‘Valid Evidence’

Page 1



No.! November

O Foreign and Commonwealth Office


Foreign & Commonwealth HISTORICAL



Occasional Papers No. 1

November 1987 CONTENTS Papers presented at the Seminar'Valid Evidence', held in the FCO Library, Cornwall House, on 6 November 1987 Page No.

Foreword Mr Ian S Winchester, Assistant Under-Secretary of State



Dr Patricia M Barnes, Head of Library & Records Department Putting the Records Straight Miss Marian Clay, Head of Records Branch




and Practice

Dr Roger Bullen and Mrs Margaret Pelly, Editors of Documents on British Policy Overseas


Two case studies in the use of documentary evidence Peace Plan of January 1938 The Roosevelt Mrs Gillian Bennett, Assistant Editor, DBPO


Eden and Europe,


Records: the prospects for future Present-day Dr James E Hoare, Head of Far Eastern Section,

39-50 historians

Research Department Volumes



and in preparation

Copies of this pamphlet will be deposited with the National Libraries




Mrs HJ Yasamee, Assistant Editor, DBPO



FCO Historical Branch House, Stamford Street, London SEI 9NS Crown Copyright




The Historical Branch of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office consists of a team of independent historians engaged in the production of the Series Documents on British Policy Overseas, which is regarded by the historical profession as an essential tool for teaching and research. On 6 November 1987 a Seminar, 'Valid Evidence', was held in the FCO for historians in be interested in learning Series is the the more about way who might which forty We to than members of the profession on that produced. were glad welcome more both Historical Branch and of the of occasion, when papers were presented on work is the care of some of the archives on which Records Branch, whose responsibility history depends. The Seminar exemplifies the co-operation with the historical profession which it is FCO found believe Seminar We be to that the to those policy pursue. present of some value, have decided therefore to make the papers presented more generally available by and publishing them.

Ian S Winchester



Any historians worth their salt must be constantly concerned with the validity of the in field inquiry. Medievalists their them to chosen of are regularly evidence available faced with the problem of what has been lost to them by the passage of time but in for handling forged example chronicle evidence or charters, comparatively rarely, by interposition, human ingenuity, By difficulties the the created and of mind. with historians of the modern era need a considerably more complex critical contrast, first In the place, they must steer a course through the minefields of apparatus. hindsight laid for diarists, by them and self-justification memoir convenient memory, history. if In is to the their oral concerned with second, work writers and contributors figures, have business they to appraise the results of the essential and public public down Committee Grigg by by the recommended and applied processes of winnowing Records Public Act 1958. departments the the terms of of government under all Finally, if government chooses to publish editions of selections from the surviving freedom, partiality and propaganda arise. records, questions of editorial

Our seminar today is concerned with the second and third elements of this critical for from records the of permanent preservation, and preparation apparatus, the selection Documents Overseas in British Policy the train. We series of those records of now on hope to convince you that the evidence presented is both valid and useful, and that it by scrutiny test the official and academic users alike. of critical stands

Patricia M Barnes






We thought it might be helpful to describe what the Records Branch actually does and the criteria we apply and to address some of the problems and criticisms that have been Branch has functions: files Records two to produce previous main of raised with us. the FCO and all its predecessor Departments as they may be required for day to day business and to prepare files for transfer to the Public Record Office no later than 30 date from the of their creation. years Departments within the Office need to consult previous files fairly regularly. There will be major exercises such as Research Department's paper on the 10,20 or 50 year history of a particular dispute. An overseas government may revert to a matter it raised 5 years ago, and we need to check what happened then. A particular event may lead to a VIP An inward be for parallel cases. or might or outward visit made precedents call last Why long interval; the the what was occasion. programme on was a after a And in be Vice-Consulate X, established and on. an answer so may year particular is locate in London, the record of overseas visitor can we suddenly needed speedily: an Minister have from We the also enquiries remembers. a particular conversation files have been destroyed by whose own might some natural overseas governments disaster, like the fire in Kathmandu in the 70s. And members of the public or previous dates to see whether we can substantiate registration, of employment employees write have from for files PRO infrequently We to the purpose, so the call not up our old etc. be files if to prove working on we researchers may need. our apologies Turning to the preparation of files for transfer, I think it is worth emphasising some by The increases Common of paper volume year year. produced use of physical points. the telephone has probably reduced routine minuting within and between departments in the FCO, but both the number and the length of telegrams has expanded as has the for information. Within them to repeating or other posts action or extent of addressing the office submissions are widely copied and there is extensive consultation with other All lead duplication it is departments. Archives this to can of material and government be of that run papers shall main on a subject only one preserved. policy The files of the FCO political departments and those of its predecessor departments and British Commission for Germany Control for the the side of organizations such as 'sausage for 27 it the transfer enter machine' of review years was responsible which (We longer CCG because date took to the the their material creation. process afer of of 240 before back tons the that the quantity that came and necessary sorting was we first is decide files it. The ) to step are worthy of permanent what could start reading for historical importance. is It for their their administrative value or preservation either 'the its Prime Minister's visit to file, title, the content of a which counts; one on not Ruritania' may have no more than the revised car plan. And generally it is only the files


Department kept: Western have led lead department may on a subject the are which of for which Northern Department had a watching brief; if the Northern Department files Western Department's submissions and of their own minutes contained only copies of files Department's Northern be discarded Department Western then to as they would Similarly, lead department. if led FO those the the to of on a subject added nothing if it CRO be destroyed CO duplication; the to and and would were mere material copied file Unless FO the the converse applies. contained papers not available elsewhere we file Department Transport led, keep the of a on which, say, unless an would not international treaty were being negotiated. The lead Department for all treaty Whitehall here is departments FCO. I that the other might add are not negotiations keep lot FO telegrams. of so meticulous and a always The same principle of duplication applies to the files of posts abroad. Posts have a is incidentally be 'weeding' Weeding to not programme. confused with regular later; for I shall cover weeding means the removal of sensitivity, which reviewing duplicate Post files for preserved material. are only return to ephemeral, unimportant or London if they contain important minuting or papers not already available and have been here. Do there that must substantive minuting abroad: not assume preserved if an event were fast moving and critical coverage could well have been entirely by telegram. In some cases alas post files have had to be destroyed locally whatever their break in for before a relations, on the outbreak of war or in content, example local disturbances. There is a story of the burning of files in anticipation of severe Baghdad in 1941 where the refuge-seeking British community were helping to carry the files from the registry to the incinerators and were discovered to be reading them en route.

Batches of files come to an officer known as a selection reviewer, who reads them and decides what shall be preserved and what shall be scheduled for destruction. Entire jackets or files are preserved not individual papers; to select some papers from a file and to destroy the rest we would regard as tampering with the historical record. There were hiccoughs in the past over destruction of drafts; now drafts are preserved if they were by For the moment we are still working with the amended substantially a senior officer. jacket system of the Foreign Office whereby each incoming item or single white Colonial Office CRO the the substantive minute was given a separate cover; and ran files and the FO went over to that system on 1 January 1967. Jackets multiple paper however files is this are printed matter, and weeded of preserved since available Cabinet be Papers, these since of elsewhere, cleared will preserved on Cabinet Office files, and also cleared of documents of international organisations or agencies since these will be preserved in the Archives of the organisations concerned. There are Grigg 1954 from Report, on the type of material to the standard guide-lines, originating be preserved and our reviewers also work closely with Research, geographical and departments in Office the other who may ask us to watch out for papers on a long What Selection Reviewer puts aside as tricky particularly running or a subject. 'scheduled for destruction' is approved by the PRO Inspecting Officer before it is


files files, destroyed. Administration And keep destroyed. the a record of we physically both First have Review, destroyed Finance Department, a at which many are eg of for for kept fixed Whitehall-wide accounts, example, are a span of guide-lines under for 30-year deadline. Second Review the then a years - and The files preserved go to a 'lister' who gives them a PRO piece number and a title PRO lists. I forms basis the the shelf of cannot emphasize too strongly that the which key to use of the shelf lists is knowledge of the organisation of the FO, and other Departments of State, at the time. Departments within the Office changed their names The functions FO the and administrative world printed annual as needs changed. and lists contain a description of the various departments in the office for that year. You lead Government department. know It the to was which need not necessarily also need be the FO. We had a query recently about the League of Nations Rural Health Conference held in Bandoeng in 1937. The FO Index contained some references to it but the researcher drew a blank when requesting the files. The reason was that the Colonial Office had led, since the subject was of interest primarily to the Colonies, and CO files. Within 371 FO FO the the the papers were preserved on and not political files listed in departments. Other FO are alphabetical order of correspondence class Chief Clerk's Consular Papers, Archives, State Embassy the contain eg and classes Papers, etc. For security reasons classified files in the Colonial Office and the CRO In PRO files in kept be found the those two main classified separately. will were CRO divided CO by by the ones the and prefix subject, and their political classes, in I have by the to this country classes. complicate account unclassified counterparts Office Colonial in this separation of classified and unclassified material the adding that Colonial Office found in be in 1953 thereafter all and papers country or ceased will FO jacket The in files PRO 'piece' thin white grouped and placed classes. are subject folders and then in PRO boxes; the CRO and CO multiple paper files are merely boxed. Careful records are kept at all these stages as under our other hat Records Branch may files for departmental these to reference. produce need

The last stage is the one on which we get most queries. The Public Records Acts for 30 date. to to the the of papers categories open certain no public at provide year The files are therefore read by a team of sensitivity reviewers, composed of retired diplomatic the service, who read every paper to ensure that anything senior members of be further that requires protection can given it. They do not remove any papers; the is On unaltered. earlier selection review particularly tricky points we may need to in departments Office the the consult political and even to refer to our posts abroad. But it is withholding, not release, that we have to defend and justify: we release all we know, documents 1958 Act There two the sections can. of under which are, as you will 5.1 for Shortly Section in 50 be provided closure excess of can years. after withheld. force into Lord Chancellor day laid Act brought down 1967 the the the the of was deciding in for longer be to whether records adopted should remain closed a criteria down in laid Act. in 30 These 1970 that than the criteria revised and were period years in 1982 again and stand at:



be disclosure the of which would exceptionally sensitive papers, interest the to public whether on security or other grounds contrary (including the need to safeguard the Revenue);


documents containing information supplied in confidence, the disclosure faith; breach of good of which would or might constitute a


documents containing information about individuals, the disclosure of danger living distress to or persons or their which would cause immediate descendants.

Embarrassment to UK politicians is very definitely not a ground for closure. We might in fairness warn present Ministers that papers due for release show a decision taken by for Ministers have been but Minister to that to will not ask close us mistaken a previous difficulties As for but We the several are real. closure: are often criticised reason. historians pointed out at the time reduction from the 50 year period was being families less life. The 30 is than a working same personalities or may considered, years disputes in international be are still unresolved; some countries affairs; many active still have acute sensitivities and suspicions about their own history 30 years ago. There are had been in foreign individual that contact with a an several countries where revelations Embassy could still put him in real danger. We know that both Governments and the into 40 domain; the the over public papers we release media overseas read with avidity Greek in 1956 the the papers. press about articles appeared

Section 3.4 of the Act provides for the retention in departments of records required for As Government in for the said any other special reason. administrative purposes or March 1982 in their response to the report of the Wilson Committee the records retained intelligence include departments the those of security and services and certain within defence material, which are selected for permanent preservation on the established intervals 10 is There to to these retentions at year an obligation on us review criteria. is before its deadline is if see withholding still necessary; and closed material reviewed to see if it can be opened or if we need to seek the Lord Chancellor's approval for a further closure. When a FO jacket has to be closed or retained we put a note in the PRO piece to say Since Act it is Public do Records the withheld. of we not remove under which section items from files, again on the grounds that this would be tampering with the historical CO/CRO jacket file FO if multiple or a paper a needs protection record, one paper on On files have have I the the to then am afraid we multiple whole. withhold paper we handled to date the minutes on the left hand side reveal and comment on the content of the papers on the right hand side, so rendering any attempt to help you by removing dummy impracticable. It is not our policy to them single papers and replacing with a do but details is on occasion agree to answer specific reveal we of what withheld do by information historians if that the so questions posed can without prejudicing we


80% back little; hold I of upwards of very requires protection. can assure you that we be less 5% that than of will withheld. our political papers are preserved and Our procedure differs from that of the Americans in that we do not formally declassify but is declassification, The the the to of access effectively act public opening papers. historical is the record. papers as a matter of preserved on original classification

Marian Clay










Introduction Our subject is the latest stage of 60 years of fruitful collaboration between the British Government and the historical profession in the publication of diplomatic documents by independent historians. The Foreign Office has sponsored three separate series. In 1924 it authorized the publication of British Documents on the Origins of the War This series, consisting of eleven volumes published between 1926 and 1898-1914. 1938, was edited by GP Gooch and Harold Temperley. In 1944 the decision was between diplomacy Cabinet British by the wars, to the taken publish a new series on This is now complete in 64 Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919-1939.1 four it into into In decided 1973 divided to the series. publication extend was volumes Documents Overseas launched. British Policy 2 thus and on was post-war period It has taken us a little time to gather momentum but five volumes have now been is here for look future For is to the to try to publish the sixth you at. our aim published, two volumes each year. In the light of this progress we have asked you here to tell you it. how do As it is both do we see a story and you will of continuity and what we for both. It is here to the attempt shall explain reasons perhaps worth change and we its O. is focused D. B. P. that predecessors unlike not on the approach of a recording bears for dates, its furthermore that the title thus you will notice allowing no major war, Moreover launched the appropriate. when new series and was at a time extension as PRO. the the already open at archive was when 2



Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles, the so called war guilt clause, was clearly the in 1920s had the the so many of governments which participated in main reason why the First World War authorized the publication of documents from their archives in German The government was anxious to refute the claims officially sponsored series. in 1914. her Germany The the that aggressors and allies were scholarly endeavours of historians were thus caught up in this acute and bitter diplomatic controversy. Many believed that the legitimacy of the peace settlement as a whole was bound up in the inquiries into the truth or falsehood of article 231. It would, however, be misleading to suggest that the war guilt controversy was solely for diplomatic documents. half decisions In these to the publish responsible various century between 1870 and 1920 there was consistent pressure on governments either to open their archives or to sponsor publications of relevant documents from them. Historians had long since argued that archival research was the only basis of 'scientific'


'truth' The history. in 'definitive' hidden buried. Once the the was and archive, and historian had access to these archives he could discover what had happened and reveal it. Governments themselves also believed this to be true. After the war of 1870 both the French and German governments published documents from their diplomatic archives, intending had been Other to that the the suggest other each aggressor. governments, had those revolutionary with origins, particularly ransacked the archives of their in for documents discreditable kind. In 1918 the Soviet the search predecessors of a British, French and Italian governments by revelations the government embarrassed from the Tsarist archives about allied war aims in 1915. Such disclosures appeared to in the the western democracies for 'open strengthen already growing movement diplomacy'. Secrecy, it was alleged, bred mistrust and this was how wars broke out. To the historians' search for truth was thus added 'the people's right to know'. It was this combination of pressures which proved irresistible.



In 1924 Mr Ramsay MacDonald who was both Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary Office Foreign the that should publish a selection of documents from its archives agreed leading foreign British policy on up to the outbreak of war in 1914.4 This decision diplomatic documents the commission a publication of question: why raised rather than first instance history? In it the a narrative must be said that Mr MacDonald, who had favoured a narrative history, accepted the recommendations of the then Historical Adviser, James Headlam-Morley, 5 whose views were endorsed by GP Gooch, that a documentary series was more likely to be well received by the historical profession. It was his successor as Foreign Secretary, Mr Austen Chamberlain, who made the final for launch He the the arrangements of new series. accepted two principles which have Firstly independent historians that proved of enduring validity. should undertake the selection and editing and secondly that 'the reputation of the editors offers the best guarantee of the historical accuracy and impartiality of their work'. 6 It is to these in the the preface to each volume, 'the editors that principles conventional phrase used have had the customary freedom in the selection and arrangement of documents' looks back. It is a phrase, we can assure you, which means exactly what it says. The attempt by some historians in the early years of D. B. F. P. to impugn editorial integrity was it has be is ironic It to time that those who groundless. vigorously rebutted and shown made these charges themselves based their later work on the Series. The revelation after the second world war that the German series Die Grosse Politik had not observed these its devastating had principles not only a effect on reputation and integrity but also on the political end it was designed to serve. The undoubted success of British Documents on the Origins of the War clearly decision the vindicated not to commission a narrative history of British diplomacy. The type of arguments then employed remains, in our view, valid. The traditions, the practice and the standards of narrative history are, we believe, less well adapted than a documentary publication to silence controversy and reveal what happened in all its detail and complexity. It is harder for the narrative historian to be impartial in his


in facts in the the marshalling of arguments and salient such a way as to evaluation of balance. Moreover diplomatic has historian their every original weight and reveal international bound be the to relations of which are nature more assumptions about intrusive in a narrative history. Indeed it is his task to make a critical analysis which indicate it find in documents diplomatic to proper only prefaces. editors of The publication of diplomatic documents does not necessarily overcome all these difficulties but if it is done according to Chamberlain's precept of historical accuracy defects history be impartiality the then of narrative can of mitigated or and many histories Second is World War It the that the official whereas of avoided. noteworthy 'alone for individual the that the authors are responsible carry an endorsement disclaimer has been the thought expressed', such no views ever statements made and diplomatic documents. British Moreover in the publication of at the end of necessary the day historians and the interested public have at their disposal the various national collections of documents which they can themselves compare and collate, and in the light of the 30 year rule the editorial selection can be assessed against the original files. The success of British Documents on the Origins of the War was followed, soon after by War, World Second consideration within the Foreign Office the outbreak of the Documents British Foreign led Policy by Mr Eden, to the of on announcement which 29 Earlier March 1944.7 Sir Secretary, L Woodward Foreign had been the on foreign British history in of to narrative a policy write commissioned war time as part History Second Office Cabinet World War. After the the of series on the official the of documentary to thought given a possible was series to bridge the gap war some between Gooch and Temperley and D. B. F. P. but work on this project lapsed. When Dr Rohan Butler as Historical Adviser came later to plan a post 1945 series documents favour in of rather than a narrative still held and were similar arguments international by for preference a general such a treatment of foreign now supported is It in Governments, that noting a worth number of peacetime. other policy such as the Canadian and Belgian Governments, have adopted styles modelled on ours for their diplomatic publications and that we have recently been consulted by German, Korean and Japanese representatives who are planning to launch similar series. Only the Foreign Relations of the United States is ahead of us in postwar publication, and the Editors hope, their enjoy with are, we good relations we as helpful to them as they are to us.

It was recognised when D. B. P. O. was launched that there could be criticism of the decision to begin in 1945, thus leaving the war time period undocumented but it was history light Woodward the that, the of in and the desirability of not falling too accepted far behind the 30 year rule and the publication of the F. R. U. S., it would be advantageous to take the clear starting point of the conference at Potsdam for the new decision in favour The documents is also in line with the established policy of series. of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that its function is to make the documents available whether through publication or at the Public Record Office rather than to enter into controversy itself.



The Aims

Series the of

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has three closely related aims in sponsoring D. B. P. O. Firstly to enable the people of the United Kingdom to read for themselves an foreign documentary impartial the record of conduct of policy under the accurate and direction of Parliament. Secondly to provide students of recent history with first hand in in Thirdly for their a competitive world studies. which other governments material FCO British to that the aims ensure assessments of also sponsor similar publications diplomacy are in the first instance based on British records. It would be singularly from if history British the archives and the policy was written of unfortunate her her it For still, adversaries. allies or, example could, as publications of either worse ideas Cold be know, American War the that the of argued many of we are sure you have in historians light the appeared sadly wanting when viewed revisionist of the believe from British We Schuman that the the archives. also publication of evidence Plan volume is now dispelling many of the myths propagated about British policy towards European integration by contemporary continental critics. As editors we share the three aims of the FCO and it is from these that we derive our instructions. Within these broad aims, however, we seek to fulfil more specific in objectives, particulary relation to the second, that of providing the historical Before introduction history. the the raw materials of profession with of public access to 30 the year rule, the editors were providing the recent government archives under Since texts. then and particularly in view the scholarly community with only available immense facilities the their the the editors size of with of archives, special provide a comprehensive survey of the archives which other scholars could not, without the difficulty, In match. greatest particular we can assemble the scattered pieces of a story told in more than one Foreign Office or Whitehall Department (as Mrs Bennett's and Mrs Yasamee's papers will show). It could be said that we are part of the service sector is historical What then the nature of the service we provide? the of profession. Firstly we aim to provide historians with collections of documents in which each We first hand tell then the story. are at all stages of a series as a whole at volume and function editing very conscious of our story-telling and examine our work carefully to Our is that to let the a case. role make sure we are not, even unconsciously, arguing documents speak for themselves and never to use them to prove a point. That is for the for authors of scholarly monographs, articles and general surveys whom our documents provide a basis. A good deal of the hard work of research is done for historians of all future generations. Equally the volumes provide indispensable material for special subjects in universities, and schools in which the next polytechnics These historians be trained. activities of writing and teaching require generation of can an accurate and accessible text such as our volumes provide. In our selection from the archives we start from the assumption that we need to look at as much of the material available as possible and it is no false modesty that leads us to independent least that the than say archive we probably see more of any researcher, not because the files are brought to us here. We do not have the same restrictions and


difficulties as those who pursue their research at Kew. We also aim to establish criteria in level discrimination the the of use of evidence which raise of significance and historical assessments and debate. In this sense D. B. P. O. is part of the moving frontier history. of contemporary When we speak of volumes we mean both the printed documents and those on the Later dual the to we shall return nature of the volumes; accompanying microfiches. Our is documents documents. to purpose provide as many as printed and microfiche Victorian have Like the the novel a main plot, the printed volumes cheaply as possible. documents, and the usual variety of sub plots, whose story is told in the notes and the further For to this the those go and want even probably who means microfiches. believe, in the provide, extremely useful signposts we research student - our volumes full from for further detail PRO. the the archive at search

The Scope of the Series The Parliamentary announcements defines the scope of the series as a collection of the in Commonwealth Office Foreign important documents the the archives of and most for Second decade World War. It British the the overseas to after policy was relating be in divided into decided, to that the speed publication, up order period also would and 1950-1955 two series, 1945-1950 and that they would be published simultaneously. For a variety of reasons work on the second series did not begin until the end of 1982. Within this mandate the editors are free to decide for themselves how from We the assumption that we can only cover the most they plan the series. start important issues and problems of foreign policy. It is our belief that it gives a better focus document fully issues to the to them on and as as major understanding of policy limits It is feasibly be the of what can already clear to us that printed. possible within issues drawn forward are with and alongside the major ones secondary and subsidiary be briefly disappearance It has their that their or to can resolution signposted. and either be said, however, that minor issues of no great consequence are unrecorded. It is important to bear in mind that civil servants, whatever their rank and function, generate Minor in immense paper. of officials amount engaged routine work can contribute a an large amount to the archive. surprisingly It is also our experience that rigid long-term plans are as inappropriate for the editors of documents as they are for policy makers. We freely acknowledge that we do not have blueprints for the next decade but we do have a sense of purpose, indeed of urgency, framework from A would rigid prevent us responding to the archive and a clear aim. itself; to the unexpected and as yet unknown twists and turns of policy. There is an important balance to be struck between documenting those issues and events to which historians now accord significance and those to which the policy makers gave their attention and priority. In view of the thematic and topical approach which we employ in our editing we have found that strict adherence to our base years (1945 and 1950) is not necessarily the


in invest We forward. time acquiring specialist an enormous amount of quickest way knowledge. For example in Series I we found it appropriate to carry the story of AngloAmerican relations in the aftermath of war through the first year of peace and then to Germany implications in their and turn to the myriad problems of occupation policy and in Series II we have had to unravel and explain the enormously complex structure of NATO in its formative years. In view of this investment it can make sense to carry topics and themes forward rather than abandon them for unrelated subjects. We bear in fulness do in the to the that of time the series will add up to a same, mind, and ask you is is this the sequence of not of achieved particular volumes complete whole and when great significance.


The Organisation

of Volumes

One of the principal features of continuity between the three publications is the way we international There is basis, agreement course an of general on organise our volumes. that any arrangement of diplomatic documents must be ordered in chronological its document date the time that the at of composition, of a place and sequence and irrespective of the difference between time zones, should form the basis of the order date distribution document The the time the receipt and of of a and arrangement. within information but basis on which a not as a are universally regarded as valuable additional documents be can organised. collection of Beyond this commonsense approach to the problem of chronology, national traditions formulae into different for have the the organisation of adopted entered and style documents within each volume. Briefly three different methods emerged. The French in documents their to subject strict chronological order. print all whatever method was The American way was to take a regional focus for each volume with further subdivisions within. It has proved necessary to make exceptions to this rule and organise broad by British The themes or topics. to way was select either some volumes individual topics, and sometimes both, and organise the documents within a volume into chapters reflecting these themes and topics. Clearly the difference between the British and American methods is not as great as between them and the French. The historians in the State Department are making increasing use of the topical method and it formula French be to their the to orginal seen whether when they remains will adhere begin their post Second World War series. It is perhaps useful to point out why in the editing of D. B. P. O. we have continued with the formula established by British Documents on the Origin of the War and first In B. F. P. by D. the the place the organisation of editors of subsequently upheld Office. Foreign The by division the the topics of reflects organisation of the volumes Office into departments is essential for the efficient conduct of business, so much so that the departmental structure is constantly adapting. The flow of correspondence Office Office is firmly between the the posts overseas and was and anchored and within has 371 know. Our departmental FO the consulted anyone as who structure will within from if had be to the assumption that our start we progress would unacceptably slow first task as editors was to unravel the archives and organise our material on a basis. than a subject chronological rather


Clearly such thematic and topical volumes reflected the way in which policy was made. Very few officials, apart from the Permanent Under-Secretary of State had an overview focused their on particular geographical areas or problems of attention was of policy; development it is In the to origin and of policy necessary to policy. order understand follow its progress upwards; from the department to the superintending underSecretary State. Consultation PUS to the then to the on and of secretary, with other Whitehall departments frequently takes place at any or indeed all levels in this process. In those instances when the Secretary of State consults the Prime Minister and/or other Cabinet colleagues or a memorandum is presented to the Cabinet, the departmental be in drafts. In initiatives the can seen a very strict sense, successive origins of such therefore, the way we organise our volumes is a mirror of the policy making process. It is proper that an official series should concentrate on the execution of policy, to show how implemented. The decisions taken they and majority of the were were what documents in the archive are concerned with this process. In D. B. P. O., however, we for than to take more slightly relaxed a possible our earlier are able was view difficult formulation documenting the question of policy and the predecessors on discussion of alternative lines of policy, both within the Foreign Office and at Cabinet level. In the pre-1939 period much of the discussion on the formulation of policy was In 1932 Grey Lord through minutes. of Fallodon wrote to The Times conducted deploring in principle the publication of the advice given by officials, both because he feared this would prejudice their freedom of expression in future, and because it might in his 'authoritative documents'; the minutes the since were not, public, mislead words, Ministers determining instructions alone of policy. 9 actual influence Gooch late have Lord Grey's intervention too to was much on and Temperley, but in his editing of D. B. F. P. Professor Woodward was conscious of the In decisions Grey's the postwar period more argument. are taken, within the weight of lower instructions, discussion level, documents the at a and are of a context of existing for both some example semi-official minutes, correspondence more varied nature, with departments, Permanent Under-Secretary's the of papers posts and other government Committee, briefs for the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister and memoranda for the Cabinet. We are able to use all of these. In practice therefore we are able to illuminate those aspects of policy formulation which take place within an official impact. have latter is An Labour Party official the the an context or which example of Unity, in is documented European 1950, in published the story of which pamphlet on the Schuman Plan volume.

Editing by theme and topic enables us to concentrate upon the major issues of policy. There is of course sometimes a difference between what, after the passage of time, historians consider to be the important landmarks of policy and those problems and crises which at the time greatly preoccupied policy makers but which historians have in For lesser their the to assessments place of past. example the question of consigned a initially low know it Berlin to regarded as a matter of priority: as all access was we dramatically increased in importance and still remains a vital concern. Before the


Asian Korea division key issue 1950 the of summer of was not regarded as a of diplomacy and was dealt with at a relatively low level in the Foreign Office. On the for hand in high level American desire 1945-46 the there of consideration other was bases in British Commonwealth territories which had to be documented for its effect on Anglo-American relations but was an issue which quickly faded out. On this matter our documents last but in is balance the to can only reflect the archive resort our aim strike a and this in its turn reflects the priorities and preoccupations of the policy makers.

The Problem

Archive the of

Miss Clay has given a lively account of the problem of the archive from the historian's Before like to the turning angle should to pay we administrator's standpoint. Records FCO Administration high the to tribute to the which standard a very works. Though there have in the past been occasions when over zealous weeders have is loss instructions Ramsay MacDonald's the the their classic example of exceeded in our view Records Branch does a very difficult job with draft on the Zinoviev Letter historians. the of needs a patient understanding of The basic problem for historians working in the postwar FCO archives is sheer size. For our period of 1945-1955 the number of papers coming into the Foreign Office climbed from just over 540,000 to over 570,000, peaking at 630,000 in 1950 when the Foreign Office's responsibilities for German administration swelled the bulk. The FCO is the successor department not only of the Foreign Office but also of the Colonial Commonwealth Relations Offices, and in accordance with the and Parliamentary announcement of 1973 documents from these Departments are included There is in fact a good deal of overlapping of papers between these where appropriate. Departments, which can be helpful in filling gaps. Since our Series is focused on foreign policy, we follow our mandate to 'keep the work within manageable proportions' by concentrating on Foreign Office documents. For our decade the main FO political class, FO 371, contains nearly 75,000 pieces, rising to not far short of 80,000 when other strictly Foreign Office classes such as Private Office Papers, Cultural Relations and Information, FO 800,924 and 953, are included. In addition the archives of the British Element of the Control Commission, listed in the bracket of classes FO 1005-1082, contain over 30,000 pieces, while the Control Office for Germany and Austria contributes a further 6,000 pieces in classes FO 935-46. All this explains at the outset why we have to be selective in our plan for documentation, which has to be restricted to key areas for British policy.

Let me give some idea of the problems for one volume. We hope that Volume V of Series I, covering Western Europe for the last five months of 1945, is something of a special case. The number of jackets for the main relevant Departments is nearly 6,000 for Central, covering Germany and Austria, and over 7,000 for Western, including Italy. Adding a guess for other Departments partially used, such as Economic and

Northern, brings our figure up to 15,000. Bearing in mind that most jackets contain document 30,000 for documents that than this consideration of one more we reckon is probably an underestimate. one volume We realise that we are fortunate in having unique facilities for making a systematic intricate We best it fully for do to this archive. and our as as search of use possible vast figures but historians, benefit these tell their own story of the pressures of the of itself inevitably documents Nevertheless the archive contains many where the selection. in different One forms. facts service which we can provide same or views are repeated is to avoid duplication and select the best formulations for our readers. In addition we have to go to the Cabinet Office archives for a full collection of Cabinet in from 1948 onwards, and any case a trawl through these archives, and those material in the PREM collection of Prime Ministers' papers, is necessary to add both important in FCO items included depth the to archives and particular which can add material not is A in Government trawl the also similar required archives of any other our coverage. department especially concerned in the subject being covered - for example, Treasury for Trade Board the Schuman Plan volume. Obviously time forbids our papers and of in Whitehall the archives and we have to restrict ourselves to a quick scanning all into those of the greatest relevance. plunge

There are also the lesser problems of tracing papers. The main finding aids are the PRO Index. Main We are fortunate that there are still some useful the shelf-lists and 1950 filing logical after registers, especially when a more system was introduced. We if find that usually, not reckon quite always, what we are seeking, and that our we can find to one's way through than many others. archives are easier 8

How we start:

the Concept of the Group

of Documents

It has long been recognized within Historical Branch that the challenge of the vast bulk be by only can met of modem archives adapting the successful style which the Editors Experience has D. B. F. P. of evolved. shown, as explained in the Introduction to the Second Series of D. B. P. O., printed in Volume I of that Series, that the editorial be documents to to must groups of approach selection rather than to individual documents. The idea of employing calendars, printed below substantive documents and briefly indicating the contents of related documents or runs of documents, together with documents, formula the calendared of the copies on microfiche proposed by was Rohan Butler, who made the first use of them in the Potsdam volume. Since then as Series has have had developments. the proceeded to we on work make new A further adaptation from D. B. F. P. has also become necessary since it has become high has that the of cost printing apparent made the old style of generous selection have We found but there that expensive. are not only marketing unacceptably also in dealing producing slimmer practical advantages volumes, with a manageable number documents, By thus production. speeding of use of microfiches and extracts or in footnotes further documents documents in summaries of cover can as many we as


keep fat the the to cheapness of microfiches the traditional volumes, and can exploit for Having down. these slimmer volumes selection printing embarked on overall cost becomes an extremely rigorous process. The treatment has to be flexible, determined by the nature of the topics covered as well Conferences, Thus documents by them. the such as a volume on as which record Series I, Volume H, does not use many calendars because supporting documents will fit in better the subsequent geographical volumes. probably The political differences between the period immediately after the war and the latter part keep in inevitably for different decade though techniques, editing rather we call of our do diverge. Thus the early touch to that the principles not editorial close make sure foreign Series I have to treatment combine of major policy questions, such volumes of issues from for treaties, that arising as peace of clearing after a with world war, up involved delicately balanced decisions example relief and refugees, which of politics and humanity in allocation of resources. By the late 1940s the pattern of world affairs had settled down in the sense that foreign issues. The major policy dealt with more conventional political and politico-economic is here German that the example question had lost the administrative aspect of day-today control and was becoming one of relations with Germany as well as diplomatic exchanges about Germany. Nevertheless the outbreak of war in the Far East in June 1950 has presented different documentary of the problems, with the blurring demarcation line between political and military considerations calling for new editorial techniques. If we try to explain how we tackle a new volume it may clarify our thinking for you. Let us take as an example Series I, Volume V. Having established the foundations of this Series by dealing with the major postwar conferences of 1945 - Potsdam, Foreign Ministers and Attlee-Truman in Volumes I-II, and relations with the United States in Volumes III-1V, policy on Germany was the obvious next step. It followed that we should include a treatment of other Western European countries since a basic problem for Britain was the allocation of scarce resources as between the British Zone of Germany and the liberated countries. The next decision was that in the light of the many cross connexions it was better to print the documents in a single series than to divide them into topical chapters.

The next question was the time span. Though a final decision need not be taken until a late stage, we try to work towards a clear historical break. In this case the Reparation Plan of March 1946 would be a good target, but looking at two cupboards bulging with photocopies of papers for August to December 1945 we realised that it would be a struggle to get through to the end of the year, even with a ruthless selection, within the new limits which we have set ourselves. With this plan in mind our procedure is to trawl through our collection of photocopies, from a very full reading of the relevant archives, to eliminate the least important


documents and begin putting together groups of related documents. We try at this stage to make a provisional assessment as to which to print, with candidates for noting and calendaring attached behind. Groups of documents of secondary interest are collected for have reconsideration when we separately completed our main selection. The next stage is to reassess our groups. We first look at them from the point of view likely be if limits to whether we are of size, and not, whether of estimating within our in light documents, deliberately historical the the the of go significance of should, we into The top the two the could or split or whether we make economies. volume over is important interesting is the task, perhaps most aspect of which and editing, next taking the final decision as to which documents to print. The criteria here are many and the choices involved most difficult. This is the point discussion between Assistant Editor Editor. Some the most and stimulates which documents seem to say 'Print me' as they have the kind of quality one instinctively frequent illuminating. Unfortunately these are not as as we recognizes as especially has be the the to other end of spectrum sometimes a choice made would wish, and at from a group of documents, none of which is wholly satisfactory. In some cases documents are selected because they are of such a high level that they cannot be ignored, for example relevant Cabinet minutes or papers, or reports of conversations foreign Occasionally, if important discursive statesmen. such records are or of with inordinate length we print an extract and calendar the remainder. Other documents cover form; be Cabinet in high level lot these condensed may a of ground minutes are often junior level has brief for here low his or as a good a written good senior. when very Others are descriptive, setting a scene, and giving the reader a little relief from more technical material. We also like to give a selection of the varied types of documents on Office Foreign the worked. which In this context Foreign Office minutes are documents which like all others must be treated on their merits. If they contribute something worth while we use them; if they do not we ignore them. The exceptions are the rather rare minutes by the Secretary of State, which we quote in footnotes if they have something to reveal about his thinking. There is also the question of balance, as for instance on the practical level, between documents coming into and being despatched by the Foreign Office, and between implementation. Far more important, and indeed basic to our decisions their policy and is impartiality, balance be between the good the of political whole concept which may favourable bad British between policy, and or aspects of and unfavourable presentation friendly foreign Governments, to the United Kingdom or not. whether regarded as of We make no apologies for returning to this point because we know that acceptance of the validity of our evidence depends on the impartiality of our presentation. This informs not only our handling of the broad sweep of policy but also the care we take to fully have document that understood what a summarized ensure we says and have made its salient arguments. Thus the style of editorial matter tends to be an accurate precis of flat, innuendoes. Jokes come in inverted commas. The only avoiding studiously


luxury the of giving some exceptions are our prefaces where we permit ourselves Ultimately drawn. be the to tell a volumes exist to might conclusions which pointers in documents for take this along a way which which printing story and we must select discussion for and events. the reader a confusing medley of clarifies

Having chosen the documents for printing - and the decision on what not to print is in decide is the to subsidiary ones each group the of which next stage often agonising be for footnotes, in be calendared microfiches which will summarized or quoted will how We be much of the ask ourselves such questions as and which will rejected. document in question do we need to use; is the information in which we are interested too complicated to be reduced to the bare bones of a calendar, alternatively is it going to be worth the reader's paying for a microfiche when the essence could go into a short footnote; on the other hand is a long footnote going to hold up the flow of the story in footnote documents document. Broadly have the printed to use speaking we when we for is leaving the microfiche. that there so much nothing worth We are not, however, always thinking in terms of individual subsidiary documents. Very often the decision to calendar is unavoidable when we have a supporting group of documents on an aspect of the subject which we are treating. Here footnoting would long, introduced be by footnote probably a whereas a calendar, sometimes which can include information not appropriate for a calendar, seems to be the convenient way to forward. On the other hand sometimes we feel that the topic covered in a the carry story has subsidiary group ceased to be significant. In this case it may appear appropriate to handle it in what we call a 'write-off note', which may give a brief indication of what happened or may merely state where further correspondence can be found. Although the reader of the printed volume may not wish to read the calendared documents in full in the microfiches it remains the policy of the Editors that he should be given a sufficient indication of their contents to gain an impression of what they feel he is We deprived in that that it is the record so not of a significant episode story. is buttressed be by an that the that the printed material essential reader should conscious organised substructure of supporting evidence in the microfiches. Inevitably much of this material is of a specialist or technical kind. At the same time the calendars should leave something new for the reader of the microfiches. We strive to achieve the happy mean, especially by choosing key quotations which give the flavour of the documents from which they come. Often we use a chain of calendars or occasionally a very long calendar to bridge the gap between the printed documents. We try to avoid the last calendar on an earlier document overlapping in chronology the first on a later one on the subject.

Such is the complexity of the documentation that we find it necessary from the early stages of editing to begin compiling the chapter summaries and index for our own use. Because we ourselves are using our straightforward index of main subjects and persons as a working tool we hope it is providing our readers as well as ourselves with essential information. It is perhaps worth mentioning that the index for the Potsdam volume is incorporated in the index in Volume II of Series I. We remain convinced that these two aids, one at the beginning and one at the end of each volume, provide the best


for help different have At to readers with requirements. practicable some stage we shall consider the question whether some finding aid for the Series as a whole may be needed.




As set out in the Parliamentary announcement of the Series, and repeated in each has been devised for papers which remain volume published, a special procedure 'microcopies documents be By these this calendared procedure of will sensitive. it is for in exceptional cases where necessary on security purchase, except available document, be indicated in to the the of a particular as restrict availability will grounds text of the calendars'. This procedure was agreed in order to avoid damaging is insurance FCO both between Editors As to the the an and and parties. confrontation Editors we accept this need to protect the national interest and we believe that this is by our readers. understood As explained in their Prefaces the Editors have the right to see papers retained here Office Section 3(4) Section Public Record 5(1) the or closed at under under of the Public Records Act of 1958. Such access does not, however, give them the right to use Sanction for its has be from to the relevant Political sought such material. use Department or other authority. The Editors have also the right to ask for enquiries to be is in behalf documentation. Such that there their they the on a gap made where consider Mr Truman in in in Mr Attlee's Washington talks with a case arose respect of November 1945, documented in Volume II of Series I. No records of the main conversations on atomic energy were traced. When the Editors wish to use a withheld document they have to weigh up how to incurring for from their the the FCO, which readers without a veto maximum obtain into both Editors FCO bring the the the special procedure, operation which and would are anxious to avoid. The first choice is obviously to print the document in full. If the Editors consider that be damaging have that to the national they publication would not and case a good interest, which is the criterion, they request this. If, however, permission to print or fall-back forthcoming is document the to the positions are either not calendar print with footnote, by in Potsdam acknowledging the an accompanied as omissions volume, or to summarize the document in a footnote. Such a footnote, which has to be cleared with the FCO, must give a balanced summary of the document, to take some account of in detail. is If be revealed such a summary not acceptable then the special what cannot be avoided. procedure cannot In practice the Editors have found that it does not follow that retained documents are of historical significance. For example, many contain trivial but wounding comments on foreign statesmen still in public life. In any case, very few of those that we have seen have contained essential information not already available in an open file. So far few have been to these accepted. requests use editorial


The FCO has only once exercised its right to refuse an editorial request. This arose in Volume IV to relation of Series I. Documentation on the question of Belize has had to be omitted and the Editors have therefore for the first time had to use the special for procedure a calendar without the accompanying microfiched documents. This has been indicated by square brackets on calendar i to No. 6. The relevant Department of the FCO did, however, accept a wording for the calendar which gave some indication of the scope of the withheld documents. Such restriction is naturally very disappointing for the Editors. Conscious that their work is incomplete until the documents are released, the Editors will continue to make representations to this end. At the same time they recognise that the procedure preserves them from wrangles with the FCO, which could be as damaging to the Series as were those of Gooch and Temperley, while enabling them to keep faith with their readers by acknowledging the omission and giving at least some indication of what has had to be omitted. As stated in the preface to each volume we do not have access either to personnel or intelligence material, although the decisions which we document may well have been based on reports which draw on such material. It is interesting to note that in this respect we stand on the same ground as the Editors of F. R. U. S. in the State Department. The Editors consider that it is only fair to the FCO to record that in every case which has arisen their own appreciation of the political standpoint of the FCO has been matched by a parallel understanding of the historical position by the great majority of the officials concerned. 10

The Future

We began by referring to fruitful collaboration between the Government and the historical profession. We hope that Dr Barnes's introduction and this paper will have better how this collaboration works in respect of the historians given a understanding of here. When this Series was approved the FCO believed that the best way of publishing the British viewpoint was through giving us the customary freedom to print the good have bad. As in have in the they the thousands of recorded, and we only one case documents published in our six volumes and their microfiches laid any restriction on it is in fact The few documents FCO has that to the that the only relation us. sensitive any say confirms what we said earlier about the Editors continuing to enjoy the freedom of selection and arrangement. We believe that the mutual trust customary between today exists which us and the Office is greatly beneficial to the study of history, and the hope for the future is that we can proceed with making the documents fast available as as possible.

Roger Bullen Margaret Pelly



The Editors of D. B. F. P. were Professor EL Bury, Professor WN Medlicott, Mr JPT Miss ME Lambert (Mrs Pelly).

Woodward, Professor

Dr R Butler, D Dakin and


See ME Pelly, 'The selection of documents for the F. C. O. Series on British in RB Smith and Policy: A Great Enterprise 1924-1985' Foreign AJ Stockwell (Eds. ), British Policy and the Transfer of Power in Asia: Documentary Perspectives (London: S.O. A. S. 1987), pp 12-18.


See Keith A Hamilton, 'The Pursuit of "Enlightened Patriotism"; the British Foreign Office and Historical Researchers during the Great War and its Aftermath', to be published in Historical Research: the Bulletin of the Institute Historical Research. of


See Frank Eyck, GP Gooch: A Study in History and Politics (London, 1982), Chapter 10.


Volume XI, The Outbreak for War, Headlam-Morley subsequently edited of Gooch and Temperley.


Open letter from Austen Chamberlain The Times, 3 December 1924.


Parl. Debs., 5th ser., H. of C., vol. 398, cols 1408-9.


Sir A Douglas-Home's statement on 2 July 1973 is printed in Parl. Debs., 5th 859, C., 45-6. H. cols. vol. ser., of


The Times, 21 November 1932, p. 13.


to RW









From 1974-1984 I was privileged to work with the then Senior Editor of D. B. F. P., Professor W. N. Medlicott, on the second series of that publication. During those years I assisted with the editing of eight volumes, covering the years 1933-8: apart from (although in some sense including) the final two volumes, which dealt with Far Eastern dominated by developing European the study a of situation affairs, our work was leading up to the war. In the preparation of all eight volumes the relationship between Neville Chamberlain, as Chancellor of the Exchequer and then Prime Minister, and the Foreign Office, and, from December 1935, his relationship more specifically with Anthony Eden as Foreign Secretary, occupied a great many of my waking hours for ten years. On the Eden/Chamberlain relationship much has been written and I do not intend to go back over this well-trodden ground. I would however like to consider here a particular initiative by President Roosevelt in January 1938 the to call a sort of abortive episode, from its in the the not so much conference, viewpoint of peace significance world deterioration of the Eden/Chamberlain relationship, but to examine to what extent the be this the two episode can men adopted over shown by the documentary positions justified. been have to evidence To recap briefly the course of events: on 11 January 1938 the U. S. Under-Secretary of in Washington, State, Sumner Welles, delivered to the British Ambassador Sir Ronald Lindsay, a message from President Roosevelt for Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. The President, impressed by'the danger of general conflagration by its disastrous the tendency of smaller states to gravitate towards results', and with all the dictatorships, had devised a scheme designed to lay 'the practical foundations for if favourable, British He 'warn the to response were proposed, confidentially' peace'. the French, German and Italian Governments of this scheme on 20 January, and to diplomatic White House 22 January to the to announce the the corps entire on summon details: therefore, he required an assurance of the 'cordial approval and whole-hearted Government by 17 January; in H. M. five days of the other words, within support' of in Foreign Office.! his the message receipt of The text of the President's by message was despatched from Washington Sir Ronald Lindsay in the early hours of 12 January and arrived in London later that 'live in fear Roosevelt of a spoke world people constant where and where morning. for individual lacking' (incidentally, the are physical and economic security Chamberlain underlined this part of the message, commenting: 'Germans & Italians 'reach laugh that this'2), to and suggested all governments should strive at an will four first, 'essential fundamental the points: on and unanimous agreement' upon be in international should observed relations'; secondly, on ways of principles which


limiting and reducing armaments; thirdly, 'equal and effective' access to raw materials, land Governments in fourthly, time of the on and of sea rights and obligations and, war. The President concluded his message by acknowledging that agreement on the four be alone might not sufficient to ensure the maintenance of peace: certain principles 'international adjustments' must be found 'through pacification of the universe', in inequities been by have the settlements reached after to which may caused remove order the First World War. He also referred to the well-known 'traditional policy of freedom from political involvement which U. S. Government has maintained and will maintain'. If he received support for his plan, the President, while disclaiming the intention of a Sweden, invite listed to the as certain governments, proposed peace conference, world Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Turkey and three Latin American Governments, to negotiate in Washington on the four principles. 3 is The impact of Roosevelt's initiative on the Eden/Chamberlain relationship well documented: Chamberlain, in charge of the Foreign Office while Eden was on holiday in the South of France, thought that Roosevelt's rather vague if well-intentioned interfere for bilateral his and specific negotiations with own plans proposals would with Italy and Germany. In particular, he was at this point in urgent correspondence with Eden regarding the possibility, under discussion since the summer of 1937, of entering into conversations with Italy. Talks were desirable because of the implications of an improved Anglo-Italian relationship for the peace of the Mediterranean region, but were demand de in knowledge Mussolini jure to that the certain was contemplated his Ethiopia Both his to the negotiate. agreement conquest of as price of recognition of Eden and Chamberlain were well aware of the difficulties such a move would present, Chamberlain, Nations, but League to the receiving of particularly with regard indications from Rome that Mussolini was in an amenable mood, was willing to meet if it Roosevelt head He difficulties to this talks on meant could start. explained such 'very ignoring Lindsay's to advice give quick and very cordial acceptance' to a when, President despatched but initiative, he 4 the the to a polite unenthusiastic reply, asking defer his plans for a whiles Chamberlain did not consult Eden before sending this reply on 13 January, although he in further be home 14 January Eden of that anticipation a on summoned should agreed it is here President. like I from that the to undoubtedly add while would communication deliberately did have Eden by Chamberlain telegraph and true that could consulted not do so because he knew what the latter's reaction would be, there was a sound diplomatic reason for hesitation in summoning him home: Eden was supposed to be 16 January, Minister, Delbos, Foreign Yvon French and to cancel the on meeting the Roosevelt French; beg the all, after awkward questions with meeting would certainly had been insistent on the 'utmost secrecy' of his initiative and had indeed asked that the While himself. by Chamberlain be this was clearly not considered matter should only broadcasting been have Minister French hints to the tantamount to the would practical, fall The in Geneva. des Nations Palais from of the the roof of the text of the plan French Government on 14 January solved that problem. 6


In response to a cryptic telephone call from the Permanent Under Secretary, Sir Alexander Cadogan, on the morning of 14 January, Eden left Grasse before the papers initiative him back in England 15th. the to the concerning arrived, and on out was sent On seeing the reply Chamberlain had sent to Roosevelt he expressed dismay, to say the least of it. Before talking to Chamberlain he sent a message to Lindsay at 2.30 a.m. on 16 January to the effect that he hoped the President would not take the British reply as discouraging7, and later that day crossed swords with the Prime Minister at Chequers. 8 Their disagreement led to four meetings of the Cabinet Foreign Policy Committee and a threat to resign by Eden which clearly shook Chamberlain and led him to agree to the despatch of telegrams on 21 January asking Roosevelt to go ahead with his scheme became but brought Nothing between the the of plan, episode relations whole all. after Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister to a point from which they never recovered, and directly Eden's in February. to resignation contributed Why did Roosevelt's initiative cause such violent disagreement between Prime Minister from Secretary? be It have I Foreign the clear phrases which already quoted will and that the President's scheme, while possessing some grandeur of vision, was both in American the extreme, showing all the commitment and general cautious as regards Cameron has Donald Watt Professor 'delicious termed the succintly signs of what Roosevelt's 9 thinking. of naivete' This is not just the judgment of hindsight: of the small circle in the know about the initiative all were agreed as to its vagueness. Anthony Eden himself summed up the Chamberlain initiative his 'To Roosevelt's in memoirs: seemed naive and position both it be but did To feather in those things this of also might me not weigh a woolly. American intervention in Europe at this beside the of an the scale significance hub disagreement. latter Chamberlain's The 'lo the the point of was views are moment. best represented by his much quoted remark that 'It is always best & safest to count on ' Eden's Americans from i1 the except words. view was that what mattered was nothing fact but it Roosevelt's because it that the terms the scheme was proposed at all, of not indicated a willingness for the United States to depart even slightly from its isolationist European Britain The situation clearly was volatile, and was equally clearly standpoint. her hostilities Germany Japan, three to of all potential with enemies, contemplate unable discourage form he benevolent intervention Therefore, Italy. to any reasoned, of on and folly. States United to the commit gravest was the part of the In the last fifty years it has on the whole been Eden's view which has carried the day in historiographical terms. The episode is set out at length in his memoirs, and his verdict initial Chamberlain's reply to the President caused irreparable damage has been that As last Robert Rhodes James, in Eden's other recently many works. as year repeated latest biographer, expressed the extreme view that 'there can be few more calamitous documents in modern international politics'. 12 By reference to the documents printed in Volumes XIX and XXI of D. B. F. P., Second Series, I would like to refute that view by demonstrating two points: one, that this episode must be set in the context of a much be Anglo-American relationship, and cannot properly understood without wider in in Far East in January 1938, to the the situation particular and to a series of reference


Office Foreign between in and progress very confidential correspondence which was State Department regarding the exchange of information on the European situation. The initiative, is Chamberlain's Roosevelt's the affording to that while reply second point President a degree of personal disappointment, was by no means regarded as a rebuff by him or by the State Department, and that the explanations of his attitude offered by Within American Prime Minister the side. the were regarded as entirely satisfactory on Italian de jure the conquest of this second point the question of the recognition of in its be Ethiopia, which became the focus of the Eden/Chamberlain put row, can proper perspective. has usually been discussed in a European context. It was, Roosevelt's initiative however, the situation in the Far East which appeared most threatening at the turn of 1938, and the evidence suggests that it was events in the Far East, or rather the point discussions in Anglo-American on those events, which prompted the timing of reached Roosevelt's initiative. On 10 January, the day before Welles delivered Roosevelt's Secretary between President, State Lindsay, the took of place a meeting message to Cordell Hull and Sumner Welles as a result of which Sir Ronald Lindsay was informed in Government S. U. to take the the were prepared response to British of measures force Japan. Successive joint form for against naval show of of acts of requests some in interests Far East American British the since July 1937 by and aggression against Japan, perpetrated in the pursuance of her war against China, had brought the British Government by December to serious consideration of some form of naval action. The Nine Power Conference held at Brussels in November to consider the conflict had 'a little that merely an affirmation prompt suspension of positive result produced hostilities in the Far East would be in the best interests not only of China and Japan, but Chamberlain's justifying (thereby rather of all nations'13 verdict that the conference had been a 'complete waste of time'14). A number of approaches had been made to the Americans with a view to concerted action, largely prompted by Eden but with the Chamberlain, Cabinet including the agreement of although the latter stressed that it must be made clear 'that we were prepared to send a force to the Far East but that we should States do United to the not act unless so'. 15 were willing Despite the despatch of a U. S. naval officer, Captain Ingersoll, to London in the New Year for staff talks Eden, his Secretary Private to visit according which -a Oliver Harvey, called 'the most important thing that had happened and what he had been working for for years', 16 and which prompted him to curtail his holiday plans the American response had been uniformly disappointing. Hopes raised by President Roosevelt's famous speech of 5 October 1937 suggesting putting aggressor powers in 'quarantine' by 17 -a concept later disclaimed with some embarrassment Norman Davis, U. S. Delegate at the Brussels Conferencei8 in fulfilled the were not ensuing three months, despite a series of provocative Japanese actions culminating in the sinking of the U. S. gunboat Panay on the Yangtse on 12 December. This last incident prompted even Chamberlain to speculate whether the Americans might be 'nearer to "doing something" than I have ever known them', 19 but on 13 December Lindsay reported that the incident had not produced the 'violent reaction' in the United States which would be necessary for public opinion to recognise the need for action,


he feeling January by 7 that the prevailing reported was one of relief that a prompt and 'People had have by Japan the crisis: ended over-persuaded themselves that apology incident has been '20 the satisfactory. termination of The Ingersoll talks also proved disappointing: as Sir Alexander Cadogan put it, the Captain seemed 'nice and his instructions seem to be helpful, but even he seems not he that the the was quite clear that the conversations, except objective'21 of clear on United States 'could not take certain steps unless war was declared'. 22 A telegram was in 10 January from Lindsay that reporting response to the question on received Government if British they that to the announce were publicly were whether, 'completing certain naval preparations' - in other words all but actual mobilisation in it American that that the case action, answer was they could expect any parallel bottoms have fleet S. Pacific U. be their to the vessels were announced that would This by date three two answer or weeks. of manoeuvres advanced scraped and the in four had he in Chamberlain the relation months earlier voiced view which confirmed intention doing had Roosevelt that anything that was not of no to the quarantine speech: 'perfectly safe'. Although on 7 January he had written to his sister Hilda that he wished d-v-ls little but American the Japanese two', that'of are course or would'beat up an the & hope Yanks have for the to that and we may eventually act alone will too cunning follow before it's too late', 23 it seems clear that this sentiment was inspired by news of Shanghai, Lindsay's in Japanese by British beating and soldiers officers up of the in his him 10 January to a minute of customary cautious vein: restored report of 11 January to Sir A. Cadogan he favoured strong representations to the Japanese Government rather than placing any hopes in Anglo-American cooperation; there was in 'commit Americans in to themselves to any specific action asking the no point hypothetical circumstances'. In the Foreign Office Mr. Charles Orde of the Far Eastern Department also spelt out the implications of the American reply: 'Drydocking will not by Govt. S. U. as a statement us about naval the as much politically commit '24 preparations. At the end of the telephone call in which Sumner Welles informed Lindsay of the for Ambassador he S. U. the a confidential also asked naval preparations verdict on President's day: deliver following Embassy British the this to the was meeting at the in 10 12 January Washington Reading to 'peace plan'. telegrams of the sequence, both from the Far Eastern and the American files, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that President Roosevelt launched his plan on 11 January at least partly to mitigate the impression created by the negative nature of his response to a direct British appeal for joint action, and also to avoid the necessity for a blunter refusal of any further British international distracting by attention with a scheme which would sound requests impressive while obviating the need for unacceptable U. S. involvement. It is interesting be Oliver his feeling Harvey, despite diaries his in that'we should never that published forgiven' if we turned Roosevelt down, felt bound to record as an argument against the be fading in Far East 'the to the out of seems which unsatisfactory way scheme Far Eastern just interest the to [Roosevelt's] we are getting grips when with problem'. 25


American caution in embracing any scheme which might directly engage her interests in in January in demonstrated by to the that relation the same report week was also Belgian Prime Minister, M. van Zeeland, on his mission of enquiry, begun in June 1937, into the possibility of reaching international agreement on economic policies. The draft report, discussed by van Zeeland and Chamberlain on 7 January, recommended a international tariffs and proposed an conference to reach agreement general reduction of favourable, but he demurred Chamberlain's reaction was at the on general principles. invite States, France United United Kingdom Germany the that should and suggestion dictators' backs felt he Italy the to the conference, which would put and up - an few he in Roosevelt days later. His to to the repeat plan a relation was objection which S. U. by Butterworth Mr. Embassy, the this of on occasion attitude was supported find in January his Government difficulty 12 details that on stated some would who of the report, such as the proposal for a Common Fund to maintain exchanges, and must its 'method U. S. the on position participation, reserve and extent' of preferring Chamberlain's idea of a personal visit by van Zeeland to Washington, Berlin and Rome to test the water. 26 It will be seen that the American reaction to the van Zeeland report coincided exactly initiative: Chamberlain Roosevelt's indeed, his to message contained peace plan with the statement that the van Zeeland report appeared to the U. S. Government to 'lack those elements of reality which alone could hold out the promise of successful States 'insufficient democratic to assurance that they will accomplishment', and offered describe Chamberlain have to terms their quid pro quo'. could well used similar secure longis in his light It hard President's the to own the not only of not see why, plan. held opinions as to the worth of American wordy sentiments, but also of the evidence Chamberlain inclined to to that those support very week opinions, received was not hope in it Roosevelt's take of any approach particularly seriously, or rather, to see had Since he he himself that time viable that confident at was constructive action. irritated Germany, for Italy in both he at and agreement with preparation was schemes the prospect of having them cut across by a plan which he considered had no chance of success. Eden was also well aware of the shortcomings of Roosevelt's plan but felt that, as he 'at States in bring it his [it] United time the a the and could gain us put memoirs, worst little nearer to a divided Europe'. 27 In January 1938 he also had a particular reason to think that the Americans were taking an increasing interest in European affairs. Since November 1937 the Foreign Office and the State Department had been conducting a from Hull Cordell high level. Beginning with a request very secret correspondence at a to Lindsay on 16 November for information on 'the precise relations now existing between Germany, Italy and Japan'28 (a reference to the adherence on 5 November of Italy to the anti-Comintern Pact), the State Department went on in the next two months between Hitler Lord full interview Halifax for (and the and of to ask account receive) a internal Soviet Roumania, information 19 November, the the on position of and on On China, Spanish Soviet the to subjects. other each civil war and aid situation, Welles Hull involved Department State the or stressed official usually occasion the importance of a frank exchange of information between the British and American


Governments, an opinion endorsed on each occasion by Lindsay, together with a for 'please the of need secrecy: remember that this growing intimacy is a warning delicate plant which will be blasted by the first breath of publicity'. 29 From the outset the State Department spelt out their appreciation of the interrelation between the British Government's requests for naval support in the Far East and European developments. At an interview on 27 November when Lindsay pressed Welles on the question of opening staff conversations, the latter forced the British Ambassador to admit that 'owing to the situation in Europe His Majesty's Government Naval forces in Far East', to the concentrate great unable very were and said that he interested in receiving an answer to the request for information on the antiwas more Comintern pact than in discussing staff talks. 30 Lindsay handed over a statement by Vansittart by Eden. The Ambassador himself also and approved prepared State Department's In the the significance of requests. appreciated a telegram of 7 January he stated that as Sumner Welles 'always acts deliberately and with his eyes just infer have implications, I that to as we now naval staff conversations so he open intimate have between Foreign Office to similar relations would wish and State Department as regards information'. 31 The requests for information from the State Department culminated in a suggestion from Cordell Hull on 20 January - after Chamberlain's refusal of the Roosevelt peace for Lindsay be 'full diplomatic information to considered what a exchange of plan between the two governments'. Somewhat ironically, considering the cool response Hull Zeeland to the report, expressed anxiety that 'State Department should van given have the best information on all questions so that they should not lose any opportunity help doing to on programme of economic progress which he anything possible of for in element effort peace'. 32 Lindsay was clearly regarded as constructive important being issues pressed so closely on at of policy, but despite an embarrassed Office Foreign the would prepare a number of notes on specific issues arrangement that to be communicated through the U. S. Embassy in London, Welles returned to the 25 January, him Lindsay Franco-Russian questioning on on charge with relations, the Russo-German German the entente and of a possible effects of possibility economic S. Europe indeed in E. Lindsay pertinent questions which showed, penetration as is 'State Department taking stock closely of political situation in the that reported, Europe'. It will be noticed that Chamberlain's response to Roosevelt's initiative did not in 'growing intimacy' between State Department this any check cause and apparently Foreign Office. Eden had naturally welcomed these signs of American interest in European affairs, although as far as can be seen from the documents he had not felt it draw Prime Minister's Nor, this to to the series of correspondence attention. necessary Hull's 20 for full January telegram the reporting suggestion on exchange of a when information was received in the Foreign Office on the morning of 21 January, the day Eden defend his Roosevelt to the once was more plan against position on on which Chamberlain in the Cabinet Foreign Policy Committee, did Eden feel it necessary to tell it. Sir Committee Thomas bag Inskip, however, let the the to about the cat out of


Sir Horace Wilson that morning, and a note on the text of the telegram indicates that a later day in Street Downing 10 that response to a telephone request. copy was sent to Wilson, as may be imagined, had not been slow to grasp its significance: as he noted S. 'hardly in PREM U. the telegram that the the the series, suggests copy preserved on Govt. were disposed to cease its cooperation with us as result of our caution on the President's new scheme'. 33 In a minute of 18 January for discussion with Chamberlain Eden stressed the danger that President Roosevelt, 'disappointed by our failure to support his initiative', would 'withdraw more and more into isolation. The results of our patient efforts over the last build Anglo-American to six months up cooperation would then be completely destroyed. Such an event I should regard as the greatest possible disaster to the peace of the world'. 34 Eden wrote this after reading Roosevelt's reply to Chamberlain's telegram asking him to defer his initiative for a while. I can find nothing in that reply, in justify Washington dealing the to such nor any other of telegrams with this episode, dire It is true that Roosevelt's reply contained an admonitory paragraph a prediction. from harmful American the regarding effect upon public opinion which would result British de jure recognition of the Italian position in Ethiopia, which caused Eden, decide drop Oliver 'we Harvey, immediately to must... according to to conclude that idea Roosevelt deference in de jure to and ... tell any of proceeding with recognition him that we would back his initiative in the fullest possible measure'. 35 The question of Eden/Chamberlain focus de jure became the Ethiopia the possible the of recognition of disagreement over the Roosevelt plan and is worth considering in some detail. Steps had already been taken to ascertain the likely American reaction to such Anglo-Italian beginning in of recognition of an early view of the possibility did but Eden for Chamberlain to not attach which conversations, was pressing, which the same consequence. In a letter of 9 January to Chamberlain he stated: 'it seems to me that the big issues of this year are Anglo-American cooperation, the chances of East Germany. Far in the effectively asserting white race authority and relations with I feel sure that you will agree'. 36 To all this Mussolini is really secondary ... Chamberlain did not agree, but he was not unmindful of the impact that recognition On have 7 January had been home telegram might abroad. and a upon public opinion at despatched to Sir Ronald Lindsay asking for his opinion as to the effect of such a step '(a) Congress Administration (c) AngloAmerican (b) the the and on and public, American relations', and whether he thought that it would be a good idea to indicate to the U. S. Government in advance why we were 'compelled to this course'. Lindsay replied on 8 January that he thought it 'hardly necessary to worry much about effect in America of de jure recognition'. He anticipated some criticism amongst 'high-minded' 'that it likely but our action would be regarded as an effort to pay the thought people, He did however, into taking the Administration necessary price of peace'. advise, confidence beforehand. 37

Chamberlain acted on this advice in his reply to Roosevelt's peace plan, explaining his hopes for talks with Italy, and making it clear that the British Government would only be prepared to accord de jure recognition of Ethiopia as their contribution towards a


in 'restoration friendly the of confidence and relations' general settlement aimed at Mediterranean, to which the Italians must contribute in return. He then referred to plans for reaching an agreement with Germany, also on the basis of 'contributions', and his by be President to the the consider whether proposed scheme might not used asked Italians and Germans as an excuse to refuse bilateral negotiations, thereby blocking for have laboriously 'which over recent months we worked out, and which progress last been in has feel 38 too the at set not a manner'. unfavourable stage we Lindsay delivered Chamberlain's reply to Sumner Welles on 14 January. The latter 'indicated approval of various passages in the message by nodding', saying that it 'certainly conveyed just the kind of information that was desired'. With regard to de jure recognition, he explained that the U. S. Government could not alter its position but he Manchuria, Japan it that to regard with and understood maintained also which 'might be forced it' 'no Government British to expressed particular concern'. 39 and the Cordell Hull spoke more strongly to Lindsay on 17 January, suggesting that indeed in America just in direction have 'would the a very unfortunate effect recognition he most wished to prevent', 40 and in his reply to Chamberlain on 18 January the President also warned of the possible effect of recognition on American public opinion, but he envisaged that it could be 'regarded as an accomplished fact' under conditions Chamberlain's in from 'world', differed to than only referring rather which Mediterranean appeasement. 41 Chamberlain felt that American misgivings could be countered by concrete arguments. Eden disagreed, arguing that a close Anglo-American relationship was of paramount importance and would strengthen the British bargaining position. A compromise was four Committee 21 Cabinet January in telegrams were as a result of which on reached despatched to Washington, one of which set out in detail Chamberlain's arguments on de jure recognition, expressing agreement with the President's view that it should 'only be dealt with as an integral measure for world appeasement', but warning that to in for be Mediterranean the tension to relaxing opportunity seem would risk missing an 'incurring a grave responsibility especially at a time when events in the Far East may at demands In 42 upon our resources'. view of the recent any moment make new in Far East this the tail, and, according the mentioned earlier, was a sting exchanges on 'had by On diary, desired 22 January Welles Chamberlain's 43 the effect me'. offered to Chamberlain's de jure 'a that statement on recognition would make good the opinion impression on the President', and expressed 'relief to find that it would only be 'as Italy in immediate therefore settlement the part of general with and not contemplated President regarded recognition as an unpleasant pill which we should both future ... have to swallow and he wished that we should both swallow it together. His Majesty's Government wished to swallow it in a general settlement with Italy and the President in involving 44 world appeasement'. settlement a general As far as the United States was concerned this was the end of the story. Questioned by Lindsay on the 'functions and objects' of Roosevelt's plan, Welles offered 'nothing but he 'did his launch President the that the opinion not expect plan would generalities' and during the present session of the Council of the League'. Within the British


Government, it soon became clear that relations between Prime Minister and Foreign damaged. Both had good reasons for taking the Secretary had been irretrievably be discussed did this the of they merits which cannot relative episode, over standpoints here, although I would like to quote Cadogan's comment on them both written on 15 January: 'I think [Eden] exaggerates as much one way as P.M. does on other. '45 All I hope to have done is to draw attention to some perhaps rather less well-known documentary evidence which illustrates their differing perceptions of the world situation during the first two weeks of 1938.

Gillian Bennett



2 3

Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919-1939, (HMSO, 1982), Nos. 422-3. Ibid., No. 423, note 3. Ibid., No. 424.

4 5

Ibid., No. 425. Ibid., No. 430.


10 11 12 13 14 15 16

The Diplomatic Diaries of Oliver Harvey 1937-40 (ed. John Harvey, London, 1970), p. 68. D. B. F. P., op. cit., No. 443. See the account of their interview in Lord Avon's memoirs, Facing the Dictators (London, 1962), pp. 553-5. 'Roosevelt and Neville Chamberlain: two appeasers' in International Journal, 1972-3. vol. xxviii, Facing the Dictators, p. 557. D. B. F. P., Second Series, Volume XXI (HMSO, 1984), No. 431, note 4. Robert Rhodes James, Anthony Eden (London, 1986), p. 188. D. B. F. P., Second Series, Volume XXI, No. 391. Volume XIX, No. 319, note 11. Volume XXI, No. 429. The Diplomatic Diaries of Oliver Harvey, p. 65.

17 18 19 20 21 22 23

D. B. F. P., Second Series, Volume XIX, No. 291 and Volume XXI, No. 222. Volume XXI, No. 383. Ibid., No. 431. Ibid., Nos. 421 and 472. Ibid., No. 460, note 4. Ibid., No. 462. Ibid., No. 471.

24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38

Ibid., Nos. 478 and 480. The Diplomatic Diaries of Oliver Harvey, Volume XIX, No. 440. Facing the Dictators, pp. 552-3. Volume XXI, No. 365. Volume XIX, No. 356. Volume XXI, No. 394. Volume XIX, No. 413. Ibid., No. 451. Ibid., note 2. Ibid., No. 449. Ibid., note 1. Ibid., No. 418. Ibid., Nos. 414 and 416. Ibid., No. 430.


7 8 9

69. p.

Second Series, Volume XIX

39 40 41 42 43 44 45

Ibid., Nos. 435-6. Ibid., No. 444. Ibid., Nos. 446-7. Ibid., No. 458. Printed as Appendix I to Volume XIX, p. 1140. Volume XIX, Nos. 460-2. The Diaries of Sir Alexander Cadogan 1938-1945 1971), p. 37.


(ed. D. Dilks, London,





In November 1951 two statements were made on the same day by British Cabinet Ministers speaking in different capitals of Europe of British intentions towards schemes for European integration. The resentments, deriving from the ensuing controversy over lead deep libel to to threatened so as and a suit some thirteen why, went who said what for later twenty the and renewed searches almost years after event some piece of years Anthony The Ministers Eden, the then to straight. concerned set record were paper Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the new Conservative government and Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, newly appointed Home Secretary with later interventions from Harold Macmillan, then Minister of Housing and Local Government, who as he put it himself was apt to stray from his 'rabbit hutches' into the odd 'short expedition into ' politics'. world The immediate point at issue was whether Eden's remarks at a press conference in Rome about British participation in a European Army contradicted or diminished what Maxwell Fyfe had told the Council of Europe a few hours earlier at Strasbourg. Maxwell Fyfe, then Lord Kilmuir, was to claim in his memoirs, published in 1964 that destroyed Continent'. 'the 2 the above all others, our name on act this was which, single This 'single act' is set in the much wider context of the debate, still current today, over British commitment to the European idea. There is scarcely the time today to more than debate issues in from key documents this the the as viewed touch on some of of 1950-1952. For a considered overview taking the story up to 1955, I would commend be in Bullen Dr by shortly published which will a collection of essays to you a paper Europe. in 3 Power entitled My interest in the particular episode of November 1951 was originally sparked by the fact that Eden himself minded so much about it. In his recent biography Robert Rhodes James tells the story of how Eden went to the point of instructing Kilmuir's Rhodes James draft 4 the memoirs. of also refers to the solicitors over detailed account of events later commissioned by Edens as a rebuttal of the line taken in by Macmillan Eden leading time this the which portrayed as another set of memoirs 'tepid Europeans, more convinced of the difficulties than of the advantages' - standing in the way of the 'keen supporters of Strasbourg' led by Churchill. 6 Eden was held largely to blame for the failure of the Conservative government to take the lead in Europe which according to Macmillan and Kilmuir 'the whole of Europe was waiting for'. 7 Rhodes James tends to promote this line at the expense of the more balanced by David Carlton in his According forward biography Eden. his 8 to earlier of view put Private Secretary of the period, Evelyn Shuckburgh, these accusations rankled with


Eden to the end of his life. Indeed Sir Evelyn recalls in the Introduction to how 'The very last time I saw him before his death he asked me whether find, amongst my papers or my memories, material for proving the contrary

his Diaries I could not '.9

Now more than thirty years on we have the papers - what do they say? What I have to say comes mainly from Series II Volume I of D. B. P. O. which follows , heavily draws files from 1950-1952 Plan Schuman the on still closed the and of Western Organisations department (WU) and the PUSC planning papers on European integration. This volume therefore contains the fullest record so far published of what happened. actually The documents show that there was no substantive difference between what the two Secretary's long Home detailed less Although Eden's, the than and abrupt men said. for integration federal European Britain join any scheme statement of why would not it in for its by damning. And this speech which came most very nature more was was criticism at the time. Why then all the fuss? Mr Churchill's return to office in October 1951 excited hopes among 'Europeanists' at home and abroad for a reversal of the apparently negative attitude taken by Britain towards 'making Europe'. lo In opposition Mr Churchill, a founding father of the in Council of Europe, had led Conservatives in pressing for British participation Council for Schuman Commons in House Plan both the the the of and at negotiations fact The French Europe. that terms to this the as those as unacceptable of was on In Labour in by is the the the memoirs of government period. often overlooked offered in Churchill's forward idea Army Strasbourg for European the put at a same way Defence Pleven for 1950 European different from the was quite plan a summer of Community launched that autumn. When debating these proposals in the House of Commons in February 1951 Eden was careful to confine his support for British in European Army based Atlantic framework to a one participation within an - one Churchill's European in be 'an Atlantic army own words would army with ... a which inside of it. '11 With this Atlantic emphasis Eden and Churchill were continuing the policy of their Commonwealth Europe 'three America, Bevin's and main pillars'12 of predecessors. directly corresponds to Churchill's idea of three concentric circles in which Western Europe was the outer circle. Just as Bevin was to talk of the need to 'get away from talk Free Free Nations in West, We Europe. the the terms the think or of must about The Americans were wrong to think in terms of Europe as a separate and self World ... federated Europe joining in So Eden 1952 13 talk a as would of contained unit'. 'something which we know, in our bones, we cannot do'. 14 When referring to Eden 'feeling it in his bones' Evelyn Shuckburgh recounts how 'He used to say to me that if in England in from office any post overseas you were to open the personal mail arriving


90 find it from from beyond Australia, Europe, that per cent of came you would Canada, India, Africa, anywhere, indeed where British soldiers and administrators had families How British ignore Shuckburgh ' that? or settled. could served all goes on we to sum up Eden's view as 'We must see ourselves as an active and enlightened European nation with a world role'. 15 how in increasingly federal-orientated The difficulty to take an active part an was Europe without forfeiting the claim to a world role based on special American and Commonwealth connections. In an economic context, the idea of settling for a world been knit had European leader by tightly considered of a community and rejected as role Labour Ministers some months before the surprise launch in May 1950 of the Schuman Plan. 16 The line of association not participation in supra-national schemes followed logically from this decision and cut across party barriers. In Churchill's own words as Schuman Plan 'They intentions Government's be his the towards should with regards it, though they could not be of it'. 17 Nonetheless Churchill's advocacy of a European Army at Strasbourg - an advocacy intended Office 'not be Foreign Eden to the to was embarrassing' 18that assure was Conservative by MPs for Federalism Duncan certain such shown as the enthusiasm and Sandys at the Council of Europe - did arouse expectations of a new policy on Europe in October 1951. Conservatives regained office when the The first documents in the volume after Eden's return as Foreign Secretary show Eden keen to make a positive showing on Europe and not to seem as he put it to Rab Butler, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 'less forthcoming than our predecessors'. 19 He minuted his personal commitment to the idea of a European army but warned that he was against 20 authority. any supra-national Eden took early opportunities both at home and abroad to reaffirm the Washington Declaration on European Unity issued after Foreign Ministers talks in September. This had fairly been hailed declaration though anodyne at the time, particularly in tripartite France as evidence of a new more positive direction in British policy towards Europe. 21 The key phrase in the declaration for Britain was 'The Government of the United Kingdom desires to establish the closest possible association with the European in its development'. Cabinet Labour Ministers at all stages community continental having 'dissipated from Washington last themselves congratulated on the at returning European integration has towards attitude our ambiguous recently cast cloud which in It Economic Anglo-French 22 the was more realistically relations'. observed over Section of the Cabinet Office that since the Washington Declaration did not really Office in Foreign 'it be is thinking that the may situation even represent any change before'. 23 than more muddled The change of government did not stimulate any fundamental reappraisal of policy busy first brief incoming European integration for the officials whose on amongst Foreign Secretary was simply a recommendation to stick to the established line. 24 This


back bench hopes for by incoming Ministers amid who, a positive was not challenged British lead at the next Council of Europe meeting in Strasbourg, began to plan the 28 November. by Fyfe Maxwell be there to on made statement Maxwell Fyfe asked to see Eden to discuss his statement before Eden's imminent departure for tripartite talks in Paris followed by a North Atlantic Council meeting in Rome. Eden was reluctant: 'If the Home Secretary and Mr. Nutting are happy on our before I leave Wed. And I have line, But I time that spare me. really no would agreed if Sir David Fyfe In Maxwell 25 to the requires see me'. event made do cannot refuse Minister State, 21 November Nutting, 'it the of at a meeting on when with was desirable it be that that a statement and as positive as generally agreed was should longer formed The by 26 text of a statement, of a much possible'. which part address Maxwell Fyfe, was approved on the next day by the Cabinet, with Eden absent in Paris. The wording closely followed the Washington Declaration : 'His Majesty's Government recognise that the initiative taken by the French Government concerning the creation of a European coal and steel community and a European defence community is a major step towards European unity. They welcome the Schuman Plan as a means of strengthening the economy of Western Europe and look forward to its early realisation. They desire to Continental European the closest possible association with the establish Community at all stages in its development. If the Schuman Plan is ratified, His Majesty's Government will set up a permanent delegation at the seat of the Authority to enter into relations and to transact business with it'. 27

In his memoirs Macmillan claims that this wording was the result of a compromise in Cabinet between those who would have liked it warmer and those who would have differences Cabinet kinds it be tepid. to more of preferred minutes rarely record these is and this case no exception. The Consultative Assembly session was preceded at Strasbourg by talks with American European federation. Britain's Their to promote eager of congressmen, criticisms failure to give a lead here prompted Maxwell Fyfe on the eve of his speech, to telegraph to Eden in Rome that 'we shall be under very strong pressure here during the next fortnight to define our attitude to the question of European Unity and to show our leadership European the towards to take the over of movement willingness integration'. 28 Maxwell Fyfe went on to suggest that if Eden himself could come to Strasbourg it'would be enormously appreciated by the Assembly and would be further in Council interest the the work of of Europe'. evidence of our Eden declined and - with reference to longstanding British objections to empire building by the Council of Europe in the direction of defence - insisted 'I really ought in Assembly. kind In Secretary involved in discussions Foreign the this to of get not as


I it is am afraid any event physically impossible for me to go to Strasbourg at Strasbourg 29 present'. of course was not then the easiest of places to get to - there being no convenient airport nearby. In a separate telegram Maxwell Fyfe asked the Foreign Office to keep him informed of any statement made by Eden in Rome on European integration or the European army. 30 Eden had already been informed in Rome of the statement to be made by Maxwell Fyfe being 'favourably disposed it'. 31 to reported as and was At the morning session of the Consultative Assembly on 28 November, Maxwell Fyfe took the floor. In much the same way as Eden's feeling it in his bones, he explained how in Churchill's phrase of three concentric circles Britain stood in the centre of first Canada America Commonwealth, then the and with Western Europe as the outer circle. He defined the British conception of federation as 'a decision to transfer in advance and finally certain governmental functions to a federal body with a consequent elaborately drawn separation of federal and state powers. We do not believe it is possible for a in I have the responsibilities our position, with which mentioned, to take such a country idealist, looking do We think anyone, realist or not at the world today would step. desire us to take this course. ' Turning to the Schuman Plan he went on to renew the Cabinet. in On by terms the the the question of a European agreed of association offer 'If he how best organisation emerges shall a new we consider to associate added: army I it in cannot promise you that our eventual a practical way ... ourselves with defence European full the to community amount will and unconditional association with I have is because in this, as said, a matter which must, our view, be left participation, for inter-governmental discussion elsewhere. But I can assure you of our determination fail for lack of thorough examination which one gives to that no genuine method shall '32 trusted comrades. the needs of At a press conference later that day Maxwell Fyfe evidently protested: 'It is quite wrong door by I Britain I made it plain that the that any closing of to suggest what said was ... Britain'. is 33 the of part on there no refusal While the full text of Maxwell Fyfe's speech to the Consultative Assembly is printed in Official Report Europe Hansard Council incomplete their the equivalent the of of his in letter from Conservative MPs at press of remarks which are contained a quotation Strasbourg to Churchill is the closest one can get from the documents and newspaper Maxwell Fyfe this to point as what actually said at the press conference. reports on Incidentally in his memoirs Maxwell Fyfe runs what he said in the Assembly and what he said to the press afterwards into one statement. Macmillan follows this error in his memoirs. Meanwhile that afternoon in Rome, Eden prepared to speak himself to the press at the North Council Atlantic he Meeting he believed had the the got at end of which American green light for Britain to stay out of EDC. The verbatim Foreign Office his of remarks reads: record


in the September 14th 'Question Does the use of the word "Association" Document rule out any participation of British units? Answer - So far as British units are concerned yes. As far as formations are concerned yes, but there might be some other form of association. ' 'Question - Is the report true, Fyfe has just Sir Maxwell I have just heard, David that rejected the which Schuman Plan. Answer haven't seen the text of Sir David's speech, but I -I imagine that he would have based himself, as I have, on the Declaration of 14th September which did mark a considerable advance in the British attitude towards both the Schuman Plan and the European Army'. 34 Both statements were reported separately in The Times on the following day. No special attention was paid to Eden's remarks other than: 'Mr Eden redefined the British attitude to the European movements towards unity. He recalled the statement issued from Washington last September about "the closest possible association" of Great Britain with the European continental community, and suggested that, while Great Britain would not supply formations to the European army, she might be able to take in here. No hint part other ways'. of criticism By contrast the much longer Times report from Strasbourg began: 'To the deep disappointment of two thirds of the Assembly of the Council of Europe Britain has declined to alter fundamentally her standpoint towards the political, economic, and Continent'. The the military projects afoot on report continued in this vein with the emphasis on the negative rather than positive aspects of Maxwell Fyfe's statement. Much was made of the sharp criticisms from M. Reynaud who had followed the Home Secretary on to the floor of the Assembly. The telegraphic report sent to the Foreign Office while acknowledging that Reynaud's criticisms were 'perhaps, unfortunate' painted a rather rosier picture. 35 Maxwell Fyfe's speech was said to have been 'on the whole well received. The Assembly was undoubtedly flattered to have a British Cabinet Minister as one of its members and to hear from its own benches an authoritative statement of Government policy'. It is not entirely clear who drafted this telegram which came nominally from the British Consul General at Strasbourg. Usually in this period Strasbourg reports on the actual Assembly from the the head of the U. K. delegation. proceedings of came Maxwell Fyfe left Strasbourg immediately after his press conference. His place was taken by John Foster, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Commonwealth Relations Office. There is however no indication on the telegram, as there often is, to show who the message was actually from. The tone of this telegram suggests to me that it was in fact from the Consul General, Wakefield-Harrey, Strasbourg his officials. or one of telegrams drafted by Parliamentary members of the delegation there - of which there are several examples in the volume - are often characterized by a degree of wit and irreverence which officials rarely allow themselves - on paper at any rate.


Four days after the official report to the Foreign Office that all was more or less well it comes as some surprise to find at document No. 406 a letter from seven dismayed Conservative MPs at Strasbourg headed by Julian Amery in which Eden is lambasted for his Rome remarks. While they said it was true that Maxwell Fyfe's statement did it 'held hopes'. Of to come expectations, nonetheless quite up out considerable not Eden's remarks in Rome they said 'It is no exaggeration to say that this unexplained here formal declaration statement, of policy, came as a regarded as a and unqualified Strong blow Assembly. ' basis to the the most members of stuff on with, of shattering the evidence, more than just a little poetic licence. This letter was passed to Eden who, after a meeting in London with John Foster on the is 5 December there unfortunately no record - sent a scathing evening of - of which bears Mr Foster's Churchill: 'This to to communication no resemblance report to reply is infinitely It letter little Mr Boothby's to to more pessimistic and on many me. me and For instance impression in is both in detail inaccurate the and emphasis ... given points in Rome. fact, Strasbourg In to the the that all was well until my comments press report immediately Secretary Home (that is Mr. Reynaud the to that after who spoke shows in Rome) I before said anything was strongly critical of our attitude ... my say, well had I fully in in in Rome those tune the made with challenge were without remarks House of Commons. '36 Churchill accepted Eden's comments and a soothing reply, drafted by the Foreign Office, was sent to Amery. Renewed pressure on Eden to retrieve the situation by himself going to Strasbourg, Foreign When Norwegian dealt Minister the with. suggested on was summarily 5 December that Eden might yet go, Eden indignantly replied that 'I really could see no Secretary I had Foreign been I had thing. only six such and any weeks, of possibility hardly been in my country at all. There were on hand the Korean armistice negotiations; in in Persia; disarmament Paris; in Egypt talks and and countless other the situation I before handle constantly me. could these not possibly problems, all of which were from Strasbourg'. 37 Eden took a similar line the next day in a telegram to the new leader of the delegation at Strasbourg, Henry Hopkinson, Secretary for Overseas Trade, who had arrived to take up his duties clad only in pyjamas and a coat borrowed from a railway guard, having lost all his bags and baggage when he accidentally set his fire: the victim evidently of a post prandial cigarette. on compartment sleeping In this telegram to Hopkinson Eden sets out his thinking on Europe which follows very Having Fyfe's Maxwell statement. rehearsed all the usual arguments about own closely but federate Europe did Britain Britain this that not mean why not with could was why Army: European 'In Europe, Eden European turned to the the the case of abandoning Army, it is impossible to be precise yet about the form of our association, because the European Defence Community itself has not taken final shape. But we shall certainly forces British association. the means of are already on the most effective possible seek Continent under Supreme Commander [Eisenhower], and it goes without saying that forces for between the own and our closest association of comradeship we shall wish


forces Army, European the together with of other members of those of the which, N. A. T. O., will be bonded in the same common defence under the North Atlantic Treaty'. 38 Eden's line here, as elsewhere, closely accords with that taken by Churchill in a paper Cabinet Strasbourg. day in Of debacle European Army to the the the the after circulated Mr Churchill remarked 'We help, we dedicate, we play a part, but we are not merged insular forget Commonwealth-wide do our not or character'. 39 Far from Eden and bending Churchill to his will, what little we have of Churchill's own voice in the indicates fair degree harmony European a of on policy. volume When passing another Conservative letter of criticism to Eden, this time from Boothby, Churchill observed: 'This is a good and carefully thought out letter. I am naturally distressed at the way things have gone at Strasbourg. We seem in fact to have succumbed to the Socialist Party hostility to United Europe. I take the full blame, because I did not feel able either to go there myself or to send a message. You also know my views about the particular kind of European Army into which the French are trying to force us. We must consider very carefully together how to deal with the certainly unfavourable reaction in American opinion. They would like us to fall into the line European general of pensioners which we have no intention of doing. I think Boothby's letter is very good and sober'. 40 Eden's reply to the effect that Boothby's letter was anything but good and sober his He 'As Churchill of to that exposition policy. another pointed contains out you Defence Debate in the we cannot merge ourselves in schemes like the yourself said Pleven Plan for a European Defence Community. We can only associate ourselves with them as closely as possible'. 41 Churchill minuted in reply 'I feel we are in general day Churchill On discuss, Paris Eden this to the to after exchange agreement'. and went Schuman Plan with their French opposite numbers. It was the things, among other there that Churchill was to use the phrase - originally coined by Roger Makins in the Foreign Office and long before the Woolwich Building Society far as the that as Schuman Plan was concerned his government was 'with it though they could not be of it'. 42 At Eden's suggestion these sentiments were embodied in the communique issued at the end of the talks. 43 Eden drew on this statement in a reply to Harold Macmillan who, in the first of several sallies, had expressed concern at the unduly negative policy pursued by Britain towards Europe. In a postscript Eden referred Macmillan to the Paris 'I do communique concluding can no more'. 44 Although the volume continues the story for another year, including further wrangling between Eden and Macmillan over the direction of British policy in Europe, I must draw the line for today with the following conclusions:


The passions stirred by the two statements of 28 November 1951 turn out to be 1 herring bit looking for differences did of a red sending one not really exist. a which Both statements correctly expressed a long agreed policy on European federal schemes: association not participation. between the two was the window The only real difference dressing. 2 Maxwell Fyfe went to great lengths to sugar the pill. Eden, who was then taking a good for had flared himself in Rome, by contrast an attack pills which up was ulcer many by he important his The as perhaps occupied regarded more mind what affairs. abrupt: documents show that Eden did not accord European federation schemes a high priority it he had 'countless before he time problems... as other me'. 37 put when at a in documents in full flight Eden 3A this the show many of volume good - quite literally since at this time he was hardly off an aeroplane - sweeping aside with indignant impatience attempts from within the Conservative Party to suggest new directions and emphasis for foreign policy. Eden, who operated so well on the international circuit - Evelyn Shuckburgh calls him an 'acutely sensitive and skilful less diplomatic in his handling diplomatic the game'45 - was much of player of lack displayed home He a surprising of political often adroitness. and colleagues at in Cabinet foreign his interference But the the conduct of of colleagues policy. resented his attempts to brush them off only provoked them to return to the charge or to appeal infuriating. found he far Churchill. This How head his to particularly all this early over is the succession struggle coming perhaps a point to political manoeuvring concerned consider. As a case study in the use of evidence the piecing together of this episode 4 documents interdependence with other contemporary sources such of official shows the full, for full be, or as nearly a and memoirs as can story of what as newspaper reports Unrecorded leave documents happened the conversations gaps and why. which actually is fill. And to the telling the tale. according same event can vary who reports of cannot Least of all is there a 'single piece of paper' which can explain everything. Finally it seems to me that the historical significance of this episode lies in the becoming difference how it the tactics substance was real point not of reflects way between those who liked to call themselves pro-Europeanists and those who did not feet'. 'dragging With British their the of some exceptions, charge much so mind joining institutions any supra-national and politicians and officials alike were against America Commonwealth Europe: the claims of and over superior even were agreed on in face of American pressure sometimes for the reverse. Where they were divided - and increasingly so in the years up to Suez - was on the tactics of maintaining this position. Whether to state the British case bluntly, stand aside and let Europe get on with it or fond help Europe to along with words of encouragement and promises of whether Suez The Anglo-American to relations over at a time when the shock association. 5


European Community was just beginning to get off the ground - and with the benefit of hindsight one is apt to forget until reminded by the documents for how long doubt integration long European the precipitated a overdue viability of persisted about in be Europe 'of it' British that to the perhaps realisation and policy reappraisal of was better than just to be 'with it' after all.

H. J. Yasamee



Documents on British Policy Overseas, Series II, Volume I: The Schuman 1950-1952 Plan, the Council of Europe and Western European Integration (H. M. S. O., 1986), No. 437. 1964), Political Adventure: The Memoirs of the Earl of Kilmuir (London, 186. p. Power in Europe 1950-1957, edited by E. di Nolfo (forthcoming). Papers Florence in September in 1987. conference presented at a


2 3

4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Robert Rhodes James, Anthony Eden (London, 1986), p. 614. Ibid., p. 350. Harold Macmillan, Tides of Fortune 1945-1955 (London, 1969), pp.463-4. Ibid., p. 466. David Carlton, Anthony Eden: A Biography (London, 1981), pp. 308-314. Evelyn Shuckburgh, Descent to Suez: Diaries 1951-56 (London, 1986), p. 18. D. B. P. O., Series II, Volume I, No. 98. i.

11 12

Parl. Debs., 5th ser., H. of C., vo 1.484, col. 49.12 February 1951. D. B. P. O., Series II, Volume 11: The London Conferences, Anglo-American Relations and Cold War Strategy, 1950 (H. M. S. O., 1987), No. 74. i.


Ibid., No. 52.


Gabriel Silver lecture at Columbia University, 11 January 1952, quoted in The Memoirs of Sir Anthony Eden: Full Circle (London, 1960), p. 36.

15 16

Descent to Suez, p. 18. D. B. P. O., Series II, Volume II, No. 61, for reference to E. P.C. discussions in July 1949. D. B. P. O., Series II, Volume 1, No. 418.

17 18 19 20

21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33

Conversation with Eden as recorded in a letter from Sir W. Strang to Mr Bevin, 12 September 1950 (F. O. 800/456). D. B. P. O., Series II, Volume I, No. 395. Ibid., No. 392, notes 9-10.

Ibid., No. 375 for text of declaration and Nos. 376-8 for reactions. Ibid., No. 378, note 2. Ibid., No. 377. Ibid., No. 392. Ibid., No. 400, note 2. Ibid., No. 400. Ibid., No. 401. Ibid., No. 403. Ibid., No. 403, note 6. Ibid., No. 403, note 3. Ibid., No. 400, note 4. Council of Europe, Consultative Assembly, Third Session 1951, Official Report Volume 4, pp. 512-6. D. B. P. O., Series II, Volume I, No. 406.


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34 35 36

Ibid., No. 403, note 5. Ibid., No. 404. Ibid., No. 408.

37 38

Ibid., No. 409, note 3. Ibid., No. 409.

39 40 41 42 43 44 45

Ibid., No. 406. i. Ibid., No. 413, note 3. Ibid., No. 417. Ibid., No. 418. Ibid., No. 418, note 4. Ibid., No. 417, note 4. Descent to Suez, p. 15.

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This is no well thought-out paper, but rather a last minute fill in for somebody who is better qualified than I am to deal with this subject, but who has unfortunately been from down by illness. In I have just half in two my case, returned and a struck weeks China, and I have had twenty-four hours` notice. It is nevertheless, a subject in which I interest, indeed, is have been I discussing take some one which and with my in China, Chinese British hosts. Chinese The all academics, and our with companions freer in beginning to matters of scholarship, and one area where enjoy a atmosphere are there was some interest was the subject of archives, their creation and the question of access. I come to this subject with varied qualifications. The first is as an historian by training, Office Foreign East has to the of records relating over years made extensive use who Asia, mainly, but not exclusively, from the second half of the nineteenth century, and a both from Britain from limited and abroad records of other use of a variety rather more in PhD have in fruits The thesis this appeared a and numerous of the same period. work historian, I do be I While to a professional understand some of the cannot claim papers. interests and concerns of those who are. As a member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Research Department since 1969, I have been both a creator, in ie those not yet transferred to the current records a modest way, and a major user of Commonwealth Office, Foreign Office Record Public the those and and of the Departments of State from which it descends: the Foreign Office, the Colonial Office, forgotten, Office India Burma Relations Commonwealth the sometimes and and, the Offices. (The records of the latter two, now generally available under the thirty years' far later first I began the were concerned years when as as rule, were still closed Office days India Library Records, In FCO. in too, the those and the now part working Secretary State for Foreign Library, British the came of under still and of the Commonwealth Affairs. ) As well as using the main archive created in London, I have China, Japan Korea. from mainly overseas, and posts also used material Over the years, I have worked from time to time in geographical departments of the FCO or on occasional special projects where I have been acting as a regular desk do in In I handling that the time. the such officers all papers way addition was, officer, for just under four years, Head of Chancery and Consul in a medium-sized Embassy, for things, the good order of the current papers of the responsible, among many other Embassy and for decisions on which files should be destroyed as of no further current least back London for, historical those to should and which at go value, eventually, a or has This believe insight I both to the given me some review. real concerns of second those who have to handle current archives here and now, and all that entails in matters like day be those, this questions and of storage, and content audience, one of who will the users of what survives.


In all these roles in the FCO or abroad, I have used records, or supervised or advised have been They drawn in them, upon as part of my regular work. colleagues using for departments, Under-Secretaries for background briefs political papers or preparing have I for Ministers. surveyed vast collections of papers and prepared and others or documents, FCO that the so summary accounts, with a selection of accompanying Legal Advisers, and sometimes the Law Officers of the Crown, can deliver legal for forward filleted I have Like the records a straight many of my colleagues, opinions. historical account of some past event. Examples include what happened to the Chinese Embassy premises in London between 1950, when the Nationalists withdrew, and 1954, when the People's Republic of China decided to open a mission in London - for those who care, not a lot, and it showed! Another rather esoteric piece was an TE Lawrence in 1978-1979, Afghan that claims, revived examination of -'Lawrence in in 1928 he Afghanistan but been British Arabia' had active a agent as wasn't, of there were those in the Air Ministry who seemed to lack all feel for political sensitivities have looked issues famous 'other I it handling Britain's to most rank'. at came when including have been questions of recognition, and matters politically sensitive, which involving British Ministers in decisions which were controversial at home and abroad. As Head of Chancery in Seoul, I was present during two major international crises involving Korea, the shooting down of Korean Airlines flight 007 in September 1983 South leaders Korea's killed bomb Rangoon the the attack many of which and following month. I was there for a number of major visits, including the first ever Secretary State. by Since Falklands the the a conflict took of official royal visit and visit in Seoul, have international I how during time seen crisis my also a major place involving Britain, but largely perceived as peripheral by our host government, affects the work of a post. And also of course, and of most interest today, how it affects the post's creation and retention of records. I have therefore used a wide variety of records in a variety of circumstances, though FCO its the those of or predecessors, apart from direct correspondence almost entirely from other departments of state, or papers, such as Cabinet Office papers, circulated for information. It is possible sometimes to consult the records of other government departments, but it is not generally an easy process, and in my experience, has not Some do it is been however, have had to and of my colleagues, so, necessary. usually there that good relations between our own archive staff, in Library and Records Department, and their counterparts in other government departments are very important. Those of you who will be consulting the FCO records in the PRO in the future will of in have FCO task the record with those of other easier correlating a somewhat course departments. As has already been explained, the system of keeping records has changed since the have Office CRO. joined I Foreign the the the and so merger no after and merger of direct experience of day-to-day working with the old FO single jacket system. By 1969, Office Colonial in file had FCO the the and as used moved entirely to the multiple-paper files CRO by had CRO. Also 1969, FCO to the the practice of allowing given up the jacket The for Both have their single merits. more than one year. systems run on lament, departure still provided a of which many of my older colleagues system, the derived from All followed. the papers one neat encapsulation of one story, easily drafts, telegrams, minutes and were the related correspondence, communication, few issues It together. also made clear the absolute necessity of cross-referencing, since


jackets, A incidents collected group of related are completely self-contained. or in formed file. Certain a separate together, categories of papers were registered a 'green' series, but the basic principle remained the same. I The CRO system put all the papers of a file together, sometimes in very broad be it being in There that 2 this, the most obvious should possible are merits categories. to follow the whole story from one collection. By the time of the merger, the system of left file the the and related minutes on putting correspondence on the right-hand side of had stopped, and papers are entered on the file on the order in which they were issued. The file covers provide for a comprehensive record of those to whom the file has been issued, plus details of the reference numbers of the immediately preceding and file files. Registry files, to compile staff also related and cross-references succeeding indices which record the broad file titles together with details of some of the main topics is likely file is This file. title to in a when requirement an essential a particular covered be as vague as 'Republic of Korea - Internal'. In a quiet year, such a file may be rather from formation political does to if it the grouping of a new everything thin, even cover 1985, busy In diet. the domestic the in return as of such with a year, the changes dissident politician Kim Dae-jung, elections which produced some very unexpected in London in file, troubles, compiled or whether such a results and major student Seoul, would be very difficult to use without an adequate index. files have In I been has that the My own experience are good. most cases which actual files the account of a particular all story, a comprehensive with provide the examined, if irrelevant Even few kept too. the ones process weeding a sometimes papers relevant have been is it cuttings removed, has taken place, and material such as newspaper very Another does file the to the find story. point recreate of not allow reader which to a rare information how is the the contain about politics current records much to many concern been it have I is in think that the they a major source. past since countries,, other of important Ruritania The be to this politics of are still point. on to reassuring possible in it is Obviously, them to the way that was cover Britain today. not always possible done in the past. In China, for example, there were up to sixteen consular posts, plus is one consular post outside Peking, and that has Today 1941. before there an embassy, in limited Small been two man posts are obviously or one what reopened. only recently local developments. keep but do, to try of abreast they still they can Another concern is about the likely effect of modern communications on the records. This concern has so far, in my experience, proved unfounded. The telephone has not has been important business Even transacted the on the where record. written replaced have been, has it to those all concerned appear seen the clearly telephone, as sometimes begin: 'Ref. Smith Jones. ' It Many telecon telegrams to value of some written record. future historians. Crises be it be but to reassuring often very elegant, should may not lead to considerable use of the telephone, and decisions taken and instructions given are be in in likely to telegram, than recorded an elaborate series of a rather nowadays very from bombing The followed Rangoon the political consequences which on minutes. in Seoul led discussions to us many and exchanges among ourselves, with clearly Koreans and with other diplomats. None of these, as far as I can remember, were form in but important the the of minutes, points and our own conclusions are recorded Tokyo. in London, Washington telegrams and a series of and teleletters sent to recorded Sometimes other means are taken to make sure that crisis details are not forgotten. The


history both in-house is to of a particular crisis, the commissioning of an most common learned. The lessons lost details are authors of such and that are not make sure that histories are sometimes members of Research Department, sometimes junior- or Ambassador, High in the the event, or, occasionally, participants middle-ranking Commissioner or another senior member of the FCO who has played a major role in the histories have been There A such of the number of examples spring to mind. events. Icelandic cod wars, of developments in Iran, or negotiations over Gibraltar and over Hong Kong. I can understand that the existence of these histories will not be as it by blow blow historians accounts, yet should as original material with satisfying to help to reassure those who are worried that the FCO does not care about the historical record. I think that historians can also be assured that there is no general disposition to tamper Obviously, it Ministers is historical the the or officials. record part of on with impossible from one person's experience to give a blanket assurance that such things have not happened, but I have not found any evidence that they have. Neither have I because be that they their now people pull punches write will what seen any evidence in be in in thirty time, they to the service, public might still public years' while available the case of younger people, and are probably still likely to be alive in the case of many in have I that never, my such considerations of us not quite so young. can certainly say in I though expressed grave giving an opinion made me pause since own case, ever doubts about the likelihood of the Russians invading Afghanistan in 1978 or the Chinese fighting the Vietnamese in 1979, you might think that I had reason to do so! The only evidence I have ever seen of people thinking ahead thirty years is the hope has been done that correctly, or something occasional wry expression of however, look in Usually, to those concerned will come. we very silly years otherwise best here in the to this terms of the of our and now, of solving current problem think department from And, a particular or overseas post, people after moving on abilities. like issues involved behind job Maybe the them. to that to would some and put seem have but I the seen no sign of this. record, change One area which does concern people about the destruction of records is the question of have is few files I files. My that the seen are worth own experience of modern post post for in The them those short generally consist of needed at post papers retaining. it is is London. Little that to not created periods, plus copies of correspondence sent in Seoul bears have Others different but back. my experience of course may sent views, feet bulky for Falklands During the of several this out. conflict, example, we created files, classified to secret. When at the end of 1982 my very firm registry officer brought files. for keeping My in his he these there that these to me, said view were no grounds first instinct was to disagree, but once I looked at them, I had to concede that he was for information Most to sent papers us of the papers were copies of guidance or right. background. What was original was our views on Korean attitudes to the conflict and files London, back All had influence the to so were those views. that gone our efforts to destroyed. Similarly, when Sir Geoffrey Howe visited us in April 1984, many files in December When that year with to the me same registry officer came were created. had I for before files his to agree that there was those posting, review as parting shot despatch in further to them which merited nothing retention at post, never mind London, sad though it was to destroy the record of the variations in the programme or Like hour most posts, we telephone roster. my efforts at compiling a twenty-four

had limited a small collection of working papers, which a maintained validity. Space and security considerations meant that we had to be very strict about what we kept; destroying papers takes a great deal of time, which will not always be available in an We knew that there were no staff in London to do the work of weeding, so emergency. did it I it did think ourselves. we correctly. we Ar Perhaps I can say a little about raw intelligence material, though most people will be aware of the constraints which operate here. There is an understandable tendency to In importance the this some circumstances, exaggerate of outside government circles. in it but important in it be cases most plays a especially may military situations, holding Even it has the the of general constraints on peripheral role. played a part, when in incorporated be it working such material mean that available, except as will not from the to event those of us attempting to write an account of a particular papers, in found I have But working within these current records. any problem rarely limitations, and again it seems to me that a future researcher, able to juxtapose the Ministry Defence, Cabinet Office FCO the of the records of the and, say, with those of will also find that there is enough information available. On the whole therefore, I am optimistic about the prospects for future historians, at least kept, being Generally, far FCO the given right records are as as records are concerned. the enormous problems of selection and storage. They are in good order, with no be be it But hide there think that to no will misleading attempt to would mistakes. bulk The problems. of the records we are now creating, even after the various sheer I began difficulty. be have working on archives taken place, will a weeding processes in I PhD For every paper scanned virtually research my on nineteenth century material. between 1868 Japan Records Consular Embassy to FO relating the and records and the joined When I difficult That task. 1899, enough and was a plus some either side. Research Department and began to use twentieth century material on China, I was horrified by the volume of material preserved. Now, I can assure you, it has got worse. This is inevitable. The world has become a more complicated place. The FCO is a large department, with many ministers and officials - compare it now with thirty years' ago. With the spread of the photocopier, of 'fax' machines and other modern methods, the volume of paper grows all the time. The problem of volume is made worse by the lack of efficient finding aids. I do not know I indexing issues, back the of part story. only to about which past over go wish But my own experience is that files being made up now are rarely properly indexed. Despite all the guides to registry staff, and the formal layout of the covering jackets of files, which invite themselves to be filled in, too often nobody bothers much. is ignored. Files are References to previous papers are omitted, cross-referencing in big too to often papers are added use, while all and are unwieldy allowed to grow too but it fault be be Sometimes the the staff, can equally of registry this may any old order. hanging by desk on to papers - though given the officers or more senior staff caused difficulties sometimes experienced in retrieving papers once filed, I can understand this. Frequent changes of the names of FCO departments add to the confusion. Often we in Research Department perform our most valued service to the FCO not by our learned international issues but because find the complicated relations of of can we expositions is The Foreign Office (Not Librarian, this that a problem. great new papers. Sir Edward Hertslet, asked in 1885 whether Britain had ever communicated with the


Russians about the Korean islands known as Port Hamilton, which we were on the far he Russians trace, that to, as as could the said not to persuade point of occupying for Admiralty it be he But to the the that ask as well might added the answer was no. Foreign Office registers and indices were 'sadly in arrear '3). ... Another area of future problems will be over the question of sensitivity. The procedures less I described, have been they sanguine about them. am sound efficient. and used Even the most experienced Ambassador, High Commissioner or other former senior during his her in limited have time the or range of subjects only covered a official will in When such my experience will sometimes employed as a reviewer, people office. for longer be I in than thirty should closed papers years. play safe recommending from fear I dreadful disease that the which we all suffer, of over-classification, suspect fail-safe in decision is In that to this. theory, there such a mechanism, contributes may be referred to the relevant political department for another opinion. Too often, however, the person giving that opinion will not be an officer with much experience of Ruritanian politics, or a knowledge of what has already become available in the Ruritanian archives or in our records already opened. Rather, the task will fall to a desk officer who also feels the need to play safe. So files are closed unnecessarily. With the practice we follow files believe correctly the tampering the of not created, and with once with -I new system of filing in use since the merger, this could mean a lot of files will be future. beyond in Here I think a lot more thought will need to be the thirty years closed given to the issues involved. I have said that on the whole I have found little need to consult the records of other government departments. This is partly because East Asia is an area where the FCO is still very much the lead department. In other areas, the future historian will find that the FCO records will at best give only a partial account, and for the full story, a much wider range of material will need to be consulted. Often this will not even be in this country. The growth of international organisations and of bodies such as the European Community have not caused me much difficulty; I suspect that is not the case for many of my colleagues, and it will certainly not be the case for the research students and scholars of the next century. Another area which will post new problems is only just beginning to matter to us. That is the electronic revolution. This has come upon us suddenly. When I first joined the FCO, all typing in Research Department was done on manual typewriters. It was rumoured that in some parts of the Office, there were electric typewriters, but it was some years before I saw one. When I went to Seoul in 1981, we had just got electric typewriters for Chancery. Now word processors are everywhere, and anybody can have an electric typewriter for casual drafting. Computers and new ways of transmitting messages are about to hit us. As yet, most of us do not know what these developments for the records, but they will clearly have an effect. mean will Against this background of imminent change, there can be no conclusion to a paper such as this. Others will have different views on how good or bad our arrangements are. Remember, though, that your problems in using FCO material will be the same have ones we now. A paper destroyed is destroyed for us as well as for future historians, one restricted on grounds of sensitivity can be denied to us as well as to you - assuming any of us can find it in the first place! Perhaps I can end with a story I


in Peking, Qing I Ming told the recently and archives, which contain was when visited the Chinese central government records from 1368 to 1911. This was an excellent facilities had during happened I the good and competent staff. asked what archive, with Cultural Revolution, when particular targets of the Red Guards had been all that was bureaucratic and representative of traditional China. The Deputy Director said that the been instructions, had But Red Premier Zhou Enlai's the closed. at personal archive Guards were forbidden access to this and the other state archives, while air conditioning in keep things to the required records good condition continued to units and other function. That showed a proper regard for the historical record. 4

James E. Hoare



For the Foreign Office records, including the single jacket system, see M Roper, The Records of the Foreign Office 1782-1939; Public Record Office Handbooks No. 13, London, 1969. RB Pugh, The Records of the Colonial and Dominions Office Handbooks No. 3, London, 1964.


Public Record


by Sir E Hertslet, 14 May 1885, in reply to an enquiry by Memorandum Sir P Currie, in Park I1-Keun, editor, Anglo-American Diplomatic Materials 497. Seoul Korea, 1982, to p. relating


These events are touched upon in the brief account published to mark the See Sixty China Years in 1985. Number the of archive's sixtieth anniversary (in Chinese), Peking, 1985. The Second One Historical Archive 1925-1985 Archive, which has records of the Nationalist period (1911-1949) is at Nanjing.







This collection of documents from the archives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is published by authorization of Her Majesty's Government. The Editors have been accorded the customary freedom in the selection and arrangement of documents. SERIES

1 (1945-1950)

Published Volume I

The Conference at Potsdam, July-August

Volume II

Conferences Moscow.

Volume III

Britain and America: Negotiation of the United States loan, August December 1945.

Volume IV

Britain and America: 1945-July 1946.

Volume V

Germany and Western Europe, August-December 1945 (late 1989).

Conversations and



1945: London,



Energy, Bases and Food, December

In preparation The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, 1945-1946.

Volume VI (Volumes 1946).


United the cover will

Nations Organisation

and Peacemaking

SERIES II (1950-1955) Published Volume I

The Schuman Plan, the Council of Europe and Western European Integration, 1950-1952.

Volume II

The London Conferences, 1950.

Volume III

German Rearmament, 1950.

In preparation Volume IV

The Korean War, 1950-1951.

Free lists of titles (state subject/s) are available from Her Majesty's Stationery Office, HMSO Books, 51 Nine Elms Lane, London SW8 5DR.