Thursday, 6 March 2014

Asquith wrote to Venetia on 26th July 1914

 Asquith wrote to Venetia on 26th July 1914

Asquith informs Venetia  about developments with Home Rule and then his worries about the build up of tensions in Europe…..
After this he writes ..
"What a screed about politics!  Poor darling - but you are very patient, and, what is even more to the point, really interested - aren't you? "

In my view this shows that he knows Venetia is not really that interested in politics (even though he sends her state secrets in the normal post) ….He is trying to delude himself that she is .. I still find his delusions quite amazing.


  1. Hi Bobbie,

    It it possible you could scan in or photograph some of these letters and extracts, and add them as illustrations to this blog, please?

    Thank you!

  2. I'm especially interested in the extent to which Prime Minister Asquith was distracted from seeing the blundering by Britain's Foreign Secretary, Edward Grey.

    President John F. Kennedy writes in his 1940 thesis and book about the importance of Edward Grey's 1914 excuse for bungling, "Why England Slept" (Sidgwick and Jackson, London, 1962, first published 1940), page 16:

    “The statement of Lord Grey, British Foreign Minister, made in 1914, that, “The enormous growth of armaments in Europe, the sense of insecurity, and fear caused by them; it was these that made war inevitable,’ had a tremendous effect on post-war British opinion. Armaments were looked upon as something horrible, as being the cause of war, not a means of defence. Again and again, through the ‘thirties, opponents of rearmament quoted Grey.”

    Grey refused to clearly threaten war against Germany, if Germany invaded Belgium, until it was too late for all the mobilization and preparation in Germany to be stopped!

    Grey, more interested in fly fishing than foreign affairs, was so obsessed until 1 August 1914 with trying to reach agreement with Germany for British neutrality in exchange for a German promise to avoid the invasion of France, that he failed to tell Germany clearly that Britain would go to war against Germany if Germany invaded Belgium, until it was too late to prevent German mobilization. The rest of the Cabinet failed to intervene with Grey's disastrously weak negotiations.

    "When he [Lord Grey] finally did make such communication, German forces were already massed at the Belgian border, and Helmuth von Moltke convinced Kaiser Wilhelm II it was too late to change the plan of attack."


    What particularly interests me is the way in which historians of WWI have been in ignorance of the distracts of Asquith, which preventing him from remaining in full control of Grey's negotiations with Germany! It seems absurd, and Grey's excuse that it was all down to the "arms race" was later exploited by pacifists and appeasers in the 1930s, to stop Churchill from ending Hitler's ambitions in 1935 (when there was still time), and was then quoted again in the 1960s by historians like A. J. P. Taylor, to back up the case for ending the arms race and surrendering to Russia!