Taking Back Our Stolen History
Royal Institute of International Affairs
Royal Institute of International Affairs

Royal Institute of International Affairs

Also known as Chatham House – a British think tank founded in 1920 ( following a meeting at the previous year’s Paris Peace Conference) and a lynchpin of the British Foreign Policy establishment. Its famous Chatham House Rule, when invoked, requires confidentiality of all meeting participants and prohibits attribution of comments. The HQ’s at the historic Chatham House, 10 St James’s Square in London, was gifted to the institute in 1923, having previously been the home of three British Prime Ministers. The organization was set up with Rockefeller Foundation money along with the Council on Foreign Relations, its sister institute in America, with the goal of bringing greater political unity to the two Western nations, as well as providing a study group to plan for the future of the Anglo-American establishment.

It was founded by the Group, has been consistently controlled by the Group, and to this day is the Milner Group in its widest aspect. It is the legitimate child of the Round Table organization, just as the latter was the legitimate child of the “Closer Union” movement organized in South Africa in 1907.

All three of these organizations were formed by the same small group of persons, all three received their initial financial backing from Sir Abe Bailey, and all three used the same methods for working out and propagating their ideas (the so-called Round Table method of discussion groups plus a journal). This similarity is not an accident.

The new organization was intended to be a wider aspect of the Milner Group, the plan being to influence the leaders of thought through The Round Table and to influence a wider group through the RIIA.

The real founder of the Institute was Lionel Curtis, although this fact was concealed for many years and he was presented to the public as merely one among a number of founders. In more recent years, however, the fact that Curtis was the real founder of the Institute has been publicly stated by members of the Institute and by the Institute itself on many occasions, and never denied.

One example will suffice. In the Annual Report of the Institute for 1942-1943 we read the following sentence:

“When the Institute was founded through the inspiration of Mr. Lionel Curtis during the Peace Conference of Paris in 1919, those associated with him in laying the foundations were a group of comparatively young men and women.”

The Institute was organized at a joint conference of British and American experts at the Hotel Majestic on 30 May 1919.

At the suggestion of Lord Robert Cecil, the chair was given to General Tasker Bliss of the American delegation. We have already indicated that the experts of the British delegation at the Peace Conference were almost exclusively from the Milner Group and Cecil Bloc.

The American group of experts, “the Inquiry,” was manned almost as completely by persons from institutions (including universities) dominated by J.P. Morgan and Company.

This was not an accident. Moreover, the Milner Group has always had very close relationships with the associates of J.P. Morgan and with the various branches of the Carnegie Trust.

These relationships, which are merely examples of the closely knit ramifications of international financial capitalism, were probably based on the financial holdings controlled by the Milner Group through the Rhodes Trust.

The term “international financier” can be applied with full justice to several members of the Milner Group inner circle, such as Brand, Hichens, and above all, Milner himself.

At the meeting at the Hotel Majestic, the British group included:

  • Lionel Curtis
  • Philip Kerr
  • Lord Robert Cecil
  • Lord Eustace Percy
  • Sir Eyre Crowe
  • Sir Cecil Hurst
  • J.W. Headlam-Morley
  • Geoffrey Dawson
  • Harold Temperley
  • G.M. Gathorne-Hardy

It was decided to found a permanent organization for the study of international affairs and to begin by writing a history of the Peace Conference.

A committee was set up to supervise the writing of this work. It had Lord Meston as chairman, Lionel Curtis as secretary, and was financed by a gift of £2000 from Thomas W. Lamont of J.P. Morgan and Company.

This group picked Harold Temperley as editor of the work. It appeared in six large volumes in the years 1920-1924, under the auspices of the RIIA.

The British organization was set up by a committee of which Lord Robert Cecil was chairman, Lionel Curtis was honorary secretary and the following were members:

  • Lord Eustace Percy
  • J.A.C. (later Sir John) Tilley
  • Philip Noel-Baker
  • Clement Jones
  • Harold Temperley
  • A.L. Smith (classmate of Milner and Master of Balliol)
  • George W. Prothero
  • Geoffrey Dawson

This group drew up a constitution and made a list of prospective members. Lionel Curtis and Gathorne-Hardy drew up the by-laws.

The above description is based on the official history of the RIIA published by the Institute itself in 1937 and written by Stephen King-Hall. It does not agree in its details (committees and names) with information from other sources, equally authoritative, such as the journal of the Institute or the preface to Temperley’s History of the Peace Conference. The latter, for example, says that the members were chosen by a committee consisting of Lord Robert Cecil, Sir Valentine Chirol, and Sir Cecil Hurst.

As a matter of fact, all of these differing accounts are correct, for the Institute was formed in such an informal fashion, as among friends, that membership on committees and lines of authority between committees were not very important. As an example, Mr. King-Hall says that he was invited to join the Institute in 1919 by Philip Kerr (Lord Lothian), although this name is not to be found on any membership committee.

At any rate, one thing is clear:

The Institute was formed by the Cecil Bloc and the Milner Group, acting together, and the real decisions were being made by members of the latter.

As organized, the Institute consisted of a council with a chairman and two honorary secretaries, and a small group of paid employees. Among these latter, A.J. Toynbee, nephew of Milner’s old friend at Balliol, was the most important. There were about 300 members in 1920, 714 in 1922, 1707 in 1929, and 2414 in 1936.

There have been three chairmen of the council:

  1. Lord Meston in 1920-1926
  2. Major-General Sir Neill Malcolm in 1926-1935
  3. Lord Astor from 1935 to the present

All of these are members of the Milner Group, although General Malcolm is not yet familiar to us.

General Malcolm, from Eton and Sandhurst, married the sister of Dougal Malcolm of Milner’s Kindergarten in 1907, when he was a captain in the British Army. By 1916 he was a lieutenant colonel and two years later a major general. He was with the British Military Mission in Berlin in 1919-1921 and General Officer Commanding in Malaya in 1921-1924, retiring in 1924.

He was High Commissioner for German Refugees (a project in which the Milner Group was deeply involved) in 1936-1938 and has been associated with a number of industrial and commercial firms, including the British North Borneo Company, of which he is president and Dougal Malcolm is vice-president.

It must not be assumed that General Malcolm won advancement in the world because of his connections with the Milner Group, for his older brother, Sir Ian Malcolm was an important member of the Cecil Bloc long before Sir Neill joined the Milner Group.

Sir Ian, who went to Eton and New College, was assistant private secretary to Lord Salisbury in 1895-1900, was parliamentary private secretary to the Chief Secretary for Ireland (George Wyndham) in 1901-1903, and was private secretary to Balfour in the United States in 1917 and at the Peace Conference in 1919. He wrote the sketch of Walter Long of the Cecil Bloc (Lord Long of Wraxall) in the Dictionary of National Biography.

From the beginning, the two honorary secretaries of the Institute were Lionel Curtis and G.M. Gathorne-Hardy. These two, especially the latter, did much of the active work of running the organization.

In 1926 the Report of the Council of the RIIA said:

“It is not too much to say that the very existence of the Institute is due to those who have served as Honorary Officers.”

The burden of work was so great on Curtis and Gathorne-Hardy by 1926 that Sir Otto Beit, of the Rhodes Trust, Milner Group, and British South Africa Company, gave £1000 for 1926 and 1927 for secretarial assistance.

F.B. Bourdillon assumed the task of providing this assistance in March 1926. He had been secretary to Feetham on the Irish Boundary Commission in 1924-1925 and a member of the British delegation to the Peace Conference in 1919. He has been in the Research Department of the Foreign Office since 1943.

The active governing body of the Institute is the council, originally called the executive committee. Under the more recent name, it generally had twenty-five to thirty members, of whom slightly less than half were usually of the Milner Group.

In 1923, five members were elected, including Lord Meston, Headlam-Morley, and Mrs. Alfred Lyttelton. The following year, seven were elected, including Wilson Harris, Philip Kerr, and Sir Neill Malcolm. And so it went. In 1936, at least eleven out of twenty-six members of the council were of the Milner Group.

These included:

  • Lord Astor (chairman)
  • L. Curtis
  • G.M. Gathorne-Hardy
  • Lord Hailey
  • H.D. Henderson
  • Stephen King-Hall
  • Mrs. Alfred Lyttelton
  • Sir Neill Malcolm
  • Lord Meston
  • Sir Arthur Salter
  • J.W. Wheeler-Bennett
  • E.L. Woodward
  • Sir Alfred Zimmern

Among the others were:

  • A.V. Alexander
  • Sir John Power
  • Sir Norman Angell
  • Clement Jones
  • Lord Lytton
  • Harold Nicolson
  • Lord Snell
  • C.K. Webster

Others who were on the council at various times were

  • E.H. Carr
  • Harold Butler
  • G.N. Clark
  • Geoffrey Crowther
  • H.V. Hodson
  • Hugh Wyndham
  • G.W.A. Ormsley-Gore
  • Walter Layton
  • Austen Chamberlain
  • Malcolm MacDonald (elected 1933)
  • and many other members of the Group…

The chief activities of the RIIA were the holding of discussion meetings, the organization of study groups, the sponsoring of research, and the publication of information and materials based on these.

At the first meeting, Sir Maurice Hankey read a paper on “Diplomacy by Conference,” showing how the League of Nations grew out of the Imperial Conferences. This was published in The Round Table.

No complete record exists of the meetings before the fall of 1921, but, beginning then, the principal speech at each meeting and resumes of the comments from the floor were published in the Journal.

  1. At the first of these recorded meetings, D.G. Hogarth spoke on “The Arab States,” with Lord Chelmsford in the chair. Stanley Reed, Chirol, and Meston spoke from the floor.
  2. Two weeks later, H.A.L. Fisher spoke on “The Second Assembly of the League of Nations,” with Lord Robert Cecil in the chair. Temperley and Wilson Harris also spoke.
  3. In November, Philip Kerr was the chief figure for two evenings on “Pacific Problems as They Would Be submitted to the Washington Conference.”
  4. At the end of the same month, A.J. Toynbee spoke on “The Greco-Turkish Question,” with Sir Arthur Evans in the chair,
  5. Early in December his father-in-law, Gilbert Murray, spoke on “Self-Determination,” with Lord Sumner in the chair.
  6. In January 1922, Chaim Weizmann spoke on “Zionism”;
  7. In February, Chirol spoke on “Egypt”;
  8. In April, Walter T. Layton spoke on “The Financial Achievement of the League of Nations,” with Lord Robert Cecil in the chair.
  9. In June, Wilson Harris spoke on “The Genoa Conference,” with Robert H. Brand in the chair.
  10. In October, Ormsby-Gore spoke on “Mandates,” with Lord Lugard in the chair.
  11. Two weeks later, Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland spoke on “The League of Nations,” with H.A.L. Fisher in the chair.
  12. In March 1923, Harold Butler spoke on the “International Labour Office,” with G.N. Barnes in the chair.
  13. Two weeks later, Philip Kerr spoke on “The Political Situation in the United States,” with Arthur Balfour in the chair.
  14. In October 1923, Edward F.L. Wood (Lord Halifax) spoke on “The League of Nations,” with H.A.L. Fisher in the chair.
  15. In November 1924, E.R. Peacock (Parkin’s protege) spoke on “Mexico,” with Lord Eustace Percy in the chair.
  16. In October 1925, Leopold Amery spoke on “The League of Nations,” with Robert Cecil as chairman,
  17. In May 1926, H.A.L. Fisher spoke on the same subject, with Neill Malcolm as chairman.
  18. In November 1925, Paul Mantoux spoke on “The Procedure of the League,” with Brand as chairman.
  19. In June 1923, Edward Grigg spoke on “Egypt,” with D.G. Hogarth in the chair.

In the season of 1933-1934 the speakers included Ormsby-Gore, Oliver Lyttelton, Edward Grigg, Donald Somervell, Toynbee, Zimmern, R.W. Seton-Watson, and Lord Lothian.

In the season of 1938-1939 the list contains the names of Wilson Harris, C.A. Macartney, Toynbee, Lord Hailey, A.G.B. Fisher, Harold Butler, Curtis, Lord Lothian, Zimmern, Lionel Hichens, and Lord Halifax.

These rather scattered observations will show how the meetings were peppered by members of the Milner Group. This does not mean that the Group monopolized the meetings, or even spoke at a majority of them.

The meetings generally took place once a week from October to June of each year, and probably members of the Group spoke or presided at no more than a quarter of them. This, however, represents far more than their due proportion, for when the Institute had 2500, members the Milner Group amounted to no more than 100.

The proceedings of the meetings were generally printed in abbreviated form in the Journal of the Institute. Until January 1927, this periodical was available only to members, but since that date it has been open to public subscription. The first issue was as anonymous as the first issue of The Round Table: no list of editors, no address, and no signature to the opening editorial introducing the new journal.

The articles, however, had the names of the speakers indicated. When it went on public sale in January 1927, the name of the Institute was added to the cover. In time it took the name International Affairs. The first editor, we learn from a later issue, was Gathorne-Hardy. In January 1932 an editorial board was placed in charge of the publication. It consisted of Meston, Gathorne-Hardy, and Zimmern.

This same board remained in control until war forced suspension of publication at the end of 1939. When publication was resumed in 1944 in Canada, the editorial board consisted of Hugh Wyndham, Geoffrey Crowther, and H.A.R. Gibb. Wyndham is still chairman of the board, but since the war the membership of the board has changed somewhat.

In 1948 it had six members, of whom three are employees of the Institute, one is the son-in-law of an employee, the fifth is Professor of Arabic at Oxford, and the last is the chairman, Hugh Wyndham. In 1949 Adam Marris was added.

In addition to the History of the Peace Conference and the journal International Affairs, the Institute publishes the annual Survey of International Affairs. This is written either by members of the Group or by employees of the Institute. The chief writers have been Toynbee; his second wife, V.M. Boulter; Robert J. Stopford, who appears to be one of R.H. Brand’s men and who wrote the reparations section each year;* H.V. Hodson, who did the economic sections from 1930-1938; and A.G.B. Fisher, who has done the economic sections since Hodson.

Until 1928 the Survey had an appendix of documents, but since that year these have been published in a separate volume, usually edited by J.W. Wheeler-Bennett. Mr. Wheeler-Bennett became a member of the Milner Group and the Institute by a process of amalgamation.

In 1924 he had founded a document service, which he called Information Service on International Affairs, and in the years following 1924 he published a number of valuable digests of documents and other information on disarmament, security, the World Court, reparations, etc., as well as a periodical called the Bulletin of International News.

In 1927 he became Honorary Information Secretary of the RIIA, and in 1930 the Institute bought out all his information services for £3500 and made them into the Information Department of the Institute, still in charge of Mr. Wheeler-Bennett. Since the annual Documents on International Affairs resumed publication in 1944, it has been in charge of Monica Curtis (who may be related to Lionel Curtis), while Mr. Wheeler-Bennett has been busy elsewhere.

In 1938-1939 he was Visiting Professor of International Relations at the University of Virginia: in 1939-1944 he was in the United States in various propaganda positions with the British Library of Information and for two years as Head of the British Political Warfare Mission in New York. Since 1946, he has been engaged in editing, from the British side, an edition of about twenty volumes of the captured documents of the German Foreign Ministry. He has also lectured on international affairs at New College, a connection obviously made through the Milner Group.

The Survey of International Affairs has been financed since 1925 by an endowment of £20,000 given by Sir Daniel Stevenson for this purpose and also to provide a Research Chair of International History at the University of London. Arnold J. Toynbee has held both the professorship and the editorship since their establishment.

He has also been remunerated by other grants from the Institute.

When the first major volume of the Survey, covering the years 1920-1923, was published, a round-table discussion was held at Chatham House, 17 November 1925, to criticize it.

Headlam-Morley was chairman, and the chief speakers were Curtis, Wyndham, Gathorne-Hardy, Gilbert Murray, and Toynbee himself.

Since the Survey did not cover British Commonwealth affairs, except in a general fashion, a project was established for a parallel Survey of British Commonwealth Relations. This was financed by a grant of money from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The task was entrusted to W.K. Hancock, a member of All Souls since 1924 and Chichele Professor of Economic History residing at All Souls since 1944.

He produced three substantial volumes of the Survey in 1940-1942, with a supplementary legal chapter in volume I by R.T.E. Latham of All Souls and the Milner Group.

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

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

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

The following list of incumbents is significant:

  • A.E. Zimmern, 1919-1921
  • C.K. Webster, 1922-1932
  • J.D. Greene, 1932-1934
  • J.F. Vranek, (Acting), 1934-1936
  • E.H. Carr, 1936 to now (1949)

Three of these names are familiar.

Of the others, Jiri Vranek was secretary to the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation (to be discussed in a moment). Jerome Greene was an international banker close to the Milner Group. Originally Mr. Greene had been a close associate of J.D. Rockefeller, but in 1917 he shifted to the international banking firm Lee, Higginson, and Company of Boston.

In 1918 he was American secretary to the Allied Maritime Transport Council in London (of which Arthur Salter was general secretary).

He became a resident of Toynbee Hall and established a relationship with the Milner Group. In 1919 he was secretary to the Reparations Commission of the Peace Conference (a past in which his successor was Arthur Salter in 1920-1922). He was chairman of the Pacific Council of the Institute of Pacific Relations in 1929-1932.

This last point will be discussed in a moment.

Mr. Greene was a trustee and secretary of the Rockefeller Foundation in 1913-1917, and was a trustee of the Rockefeller Institute and of the Rockefeller General Education Board in 1912-1939.

The study groups of the RIIA are direct descendants of the roundtable meetings of the Round Table Group.

They have been defined by Stephen King-Hall as,

“unofficial Royal Commissions charged by the Council of Chatham House with the investigation of specific problems.”

These study groups are generally made up of persons who are not members of the Milner Group, and their reports are frequently published by the Institute. In 1932 the Rockefeller Foundation gave the Institute a grant of £8000 a year for five years to advance the study-group method of research.

This was extended for five years more in 1937.

In 1923, Lionel Curtis got a Canadian, Colonel R.W. Leonard, so interested in the work of the Institute that he bought Lord Kinnaird’s house at 10 St. James Square as a home for the Institute. Since William Pitt had once lived in the building, it was named “Chatham House,” a designation which is now generally applied to the Institute itself

The only condition of the grant was that the Institute should raise an endowment to yield at least £10,000 a year for upkeep.

Since the building had no adequate assembly hall, Sir John Power, the honorary treasurer, gave £10,000 to build one on the rear. The building itself was renovated and furnished under the care of Mrs. Alfred Lyttelton, who, like her late husband but unlike her son, Oliver, was a member of the Milner Group.

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

This episode opens up the whole question of the financial resources available to the Institute and to the Milner Group in general. Unfortunately, we cannot examine the subject here, but it should be obvious that a group with such connections as the Milner Group would not find it difficult to finance the RIIA.

In general, the funds came from the various endowments, banks, and industrial concerns with which the Milner Group had relationships. The original money in 1919, only £200, came from Abe Bailey. In later years he added to this, and in 1928 gave £5000 a year in perpetuity on the condition that the Institute never accept members who were not British subjects.

When Sir Abe died in 1940, the annual Report of the Council said:

“With the passing of Sir Bailey the Council and all the members of Chatham House mourn the loss of their most munificent Founder.”

Sir Abe had paid various other expenses during the years. For example, when the Institute in November 1935 gave a dinner to General Smuts, Sir Abe paid the cost.

All of this was done as a disciple of Lord Milner, for whose principles of imperial policy Bailey always had complete devotion.

Among the other benefactors of the Institute, we might mention the following. In 1926 the Carnegie United Kingdom Trustees (Hichens and Dame Janet Courtney) gave £3000 for books; the Bank of England gave £600; J.D. Rockefeller gave £3000.

In 1929 pledges were obtained from about a score of important banks and corporations, promising annual grants to the Institute. Most of these had one or more members of the Milner Group on their boards of directors.

Included in the group were:

  1. Anglo-Iranian Oil Company
  2. Bank of England
  3. Barclay’s Bank
  4. Baring Brothers
  5. British American Tobacco Company
  6. British South Africa Company
  7. Central Mining and Investment Corporation
  8. Erlangers, Ltd
  9. Ford Motor Company
  10. Hambros’ Bank
  11. Imperial Chemical Industries
  12. Lazard Brothers
  13. Lever Brothers
  14. Lloyd’s
  15. Lloyd’s Ban
  16. Mercantile and General Insurance Company
  17. Midland Bank
  18. Reuters
  19. Rothschild and Sons
  20. Stern Brothers
  21. Vickers-Armstrong
  22. Westminster Bank
  23. Whitehall Securities Corporation

Since 1939 the chief benefactors of the Institute have been the Astor family and Sir Henry Price.

In 1942 the latter gave £50,000 to buy the house next door to Chatham House for an expansion of the library (of which E.L. Woodward was supervisor).

In the same year Lord Astor, who had been giving £2000 a year since 1937, promised £3000 a year for seven years to form a Lord Lothian Memorial Fund to promote good relations between the United States and Britain. At the same time, each of Lord Astor’s four sons promised £1000 a year for seven years to the general fund of the Institute.

Chatham House had close institutional relations with a number of other similar organizations, especially in the Dominions. It also has a parallel organization, which was regarded as a branch, in New York. This latter, the Council on Foreign Relations, was not founded by the American group that attended the meeting at the Hotel Majestic in 1919, but was taken over almost entirely by that group immediately after its founding in 1919.

This group was made up of the experts on the American delegation to the Peace Conference who were most closely associated with J.P. Morgan and Company. The Morgan bank has never made any real effort to conceal its position in regard to the Council on Foreign Relations.

The list of officers and board of directors are printed in every issue of Foreign Affairs and have always been loaded with partners, associates, and employees of J.P. Morgan and Company.

According to Stephen King-Hall, the RIIA agreed to regard the Council on Foreign Relations as its American branch.

The relationship between the two has always been very close. For example, the publications of one are available at reduced prices to the members of the other; they frequently sent gifts of books to each other (the Council, for example, giving the Institute a seventy-five-volume set of the Foreign Relations of the United States in 1933); and there is considerable personal contact between the officers of the two (Toynbee, for example, left the manuscript of Volumes 7-9 of A Study of History in the Council’s vault during the recent war).

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

The last-named was established by Zimmern on a visit there the same year. The others were set up in 1934-1936.

As we have said, the members of the Dominion Institutes of International Affairs were the members of the Milner Group and their close associates.

In Canada, for example,

  • Robert L. Borden was the first president (1927-1931)
  • N.W. Rowell was the second president
  • Sir Joseph Flavelle and Vincent Massey were vice-presidents
  • Glazebrook was honorary secretary
  • Percy Corbett was one of the most important members

Of these, the first three were close associates of the Milner Group (especially of Brand) in the period of the First World War; the last four were members of the Group itself.

When the Indian Institute was set up in 1936, it was done at the Viceroy’s house at a meeting convened by Lord Willingdon (Brand’s cousin).

  • Robert Cecil sent a message, which was read by Stephen King-Hall.
  • Sir Maurice Gwyer of All Souls became a member of the council.
  • In South Africa, B.K. Long of the Kindergarten was one of the most important members.
  • In the Australian Institute, Sir Thomas Bavin was president in 1934-1941, while F.W. Eggleston was one of its principal founders and vice-president for many years.
  • In New Zealand, W. Downie Stewart was president of the Institute of International Affairs from 1935 on.

Naturally, the Milner Group did not monopolize the membership or the official positions in these new institutes any more than they did in London, for this would have weakened the chief aim of the Group in setting them up, namely to extend their influence to wider areas.

Closely associated with the various Institutes of International Affairs were the various branches of the Institute of Pacific Relations. This was originally founded at Atlantic City in September 1924 as a private organization to study the problems of the Pacific Basin. It has representatives from eight countries with interests in the area. The representatives from the United Kingdom and the three British Dominions were closely associated with the Milner Group.

Originally each country had its national unit, but by 1939, in the four British areas, the local Institute of Pacific Relations had merged with the local Institute of International Affairs. Even before this, the two Institutes in each country had practically interchangeable officers, dominated by the Milner Group. In the United States, the Institute of Pacific Relations never merged with the Council on Foreign Relations, but the influence of the associates of J.P. Morgan and other international bankers remained strong on both.

The chief figure in the Institute of Pacific Relations of the United States was, for many years, Jerome D. Greene, Boston banker close to both Rockefeller and Morgan and for many years secretary to Harvard University.

The Institutes of Pacific Relations held joint meetings, similar to those of the unofficial conferences on British Commonwealth relations and with a similar group of delegates from the British member organizations.

These meetings met every two years at first, beginning at Honolulu in 1925 and then assembling at Honolulu again (1927), at Kyoto (1929), at Shanghai (1931), at Banff (1933), and at Yosemite Park (1936). F.W. Eggleston, of Australia and the Milner Group, presided over most of the early meetings. Between meetings, the central organization, set up in 1927, was the Pacific Council, a self-perpetuating body.

In 1930, at least five of its seven members were from the Milner Group, as can be seen from the following list:


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

The close relationships among all these organizations can be seen from a tour of inspection which Lionel Curtis and Ivison S. Macadam (secretary of Chatham House, in succession to F.B. Bourdillon, since 1929) made in 1938.

They not only visited the Institutes of International Affairs of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada but attended the Princeton meeting of the Pacific Council of the IPR. Then they separated, Curtis going to New York to address the dinner of the Council on Foreign Relations and visit the Carnegie Foundation, while Macadam went to Washington to visit the Carnegie Endowment and the Brookings Institution.

Through the League of Nations, where the influence of the Milner Group was very great, the RIIA was able to extend its intellectual influence into countries outside the Commonwealth. This was done, for example, through the Intellectual Cooperation Organization of the League of Nations.

This Organization consisted of two chief parts:

  1. The International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation, an advisory body
  2. The International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation, an executive organ of the Committee, with headquarters in Paris

The International Committee had about twenty members from various countries; Gilbert Murray was its chief founder and was chairman from 1928 to its disbandment in 1945.

The International Institute was established by the French government and handed over to the League of Nations (1926). Its director was always a Frenchman, but its deputy director and guiding spirit was Alfred Zimmern from 1926 to 1930. It also had a board of directors of six persons; Gilbert Murray was one of these from 1926.

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

Beginning in 1928 at Berlin, Professor Zimmern organized annual round-table discussion meetings under the auspices of the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation.

These were called the International Studies Conferences and devoted themselves to an effort to obtain different national points of view on international problems. The members of the Studies Conferences were twenty-five organizations. Twenty of these were Coordinating Committees created for the purpose in twenty different countries.

The other five were the following international organizations:

  1. The Academy of International Law at The Hague
  2. The European Center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  3. The Geneva School of International Studies
  4. The Graduate Institute of International Studies at Geneva
  5. The Institute of Pacific Relations

In two of these five, the influence of the Milner Group and its close allies was preponderant.

In addition, the influence of the Group was decisive in the Coordinating Committees within the British Commonwealth, especially in the British Coordinating Committee for International Studies. The members of this committee were named by four agencies, three of which were controlled by the Milner Group.

They were:

  • the RIIA
  • the London School of Economics and Political Science
  • the Department of International Politics at University College of Wales, Aberystwyth
  • the Montague Burton Chair of International Relations at Oxford

We have already indicated that the Montague Burton Chair was largely controlled by the Milner Group, since the Group always had a preponderance on the board of electors to that chair. This was apparently not assured by the original structure of this board, and it was changed in the middle 1930s.

After the change, the board had seven electors:

  1. the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, ex officio
  2. the Master of Balliol, ex officio
  3. Viscount Cecil of Chelwood
  4. Gilbert Murray, for life
  5. B.H. Sumner
  6. Sir Arthur Salter
  7. Sir J. Fischer Williams of New College

Thus, at least four of this board were members of the Group. In 1947 the electoral board to the Montague Burton Professorship consisted of:

  • R.M. Barrington-Ward (editor of The Times)
  • Miss Agnes Headlam-Morley (daughter of Sir James Headlam-Morley of the Group)
  • Sir Arthur Salter
  • R.C.K. Ensor
  • and one vacancy, to be filled by Balliol College

It was this board, apparently, that named Miss Headlam-Morley to the Montague Burton Professorship when E.L. Woodward resigned in 1947. As can be seen, the Milner Group influence was predominant, with only one member out of five (Ensor) clearly not of the Group.

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

The meetings of the International Studies Conferences were organized in a fashion identical with that used in other meetings controlled by the Milner Group-for example, in the unofficial conferences on British Commonwealth relations-and the proceedings were published by the Institute of Intellectual Cooperation in a similar way to those of the unofficial conferences just mentioned, except that the various speakers were identified by name.

As examples of the work which the International Studies Conferences handled, we might mention that,

  • at the fourth and fifth sessions (Copenhagen in 1931 and Milan in 1932), they examined the problem of “The State and Economic Life”
  • at the seventh and eighth session (Paris in 1934 and London in 1935), they examined the problem of “Collective Security”
  • at the ninth and tenth sessions (Madrid in 1936 and Paris 1937) they examined the problem of “University Teaching of International Relations”

In all of these conferences the Milner Group played a certain part.

They could have monopolized the British delegations at these meetings if they had wished, but, with typical Milner Group modesty they made no effort to do so. Their influence appeared most clearly at the London meeting of 1935. Thirty-nine delegates from fourteen countries assembled at Chatham House to discuss the problem of collective security.

Great Britain had ten delegates. They were:

  1. Dr. Hugh Dalton
  2. Professor H. Lauterpacht
  3. Captain Liddell Hart
  4. Lord Lytton
  5. Professor A.D. McNair
  6. Professor C.A.W. Manning
  7. Dr. David Mitrany
  8. Rear Admiral H.G. Thursfield
  9. Arnold J. Toynbee
  10. Professor C.K. Webster

In addition, the Geneva School of International Studies sent two delegates: J.H. Richardson and A.E. Zimmern.

The British delegation presented three memoranda to the conference.

  1. The first, a study of “Sanctions,” was prepared by the RIIA and has been published since.
  2. The second, a study of “British Opinion on Collective Security,” was prepared by the British Coordinating Committee.
  3. The third, a collection of “British Views on Collective Security,” was prepared by the delegates.

It had an introduction by Meston and nine articles, of which one was by G.M. Gathorne-Hardy and one by H.V. Hodson. Zimmern also presented a memorandum on behalf of the Geneva School.

Opening speeches were made by Austen Chamberlain, Allen W. Dulles (of the Council on Foreign Relations), and Louis Eisenmann of the University of Paris. Closing speeches were made by Lord Meston, Allen Dulles, and Gilbert Murray. Meston acted as president of the conference, and Dulles as chairman of the study meetings. The proceedings were edited and published by a committee of two Frenchmen and A.J. Toynbee.

At the sessions on “Peaceful Change” in 1936-37, Australia presented one memorandum (“The Growth of Australian Population”). It was written by F.W. Eggleston and G. Packer. The United Kingdom presented fifteen memoranda. Eight of these were prepared by the RIIA, and seven by individuals. Of the seven individual works, two were written by members of All Souls who were also members of the Milner Group (C.A. Macartney and C.R.M.F. Cruttwell).

The other five were written by experts who were not members of the Group (A.M. Carr-Saunders, A.B. Keith, D. Harwood, H. Lauterpacht, and R. Kuczynski).

In the middle 1930s the Milner Group began to take an interest in the problem of refugees and stateless persons, as a result of the persecutions of Hitler and the approaching closing of the Nansen Office of the League of Nations. Sir Neill Malcolm was made High Commissioner for German Refugees in 1936. The following year the RIIA began a research program in the problem.

This resulted in a massive report, edited by Sir John Hope Simpson who was not a member of the Group and was notoriously unsympathetic to Zionism (1939). In 1938 Roger M. Makins was made secretary to the British delegation to the Evian Conference on Refugees. Mr. Makins’ full career will be examined later. At this point it is merely necessary to note that he was educated at Winchester School and at Christ Church, Oxford, and was elected to a Fellowship at All Souls in 1925, when only twenty-one years old.

After the Evian Conference (where the British, for strategic reasons, left all the responsible positions to the Americans), Mr. Makins was made secretary to the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees. He was British Minister in Washington from 1945 to 1947 and is now Assistant Under Secretary in the Foreign Office.

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

At the time of the Czechoslovak crisis in September 1938, the RIIA began to act in an unofficial fashion as an adviser to the Foreign Office. When war began a year later, this was made formal, and Chatham House became, for all practical purposes, the research section of the Foreign Office.

A special organization was established in the Institute, in charge of A.J. Toynbee, with Lionel Curtis as his chief support acting “as the permanent representative of the chairman of the Council, Lord Astor.”

The organization consisted of the press-clipping collection, the information department, and much of the library. These were moved to Oxford and set up in Balliol, All Souls, and Rhodes House. The project was financed by the Treasury, All Souls, Balliol, and Chatham House jointly. Within a brief time, the organization became known as the Foreign Research and Press Service (FRPS).

It answered all questions on international affairs from government departments, prepared a weekly summary of the foreign press, and prepared special research projects. When Anthony Eden was asked a question in the House of Commons on 23 July 1941, regarding the expense of this project, he said that the Foreign Office had given it £,53,000 in the fiscal year 1940-1941.

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

The former may be Alfred Hugh Latimer, who was an undergraduate at Merton from 1938 to 1946 and was elected to the foundation of the same college in 1946.

As the work of the FRPS grew too heavy for Curtis to supervise alone, he was given a committee of four assistants. They were G.N. Clark, H.J. Paton, C.K. Webster, and A.E. Zimmern. About the same time, the London School of Economics established a quarterly journal devoted to the subject of postwar reconstruction. It was called Agenda, and G.N. Clark was editor.

Clark had been a member of All Souls since 1912 and was Chichele Professor of Economic History from 1931 to 1943. Since 1943 he has been Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge. Not a member of the Milner Group, he is close to it and was a member of the council of Chatham House during the recent war.

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

This brief sketch of the Royal Institute of International Affairs does not by any means indicate the very considerable influence which the organization exerts in English-speaking countries in the sphere to which it is devoted. The extent of that influence must be obvious. The purpose of this chapter has been something else: to show that the Milner Group controls the Institute.

Once that is established, the picture changes.

The influence of Chatham House appears in its true perspective, not as the influence of an autonomous body but as merely one of many instruments in the arsenal of another power. When the influence which the Institute wields is combined with that controlled by the Milner Group in other fields – in education, in administration, in newspapers and periodicals – a really terrifying picture begins to emerge.

This picture is called terrifying not because the power of the Milner Group was used for evil ends. It was not. On the contrary, it was generally used with the best intentions in the world – even if those intentions were so idealistic as to be almost academic. The picture is terrifying because such power, whatever the goals at which it may be directed, is too much to be entrusted safely to any group.

That it was too much to be safely entrusted to the Milner Group will appear quite clearly in Chapter 12.

No country that values its safety should allow what the Milner Group accomplished in Britain – that is, that a small number of men should be able to wield such power in administration and politics, should be given almost complete control over the publication of the documents relating to their actions, should be able to exercise such influence over the avenues of information that create public opinion, and should be able to monopolize so completely the writing and the teaching of the history of their own period.

From ‘The Anglo American Establishment’ by Carroll Quigley

Chronological History of Events Related to the Royal Institute of International Affairs

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