The Secret Origins of the First World War
By GERRY DOCHERTY & JIM MACGREGOR
The history of the First World War (1914–1918) is a deliberately concocted lie. Not the sacrifice, the heroism, the horrendous waste of life or the misery that followed. No, these were very real, but the truth of how it all began and how it was unnecessarily and deliberately prolonged beyond 1915 has been successfully covered up for a century. A carefully falsified history was created to conceal the fact that Britain, not Germany, was responsible for the war. Had the truth become widely known after 1918, the consequences for the British Establishment would have been cataclysmic.1
To the victors go the spoils, and their judgment was reflected in the official accounts. At Versailles in 1919 Britain, France and the United States claimed that Germany had planned the war, deliberately started it, and rejected all Allied proposals for conciliation and mediation. Millions of documents were destroyed, concealed or falsified to justify that verdict. Germany rightly protested she had been forced into war by Russian aggression. German delegates at Versailles, under threat of occupation, dismemberment and starvation, were left with little choice but to accept the blame and agree to massive reparations. As The Economist put it, the Treaty of Versailles was the final crime whose harsh terms would ensure a second war.2
Our research proves that the true origins of the war are to be found not in Germany, but in England. In the late nineteenth century a secret society of immensely rich and powerful men was established in London with the stated aim of expanding the British Empire across the entire world. They deliberately caused the South African War of 1899–1902 in order to grab the Transvaal’s gold from the Boers. Their responsibility for that war, and the horror of British concentration camps in which 20,000 children died,3 have been airbrushed from official histories. The second stage of their global plan was the destruction of the rapidly developing industrial and economic competitor, Germany.
Carefully falsified history? Twenty thousand children dying in British concentration camps? A secret society taking control of the world? Britain responsible for the First World War? Should you jump immediately to the conclusion that this is some madcap conspiracy theory, please consider the work of Professor Carroll Quigley, one of the twentieth century’s most highly respected historians. Quigley’s greatest contribution to our understanding of modern history is presented in his book The Anglo-American Establishment. It carries explosive details of how the secret society of international bankers, aristocrats and other powerful men controlled the levers of politics and finance in Great Britain and the United States. Quigley explains that very few people knew about this because the society was able to conceal its existence and “many of its most influential members are unknown even to close students of British history.”4
Plotting to Destroy the ‘Teutonic menace’
Cecil Rhodes, the South African diamond millionaire, formed the secret society in London in February 1891.5 Its members aimed to renew the bond between Great Britain and the United States, spread all they considered worthy in English ruling-class values, and bring all habitable portions of the world under their influence and control. They believed that ruling-class men of Anglo-Saxon descent rightly sat at the top of a hierarchy built on predominance in trade, industry, banking and the exploitation of other races.
Victorian England sat confidently at the pinnacle of international power, but could it stay there forever? That was the question exercising serious debate in the great country houses and smoke-filled parlours of influence. The elites harboured a deep rooted fear that unless they acted decisively, British power and influence across the world would be eroded and replaced by foreigners, foreign business, foreign customs and laws. The choice was stark. Either take drastic steps to protect and further expand the British Empire, or accept that the new, burgeoning Germany might reduce it to a minor player on the world’s stage. In the years immediately after the Boer War, the decision was reached. The ‘Teutonic menace’ had to be destroyed. Not defeated, destroyed.
The plan began with a multi-pronged attack on the democratic process. They would: (a) Wield power in administration and politics through carefully selected and compliant politicians in each of the major political parties; (b) Control British foreign policy from behind the scenes, irrespective of any change of government; (c) Draw into their ranks the increasingly influential press-barons to exercise influence over the avenues of information that create public opinion, and (d) Control the funding of university chairs, and completely monopolise the writing and the teaching of the history of their own time.6
Five principal players, Cecil Rhodes, William Stead, Lord Esher, Lord Nathaniel Rothschild and Alfred Milner, were the founding fathers, but the secret society developed rapidly in numbers, power and presence in the years before the war. Influential old aristocratic families that had long dominated Westminster were deeply involved, as was King Edward VII who operated within the inner core of the Secret Elite. The two great organs of imperial government, the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office, were infiltrated, and control established over their senior civil servants. They likewise took over the War Office and the Committee of Imperial Defence. Crucially, they also dominated the highest echelons of the armed forces through Field Marshall Lord Roberts7 in what we have termed the “Roberts Academy.”8 Party-political allegiance was not a given prerequisite for members; loyalty to the cause of Empire was. They have been referred to obliquely in speeches and books as ‘the money power’, the ‘hidden power’ or ‘the men behind the curtain’. All of these labels are pertinent, but we have called them, collectively, the Secret Elite.
Leading Role Played by Alfred Milner
The leading figure in the Secret Elite from around 1902 until 1925 was Alfred (later Viscount) Milner. Remarkably, few people have ever heard his name. Professor Quigley noted that all biographies of Milner had been written by members of the Secret Elite and concealed more than they revealed. In his view, this neglect of one of the most important figures of the twentieth century was part of a deliberate policy of secrecy. Milner became the undisputed leader of the Secret Elite. On his return from South Africa in 1905 he set about preparing the British Empire for war with Germany. Though not a member of parliament, he sat in the inner-circle of Lloyd George’s Imperial War Cabinet from 1916 onwards.9 What was so precious about Lord Alfred Milner that he has been virtually airbrushed from history?
In goading the Boers into war, Milner displayed the cold objectivity that drove the cause. War was unfortunate but necessary. It had to be. The very future of the Secret Elite’s global ambitions depended on a victorious outcome. By May 1902, the Transvaal’s gold was in their hands at the cost of 32,000 deaths in the concentration camps. Though the Boer War finally ended in victory it came at a cost greater than the 45,000 Empire troops killed or wounded.10 Britain had fewer friends than ever. Up to that point, Britain didn’t care. Living in ‘splendid isolation’ and devoid of binding treaties with any other nation had not been viewed as a handicap as long as no other power on earth challenged the Empire.
But in the early years of the twentieth century there was a serious challenger. If the Secret Elite were to achieve their dream of world domination, the first step had to be the removal of the upstart German competitor and destruction of her industrial and economic prowess. This presented considerable strategic difficulty. Friendless in her isolation, Britain could never destroy Germany on her own. As an island nation her strength lay in her all-powerful navy. Friendship and alliances were required. “It would have been impossible for Britain to have defeated Germany by itself. Therefore, it needed the large French army and the even larger Russian army to do most of the fighting on the continent.”11 Diplomatic channels had to be opened and overtures made to old enemies Russia and France. This was no mean task since Anglo-French bitterness had been rife over the previous decade and war between them a real possibility in 1895.12
Step forward the Secret Elite’s most special weapon, Edward VII, whose greatest contribution lay in engineering the much-needed realignments, and addressing the Secret Elite’s prerequisite need to isolate Germany. Ultimate responsibility for British foreign policy lay, by precedent, with the elected government and not the sovereign, but it was the King who enticed both France and Russia into secret alliances within six short years. The great armies of France and Russia were integral to the mammoth task of stopping Germany in her tracks. Put simply, the Secret Elite required others to undertake much of their bloody business, for war against Germany would certainly be bloody.
The treaty with France, the Entente Cordiale, was signed on 8 April 1904, marking the end of an era of conflict that had lasted nearly a thousand years. The talk was of peace and prosperity, but secret clauses signed that same day aligned the two against Germany. The Secret Elite then drew Russia into their web with a promise they never intended to deliver – Russian control of Constantinople and the Black Sea Straits following a successful war with Germany. This empty promise was the root cause of the Gallipoli disaster.
Secret Elite Control Both Sides of Politics
British democracy, with regular elections and changes of government, was portrayed as a reliable safety net against despotic rule. It has never been this. Both the Conservative and Liberal parties had been controlled since 1866 by the same small clique that consisted of no more than half a dozen chief families, their relatives and allies, reinforced by an occasional incomer with the ‘proper’ credentials.
The Secret Elite made an art form out of identifying potential talent and putting promising young men, usually from Oxford University, into positions that served their future ambitions. With the demise of the Conservative government in 1905, the Secret Elite had already selected their natural successors in the Liberal Party: reliable and trusted men immersed in their imperial values. Herbert Asquith, Richard Haldane and Sir Edward Grey were Milner’s chosen men. Grey moved into the Foreign Office and Haldane the War Office, and within two years Asquith was Prime Minister. Continuity in foreign policy was assured. A complete root-and-branch reorganisation of the War Office began in preparation for the coming war with Germany. How the Secret Elite must have laughed in their champagne at the notion of parliamentary democracy.
Secret Elite’s Propaganda Arm: The Press
Control of politics had never been a problem, nor was control of the press. Lord Northcliffe, the most powerful press-baron, was a valuable contributor to the Secret Elite in their drive to vilify Germany and prepare the nation for eventual war. His ownership of The Times and Daily Mail allowed them to create the impression that Germany was the enemy. In story after story, the message of the German danger to the British Empire, to British products, to British national security, was constantly regurgitated. Not every newspaper followed suit, but the right-wing press was particularly virulent. A large and influential section of the British press worked to the rabid agenda of poisoning the minds of the nation. It was part of a propaganda drive sustained right up to, and throughout, the First World War. If The Times was their intellectual base, the popular dailies spread the gospel of anti-German hatred to the working classes. From 1905 to 1914, spy stories and anti-German articles bordered on lunacy in what was an outrageous attempt to generate fear and resentment.
Tapping the Colonies for Cannon Fodder
Sir Alfred Milner set himself the mammoth task of preparing the Empire for war. Britain had only a small, highly trained Expeditionary Force, but the Empire remained a vast untapped source with over six million men of military age. Milner knew that when war came he had to be sure Australia, New Zealand and Canada would stand shoulder to shoulder with Britain. A Colonial Conference was held in London in 1907 to wrap the Union Jack around the Empire. Australia’s Prime Minister Alfred Deakin was Milner’s prime target. They shared a platform at the Queen’s Hall on which Milner praised Deakin and Australia’s commitment to the Empire and stressed the links of race and loyalty that bound the two nations. They adopted a plan to organise the dominion military in line with the reorganised British army so that they could be integrated in “an emergency.” This led to the complete reorganisation of the Australian and New Zealand forces.13
Canada, likewise, had a huge reserve of young men, and in 1908 Milner undertook a coast to coast rail tour praising Canadian spirit, patriotism and loyalty to the Empire.14 In June 1909 he threw his energies into an Imperial Press Conference in London that brought together over 60 newspaper owners, journalists and writers from across the Empire. Every effort was made to impress – indeed, overawe – the visitors, with lavish praise and hospitality. He was determined to rally the support of the Empire for the mother country in time of war. Travelling by private first class train, they visited armaments factories in Manchester and a shipyard in Glasgow where destroyers were being built for Australia. Honorary degrees were conferred on several leading newspapermen from Canada, Australia, India and South Africa. In the keynote address Lord Rosebery, a member of the Secret Elite, warned that never before in the history of the world was there “so threatening and overpowering a preparation for war.”15 Though Germany was not mentioned by name, the clear inference was that the Kaiser was preparing for war, and Britain and the Empire must quickly to be made ready. Lord Rosebery called on the delegates “to take back to your young dominions across the seas” the message that “the personal duty for national defence rests on every man and citizen of the Empire.”16 Milner later sent his most trusted acolytes to organise influential local groups throughout the Empire. Their message repeated the mantra of loyalty, duty, unity and the benefits of Empire… Empire… Empire. In the final analysis, Australia placed its navy under British command, and a total of 332,000 Australians went to war. New Zealand sent 112,000 men. The Empire did ‘its duty’, yet what have you ever heard about Lord Alfred Milner?
A Convenient Assassination
Two conditions had to be met before the Secret Elite could start their war. Firstly, Britain and the Empire had to be made ready. Secondly, in order to heap blame on Germany, she had to be goaded into making the first move. The assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand on 28 June 1914 provided the excuse for monstrous manipulation. It has often been cited as the cause of the First World War. What nonsense. On its own it was just one more political assassination in an era of such murders. The blame rested with a group of Serbian officials who trained, armed and aided the assassins, and Austrian retribution was generally accepted as a valid reaction. What we have demonstrated in our book, Hidden History, is that connections linked the Serbians, the Russian Ambassador in Belgrade, the Foreign Office in St. Petersburg and the Secret Elite in London.17 Austria demanded the Serbian government take specific action against the perpetrators and allow Austrian involvement in the investigation. Serbia refused. Russia, having assumed the spurious role of protector, voiced total support for Serbia.
In London, the Secret Elite purposefully fanned the orchestrated antagonisms into a crisis. When Serbia and Austria squared up to each other in what should have been a localised conflict, Russia, with the full support of London and Paris, began in secret to mobilise her massive armies on Germany’s eastern border. Everyone was aware that once the general mobilisation of an army began, it meant war and there was no turning back. Germany faced invasion along her eastern front, and, as the French army mobilised to the west, the Kaiser repeatedly made valiant attempts to persuade his cousin the Tsar to stand down his armies. In the full knowledge that France had promised to join with her immediately, and that Britain, though not openly admitting her collusion, was secretly committed to war, the Tsar refused. Russia’s dream of taking Constantinople could at last be realised.
Backed into a corner and forced into a defensive war, Germany was the last power in Europe to mobilise her army. In order to deal with the French who had secretly mobilised to the west, the Kaiser ordered the German army to advance into France through Belgium. He had little other option. Continental Europe was at war.
The Secret Elite watched and waited. Though joint preparations for war had been ongoing since 1905, they had been kept so secret that only five out of twenty Cabinet ministers in the British government knew of Britain’s commitments. Sir Edward Grey addressed the House of Commons on 3 August and promised that no action would be taken without the approval of parliament, yet that approval was never put to a vote. The crux of his argument lay in Belgian neutrality though he knew full well that such neutrality was a grotesque charade. Among others, the American writer Albert J Nock later revealed that Belgium had been a secret, but solid ally of Britain, France and Russia long before August 1914.18 The fiction of Belgian neutrality provided the legal and popular excuse for Britain to declare war on Germany on 4 August 1914. Sir Edward Grey, loyal servant of the Secret Elite, lied the British Empire into war.
Documentary Evidence Destroyed & History Falsified
Over the last 100 years facts have been twisted and falsified by court historians. Members of the Secret Elite took exceptional care to remove traces of their conspiracy, and letters, telegrams, official reports and cabinet minutes which would have revealed the truth have disappeared. Letters to and from Alfred Milner were removed, burned or otherwise destroyed. Incriminating letters sent by King Edward were subject to an order that, on his death, they must be destroyed immediately.19 Lord Nathan Rothschild, a founder member of the Secret Elite, likewise ordered that his papers and correspondence be burned posthumously lest his political influence and connections became known. As his official biographer commented, one can but “wonder how much of the Rothschild’s political role remains irrevocably hidden from posterity.”20
Professor Quigley pointed an accusatory finger at those who monopolised “so completely the writing and the teaching of the history of their own period.” There is no ambivalence in his damning accusation. The Secret Elite controlled the writing and teaching of history through numerous avenues but none more effectively than Oxford University. Milner’s men largely dominated Balliol College, New College and All Souls which, in turn, largely dominated the intellectual life of Oxford in the field of history. They controlled the Dictionary of National Biography which meant the Secret Elite wrote the biographies of its own members. They created their own official history of key members for public consumption, striking out any incriminating evidence and portraying the best public-spirited image that could be safely manufactured. They paid for new chairs of history, politics, economics and, ironically, peace studies.21
There was a systematic conspiracy by the British government to cover all traces of its own devious machinations. Official memoirs covering the origins of the war were carefully scrutinised and censored before being released. Cabinet records for July 1914 relate almost exclusively to Ireland, with no mention of the impending global crisis. No effort has been made to explain why crucial records are missing. In the early 1970s, the Canadian historian Nicholas D’Ombrain noted that War Office records had been “weeded.” During his research he realised that as much as five-sixths of “sensitive” files were removed as he went about his business.22 Why? Where did they go? Who authorised their removal? Were they sent to Hanslope Park, the government repository behind whose barbed-wire fences over 1.2 million secret files, many relating to the First World War, remain concealed today?23 Incredibly, this was not the worst episode of theft and deception.
Herbert Hoover, the man who fronted the Belgian Relief Commission and was later the 31st President of America, was closely linked to the Secret Elite. They gave him the important task of removing incriminating evidence from Europe, while dressing it in a cloak of academic respectability. Hoover persuaded General John Pershing to release 15 history professors and around 1,000 students serving with the American Forces in Europe and send them, in uniform, to the countries his agency was feeding. With food in one hand and reassurance in the other, these agents faced little resistance in their quest. They made the right contacts, “snooped” around for archives and found so many that Hoover “was soon shipping them back to the US as ballast in the empty food boats.” The removal of documents from Germany presented few problems. Fifteen carloads of material were taken, including “the complete secret minutes of the German Supreme War Council” – a “gift” from Friedrich Ebert, first president of the post-war German Republic.24 Hoover explained that Ebert was “a radical with no interest in the work of his predecessors,” but the starving man will exchange even his birthright for food. Where now is the vital evidence to prove Germany’s war guilt, had they been guilty? Had there been proof it would have been released immediately. There was none. What has been hidden or destroyed will never be known, and it is a startling fact that few if any war historians have ever written about this illicit theft of European documents: documents that relate to arguably the most crucially important event in European and world history. Why?
Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War
The evidence for every statement in this article can be found in our book, Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War. In addition, we have been blogging regular articles since June 2014 on what really happened 100 years ago, not the pre-packaged history on which the British government would like us to concentrate. Amongst the disturbing ‘history’ to be exposed as a lie is the disgraceful Gallipoli campaign, a sordid and unworthy ‘distraction’ which resulted in tragic consequences for so many Anzac lads. A few historians have questioned why the attack on the Straits was so badly mismanaged but we go further, much further. In our next article for New Dawn, we will prove that the Gallipoli disaster was not due to misjudgement in London or the incompetence of naval and military leaders on the spot. Young men from Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand were needlessly sacrificed on the damned beaches and slopes of the Dardanelles to serve a very different purpose. Gallipoli was deliberately designed to fail.
After a century of propaganda, lies and brainwashing about the First World War, cognitive dissonance renders us too uncomfortable to bear the truth that it was a small, socially advantaged group of self-styled English race patriots, backed by powerful industrialists and financiers in Britain and the United States, who caused the First World War. The determination of this London-based Secret Elite to destroy Germany and take control of the world was ultimately responsible for the deaths of millions of honourable young men who were betrayed and sacrificed in a mindless, bloody slaughter to further a dishonourable cause.
Today, tens of thousands of war memorials across the world bear witness to the great lie, the betrayal, that they died for ‘the greater glory of God’ and ‘that we might be free’. It is a lie that binds them to a myth. They were the victims. They are remembered in empty roll calls erected to conceal the war’s true purpose. What they deserve is the truth, and we must not fail them in that duty.
- Gerry Docherty & Jim Macgregor, Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War, Mainstream Publishing, 2013, 11
- The Economist, 31 December 1999
- www.sahistory.org.za, politics and society, 20th Century South Africa
- Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, G S G & Associates Pub, 1981, 4
- Ibid, 3
- Ibid, 197
- Nicholas D’Ombrain, War Machinery and High Policy, Oxford University Press, 1973, 143
- Docherty & Macgregor, Hidden History, 194-202
- A.M. Gollin, Proconsul in Politics: Study of Lord Milner, Blond, 1964, 390-441
- Will Podmore, British Foreign Policy since 1870, Xlibris Corporation, 2008, 29-30
- Pat Walsh, The Events of 1915 in Eastern Anatolia in the Context of Britain’s Great War on the Ottoman Empire: A Talk Given by Dr. Pat Walsh at the London School of Economics on February 15th 2013, 4
- Niall Ferguson, The Pity Of War: Explaining World War I, Basic Books, 1999, 41
- J. Lee Thompson, Forgotten Patriot: A Life of Alfred, Viscount Milner of St. James’s and Cape Town, FDU Press, 2007, 257
- Viscount Milner, Speeches delivered in Canada in the Autumn of 1908, 1-12, https://archive.org/details/cihm_72889
- J. Lee Thompson, Northcliffe: Press Baron in Politics 1865-1922, John Murray, 2000, 168
- Ibid, 169
- Docherty & Macgregor, Hidden History, 242-251
- Albert J Nock, The Myth of a Guilty Nation, B.W. Huebsch, 1922, 36-7
- Lord Arbuthnott Fisher, Memories and Records, Vol. 1, George H. Doran company, 1920, 21
- Niall Ferguson, The House of Rothschild: Volume 1: Money’s Prophets: 1798-1848, Penguin Books, 1999, 319
- An in-depth analysis of the extent of this control can be found in our blogs of 18-19 June 2014 at firstworldwarhiddenhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/
- Nicholas D’Ombrain, War Machinery and High Policy, Oxford University Press, 1973, xiii
GERRY DOCHERTY was born in 1948. He graduated from Edinburgh University in 1971 and was a secondary school teacher by profession. He taught economics and modern studies, developed a keen interest in the theatre and has written a number of plays with historical themes. One of these plays was the powerful story of two cousins from his home town of Tillicoultry who were both awarded the Victoria Cross at the Battle of Loos in 1915. Energised by the research he had undertaken to write this play, he was intrigued by Jim Macgregor’s work on the First World War, and their mutual interest developed into a passion to discover the truth amongst the lies and deceptions that the official records contained.
JIM MACGREGOR was born in Glasgow in 1947 and raised in a cottage in the grounds of Erskine Hospital for war disabled. There he witnessed the aftermath of war on a daily basis and, profoundly affected by what he saw, developed a life-long interest in war and the origins of global conflict. Jim graduated as a medical doctor in 1978, and left the practice in 2001 to devote his energies full-time to researching the political failures in averting war. His numerous articles have been published on subjects such as miscarriages of justice, the Iraq War, global poverty, and the rise of fascism in the United States. His powerful anti-war novel The Iboga Visions was published to critical acclaim in 2009.