Debt, and soon became president of that Council. From 1883 to 1889 he was financial adviser to the Egyptian government and from 1889 to 1897 was governor of the Imperial Ottoman Bank in Constantinople. In Salisbury's third administration he was a Conservative M.P. for Exeter (1899-1906). The next few years were devoted to private affairs in international banking circles close to Milner. In 1920 he was the British civilian member of the "Weygand mission to Warsaw." This mission undoubtedly had an important influence on his thinking. As a chief figure in Salisbury's efforts to bolster up the Ottoman Empire against Russia, D'Abernon had always been anti-Russian. In this respect, his background was like Curzon's. As a result of the Warsaw mission, D'Abernon's anti-Russian feeling was modified to an anti-Bolshevik one of much greater intensity. To him the obvious solution seemed to be to build up Germany as a military bulwark against the Soviet Union. He said as much in a letter of 1 1 August 1920 to Sir Maurice Hankey. This letter, printed by D'Abernon in his book on the Battle of Warsaw (The Eighteenth Decisive Battle of the World, published 1931), suggests that "a good bargain might be made with the German military leaders in cooperating against the Soviet." Shortly afterwards, D'Abernon was made British Ambassador at Berlin. At the time, it was widely rumored and never denied that he had been appointed primarily to obtain some settlement of the reparations problem, it being felt that his wide experience in international public finance would qualify him for this work. This may have been so, but his prejudices likewise qualified him for only one solution to the problem, the one desired by the Germans. (5)

In reaching this solution, D'Abernon acted as the intermediary among Stresemann, the German Chancellor; Curzon, the Foreign Secretary; and, apparently, Kindersley, Brand's associate at Lazard Brothers. According to Harold Nicolson in his book Curzon The Last Phase (1934), "The initial credit for what proved the ultimate solution belongs, in all probability, to Lord D'Abernon — one of the most acute and broad-minded diplomatists which this country has ever possessed." In the events leading up to Curzon's famous note to France of 1 1 August 1923, the note which contended that the Ruhr occupation could not be justified under the Treaty of Versailles, D'Abernon played an important role both in London and in Berlin. In his Diary of an Ambassador, DAbernon merely listed the notes between Curzon and France and added: "Throughout this controversy Lord D'Abernon had been consulted."

During his term as Ambassador in Berlin, DAbernon's policy was identical with that of the Milner Group, except for the shading that he was more anti-Soviet and less anti- French and was more impetuous in his desire to tear up the Treaty of Versailles in favor of Germany. This last distinction rested on the fact that DAbernon was ready to appease Germany regardless of whether it were democratic or not; indeed, he did not regard democracy as either necessary or good for Germany. The Milner Group, until 1929, was still in favor of a democratic Germany, because they realized better than DAbernon the danger to civilization from an undemocratic Germany. It took the world depression and its resulting social unrest to bring the Milner Group around to the view which DAbernon held as early as 1920, that appeasement to an undemocratic Germany could be used as a weapon against "social disorder."

Brigadier General J. H. Morgan, whom we have already quoted, makes perfectly clear that DAbernon was one of the chief obstacles in the path of the Inter-allied Commission's efforts to force Germany to disarm. In 1920, when von Seeckt, Commander of the German Army, sought modifications of the disarmament rules which would have permitted large-scale evasion of their provisions, General Morgan found it impossible to get his dissenting reports accepted in London. He wrote in Assize of Arms: "At the eleventh hour I managed to get my reports on the implications of von Seeckt's plan brought to the direct notice of Mr. Lloyd George through the agency of my friend Philip Kerr who, after reading these reports, advised the Prime Minister to reject von Seeckt's proposals. Rejected they were at the Conference of Spa in July 1920, as we shall see, but von Seeckt refused to accept defeat and fell back on a second move." When, in 1921, General Morgan became "gravely disturbed" at the evasions of German disarmament, he wrote a memorandum on the subject. It was suppressed by Lord D'Abernon. Morgan added in his book: "I was not altogether surprised. Lord D'Abernon was the apostle of appeasement." In January 1923, this "apostle of appeasement" forced the British delegation on the Disarmament Commission to stop all inspection operations in Germany. They were never resumed, although the Commission remained in Germany for four more years, and the French could do nothing without the British members. (6)

Throughout 1923 and 1924, D'Abernon put pressure on both the German and the British governments to pursue a policy on the reparations question which was identical with that which Smuts was advocating at the same time and in the same quarters. He put pressure on the British government to follow this policy on the grounds that any different policy would lead to Stresemann's fall from office. This would result in a very dangerous situation, according to D'Abernon (and Stresemann), where Germany might fall into the control of either the extreme left or the extreme right. For example, a minute of a German Cabinet meeting of 2 November 1923, found by Eric Sutton among Stresemann's papers and published by him, said in part: "To the English Ambassador, who made some rather anxious enquiries, Stresemann stated that the maintenance of the state of siege was absolutely essential in view of the risk of a Putsch both from the Left and from the Right. He would use all his efforts to preserve the unity of the Reich.... Lord D'Abernon replied that his view, which was shared in influential quarters in London, was that Stresemann was the only man who could steer the German ship of State through the present troubled waters." Among the quarters in London which shared this view, we find the Milner Group.

The settlement which emerged from the crisis, the Dawes Plan and the evacuation of the Ruhr, was exactly what the Milner Group wanted. From that point on to the banking crisis of 1931, their satisfaction continued. In the years 1929-1931 they clearly had no direct influence on affairs, chiefly because a Labour government was in office in London, but their earlier activities had so predetermined the situation that it continued to develop in the direction they wished. After the banking crisis of 1931, the whole structure of international finance with which the Group had been so closely associated disappeared and, after a brief period of doubt, was replaced by a rapid growth of monopolistic national capitalism. This was accepted by the Milner Group with hardly a break in stride. Hichens had been deeply involved in monopolistic heavy industry for a quarter of a century in 1932. Milner had advocated a system of "national capitalism" with "industrial self-regulation" behind tariff walls even earlier. Amery and others had accepted much of this as a method, although they did not necessarily embrace Milner's rather socialistic goals. As a result, in the period 1931-1933, the Milner Group willingly liquidated reparations, war debts, and the whole structure of international capitalism, and embraced protection and cartels instead.

Parallel with their destruction of reparations, and in a much more direct fashion, the Milner Group destroyed collective security through the League of Nations. The Group never intended that the League of Nations should be used to achieve collective security. They never intended that sanctions, either military or economic, should be used to force any aggressive power to keep the peace or to enforce any political decision which might be reached by international agreement. This must be understood at the beginning. The Milner Group never intended that the League should be used as an instrument of collective security or that sanctions should be used as an instrument by the League. From the beginning, they expected only two things from the League: (1) that it could be used as a center for international cooperation in international administration in nonpolitical matters, and (2) that it could be used as a center for consultation in political matters. In regard to the first point, the Group regarded the League as a center for such activities as those previously exercised through the International Postal Union. In all such activities as this, each state would retain full sovereignty and would cooperate only on a completely voluntary basis in fields of social importance. In regard to the second point (political questions), no member of the Group had any intention of any state yielding any sliver of its full sovereignty to the League. The League was merely an agreement, like any treaty, by which each state bound itself to confer together in a crisis and not make war within three months of the submission of the question to consultation. The whole purpose of the League was to delay action in a crisis by requiring this period for consultation. There was no restriction on action after the three months. There was some doubt, within the Group, as to whether sanctions could be used to compel a state to observe the three months' delay. Most of the members of the Group said "no" to this question. A few said that economic sanctions could be used. Robert Cecil, at the beginning, at least, felt that political sanctions might be used to compel a state to keep the peace for the three months, but by 1922 every member of the Group had abandoned both political and economic sanctions for enforcing the three months' delay. There never was within the Group any intention at any time to use sanctions for any other purpose, such as keeping peace after the three-month period.

This, then, was the point of view of the Milner Group in 1919, as in 1939. Unfortunately, in the process of drawing up the Covenant of the League in 1919, certain phrases or implications were introduced into the document, under pressure from France, from Woodrow Wilson, and from other groups in Britain, which could be taken to indicate that the League might have been intended to be used as a real instrument of collective security, that it might have involved some minute limitation of state sovereignty, that sanctions might under certain circumstances be used to protect the peace. As soon as these implications became clear, the Group's ardor for the League began to evaporate, when the United States refused to join the League, this dwindling ardor turned to hatred. Nevertheless, the Group did not abandon the League at this point. On the contrary, they tightened their grip on it — in order to prevent any "foolish" persons from using the vague implications of the Covenant in an effort to make the League an instrument of collective security. The Group were determined that if any such effort as this were made, they would prevent it and, if necessary, destroy the League to prevent it. Only they would insist, in such a case, that the League was destroyed not by them but by the persons who tried to use it as an instrument of collective security.

All of this may sound extreme. Unfortunately, it is not extreme. That this was what the Group did to the League is established beyond doubt in history. That the Group intended to do this is equally beyond dispute. The evidence is conclusive.

The British ideas on the League and the British drafts of the Covenant were formed by four men, all close to the Milner Group. They were Lord Robert Cecil, General Smuts, Lord Phillimore, and Alfred Zimmern. For drafting documents they frequently used Cecil Hurst, a close associate, but not a member, of the Group. Hurst (Sir Cecil since 1920) was assistant legal adviser to the Foreign Office in 1902-1918, legal adviser in 1918-1929, a judge on the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague in 1929-1946, and Chairman of the United Nations War Crimes Commission in 1943-1944. He was the man responsible for the verbal form of Articles 10-16 (the sanction articles) of the Covenant of the League of Nations, for the Articles of Agreement with Ireland in 1921, and for the wording of the Locarno Pact in 1925. He frequently worked closely with the Milner Group. For example, in 1921 he was instrumental in making an agreement by which the British Yearbook of International Law, of which he was editor, was affiliated with the Royal Institute of International Affairs. At the time, he and Curtis were working together on the Irish agreement.

As early as 1916, Lord Robert Cecil was trying to persuade the Cabinet to support a League of Nations. This resulted in the appointment of the Phillimore Committee, which drew up the first British draft for the Covenant. As a result, in 1918-1919 Lord Robert became the chief government spokesman for a League of Nations and the presumed author of the second British draft. The real author of this second draft was Alfred Zimmern. Cecil and Zimmern were both dubious of any organization that would restrict state sovereignty. On 12 November 1918, the day after the armistice, Lord Robert made a speech at Birmingham on the type of League he expected. That speech shows clearly that he had little faith in the possibility of disarmament and none in international justice or military sanctions to preserve the peace. The sovereignty of each state was left intact. As W. E. Rappard (director of the Graduate School of International Studies at Geneva) wrote in International Conciliation in June 1927, "He [Lord Cecil] was very sceptical about the possibility of submitting vital international questions to the judgment of courts of law end 'confessed to the gravest doubts' as to the practicability of enforcing the decrees of such courts by any 'form of international force.' On the other hand, he firmly believed in the efficacy of economic pressure as a means of coercing a country bent on aggression in violation of its pacific agreements." It might be remarked in passing that the belief that economic sanctions could be used without a backing of military force, or the possibility of needing such backing, is the one sure sign of a novice in foreign politics, and Robert Cecil could never be called a novice in such matters. In the speech itself he said:

"The most important step we can now take is to devise machinery which, in case of international dispute, will, at the least, delay the outbreak of war, and secure full and open discussion of the causes of the quarrel. For that purpose ... all that would be necessary would be a treaty binding the signatories never to wage war themselves or permit others to wage war till a formal conference of nations had been held to enquire into, and, if possible, decide the dispute. It is probably true, at least in theory, that decisions would be difficult to obtain, for the decisions of such a conference, like all other international proceedings, would have to be unanimous to be binding. But since the important thing is to secure delay and open discussion, that is to say, time to enable public opinion to act and information to instruct it, this is not a serious objection to the proposal. Indeed, from one point of view, it is an advantage, since it avoids any interference with national sovereignty except the interposition of a delay in seeking redress by force of arms. This is the essential thing.... To that extent, and to that extent only, international coercion would be necessary."


This speech of Cecil's was approved by The Round Table and accepted as its own point of view in the issue of December 1918. At the same time, through Smuts, the Milner Group published another statement of its views. This pamphlet, called The League of Nations, a Practical Suggestion, was released in December 1918, after having been read in manuscript and criticized by the inner circle, especially Curtis. This statement devoted most of its effort to the use of mandates for captured German colonies. For preserving the peace, it had considerable faith in compulsory arbitration and hoped to combine this with widespread disarmament.

The Group's own statement on this subject appeared in the December 1918 issue of The Round Table in an article called "Windows of Freedom," written by Curtis. He pointed out that British sea-power had twice saved civilization and any proposal that it should be used in the future only at the request of the League of Nations must be emphatically rejected. The League would consist of fallible human beings, and England could never yield her decision to them. He continued: "Her own existence and that of the world's freedom are inseparably connected. ... To yield it without a blow is to yield the whole citadel in which the forces that make for human freedom are entrenched; to covenant to yield it is to bargain a betrayal of the world in advance.... [The League must not be a world government.] If the burden of a world government is placed on it it will fall with a crash." He pointed out it could be a world government only if it represented peoples and not states, and if it had the power to tax those peoples. It should simply be an interstate conference of the world.

"The Peace Conference . . . cannot hope to produce a written constitution for the globe or a genuine government of mankind. What it can do is establish a permanent annual conference between foreign ministers themselves, with a permanent secretariat, in which, as at the Peace Conference itself, all questions at issue between States can be discussed and, if possible, settled by agreement. Such a conference cannot itself govern the world, still less those portions of mankind who cannot yet govern themselves. But it can act as a symbol and organ of the human conscience, however imperfect, to which real governments of existing states can be made answerable for facts which concern the world at large."


In another article in the same issue of The Round Table ("Some Principles and Problems of the Settlement," December 1918), similar ideas were expressed even more explicitly by Zimmern. He stated that the League of Nations should be called the League of States, or the Interstate Conference, for sovereign states would be its units, and it would make not laws but contracts. "The League of Nations, in fact, is far from invalidating or diminishing national sovereignty, should strengthen and increase it.... The work before the coming age is not to supersede the existing States but to moralize them.... Membership must be restricted to those states where authority is based upon the consent of the people over whom it is exercised ... the reign of law.... It can reasonably be demanded that no States should be admitted which do not make such a consummation one of the deliberate aims of their policy." Under this idea, The Round Table excluded by name from the new League, Liberia, Mexico, "and above all Russia." "The League," it continued, "will not simply be a League of States, it will be a League of Commonwealths." As its hopes in the League dwindled, The Round Table became less exclusive, and, in June 1919, it declared, "without Germany or Russia the League of Nations will be dangerously incomplete."

In the March 1919 issue, The Round Table described in detail the kind of League it wanted — "a common clearing house for noncontentious business." Its whole basis was to be "public opinion," and its organization was to be that of "an assembly point of bureaucrats of various countries" about an international secretariat and various organizations like the International Postal Union or the International Institute of Agriculture.

"Every great department of government in each country whose activities touch those of similar departments in other countries should have its recognized delegates on a permanent international commission charged with the study of the sphere of international relations in question and with the duty of making recommendations to their various Governments. . . . Across the street, as it were, from these permanent Bureaux, at the capital of the League, there should be another central permanent Bureau ... an International secretariat.... They must not be national ambassadors, but civil servants under the sole direction of a non-national chancellor; and the aim of the whole organization . . . must be to evolve a practical international sense, a sense of common service."


This plan regarded the Council of the League as the successor of the Supreme War Council, made up of premiers and foreign ministers, and the instrument for dealing with political questions in a purely consultative way. Accordingly, the Council would consist only of the Great Powers.

These plans for the Covenant of the League of Nations were rudely shattered at the Peace Conference when the French demanded that the new organization be a "Super- state" with its own army and powers of action. The British were horrified, but with the help of the Americans were able to shelve this suggestion. However, to satisfy the demand from their own delegations as well as the French, they spread a camouflage of sham world government over the structure they had planned. This was done by Cecil Hurst. Hurst visited David Hunter Miller, the American legal expert, one night and persuaded him to replace the vital clauses 10 to 16 with drafts drawn up by Hurst. These drafts were deliberately drawn with loopholes so that no aggressor need ever be driven to the point where sanctions would have to be applied. This was done by presenting alternative paths of action leading toward sanctions, some of them leading to economic sanctions, but one path, which could be freely chosen by the aggressor, always available, leading to a loophole where no collective action would be possible. The whole procedure was concealed beneath a veil of legalistic terminology so that the Covenant could be presented to the public as a watertight document, but Britain could always escape from the necessity to apply sanctions through a loophole.

In spite of this, the Milner Group were very dissatisfied. They tried simultaneously to do three things: (1) to persuade public opinion that the League was a wonderful instrument of international cooperation designed to keep the peace; (2) to criticize the Covenant for the "traces of a sham world-government" which had been thrown over it; and (3) to reassure themselves and the ruling groups in England, the Dominions, and the United States that the League was not "a world-state." All of this took a good deal of neat footwork, or, more accurately, nimble tongues and neat pen work. More double-talk and double-writing were emitted by the Milner Group on this subject in the two decades 1919-1939 than was issued by any other group on this subject in the period.

Among themselves the Group did not conceal their disappointment with the Covenant because it went too far. In the June 1919 issue of The Round Table they said reassuringly: "The document is not the Constitution of a Super-state, but, as its title explains, a solemn agreement between Sovereign States which consent to limit their complete freedom of action on certain points.... The League must continue to depend on the free consent, in the last resort, of its component States; this assumption is evident in nearly every article of the Covenant, of which the ultimate and most effective sanction must be the public opinion of the civilized world. If the nations of the future are in the main selfish, grasping, and bellicose, no instrument or machinery will restrain them." But in the same issue we read the complaint: "In the Imperial Conference Sir Wilfrid Laurier was never tired of saying, 'This is not a Government, but a conference of Governments with Governments.' It is a pity that there was no one in Paris to keep on saying this. For the Covenant is still marked by the traces of sham government."

By the March 1920 issue, the full bitterness of the Group on this last point became evident. It said: "The League has failed to secure the adhesion of one of its most important members, The United States, and is very unlikely to secure it.... This situation presents a very serious problem for the British Empire. We have not only undertaken great obligations under the League which we must now both in honesty and in self-regard revise, but we have looked to the League to provide us with the machinery for United British action in foreign affairs. " (my italics; this is the cat coming out of the bag). The article continued with criticism of Wilson, and praise of the Republican Senate's refusal to swallow the League as it stood. It then said:

"The vital weakness of the Treaty and the Covenant became more clear than ever in the months succeeding the signature at Versailles. A settlement based on ideal principles and poetic justice can be permanently applied and maintained only by a world government to which all nations will subordinate their private interests.... It demands, not only that they should sacrifice their private interests to this world-interest, but also that they should be prepared to enforce the claims of world-interest even in matters where their own interests are in no wise engaged. It demands, in fact, that they should subordinate their national sovereignty to an international code and an international ideal. The reservations of the American Senate... point the practical difficulties of this ideal with simple force. All the reservations ... are affirmations of the sovereign right of the American people to make their own policy without interference from an International League.... None of these reservations, it should be noted, contravenes the general aims of the League; but they are, one and all, directed to ensure that no action is taken in pursuit of those aims except with the consent and approval of the Congress.... There is nothing peculiar in this attitude. It is merely, we repeat, the broad reflex of an attitude already taken up by all the European Allies in questions where their national interests are affected, and also by the British Dominions in their relations with the British Government. It gives us a statement in plain English, of the limitations to the ideal of international action which none of the other Allies will, in practice, dispute. So far, therefore, from destroying the League of Nations, the American reservations have rendered it the great service of pointing clearly to the flaws which at present neutralize its worth."


Among these flaws, in the opinion of the Milner Croup, was the fact that their plan to use the League of Nations as a method of tying the Dominions more closely to the United Kingdom had failed and, instead, the Covenant

"gave the Dominions the grounds, or rather the excuse, to avoid closer union with the United Kingdom.... It had been found in Paris that in order to preserve its unity the British delegation must meet frequently as a delegation to discuss its policy before meeting the representatives of foreign nations in conference. How was this unity of action to be maintained after the signature of peace without committing the Dominion Governments to some new constitutional organization within the Commonwealth? And if some new constitutional organization were to be devised for this purpose, how could it fail to limit in some way the full national independent status which the Dominion Governments had just achieved by their recognition as individual members of the League of Nations? The answer to these questions was found in cooperation within the League, which was to serve, not only as the link between the British Empire and foreign Powers, but as the link also between the constituent nations of the British Empire itself. Imbued with this idea, the Dominion statesmen accepted obligations to foreign Powers under the Covenant of the League more binding than any obligations which they would undertake to their kindred nations within the British Empire. In other words, they mortgaged their freedom of action to a league of foreign States in order to avoid the possibility of mortgaging it to the British Government. It hardly required the reservations of the American Senate to demonstrate the illusory character of this arrangement.... The British Dominions have made no such reservations with regard to the Covenant, and they are therefore bound by the obligations which have been rejected by the United States. Canada, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand are, in fact, bound by stronger written obligations to Poland and Czechoslovakia, than to the British Isles.... It is almost needless to observe that none of the democracies of the British Empire has grasped the extent of its obligations to the League of Nations or would hesitate to repudiate them at once, if put to the test. If England were threatened by invasion, the other British democracies would mobilize at once for her support; but though they have a written obligation to Poland, which they have never dreamed of giving to England, they would not in practice mobilize a single man to defend the integrity of the Corridor to Danzig or any other Polish territorial interest.... This is a dangerous and equivocal situation.... It is time that our democracies reviewed and corrected it with the clearness of vision and candour of statement displayed by the much-abused Senate of the United States.... To what course of action do these conclusions point? They point in the first place to revision of our obligations under the League. We are at present pledged to guarantees of territorial arrangements in Europe which may be challenged at any time by forces too powerful for diplomatic control, and it is becoming evident that in no part of the Empire would public opinion sanction our active interference in the local disputes which may ensue. The Polish Corridor to Danzig is a case in point.... Our proper course is to revise and restate our position towards the League in accordance with these facts.... First, we wish to do our utmost to guarantee peace, liberty, and law throughout the world without committing ourselves to quixotic obligations to foreign States. Second, we wish to assist and develop the simple mechanism of international dealing embodied in the League without mortgaging our freedom of action and judgment under an international Covenant. Our policy toward the League should, therefore, be revised on the following guiding lines:

1. We should state definitely that our action within the League will be governed solely by our own judgment of every situation as it arises, and we must undertake no general obligations which we may not be able or willing, when the test comes, to discharge.

2. We must in no case commit ourselves to responsibilities which we cannot discharge to the full with our own resources, independent of assistance from any foreign power.

3. We must definitely renounce the idea that the League may normally enforce its opinions by military or economic pressure on the recalcitrant States. It exists to bring principals together for open discussion of international difficulties, to extend and develop the mechanisms and habit of international cooperation, and to establish an atmosphere in which international controversies may be settled with fairness and goodwill.... With the less ambitious objects defined above it will sooner or later secure the whole-hearted support of American opinion.... The influence of the League of Nations upon British Imperial relations has for the moment been misleading and dangerous.... It is only a question of time before this situation leads to an incident of some kind which will provoke the bitterest recrimination and controversy. . ."


In the leading article of the September 1920 issue, The Round Table took up the same problem and repeated many of its arguments. It blamed Wilson for corrupting the Covenant into "a pseudo world-government" by adding sham decorations to a fundamentally different structure based on consultation of sovereign states. Instead of the Covenant, it concluded, we should have merely continued the Supreme Council, which was working so well at Spa.

In spite of this complete disillusionment with the League, the Milner Group still continued to keep a firm grip on as much of it as Britain could control. In the first hundred sessions of the Council of the League of Nations (1920-1938), thirty different persons sat as delegates for Britain. Omitting the four who sat for Labour governments, we have twenty-six. Of these, seven were from the Milner Group; seven others were present at only one session and are of little significance. The others were almost all from the Cecil Bloc close to the Milner Group. The following list indicates the distribution.

Name / Sessions as Delegate

Anthony Eden / 39
Sir John Simon / 22
Sir Austen Chamberlain / 20
Arthur Balfour / 16 Lord Robert Cecil / 15
Six Alexander Cadogan / 12
E. H. Carr / 8
H. A. L. Fisher / 7  
Sir William Malkin / 7
Viscount Cranborne / 5
Lord Curzon / 3
Lord Londonderry / 3
Leopold Amery / 2  
Edward Wood (Lord Halifax) / 2
Cecil Hurst / 2
Sir Edward H. Young / 2
Lord Cushendun / 2
Lord Onslow / 2
Gilbert Murray / 1
Sir Rennell Rodd / 1
Six others / 1 each


At the annual meetings of the Assembly of the League, a somewhat similar situation existed. The delegations had from three to eight members, with about half of the number being from the Milner Group, except when members of the Labour Party were present. H. A. L. Fisher was a delegate in 1920, 1921, and 1922; Mrs. Alfred Lyttelton was one in 1923, 1926, 1927, 1928, and 1931; Lord Astor was one in 1931, 1936, and 1938; Cecil Hurst was one in 1924, 1926, 1927, and 1928; Gilbert Murray was one in 1924; Lord Halifax was one in 1923 and 1936; Ormsby-Gore was one in 1933; Lord Robert Cecil was one in 1923, 1926, 1929, 1930, 1931, and 1932; E. H. Carr was one in 1933 and 1934, etc. The Milner Group control was most complete at the crucial Twelfth Assembly (1931), when the delegation of five members consisted of Lord Robert Cecil, Lord Lytton, Lord Astor, Arthur Salter, and Mrs. Lyttelton. In addition, the Group frequently had other members attached to the delegations as secretaries or substitutes. Among these were E. H. Carr, A. L. Smith, and R. M. Makins. Moreover, the Group frequently had members on the delegations from the Dominions. The South African delegation in 1920 had Robert Cecil; in 1921 it had Robert Cecil and Gilbert Murray; in 1923 it had Smuts and Gilbert Murray. The Australian delegation had Sir John Latham in 1926, while the Canadian delegation had Vincent Massey ten years later. The Indian delegation had L. F. Rushbrook Williams in 1925.

The Milner Group was also influential in the Secretariat of the League. Sir Eric Drummond (now sixteenth Earl of Perth), who had been Balfour's private secretary from 1916 to 1919, was Secretary-General to the League from 1919 to 1933, when he resigned to become British Ambassador in Rome. Not a member of the Group, he was nevertheless close to it. Harold Butler, of the Group and of All Souls, was deputy director and director of the International Labor Office in the period 1920-1938. Arthur Salter, of the Group and All Souls, was director of the Economic and Financial Section of the League in 1919-1920 and again in 1922-1931. B. H. Sumner, of the Group and All Souls (now Warden), was on the staff of the ILO in 1920-1922. R. M. Makins, of the Group and All Souls, was assistant adviser and adviser on League of Nations affairs to the Foreign Office in 1937-1939.

To build up public opinion in favor of the League of Nations, the Milner Group formed an organization known as the League of Nations Union. In this organization the most active figures were Lord Robert Cecil, Gilbert Murray, the present Lord Esher, Mrs. Lyttelton, and Wilson Harris. Lord Cecil was president from 1923 to 1945; Professor Murray was chairman from 1923 to 1938 and co-president from 1938 to 1945; Wilson Harris was its parliamentary secretary and editor of its paper, Headway, for many years. Among others, C. A. Macartney, of All Souls and the RILA, was head of the Intelligence Department from 1928 to 1936. Harris and Macartney were late additions to the Group, the former becoming a member of the inner circle about 1922, while the latter became a member of the outer circle in the late 1920s, probably as a result of his association with the Encyclopedia Britannica as an expert on Central Europe. Wilson Harris was one of the most intimate associates of Lionel Curtis, Philip Kerr, and other members of the inner core in the 1920s, and this association became closer, if possible, in the 1930s. A graduate of Cambridge University in 1906, he served for many years in various capacities with the Daily News. Since 1932 he has been editor of The Spectator, and since 1945 he has been a Member of Parliament from Cambridge University. He was one of the most ardent advocates of appeasement in the period 1935-1939, especially in the meetings at Chatham House. In this connection, it might be mentioned that he was a member of the council of the RIIA in 1924-1927. He has written books on Woodrow Wilson, the peace settlement, the League of Nations, disarmament, etc. His most recent work is a biography of J. A. Spender, onetime editor of the Westminster Gazette (1896-1922), which he and his brother founded in 1 893 in collaboration with Edmund Garrett and Edward Cook, when all four left the Pall Mall Gazette after its purchase by Waldorf Astor.

The ability of the Milner Group to mobilize public opinion in regard to the League of Nations is almost beyond belief. It was not a simple task, since they were simultaneously trying to do two things: on the one hand, seeking to build up popular opinion in favor of the League so that its work could be done more effectively; and, at the same time, seeking to prevent influential people from using the League as an instrument of world government before popular opinion was ready for a world government. In general, The Round Table and The Times were used for the latter purpose, while the League of Nations Union and a strange assortment of outlets, such as Chatham House, Toynbee Hall, extension courses at Oxford, adult-education courses in London, International Conciliation in the United States, the Institute of Politics at Williamstown, the Institute of Intellectual Cooperation at Paris, the Geneva School of International Studies and the Graduate Institute of International Studies at Geneva, and the various branches of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, were used for the former purpose. The Milner Group did not control all of these. Their influence was strong in all of them, and, since the influence of J. P. Morgan and Company was also strong in most of them and since Morgan and the Group were pursuing a parallel policy on this issue, the Group were usually able to utilize the resources of these various organizations when they wished.

As examples of this, we might point out that Curtis and Kerr each gave a series of lectures at the Institute of Politics, Williamstown, in 1922. Selections from these, along with an article from the September 1922 issue of The Round Table, were published in International Conciliation for February 1923. Kerr and Lord Birkenhead spoke at the Institute in 1923; Sir Arthur Willert, a close associate if not a member of the Group, spoke at the Institute of Politics in 1927. Sir Arthur was always close to the Group. He was a member of the staff of The Times from 1906 to 1921, chiefly as head of the Washington office; he was in the Foreign Office as head of the News Department from 1921 to 1935, was on the United Kingdom delegation to the League of Nations in 1929- 1934, was an important figure in the Ministry of Information (a Milner Group fief) in 1939-1945, and wrote a book called The Empire and the World in collaboration with H. V. Hodson and B. K. Long of the Kindergarten.

Other associates of the Group who spoke at the Institute of Politics at Williamstown were Lord Eustace Percy, who spoke on wartime shipping problems in 1929, and Lord Meston, who spoke on Indian nationalism in 1930. (7)

The relationship between the Milner Group and the valuable little monthly publication called International Conciliation was exercised indirectly through the parallel group in America, which had been organized by the associates of J. P. Morgan and Company before the First World War, and which made its most intimate connections with the Milner Group at the Peace Conference of 1919. We have already mentioned this American group in connection with the Council on Foreign Relations and the Institute of Pacific Relations. Through this connection, many of the activities and propaganda effusions of the Milner Group were made available to a wide public in America. We have already mentioned the February 1923 issue of International Conciliation, which was monopolized by the Group. A few other examples might be mentioned. Both of General Smuts's important speeches, that of 23 October 1923 and that of 13 November 1934, were reproduced in International Conciliation. So too was an article on "The League and Minorities" by Wilson Harris. This was in the September 1926 issue. A Times editorial of 22 November 1926 on "The Empire as It Is" was reprinted in March 1927; another of 14 July 1934 is in the September issue of the same year; a third of 12 July 1935 is in the issue of September 1935. Brand's report on Germany's Foreign Creditors' Standstill Agreements is in the May issue of 1932; while a long article from the same pen on "The Gold Problem" appears in the October 1937 issue. This article was originally published, over a period of three days, in The Times in June 1937. An article on Russia from The Round Table was reprinted in December 1929. Lord Lothian's speeches of 25 October 1939 and of 1 1 December 1940 were both printed in the issues of International Conciliation immediately following their delivery. An article by Lothian called "League or No League," first published in The Observer in August 1936, was reprinted in the periodical under consideration in December 1936. An article by Lord Cecil on disarmament, another by Clarence Streit (one of the few American members of the Group) on the League of Nations, and a third by Stephen King-Hall on the Mediterranean problem were published in December 1932, February 1934, and January 1938 respectively. A speech of John Simon's appears in the issue of May 1935; one of Samuel Hoare's is in the September issue of the same year; another by Samuel Hoare is in the issue of November 1935. Needless to say, the activities of the Institute of Pacific Relations, of the Imperial Conferences, of the League of Nations, and of the various international meetings devoted to reparations and disarmament were adequately reflected in the pages of International Conciliation.
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

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Part 3 of 5

The deep dislike which the Milner Group felt for the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations was shared by the French, but for quite opposite reasons. The French felt insecure in the face of Germany because they realized that France had beaten Germany in 1918 only because of the happy fact that she had Russia, Great Britain, Italy, and the United States to help her. From 1919 onward, France had no guarantee that in any future attack by Germany she would have any such assistance. To be sure, the French knew that Britain must come to the aid of France if there was any danger of Germany defeating France. The Milner Group knew this too. But France wanted some arrangement by which Britain would be alongside France from the first moment of a German attack, since the French had no assurance that they could withstand a German onslaught alone, even for a brief period. Moreover, if they could, the French were afraid that the opening onslaught would deliver to the Germans control of the most productive part of France as captured territory. This is what had happened in 1914. To avoid this, the French sought in vain one alternative after another: (a) to detach from Germany, or, at least, to occupy for an extended period, the Rhineland area of Germany (this would put the Ruhr, the most vital industrial area of Germany, within striking distance of French forces); (b) to get a British- American, or at least a British, guarantee of French territory; (c) to get a "League of Nations with teeth," that is, one with its own police forces and powers to act automatically against an aggressor. All of these were blocked by the English and Americans at the Peace Conference in 1919. The French sought substitutes. Of these, the only one they obtained was a system of alliances with new states, like Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the enlarged Rumania, on the east of Germany. All of these states were of limited power, and the French had little faith in the effectiveness of their assistance. Accordingly, the French continued to seek their other aims: to extend the fifteen years' occupation of the Rhineland into a longer or even an indefinite period; to get some kind of British guarantee; to strengthen the League of Nations by "plugging the gaps in the Covenant"; to use the leverage of reparations and disarmament as provided in the Treaty of Versailles to keep Germany down, to wreck her economically, or even to occupy the Ruhr. All of these efforts were blocked by the machinations of the Milner Group. At the moment, we shall refer only to the efforts to "plug the gaps in the Covenant."

These "gaps," as we have indicated, were put in by Cecil Hurst and were exactly to the taste of the Milner Group. The chief efforts of the French and their allies on the Continent to "plug the gaps" were the Draft Treaty of Mutual Assistance (1923) and the Geneva Protocol (1924). What the Milner Group thought of both of these can be gathered from the following extracts from The Round Table's denunciation of the Protocol. In the December 1924 issue, in an article entitled "The British Commonwealth, the Protocol, and the League," we find the following: "What is to be the British answer to this invitation to reenter the stormy field of internal European politics? Can the British Commonwealth afford to become permanently bound up with the internal political structure of Europe? And will it promote the peace and stability of Europe or the world that Europe should attempt to solve its problems on the basis of a permanent British guarantee? The answer in our judgment to both these questions must be an emphatic, No." Then, after repeating its contention that the only purpose of the Covenant was to secure delay in a crisis for consultation, it continued:

"The idea that all nations ought to consult how they are to deal with States which precipitate war without allowing any period for enquiry and mediation is the real heart of the League of Nations, and, if the British Commonwealth wants to prevent a recurrence of the Great War, it must be willing to recognize that it has a vital interest in working out with other nations the best manner of giving effect to this fundamental idea. . . . Decisions as to the rights and wrongs of international disputes, and of what common action the nations should take when they are called together to deal with such an outlaw, must be left to be determined in the light of the circumstances of the time.... The view of The Round Table is that the British Commonwealth should make it perfectly clear . . . that it will accept no further obligations than this and that the Covenant of the League must be amended to establish beyond question that no authority, neither the Council nor any arbitral body it may appoint, has any power to render a binding decision or to order a war, except with the consent of the members themselves."


The bitterness of the Group's feelings against France at the time appears in the same article a couple of pages later when it asked: "Or is the proposal implicit in the Protocol merely one for transferring to the shoulders of Great Britain, which alone is paying her debts, some part of the cost of maintaining that preponderance which now rests upon the European States which profit most by it.... It is sheer rubbish to suggest that France needs military guarantees for security.... What France really wants is a guarantee that the allies will maintain a perpetual preponderance over Germany. This we can never give her, for in the long run it makes not for peace but for war."

In another article in the same issue, the Protocol was analyzed and denounced. The final conclusion was: "It is our firm conviction that no alternative is acceptable which fails to provide for the free exercise by the Parliaments and peoples of the Empire of their judgment as to how to deal with any disturbance of the peace, or any threat of such disturbance, on its merits as it arises. That has been the guiding principle throughout the political history of the British peoples. The methods of the Protocol belong to another world, and, if for no other reason, they should be rejected."

The Protocol was officially rejected by Austen Chamberlain at a session of the Council of the League of Nations in March 1925. John Dove, Lionel Curtis, Philip Kerr, and Wilson Harris went to Geneva to be present at the meeting. After the deed was done, they went to visit Prague and Berlin, and ended by meeting Lady Astor in Paris. From Geneva and Paris, John Dove wrote to Brand letters which Brand later published in his edition of The Letters of John Dove.

One of the reasons given by Austen Chamberlain in 1925 for rejecting the Geneva Protocol was the opposition of the Dominions. That the Milner Group was able to affect Dominion opinion on this subject is clear. They could use men like Massey and Glazebrook in Canada, Bavin and Eggleston in Australia, Downie Stewart and Allen in New Zealand, Smuts and Duncan in South Africa.

More important than the Milner Group's ability to influence opinion in the Dominions was its ability to influence decisions in London. In much of this latter field, Lord Esher undoubtedly played an important role. It is perfectly clear that Lord Esher disliked collective security, and for the same reasons as The Round Table. This can be seen in his published Journals and Letters. For example, on 18 February 1919, in a letter to Hankey, he wrote: "I fervently believe that the happiness and welfare of the human race is more closely concerned in the evolution of English democracy and of our Imperial Commonwealth than in the growth of any international League." On 7 December 1919, in another letter to Hankey, he wrote: "You say that my letter was critical and not constructive. So it was. But the ground must be cleared of debris first. I assume that this is done. We will forget the high ideals and the fourteen points for the moment. We will be eminently practical. So here goes. Do not let us bother about a League of Nations. It may come slowly or not at all. What step forward, if any, can we take? We can get a League of Empire." Shortly afterwards, writing to his heir, the present Viscount Esher, he called the League "a paper hoop." The importance of this can be seen if we realize that Lord Esher was the most important factor on the Committee of Imperial Defence, and this committee was one of the chief forces determining British foreign policy in this period. In fact, no less an authority than Lord Robert Cecil has said that the Geneva Protocol was rejected on the advice of the Committee of Imperial Defence and that he accepted that decision only when he was promised a new project which subsequently became the Locarno Pacts. (8)

The rejection of the Protocol by Britain was regarded subsequently by real supporters of the League as the turning point in its career. There was an outburst of public sentiment against this selfish and cold-blooded action. Zimmern, who knew more than he revealed, went to Oxford in May 1925 and made a brilliant speech against those who were sabotaging the League. He did not identify them, but clearly indicated their existence, and, as the crudest blow of all, attributed their actions to a failure of intelligence.

As a result of this feeling, which was widespread throughout the world, the Group determined to give the world the appearance of a guarantee to France. This was done in the Locarno Pacts, the most complicated and most deceitful international agreement made between the Treaty of Versailles and the Munich Pact. We cannot discuss them in detail here, but must content ourselves with pointing out that in appearance, and in the publicity campaign which accompanied their formation, the Locarno agreements guaranteed the frontier of Germany with France and Belgium with the power of these three states plus Britain and Italy. In reality the agreements gave France nothing, while they gave Britain a veto over French fulfillment of her alliances with Poland and the Little Entente. The French accepted these deceptive documents for reasons of internal politics: obviously, any French government which could make the French people believe that it had been able to secure a British guarantee of France's eastern frontier could expect the gratitude of the French people to be reflected at the polls. The fundamental shrewdness and realism of the French, however, made it difficult to conceal from them the trap that lay in the Locarno agreements. This trap consisted of several interlocking factors. In the first place, the agreements did not guarantee the German frontier and the demilitarized condition of the Rhineland against German actions, but against the actions of either Germany or France. This, at one stroke, gave Britain the legal grounds for opposing France if she tried any repetition of the military occupation of the Ruhr, and, above all, gave Britain the right to oppose any French action against Germany in support of her allies to the east of Germany. This meant that if Germany moved east against Czechoslovakia, Poland, and, eventually, Russia, and if France attacked Germany's western frontier in support of Czechoslovakia or Poland, as her alliances bound her to do, Great Britain, Belgium, and Italy might be bound by the Locarno Pacts to come to the aid of Germany. To be sure, the same agreement might bind these three powers to oppose Germany if she drove westward against France, but the Milner Group did not object to this for several reasons. In the first place, if Germany attacked France directly, Britain would have to come to the help of France whether bound by treaty or not. The old balance-of-power principle made that clear. In the second place, Cecil Hurst, the old master of legalistic double-talk, drew up the Locarno Pacts with the same kind of loopholes which he had put in the crucial articles of the Covenant. As a result, if Germany did violate the Locarno Pacts against France, Britain could, if she desired, escape the necessity of fulfilling her guarantee by slipping through one of Hurst's loopholes. As a matter of fact, when Hitler did violate the Locarno agreements by remilitarizing the Rhineland in March 1936, the Milner Group and their friends did not even try to evade their obligation by slipping through a loophole, but simply dishonored their agreement.

This event of March 1936, by which Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland, was the most crucial event in the whole history of appeasement. So long as the territory west of the Rhine and a strip fifty kilometers wide on the east bank of the river were demilitarized, as provided in the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Pacts, Hitler would never have dared to move against Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. He would not have dared because, with western Germany unfortified and denuded of German soldiers, France could have easily driven into the Ruhr industrial area and crippled Germany so that it would be impossible to go eastward. And by this date, certain members of the Milner Group and of the British Conservative government had reached the fantastic idea that they could kill two birds with one stone by setting Germany and Russia against one another in Eastern Europe. In this way they felt that the two enemies would stalemate one another, or that Germany would become satisfied with the oil of Rumania and the wheat of the Ukraine. It never occurred to anyone in a responsible position that Germany and Russia might make common cause, even temporarily, against the West. Even less did it occur to them that Russia might beat Germany and thus open all Central Europe to Bolshevism.

This idea of bringing Germany into a collision with Russia was not to be found, so far as the evidence shows, among any members of the inner circle of the Milner Group. Rather it was to be found among the personal associates of Neville Chamberlain, including several members of the second circle of the Milner Group. The two policies followed parallel courses until March 1939. After that date the Milner Group's disintegration became very evident, and part of it took the form of the movement of several persons (like Hoare and Simon) from the second circle of the Milner Group to the inner circle of the new group rotating around Chamberlain. This process was concealed by the fact that this new group was following, in public at least, the policy desired by the Milner Group; their own policy, which was really the continuation of appeasement for another year after March 1939, was necessarily secret, so that the contrast between the Chamberlain group and the inner circle of the Milner Group in the period after March 1939 was not as obvious as it might have been.

In order to carry out this plan of allowing Germany to drive eastward against Russia, it was necessary to do three things: (1) to liquidate all the countries standing between Germany and Russia; (2) to prevent France from honoring her alliances with these countries; and (3) to hoodwink the English people into accepting this as a necessary, indeed, the only solution to the international problem. The Chamberlain group were so successful in all three of these things that they came within an ace of succeeding, and failed only because of the obstinacy of the Poles, the unseemly haste of Hitler, and the fact that at the eleventh hour the Milner Group realized the implications of their policy and tried to reverse it.

The program of appeasement can be divided into three stages: the first from 1920 to 1934, the second from 1934 to 1937, and the third from 1937 to 1940. The story of the first period we have almost completed, except for the evacuation of the Rhineland in 1930, five years ahead of the date set in the Treaty of Versailles. It would be too complicated a story to narrate here the methods by which France was persuaded to yield on this point. It is enough to point out that France was persuaded to withdraw her troops in 1930 rather than 1935 as a result of what she believed to be concessions made to her in the Young Plan. That the Milner Group approved this evacuation goes without saying. We have already mentioned The Round Table's demand of June 1923 that the Rhineland be evacuated. A similar desire will be found in a letter from John Dove to Brand in October 1927.

The second period of appeasement began with Smuts's famous speech of 13 November 1934, delivered before the RIIA. The whole of this significant speech deserves to be quoted here, but we must content ourselves with a few extracts:

"With all the emphasis at my command, I would call a halt to this war talk as mischievous and dangerous war propaganda. The expectation of war tomorrow or in the near future is sheer nonsense, and all those who are conversant with affairs know it.... The remedy for this fear complex is ... bringing it into the open and exposing it to the light of day.... And this is exactly the method of the League of Nations ... it is an open forum for discussion among the nations, it is a round table for the statesmen around which they can ventilate and debate their grievances and viewpoints.... There are those who say that this is not enough — that as long as the League remains merely a talking shop or debating society, and is not furnished with "teeth" and proper sanctions, the sense of insecurity will remain.... It is also felt that the inability of the League to guarantee the collective system by means of force, if necessary, is discrediting it and leading to its decay.... I cannot visualize the League as a military machine. It was not conceived or built for that purpose, it is not equipped for such functions. And if ever the attempt were made to transform it into a military machine, into a system to carry on war for the purpose of preventing war, I think its fate is sealed.... Defection of the United States has largely defeated its main objects. And the joining up of the United States must continue to be the ultimate goal of all true friends of the League and of the cause of peace. A conference of the nations the United States can, and eventually will, join; it can never join an international War Office. Remembering the debates on this point in the League of Nations Commission which drafted the Covenant, I say quite definitely that the very idea of a league of force was negatived there; and the League would be quite false to its fundamental idea and to its great mission ... if it allowed itself to be turned into something quite different, something just the opposite of its original idea — into a league of force.... To endeavor to cast out the Satan of fear by calling in the Beelzebub of militarism, and militarizing the League itself, would be a senseless and indeed fatal proceeding.... The removal of the inferiority complex from Germany is just as essential to future peace as the removal of fear from the mind of France; and both are essential to an effective disarmament policy. How can the inferiority complex which is obsessing and, I fear, poisoning the mind and indeed the soul of Germany be removed? There is only one way, and that is to recognize her complete equality of status with her fellows, and to do so frankly, freely, and unreservedly. That is the only medicine for her disease.... While one understands and sympathizes with French fears, one cannot but feel for Germany in the position of inferiority in which she still remains sixteen years after the conclusion of the War. The continuance of her Versailles status is becoming an offense to the conscience of Europe and a danger to future peace.... There is no place in international law for second-rate nations, and least of all should Germany be kept in that position.... Fair play, sportsmanship — indeed, every standard of private and public life — calls for frank revision of the position. Indeed, ordinary prudence makes it imperative. Let us break those bonds and set the captive, obsessed, soul free in a decent human way. And Europe will reap a rich reward in tranquillity, security, and returning prosperity.... I would say that to me the future policy and association of our great British Commonwealth lie more with the United States than with any other group in the world. If ever there comes a parting of the ways, if ever in the crisis of the future we are called upon to make a choice, that, it seems to me, should be the company we should prefer to walk with and march with to the unknown future.... Nobody can forecast the outcome of the stormy era of history on which we are probably entering."


At the time that Smuts made this significant speech, the Milner Group had already indicated to Hitler officially that Britain was prepared to give Germany arms equality. France had greeted the arrival to power of Hitler by desperate efforts to form an "Eastern Locarno" against Germany. Sir John Simon, who was Foreign Secretary from September 1931 to June 1935, repudiated these efforts on 13 July 1934 in a speech which was approved by The Times the following day. He warned the French that Britain would not approve any effort "to build up one combination against another," would refuse to assume any new obligations herself, would insist that Russia join the League of Nations before she become a party to any multilateral settlement, and insisted on arms equality for Germany. On the same day, Austen Chamberlain laid the groundwork for the German remilitarization of the Rhineland by a speech in which he insisted that the Locarno agreements did not bind Britain to use troops. He clearly indicated how Britain, by her veto power in the Council of the League, could prevent a League request to provide troops to enforce Locarno, and added that such a request would not be binding on Britain, even if voted, since "there was no automatic obligation under the Government to send our Army to any frontier."

In a debate in the House of Lords on 5 December 1934, Lord Cecil contradicted Smuts's statement that "the idea of a League of force was negatived" in 1918 and restated his own views that force should be available to compel the observance of the three months' moratorium between the settlement of a question by the Council and the outbreak of war. He said: "The thing which we were most anxious to secure against a renewal of a great war was that there should be collective action to prevent a sudden outbreak of war. It was never part of the Covenant system that force should be used in order to compel some particular settlement of a dispute. That, we thought, was going beyond what public opinion of the world would support; but we did think we could go so far as to say: 'You are not to resort to war until every other means for bringing about a settlement has been exhausted.' " This was merely a restatement of the point of view that Lord Cecil had held since 1918. It did not constitute collective security, as the expression was used by the world in general. Yet this use of the words "collective security" to mean the enforcement of a three months' moratorium before issuing a declaration of war — this weaker meaning — was being weakened even further by the Milner Group. This was made perfectly clear in a speech by Lord Lothian (Philip Kerr) immediately after Lord Cecil. On this day the latter parted from the Milner Group program of appeasement; more than ten years after Zimmern's, this defection is of less significance than the earlier one because Lord Cecil did not see clearly what was being done and he had never been, apparently, a member of the inner circle of the Group, although he had attended meetings of the inner circle in the period after 1910.(9)

Lord Lothian's speech of 5 December 1934 in the House of Lords is, at first glance, a defense of collective security, but a second look shows clearly that by "collective security" the speaker meant appeasement. He contrasts collective security with power diplomacy and, having excluded all use of force under the former expression, goes on to interpret it to mean peaceful change without war. In the context of events, this could only mean appeasement of Germany. He said: "In international affairs, unless changes are made in time, war becomes inevitable.... If the collective system is to be successful, it must contain two elements. On the one hand, it must be able to bring about by pacific means alterations in the international structure, and, on the other hand, it must be strong enough to restrain Powers who seek to take the law into their own hands either by war or by power diplomacy, from being successful in their efforts." This was nothing but the appeasement program of Chamberlain and Halifax — that concessions should be made to Germany to strengthen her on the Continent and in Eastern Europe, while Britain should remain strong enough on the sea and in the air to prevent Hitler from using war to obtain these concessions. The fear of Hitler's using war was based not so much on a dislike of force (neither Lothian nor Halifax was a pacifist in that sense) but on the realization that if Hitler made war against Austria, Czechoslovakia, or Poland, public opinion in France and England might force their governments to declare war in spite of their desire to yield these areas to Germany. This, of course, is what finally happened.

Hitler was given ample assurance by the Milner Group, both within and without the government, that Britain would not oppose his efforts "to achieve arms equality." Four days before Germany officially denounced the disarmament clauses of the Treaty of Versailles, Leopold Amery made a slashing attack on collective security, comparing "the League which exists" and "the league of make-believe, a cloud cuckoo land, dreams of a millennium which we were not likely to reach for many a long year to come; a league which was to maintain peace by going to war whenever peace was disturbed. That sort of thing, if it could exist, would be a danger to peace; it would be employed to extend war rather than to put an end to it. But dangerous or not, it did not exist, and to pretend that it did exist was sheer stupidity."

Four days later, Hitler announced Germany's rearmament, and ten days after that, Britain condoned the act by sending Sir John Simon on a state visit to Berlin. When France tried to counterbalance Germany's rearmament by bringing the Soviet Union into her eastern alliance system in May 1935, the British counteracted this by making the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 18 June 1935. This agreement, concluded by Simon, allowed Germany to build up to 35 percent of the size of the British Navy (and up to 100 percent in submarines). This was a deadly stab in the back to France, for it gave Germany a navy considerably larger than the French in the important categories of ships (capital ships and aircraft carriers) in the North Sea, because France was bound by treaty in these categories to only 33 percent of Britain's; and France, in addition, had a worldwide empire to protect and the unfriendly Italian Navy off her Mediterranean coast. This agreement put the French Atlantic coast so completely at the mercy of the German Navy that France became completely dependent on the British fleet for protection in this area. Obviously, this protection would not be given unless France in a crisis renounced her eastern allies. As if this were not enough, Britain in March 1936 accepted the German remilitarization of the Rhineland and in August 1936 began the farcical nonintervention agreement in Spain, which put another unfriendly government on France's remaining land frontier. Under such pressure, it was clear that France would not honor her alliances with the Czechs, the Poles, or the Russians, if they came due.

In these actions of March 1935 and March 1936, Hitler was running no risk, for the government and the Milner Group had assured him beforehand that it would accept his actions. This was done both in public and in private, chiefly in the House of Commons and in the articles of The Times. Within the Cabinet, Halifax, Simon, and Hoare resisted the effort to form any alignment against Germany. The authorized biographer of Halifax wrote in reference to Halifax's attitude in 1935 and 1936:

"Was England to allow herself to be drawn into war because France had alliances in Eastern Europe? Was she to give Mussolini a free pass to Addis Ababa merely to prevent Hitler marching to Vienna?" Questions similar to these were undoubtedly posed by Halifax in Cabinet. His own friends, in particular Lothian and Geoffrey Dawson of The Times, had for some time been promoting Anglo-German fellowship with rather more fervour than the Foreign Office. In January 1935 Lothian had a long conversation with Hitler, and Hitler was reputed to have proposed an alliance between England, Germany, and the United States which would in effect give Germany a free hand on the Continent, in return for which he had promised not to make Germany "a world power" or to attempt to compete with the British Navy. The Times consistently opposed the Eastern Locarno and backed Hitler's non-aggression alternative. Two days before the Berlin talks, for instance, it advocated that they should include territorial changes, and in particular the question of Memel; while on the day they began [March 1935] its leading article suggested that if Herr Hitler can persuade his British visitors, and through them the rest of the world, that his enlarged army is really designed to give them equality of status and equality of negotiation with other countries, and is not to be trained for aggressive purposes, then Europe may be on the threshold of an era in which changes can be made without the use of force, and a potential aggressor may be deterred by the certain prospect of having to face overwhelming opposition! How far The Times and Lothian were arguing and negotiating on the Government's behalf is still not clear, but that Halifax was intimately acquainted with the trend of this argument is probable."


It goes without saying that the whole inner core of the Group, and their chief publications, such as The Times and The Round Table, approved the policy of appeasement completely and prodded it along with calculated indiscretions when it was felt necessary to do so. After the remilitarization of the Rhineland, The Times cynically called this act "a chance to rebuild." As late as 24 February 1938, in the House of Lords, Lothian defended the same event. He said: "We hear a great deal of the violation by Herr Hitler of the Treaty because he returned his own troops to his own frontier. You hear much less today of the violation by which the French Army, with the acquiescence of this country, crossed the frontier in order to annihilate German industry and in effect produced the present Nazi Party."

In the House of Commons in October 1935, and again on 6 May 1936, Amery systematically attacked the use of force to sustain, the League of Nations. On the earlier occasion he said:

"From the very outset there have been two schools of thought about the League and about our obligations under the League. There has been the school, to which I belong and to which for years, I believe, the Government of this country belonged, that regards the League as a great institution, an organization for promoting cooperation and harmony among the nations, for bringing about understanding, a permanent Round Table of the nations in conference . . . provided always that it did not have at the background the threat of coercion. There is another school which thinks that the actual Articles of the Covenant, concocted in the throes of the peace settlement and in that atmosphere of optimism which led us to expect ten million pounds or more in reparations from Germany, constitute a sacrosanct dispensation, that they have introduced a new world order, and would, if they were only loyally adhered to, abolish war for good and all. The Covenant, I admit, as originally drafted, embodied both aspects and it was because the Covenant contained the Clauses that stood for coercion and for definite automatic obligations that the United States . . . repudiated it. From that moment the keystone was taken out of the whole arch of any League of coercion.... The League is now undergoing a trial which may well prove disastrous to it. In this matter, as in other matters, it is the letter that killeth. The letter of the Covenant is the one thing which is likely to kill the League of Nations."


Amery then continued with a brief resume of the efforts to make the League an instrument of coercion, especially the Geneva Protocol. In regard to this, he continued: "The case I wish to put to the House is that the stand taken by His Majesty's Government then and the arguments they used were not arguments merely against the Protocol, but arguments against the whole conception of a League based on economic and military sanctions." He quoted Austen Chamberlain in 1925 and General Smuts in 1934 with approval, and concluded: "I think that we should have got together with France and Italy and devised some scheme by which under a condominium or mandate certain if not all of the non-Amharic provinces of Abyssinia should be transferred to Italian rule. The whole thing could have been done by agreement, and I have no doubt that such agreement would have been ratified at Geneva."

This last statement was more then seven weeks before the Hoare-Laval Plan was made public, and six weeks after its outlines were laid down by Hoare, Eden, and Laval at a secret meeting in Paris (10 September 1935).

In his speech of 6 May 1936, Amery referred back to his October speech and demanded that the Covenant of the League be reformed to prevent sanctions in the future. Once again he quoted Smuts's speech of November 1934 with approval, and demanded "a League which is based not upon coercion but upon conciliation."

Between Amery's two speeches, on 5 February 1936, Sir Arthur Salter, of the Group and All Souls, offered his arguments to support appeasement. He quoted Smuts's speech of 1934 with approval and pointed out the great need for living space and raw materials for Japan, Italy, and Germany. The only solution, he felt, was for Britain to yield to these needs.

"I do not think it matters [he said] if you reintroduce conscription and quadruple or quintuple your Air Force. That will not protect you. I believe that the struggle is destined to come unless we are prepared to agree to a fairer distribution of the world's land surface and of the raw materials which are needed by modern civilized nations. But there is a way out; there is no necessity for a clash. I am sure that time presses and that we cannot postpone a settlement indefinitely.... I suggest that the way out is the application of those principles [of Christianity], the deliberate and conscious application of those principles to international affairs by this nation and by the world under the leadership of this nation. . . . Treat other nations as you would desire to be treated by them."


The liquidation of the countries between Germany and Russia could proceed as soon as the Rhineland was fortified, without fear on Germany's part that France would be able to attack her in the west while she was occupied in the east. The chief task of the Milner Group was to see that this devouring process was done no faster than public opinion in Britain could accept, and that the process did not result in any out burst of violence, which the British people would be unlikely to accept. To this double purpose, the British government and the Milner Group made every effort to restrain the use of force by the Germans and to soften up the prospective victims so that they would not resist the process and thus precipitate a war.

The countries marked for liquidation included Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland, but did not include Greece and Turkey, since the Group had no intention of allowing Germany to get down onto the Mediterranean "lifeline". Indeed, the purpose of the Hoare-Laval Plan of 1935, which wrecked the collective-security system by seeking to give most of Ethiopia to Italy, was intended to bring an appeased Italy into position alongside England, in order to block any movement of Germany southward rather than eastward. The plan failed because Mussolini decided that he could get more out of England by threats from the side of Germany than from cooperation at the side of England. As a result of this fiasco, the Milner Group lost another important member, Arnold J. Toynbee, who separated himself from the policy of appeasement in a fighting and courageous preface to The Survey of International Affairs for 1935 (published in 1936). As a result of the public outcry in England, Hoare, the Foreign Secretary, was removed from office and briefly shelved in December 1935. He returned to the Cabinet the following May. Anthony Eden, who replaced him, was not a member of the Milner Group and considerably more to the public taste because of his reputation (largely undeserved) as an upholder of collective security. The Milner Group was in no wise hampered in its policy of appeasement by the presence of Eden in the Foreign Office, and the government as a whole was considerably strengthened. Whenever the Group wanted to do something which Eden's delicate stomach could not swallow, the Foreign Secretary went off for a holiday, and Lord Halifax took over his tasks. Halifax did this, for example, during the first two weeks of August 1936, when the nonintervention policy was established in Spain; he did it again in February 1937, when the capable British Ambassador in Berlin, Sir Eric Phipps, was removed at Ribbentrop's demand and replaced by Sir Nevile Henderson; he did it again at the end of October 1937, when arrangements were made for his visit to Hitler at Berchtesgaden in November; and, finally, Halifax replaced Eden as Foreign Secretary permanently in February 1938, when Eden refused to accept the recognition of the Italian conquest of Ethiopia in return for an Italian promise to withdraw their forces from Spain. In this last case, Halifax was already negotiating with Count Grandi in the Foreign Office before Eden's resignation statement was made. Eden and Halifax were second cousins, both being great-grandsons of Lord Grey of the Reform Bill of 1832, and Halifax's daughter in 1936 married the half-brother of Mrs. Anthony Eden. Halifax and Eden were combined in the Foreign Office in order that the former could counterbalance the "youthful impetuosities" of the latter, since these might jeopardize appeasement but were regarded as necessary stage-settings to satisfy the collective- security yearnings of public opinion in England. These yearnings were made evident in the famous "Peace Ballot" of the League of Nations Union, a maneuver put through by Lord Cecil as a countermove to the Group's slow undermining of collective security. This countermove, which w as regarded with extreme distaste by Lothian and others of the inner circle, resulted, among other things, in an excessively polite crossing of swords by Cecil and Lothian in the House of Lords on 16 March 1938.

During the period in which Halifax acted as a brake on Eden, he held the sinecure Cabinet posts of Lord Privy Seal and Lord President of the Council (1935-1938). He had been added to the Cabinet, after his return from India in 1931, as President of the Board of Education, but devoted most of his time from 1931 to 1935 in helping Simon and Hoare put through the Government of India Act of 1935. In October 1933, the same group of Conservative members of Convocation who had made Lord Milner Chancellor of Oxford University in 1925 selected Lord Irwin (Halifax), for the same position, in succession to the late Lord Grey of Fallodon. He spent almost the whole month of June 1934 in the active functions of this position, especially in drawing up the list of recipients of honorary degrees. This list is very significant. Among sixteen recipients of the Doctorate of Civil Law, we find the following five names: Samuel Hoare, Maurice Hankey, W. G. S. Adams, John Buchan, and Geoffrey Dawson.

We have indicated that Halifax's influence on foreign policy was increasingly important in the years 1934-1937. It was he who defended Hoare in the House of Lords in December 1935, saying: "I have never been one of those . . . who have thought that it was any part in this dispute of the League to try to stop a war in Africa by starting a war in Europe. It was Halifax who went with Eden to Paris in March 1936 to the discussions of the Locarno Powers regarding the remilitarization of the Rhineland. That his task at this meeting was to act as a brake on Eden's relatively large respect for the sanctity of international obligations is admitted by Lord Halifax's authorized biographer. It was Halifax, as we have seen, who inaugurated the nonintervention policy in Spain in August 1936. And it was Halifax who opened the third and last stage of appeasement in November 1937 by his visit to Hitler in Berchtesgaden.

It is probable that the groundwork for Halifax's visit to Hitler had been laid by the earlier visits of Lords Lothian and Londonderry to the same host, but our knowledge of these earlier events is too scanty to be certain. Of Halifax's visit, the story is now clear, as a result of the publication of the German Foreign Office memorandum on the subject and Keith Feiling's publication of some of the letters from Neville Chamberlain to his sister. The visit was arranged by Halifax himself, early in November 1937, at a time when he was Acting Foreign Secretary, Eden being absent in Brussels at a meeting of signers of the Nine-Power Pacific Treaty of 1922. As a result, Halifax had a long conversation with Hitler on 19 November 1937 in which, whatever may have been Halifax's intention, Hitler's government became convinced of three things: (a) that Britain regarded Germany as the chief bulwark against communism in Europe; (b) that Britain was prepared to join a Four Power agreement of France, Germany, Italy, and herself; and (c) that Britain was prepared to allow Germany to liquidate Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland if this could be done without provoking a war into which the British Government, however unwillingly, would be dragged in opposition to Germany. The German Foreign Ministry memorandum on this conversation makes it perfectly clear that the Germans did not misunderstand Halifax except, possibly, on the last point. There they failed to see that if Germany made war, the British Government would be forced into the war against Germany by public opinion in England. The German diplomatic agents in London, especially the Ambassador, Dirksen, saw this clearly, but the Government in Berlin listened only to the blind and conceited ignorance of Ribbentrop. As dictators themselves, unfamiliar with the British social or constitutional systems, the German rulers assumed that the willingness of the British Government to accept the liquidation of Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland implied that the British Government would never go to war to prevent this liquidation. They did not see that the British Government might have to declare war to stay in office if public opinion in Britain were sufficiently aroused. The British Government saw this difficulty and as a last resort were prepared to declare war but not to wage war on Germany. This distinction was not clear to the Germans and was not accepted by the inner core of the Milner Group. It was, however, accepted by the other elements in the government, like Chamberlain himself, and by much of the second circle of the Milner Group, including Simon, Hoare, and probably Halifax. It was this which resulted in the"phony war" from September 1939 to April 1940.

The memorandum on Halifax's interview, quoting the Englishman in the third person, says in part: (10)

"In spite of these difficulties [British public opinion, the English Church, and the Labour Party] he and other members of the British Government were fully aware that the Fuhrer had not only achieved a great deal inside Germany herself, but that, by destroying Communism in his country, he had barred its road to Western Europe, and that Germany therefore could rightly be regarded as a bulwark of the West against Bolshevism. . . . After the ground had been prepared by an Anglo-German understanding, the four Great West-European Powers must jointly lay the foundation for lasting peace in Europe. Under no conditions should any of the four Powers remain outside this cooperation, or else there would be no end to the present unstable situation.... Britons were realists and were perhaps more than others convinced that the errors of the Versailles dictate must be rectified. Britain always exercised her influence in this realistic sense in the past. He pointed to Britain's role with regard to the evacuation of the Rhineland ahead of the fixed time, the settlement of the reparations problem, and the reoccupation of the Rhineland.... He therefore wanted to know the Fuhrer's attitude toward the League of Nations, as well as toward disarmament. All other questions could be characterized as relating to changes in the European order, changes that sooner or later would probably take place. To these questions belonged Danzig, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. England was only interested that any alterations should be effected by peaceful evolution, so as to avoid methods which might cause far-reaching disturbances, which were not desired either by the Fuhrer or by other countries.... Only one country, Soviet Russia, stood to gain from a general conflict. All others were at heart in favour of the consolidation of peace."


That this attitude was not Halifax's personal argument but the point of view of the government (and of the Milner Croup) is perfectly clear. On arrival, Halifax assured the Germans that the purposes of his visit had been discussed and accepted by the Foreign Secretary (Eden) and the Prime Minister. On 26 November 1937, one week after Halifax's conversation with Hitler, Chamberlain wrote to his sister that he hoped to satisfy German colonial demands by giving them the Belgian Congo and Angola in place of Tanganyika. He then added: "I don't see why we shouldn't say to Germany, 'Give us satisfactory assurances that you won't use force to deal with the Austrians and Czechoslovakians, and we will give you similar assurances that we won't use force to prevent the changes you want if you can get them by peaceful means.'" (11)

It might be noted that when John W. Wheeler-Bennett, of Chatham House and the Milner Group, wrote his book on Munich: Prologue to Tragedy, published in 1948, he relegated the last quotation to a footnote and suppressed the references to the Belgian Congo and Angola. This, however, was an essential part of the appeasement program of the Chamberlain group. On 3 March 1938, the British Ambassador in Berlin, Nevile Henderson, one of the Chamberlain group, tried to persuade Hitler to begin negotiations to carry out this plan but did not succeed. He repeated Lord Halifax's statement that changes in Europe were acceptable to Britain if accomplished without "the free play of forces," and stated that he personally "had often expressed himself in favour of the Anschluss." In the colonial field, he tried to interest Hitler in an area in Africa between the 5th parallel and the Zambezi River, but the Fuhrer insisted that his interest was restricted to restoration of Germany's 1914 colonies in Africa.

At the famous interview between Hitler and Schuschnigg in February 1938, Hitler told the Austrian that Lord Halifax agreed"with everything he [Hitler] did with respect to Austria and the Sudeten Germans." This was reported in a "rush and strictly confidential" message of 16 February 1938 from the American Consul General in Vienna to Secretary of State Hull, a document released to the American press on 18 December 1948. Chamberlain and others made it perfectly clear, both in public and in private, that Britain would not act to prevent German occupation of Austria or Czechoslovakia. On 21 February 1938, during the Austrian crisis, John Simon said in the House of Commons, "Great Britain has never given special guarantees regarding Austrian independence." Six days later, Chamberlain said: "We must not try to delude small nations into thinking that they will be protected by the League against aggression and acting accordingly when we know that nothing of the kind can be expected." Five days after the seizure of Austria on 12 March 1938, the Soviet Union sent Britain a proposal for an international conference to stop aggression. The suggestion was rejected at once, and, on 20 March 1938, Chamberlain wrote to his sister: "I have therefore abandoned any idea of giving guarantees to Czechoslovakia or to the French in connection with her obligation to that country."

When Daladier, the French Premier, came to London at the end of April 1938 to seek support for Czechoslovakia, Chamberlain refused and apparently, if we can believe Feiling, put pressure on the French to compel the Czechoslovaks to make an agreement with Hitler. On 1 May, Chamberlain wrote to his sister in this connection: "Fortunately the papers have had no hint of how near we came to a break over Czechoslovakia. "

In a long report of 10 July 1938, Ambassador Dirksen wrote to Ribbentrop as follows:

"In England the Chamberlain-Halifax Cabinet is at the helm and the first and most essential plank of its platform was and is agreement with the totalitarian States.... This government displays with regard to Germany the maximum understanding that could be displayed by any of the likely combinations of British politicians. It possesses the inner- political strength to carry out this task. It has come nearer to understanding the most essential points of the major demands advanced by Germany, with respect to excluding the Soviet Union from the decision of the destinies of Europe, the League of Nations likewise, and the advisability of bilateral negotiations and treaties. It is displaying increasing understanding of Germany's demands in the Sudeten German question. It would be prepared to make great sacrifices to meet Germany s other just demands — on the one condition that it is endeavoured to achieve these ends by peaceful means. If Germany should resort to military means to achieve these ends, England would without the slightest doubt go to war on the side of France."


This point of view was quite acceptable to the Milner Group. In the leading article for December 1937, The Round Table examined the German question at some length. In regard to the colonial problem, it contrasted two points of view, giving greater emphasis to "those who now feel that it was a mistake to have deprived Germany of all her colonies in 1918, and that Great Britain should contribute her share towards finding a colonial area — say, in central west Africa — which could be transferred to Germany under mandate. But they, too, make it a condition that colonial revision should be part of a final all-round settlement with Germany, and that the colonies should not be used as leverage for fresh demands or as strategic bases." Later it said: "A majority would regard the abandonment of France's eastern alliances as a price well worth paying for lasting peace and the return of Germany to the League." It welcomed German rearmament, since this would force revision of the evil Treaty of Versailles. In this connection, the same article said: "The pressure of rearmament and the events of the last few years have at least had this effect, that the refusal of those who have benefitted most by the peace settlement to consider any kind of change is rapidly disappearing; for forcible changes which they have been unable to prevent have already taken place, and further changes will certainly follow, especially in eastern Europe, unless they are prepared to fight a very formidable war to prevent them." The article rejected such a war on the grounds that its"outcome is uncertain" and it "would entail objectionable domestic disasters." In adding up the balance of military forces in such a war, the article significantly omitted all mention of Czechoslovakia, whose forces at that time were considerably stronger than Germany's. It placed the French Army at two-thirds the size of Germany's (which was untrue) and Britain at no more than two or three divisions. The point of view of The Round Table was not identical with that of the Chamberlain group (which intersected, through common members, with the second circle of the Milner Group). The Round Table, speaking for the inner circle of the Milner Group, was not nearly so anti-Russian as the Chamberlain group. Accordingly, it never regarded a collision between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union as a practical solution of Europe's problems. It did accept the idea of a four-power pact to exclude Russia from Europe, but it was not willing to allow Germany to expand eastward as she wished. The Milner Group's misunderstanding of the Nazi system and of Germany itself was so great that they envisioned a stable situation in which Europe was dominated by a four-power pact, with Soviet Russia on one side and an Oceanic bloc of the British Commonwealth and the United States on the other. The Group insisted on rapid British rearmament and the building up of the Oceanic System because they had a lower opinion of Britain's own powers than did the Chamberlain group (this idea was derived from Milner) and they were not prepared to allow Germany to go eastward indefinitely in the hope she would be satisfied by a war with Russia. As we shall see, the policies of the Milner Group and the Chamberlain group went jointly forward, with slight shifts of emphasis, until March 1939, when the Group began to disintegrate.

In the same article of December 1937 The Round Table said that the democracies must

"make clear the point at which they are prepared to risk war rather than retreat.... During the last year or two The Round Table has criticized the popular dogma of "collective security" on two main grounds: that it meant fighting to maintain an out-of-date settlement, and that security depended, not merely on public opinion but on ability to bring effective military superiority to bear at the critical point. On the other hand, The Round Table is resolutely in favour of adequate defensive armaments and of a vigorous and if necessary defiant foreign policy at those points where we are sure that ... we can bring superior power effectively to bear. And for this purpose we consider that the nations of the Commonwealth should not only act together themselves, but should also work in the closest cooperation with all the democracies, especially the United States."
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

Postby admin » Tue Apr 30, 2019 2:05 am

Part 4 of 5

In February 1938, Lord Lothian, "leader" of the Group, spoke in the House of Lords in support of appeasement. This extraordinary speech was delivered in defense of the retiring of Sir Robert Vansittart. Sir Robert, as Permanent Under Secretary in the Foreign Office from 1930 to 1938, was a constant thorn in the side of the appeasers. The opening of the third stage of appeasement at the end of 1937 made it necessary to get rid of him and his objections to their policy. Accordingly, he was "promoted" to the newly created post of Chief Diplomatic Adviser, and the Under Secretaryship was given to Sir Alexander Cadogan of the Cecil Bloc. This action led to a debate in February 1938. Lord Lothian intervened to insist that Sir Robert's new role would not be parallel to that of the new Under Secretary but was restricted to advising only on "matters specifically referred to him by the Secretary of State, and he is no longer responsible for the day to day work of the Office." From this point, Lothian launched into a long attack on the League of Nations, followed by a defense of Germany. In regard to the former, he expressed satisfaction that

"the most dangerous aspect of the League of Nations — namely, the interpretation which has habitually been put upon it by the League of Nations Union in this country — is pretty well dead.... It seems to me that that [interpretation] is inevitably going to turn the League of Nations itself not into an instrument for maintaining peace but into an instrument for making war. That was not the original concept of the League at all. The original concept of the League definitely left the way open for alteration after six months' examination even if it meant war.... I think the League of Nations now, at last, is going to have a chance of recovery, for the reason that this particular interpretation, which has been its besetting sin, the one thing which has led to its failure from the beginning, is now dead. . . . Therefore I am more hopeful of the League today than I have been for a good long time, because it has ceased to be an instrument to try to perpetuate the status quo."


When Lothian turned to the problem of Germany, his arguments became even more ridiculous. "The fundamental problem of the world today is still the problem of Germany.... Why is Germany the issue? In my view the fundamental reason is that at no time in the years after 1919 has the rest of the world been willing to concede any substantial justice or reasonable understanding to Germany, either when she was a Republic or since she has become a Totalitarian State." There followed a long attack on the war guilt thesis as applied to 1914, or even to 1870. This thesis Lothian called "propaganda," and from this false propaganda he traced all the cruel treatment given Germany since 1919. He disapproved of the Nazi Government's methods inside Germany, but added: "I do not think there is any doubt that modern Germany is the result of the policy of the United States, whom I cannot absolve from responsibility, of ourselves, and of France; and in this matter the responsibility of the United States and ourselves is more than that of France for defaulting on the obligation to give France some security so that she could allow Germany to recover."

It seems impossible that this could be the same man who was calling for the extirpation of "Prussianism" in 1908-1918 and who was to call for the same crusade as Ambassador in Washington in 1940.

In this same speech Lothian laid down what might be called the Milner Group solution to this German problem, 1938 model:

"There is only one solution to this problem. You have got to combine collective justice with collective security. You have got to give remedies to those nations which are entitled to them.... You have got to be willing to concede to them — and one of them is Germany — alterations in the status quo and you have also got to incur obligations with other like-minded nations to resist changes which go beyond what impartial justice regards as fair.... When we are willing to admit that we are ourselves largely responsible for the tragedy that confronts us, for the fact that Germany is the center of the world problem, and are willing to concede to Germany what a fair-minded and impartial authority would say was a fair solution of her problem, and if, in addition to that, we are willing to say, We will meet aggression to secure more than this with the only means in which it can be met, then I consider there is hope for the world."


The fallacy in all of this rests on the fact that every concession to Germany made her stronger, with no guarantee that she ever would stop; and if, after years of concessions, she refused to stop, she might be too strong to be compelled to do so. The Milner Group thesis was based not only on ignorance but also on logical deficiencies. The program of the Chamberlain group was at least more consistent, since it involved no effort to stop Germany at any point but aimed to solve the German problem by driving it into Russia. Such an "immoral" solution could not be acceptable to the Milner Group, so they should have had sense enough to stop Germany while she was weak.

Shortly after this speech, on 24 February 1938, Lothian intervened in the debate on Eden's resignation to reject Eden's point of view and defend Chamberlain's. He rejected the idea that Britain should commit herself to support Czechoslovakia against Germany and criticized the President of Czechoslovakia for his failure to make concessions to Republican Germany. He then repeated his speech of the week before, the chief addition being a defense of the German remilitarization of the Rhineland in March 1936.

Four days after the seizure of Austria, Lothian again advised against any new pledges to anyone and demanded rearmament and national service. In regard to rearmament he said: "Unpreparedness and the belief that you are unwilling to accept that challenge or that you do not mean what you say, does contribute to war. That will remain to be a condition of the world until the nations are willing in some way to pool their sovereignty in a common federation."

All of these ideas of Lothian's were explicitly restated by him in a speech at Chatham House on 24 March 1938. He refuted the"war-guilt thesis," condemned the Versailles settlement as "a very stiff Peace Treaty," insisted on revision, blamed all the disasters of Europe on America's withdrawal from the League in 1920, called the Hitler government a temporary "unnatural pathological state" solely caused by the stiff treaty and the failure to revise it, defended the remilitarization of the Rhineland and the seizure of Austria, condemned Czechoslovakia as "almost the only racially heterogeneous State left in Europe," praised "nonintervention" in Spain, praised Chamberlain's statement of the same day refusing to promise support to Czechoslovakia, and demanded "national service" as insurance that Hitler would not continue to use force after he obtained what he deserved injustice.



These arguments of Lothian's were all supported by the Group in other ways. The Round Table in its leading articles of March 1938, September 1938, and March 1939 demanded "national service." In the leading article of June 1938 it repeated all Lothian's arguments in somewhat different words. These arguments could be summed up in the slogan "appeasement and rearmament." Then it added:

"Until the nations can be brought to the two principles of collective security already described, the best security for peace is that the world should be divided into zones within each of which one of the great armed Powers, or a group of them, is clearly preponderant, and in which therefore other Powers do not seek to interfere. Then there may be peace for a time. The peace of the 19th century rested on the fact that the supremacy of the British Na v : kept the whole oceanic area free from general war. . . . The vital question now arises whether in that same zone, to which France and Scandinavia must be added, it is not possible, despite the immense armaments of central Europe, Russia, and the Far East, for the democracies to create security, stability, and peace in which liberal institutions can survive. The oceanic zone in fact constitutes the one part of the world in which it is possible today to realize the ideals of the League of Nations."


From this point onward (early 1938), the Milner Group increasingly emphasized the necessity for building up this Oceanic bloc. In England the basic propaganda work was done through The Round Table and Lionel Curtis, while in the United States it was done through the Rhodes Scholarship organization, especially through Clarence Streit and Frank Aydelotte. In England, Curtis wrote a series of books and articles advocating a new federal organization built around the English-speaking countries. The chief work of this nature was his Civitas Dei, which appeared in three volumes in 1934-1937. A one- volume edition was issued in 1938, with the title The Commonwealth of God. The first two volumes of this work are nothing more than a rehash and expansion of the older work The Commonwealth of Nations (1916). By a superficial and frequently erroneous rewriting of world history, the author sought to review the evolution of the "commonwealth" idea and to show that all of history leads to its fulfillment and achievement in federation. Ultimately, this federation will be worldwide, but en route it must pass through stages, of which the chief is federation of the English-speaking peoples. Writing early in 1937, he advocated that the League of Nations be destroyed by the mass resignation of the British democracies. These should then take the initiative in forming a new league, also at Geneva, which would have no power to enforce anything but would merely form a kind of international conference. Since it would be foolish to expect any federation to evolve from any such organization as this, a parallel, but quite separate, effort should be made to create an international commonwealth, based on the example of the United States in 1788. This international commonwealth would differ from the League of Nations in that its members would yield up part of their sovereignty, and the central organization would function directly on individuals and not merely on states. This international commonwealth would be formed, at first, only of those states that have evolved furthest in the direction of obtaining a commonwealth form of government for themselves. It will be recalled that this restriction on membership was what Curtis had originally advocated for the League of Nations in The Round Table of December 1918. According to Curtis, the movement toward the Commonwealth of God can begin by the union of any two national commonwealths, no matter how small. He suggested New Zealand and Australia, or these two and Great Britain. Then the international commonwealth could be expanded to include India, Egypt, Holland, Belgium, Scandinavia, France, Canada, the United States, and Ireland. That the chief obstacle to this union was to be found in men's minds was perfectly clear to Curtis. To overcome this obstacle, he put his faith in propaganda, and the chief instruments of that propaganda, he said, must be the churches and the universities. He said nothing about the Milner Group, but, considering Curtis's position in this Group and that Lothian and others agreed with him, it is not surprising that the chief source of this propaganda is to be found in those agencies controlled by the Group. (12)

In the United States, the chief source of this propaganda was the organization known as Union Now, which was an offshoot of the Rhodes Scholarship network. The publicized originator of the idea was Clarence Streit, Rhodes Scholar at Oxford in 1920 and League of Nations correspondent of The New York Times in 1929-1938. Mr. Streit's plan, which was very similar to Curtis's, except that it included fifteen countries to begin with, was first made public at a series of three lectures at Swarthmore College in February 1939. Almost simultaneously his book, Union Now, was launched and received wide publicity. Before we look at that, we might mention that at the time the president of Swarthmore College was Frank Aydelotte, the most important member of the Milner Group in the United States since the death of George Louis Beer. Dr. Aydelotte was one of the original Rhodes Scholars, attending Brasenose in 1905-1907. He was president of Swarthmore from 1921 to 1940; has been American secretary to the Rhodes Trustees since 1918; has been president of the Association of American Rhodes Scholars since 1930; has been a trustee of the Carnegie Foundation since 1922; and was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations for many years. In 1937, along with three other members of the Milner Group, he received from Oxford (and Lord Halifax) the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law. The other three recipients who were members of the Group were Brand, Ormsby-Gore, and Sir Herbert Baker, the famous architect.

As soon as Streit's book was published, it was hailed by Lord Lothian in an interview with the press. Shortly afterwards, Lothian gave it a favorable review in the Christian Science Monitor of 6 May 1939. The book was distributed to educational institutions in various places by the Carnegie Foundation and was greeted in the June 1939 issue of The Round Table as "the only way." This article said: "There is, indeed, no other cure.... In The Commonwealth of God Mr. Lionel Curtis showed how history and religion pointed down the same path. It is one of the great merits of Mr. Streit's book that he translates the general theme into a concrete plan, which he presents, not for the indefinite hereafter, but for our own generation, now." In the September 1939 issue, in an article headed "Union: Oceanic or Continental," The Round Table contrasted Streit's plan with that for European union offered by Count Coudenhove-Kalergi and gave the arguments for both.

While all this was going on, the remorseless wheels of appeasement were grinding out of existence one country after another. The fatal loss was Czechoslovakia. This disaster was engineered by Chamberlain with the full cooperation of the Milner Group. The details do not concern us here, but it should be mentioned that the dispute arose over the position of the Sudeten Germans within the Czechoslovak state, and as late as 15 September 1938 was still being expressed in those terms. Up to that day, Hitler had made no demand to annex the Sudeten area, although on 12 September he had for the first time asked for "self-determination" for the Sudetens. Konrad Henlein, Hitler's agent in Czechoslovakia and leader of the Sudeten Germans, expressed no desire "to go back to the Reich" until after 12 September. Who, then, first demanded frontier rectification in favor of Germany? Chamberlain did so privately on 10 May 1938, and the Milner Group did so publicly on 7 September 1938. The Chamberlain suggestion was made by one of those "calculated indiscretions" of which he was so fond, at an "off-the-record" meeting with certain Canadian and American newspaper reporters at a luncheon arranged by Lady Astor and held at her London house. On this occasion Chamberlain spoke of his plans for a four-power pact to exclude Russia from Europe and the possibility of frontier revisions in favor of Germany to settle the Sudeten issue. When the news leaked out, as it was bound to do, Chamberlain was questioned in Commons by Geoffrey Mander on 20 June but refused to answer, calling his questioner a troublemaker. This answer was criticized by Sir Archibald Sinclair the following day, but he received no better treatment. Lady Astor, however, interjected, "I would like to say that there is not a word of truth in it." By 27 June, however, she had a change of heart and stated: "I never had any intention of denying that the Prime Minister had attended a luncheon at my house. The Prime Minister did so attend, the object being to enable some American journalists who had not previously met him to do so privately and informally, and thus to make his acquaintance."

The second suggestion for revision of frontiers also had an Astor flavor, since it appeared as a leading article in The Times on 7 September 1938. The outraged cries of protest from all sides which greeted this suggestion made it clear that further softening up of the British public was urgently necessary before it would be safe to hand over Czechoslovakia to Hitler. This was done in the war-scare of September 15-28 in London. That this war-scare was fraudulent and that Lord Halifax was deeply involved in its creation is now clear. All the evidence cannot be given here. There is no evidence whatever that the Chamberlain government intended to fight over Czechoslovakia unless this was the only alternative to falling from office. Even at the height of the crisis, when all ways out without war seemed closed (27 September), Chamberlain showed what he thought of the case by telling the British people over the BBC that the issue was "a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing."

To frighten the British people, the British government circulated stories about the strength of the German Army and Air Force which were greatly exaggerated; they implied that Germany would use poison gas at once and from the air, although this was quite untrue; they distributed gas masks and madly built trenches in London parks, although the former were needless and the latter worthless. On 23 September, the British advised the Czechoslovakian government to mobilize, although they had previously forbidden it. This was done to increase the crisis in London, and the fact that Goring's air force allowed it to go through without attack indicates his belief that Germany did not need to fight. In fact, Goring told the French Ambassador on 12 September that he had positive assurance that Britain would not fight. As early as 1 September 1938, Sir Horace Wilson, Chamberlain's alter ego, told the German charge d'affaires in London. Theodor Kordt, "If we two, Great Britain and Germany, come to agreement regarding the settlement of the Czech problem, we shall simply brush aside the resistance that France or Czechoslovakia herself may offer to the decision."

The fraudulent nature of the Munich crisis appears throughout its history. We might mention the following: (1) the suspicious fashion in which the Runciman Mission was sent to Czechoslovakia, immediately after Hitler's aide, Captain Wiedemann, visited Halifax at the latter's home (not the Foreign Office) on 18 July 1938, and with the statement, which was untrue, that it was being sent at the desire of the Czechoslovaks; (13) (2) the fact that Runciman in Czechoslovakia spent most of his time with the Sudetens and put pressure on the government to make one concession after another to Henlein, when it was perfectly clear that Henlein did not want a settlement; (3) the fact that Runciman wrote to Hitler on 2 September that he would have a plan for a settlement by 15 September; (4) the fact that this Runciman plan was practically the same as the Munich settlement finally adopted; (5) the fact that Chamberlain made the war-scare over the Godesberg proposals and, after making a settlement at Munich, made no effort to enforce those provisions by which Munich differed from Godesberg, but on the contrary allowed the Germans to take what they wished in Czechoslovakia as they wished; (6) the fact that the government did all it could to exclude Russia from the settlement, although Russia was allied to both Czechoslovakia and France; (7) the fact that the government and the French government tried to spread the belief that Russia would not honor these commitments, although all the evidence indicated that she would; (8) the fact that Chamberlain had a tete-a-tete conference with Hitler at Berchtesgaden on 15 September, which lasted for three hours, and at which only Hitler's private interpreter was present as a third party, and that this was repeated at Godesberg on 23 September; (9) the fact that the Czechoslovaks were forced to yield to Chamberlain's settlement under pressure of ultimatums from both France and Britain, a fact that was concealed from the British people by omitting a crucial document from the White Paper of 28 September 1938 (Cmd. 5847).

Two additional points, concerned with the degree of German armaments and the position of the anti-Hitler resistance within Germany, require further elucidation. For years before June 1938, the government had insisted that British rearming was progressing in a satisfactory fashion. Churchill and others had questioned this and had produced figures on German rearmament to prove that Britain's own progress in this field was inadequate. These figures were denied by the government, and their own accomplishments were defended. In 1937 and in 1938, Churchill had clashed with Baldwin and Chamberlain on this issue. As late as March 1938, Chamberlain said that British armaments were such as to make her an "almost terrifying power ... on the opinion of the world." But as the year went on, the government adopted a quite different attitude. In order to persuade public opinion that it was necessary to yield to Germany, the Government pretended that its armaments were quite inadequate in comparison with Germany." We now know, thanks to the captured papers of the German Ministry of War, that this was a gross exaggeration. These papers were studied by Major General C. F. Robinson of the United States Army, and analyzed in a report which he submitted to the Secretary of War in October 1947. This document, entitled Foreign Logistical Organizations and Methods, shows that all of the accepted estimates of German rearmament in the period 1933-1939 were gross exaggerations. From 1936 to the outbreak of war, German aircraft production was not raised, but averaged 425 planes a month. Her tank production was low and even in 1939 was less than Britain's. In the first 9 months of 1939, Germany produced only 50 tanks a month; in the last 4 months of 1939, in wartime, Germany produced 247 "tanks and self-propelled guns," compared to a British production of 314 tanks in the same period. At the time of the Munich crisis, Germany had 35 infantry and 4 motorized divisions, none of them fully manned or equipped. This was no more than Czechoslovakia had alone. Moreover, the Czech Army was better trained, had far better equipment, and had better morale and better fortifications. As an example of this point, we might mention that the Czech tank was of 38 tons, while the Germans, before 1938, had no tank over 10 tons. During 1938 they brought into production the Mark III tank of less than 20 tons, and in 1939 brought into production the Mark IV of 23 tons. Up to September 1939, the German Army had obtained only 300 tanks of the Mark III and Mark IV types together. Most of these were delivered during 1939. In comparison, the Germans captured in Czechoslovakia, in March 1939, 469 of the superior Czech tanks. At the same time they captured 1500 planes (of which 500 were first-line), 43,000 machine-guns, and over 1 million rifles. These figures are comparable with what Germany had at Munich, and at that time, if the British government had desired, Germany would have been facing France, Britain, and Russia, as well as Czechoslovakia.

It should perhaps be mentioned that up to September 1939 the German Navy had acquired only 53 submarines during the Hitler regime. No economic mobilization for war had been made and no reserve stocks built up. When the war began, in September 1939, Germany had ammunition for 6 weeks, and the air force had bombs for 3 months at the rate of expenditure experienced during the Polish campaign. At that time the Air Force consisted of 1000 bombers and 1050 fighters. In contrast, the British air program of May 1938 planned to provide Britain with a first-line force of 2370 planes; this program was stepped up in 1939. Under it, Britain produced almost 3000 military planes in 1938 and about 8000 in 1939. The German figures for planes produced in these 2 years are 5235 and 8295, but these are figures for all planes produced in the country, including civil as well as military airplanes. As Hanson Baldwin put it, "Up until 1940, at least, Germany's production did not markedly outstrip Britain's." It might also be mentioned that British combat planes were of better quality.

We have no way of knowing if the Chamberlain government knew these facts. It should have known them. At the least, it should not have deluged its own people with untrue stories about German arms. Surprisingly, the British have generally refused to modify these stories, and, in order to perpetuate the fable about the necessity for the Munich surrender, they have continued to repeat the untrue propaganda stories of 1937- 1939 regarding German armaments. This is as true of the critics of Munich as of its defenders. Both have adopted the version that Britain yielded to superior and overwhelming force at Munich. They have done this even though this story is untrue and they are in a position to know that it is untrue. For example, Winston Churchill, in his war memoirs, repeats the old stories about German rearmament, although he has been writing two years or more after the Reichswehr archives were captured. For this he was criticized by Hanson Baldwin in The New York Times of 9 May 1948. In his recent book, Munich: Prologue to Tragedy, J. W. Wheeler-Bennett, the British editor of the captured papers of the German Foreign Ministry, accepts the old propaganda tales of German rearmament as axiomatic, and accordingly does not even discuss the subject. He merely tells his readers: "By the close of 1937 Germany's preparedness for war was complete. The preference for guns rather than for butter had brought forth results. Her rearmament had reached its apogee and could hold that peak level for a certain time. Her economy was geared to a strict regime of rationing and output on a war level." None of this was true, and Mr. Wheeler-Bennett should have examined the evidence. If he had, he would not have been so severe on what he calls Professor Frederick Schumann's "fantastic theory of the 'Pre-Munich Plot.'" (14)

The last piece of evidence which we might mention to support the theory — not of a plot, perhaps, but that the Munich surrender was unnecessary and took place because Chamberlain and his associates wanted to dismember Czechoslovakia — is even more incriminating. As a result of the inadequate rearmament of Germany, a group of conservatives within the regime formed a plot to liquidate Hitler and his close supporters if it appeared that his policy in Czechoslovakia would result in war. This group, chiefly army officers, included men on the highest level of government. In the group were Colonel General Ludwig Beck (Chief of the General Staff), Field Marshal von Witzleben, General Georg Thomas, Carl Friedrich Goerdeler (Mayor of Leipzig in 1930-1936), Ulrich von Hassell (ex-Ambassador to Italy), Johannes Popitz (Prussian Minister of Finance), and Paul Schmidt (Hitler's private interpreter). This group formed a plot to kill Hitler and remove the Nazis from power. The date was set eventually for 28 September 1938. Lord Halifax, on 5 September 1938, was informed of the plot by Theodore Kordt, the German charge d'affaires in London, whose brother, Erich Kordt, chief of Ribbentrop's office in the Foreign Ministry, was one of the conspirators. The message which Kordt gave to Halifax begged the British government to stand fast with Czechoslovakia in the Sudeten crisis and to make perfectly clear that Britain would go to war if Germany violated Czechoslovakian territory. The plot was canceled at noon on 28 September, when the news reached Berlin that Chamberlain was going to Munich. It was this plot which eventually, after many false starts, reached fruition in the attempt to assassinate Hitler on 20 July 1944.

There can be little doubt that the Milner Group knew of these anti-Nazi plots within Germany. Several of the plotters were former Rhodes Scholars and were in touch with members of the inner circle of the Milner Group in the period up to 1943, if not later. One of the leaders of the anti-Hitler plotters in Germany, Helmuth von Moltke, was probably a member of the Milner Group as well as intellectual leader of the conspirators in Germany. Count von Moltke was the son of the German commander of 1914 and grandnephew of the German commander of 1870. His mother, Dorothy Rose-Innes, was the daughter of Sir James Rose-Innes, whom Milner made Chief Justice of the Transvaal in 1902. Sir James was a supporter of Rhodes and had been Attorney General in Rhodes's ministry in 1890. He was Chief Justice of South Africa in 1914-1927 and was always close to the Milner Group. The von Moltkes were Christian Scientists, and Dorothy, as Countess von Moltke after 1905, was one of the persons who translated Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health into German. The younger Helmuth, son of Dorothy, and Count von Moltke after his father's death in 1938, was openly anti- Nazi and came to England in 1934 to join the English bar. He visited Lionel Curtis, at his mother's suggestion, and "was made a member of the family, rooms in Duke of York Street being put at his disposal, and Kidlington and All Souls thrown open to him at week-ends; the opportunities of contact which these brought with them were exploited to the full.... He was often in England until the summer of 1939, and in 1937 visited South Africa and the grandparents there to whom he was deeply attached." This quotation, from The Round Table for June 1946, makes perfectly clear to those who can read between the lines that Moltke became a member of the Milner Group. It might be added that Curtis also visited the Rose-Innes family in South Africa while Helmuth was there in 1937.

Von Moltke kept in close contact with both Curtis and Lothian even after the war began in 1939. He was made adviser on international law to the Supreme Command of the German Armed Forces (OKW) in 1939 and retained this position until his arrest in 1944. The intellectual leader of the German Underground, he was the inspiration and addressee of Dorothy Thompson's book Listen, Hans. He was the center of a group of plotters called the"Kreisau Circle," named after his estate in Silesia. After his execution by the Nazis in January 1945, his connection with the Milner Group was revealed, to those able to interpret the evidence, in the June 1946 issue of The Round Table. This article extolled Moltke and reprinted a number of his letters. The same article, with an additional letter, was published as a pamphlet in Johannesburg in 1947. (15)

Another plotter who appears to be close to the Milner Group was Adam von Trott zu Solz, a Rhodes Scholar who went to the Far East on a mission for the Rhodes Trust in 1936 and was in frequent contact with the Institute of Pacific Relations in the period 1936-1939. He seems to have attended a meeting of the Pacific Council in New York late in 1939, coming from Germany, by way of Gibraltar, after the war began. He remained in contact with the democratic countries until arrested and executed by the Nazis in 1944. It is not without significance that one of the chief projects which the plotters hoped to further in post-Hitler German foreign policy was a "federation of Europe in a commonwealth not unlike the British Empire." (16)

All of this evidence and much more would seem to support the theory of a "Munich plot" — that is, the theory that the British government had no intention or desire to save Czechoslovakia in 1938 and was willing or even eager to see it partitioned by Hitler, and only staged the war scare of September in order to make the British people accept this abuse of honor and sacrifice of Britain's international position. The efforts which the British government made after Munich to conceal the facts of that affair would support this interpretation. The chief question, from our point of view, lies in the degree to which the Milner Group were involved in this "plot." There can be no doubt that the Chamberlain group was the chief factor in the scheme. There is also no doubt that various members of the Milner Group second circle, who were close to the Chamberlain group, were involved. The position of the inner core of the Milner Group is not conclusively established, but there is no evidence that they were not involved and a certain amount of evidence that they were involved.

Among this latter evidence is the fact that the inner core of the Group did not object to or protest against the partition of Czechoslovakia, although they did use the methods by which Hitler had obtained his goal as an argument in support of their pet plan for national service. They prepared the ground for the Munich surrender both in The Times and in The Round Table. In the June 1938 issue of the latter, we read: "Czechoslovakia is apparently the danger spot of the next few months. It will require high statesmanship on all sides to find a peaceful and stable solution of the minorities problem. The critical question for the next six months is whether the four great Powers represented by the Franco-British entente and the Rome-Berlin axis can make up their minds that they will not go to war with one another and that they must settle outstanding problems by agreement together." In this statement, three implications are of almost equal importance. These are the time limit of "six months," the exclusion of both Czechoslovakia and Russia from the"agreement," and the approval of the four-power pact.
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