Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Friday, June 17, 2016

Who Was Lord Haldane?

Lord Haldane
Richard Burdon Haldane (1856–1928) was a brilliant Scottish lawyer, philosopher, and politician who led the reform of the Britain's pre-WWI army.  His work made the deployment of the 1914 British Expeditionary Force feasible. He is best remembered, though, for the disappointing Haldane Mission, a diplomatic visit to Berlin he undertook as British secretary of state for war.  During the mission, which lasted from 8 to 11 February 1912, British ruling circles sought to explore possibilities for a British-German agreement that would recognize British naval superiority. If Germany would cease to compete with Britain in building up naval armaments, the British government was prepared to satisfy some of Germany's colonial demands in Africa. 

The Germans sought to conclude a separate British-German agreement pledging each side to neutrality should the other find itself involved in a war; such an agreement would have amounted to Great Britain's withdrawal from the Entente. 

Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg
No agreement was reached, however. Lord Haldane's negotiations with the German imperial chancellor, Theobold von Bethmann-Hollweg, underlined the profound differences between Great Britain and Germany and actually led to an intensification of their naval rivalry. 

After his service as war minister, Haldane became Lord Chancellor but was hounded out of office by the press unjustly for supposed German sympathies. In the 1920s he moved to the Labor Party and returned to office as Lord Chancellor in the cabinet of Ramsay MacDonald. He is remembered for drafting the legislation making London University possible.

On Haldane’s death the Times described him as “one of the most powerful, subtle and encyclopaedic intellects ever devoted to the public service of his country.”

From the Free Dictionary and Who's Who in WWI

1 comment:

  1. Haldane along with Haig, French and others created the Army that the Kaiser called a contemptible little army