SIR EYRE ALEXANDER BARBY WICHART CROWE GCB GCMG (30 July 1864 – 28
April 1925) was a British diplomat. He was a leading expert on Germany
in the foreign office. He is best known for his 1907, vigorous warning
that Germany's expansionist intentions toward Britain were hostile and
had to be met with a closer alliance ("Entente") with France. He built
the Ministry of Blockade during the World War, and worked closely with
* 1 Early life * 2 Foreign Office * 3 Legacy * 4 Notes * 5 References * 6 Further reading * 7 External links
Eyre Crowe was born in
Crowe first visited
Crowe entered the
Foreign Office in 1885 and until 1895 was resident
clerk. He served as assistant to Clement Hill in the African
Protectorates' Department but when responsibility for the
protectorates was handed over to the
To give way to the blackmailer's menaces enriches him, but it has long been proved by uniform experience that, although this may secure for the victim temporary peace, it is certain to lead to renewed molestation and higher demands after ever-shortening periods of amicable forbearance.
Crowe further argued Britain should never give in to Germany's demands since:
The blackmailer's trade is generally ruined by the first resolute stand made against his exactions and the determination rather to face all risks of a possibly disagreeable situation than to continue in the path of endless concessions.
Sir Edward Grey , the Foreign Secretary United Kingdom , said he found Crowe's memorandum "most valuable". Grey circulated the paper to the Prime Minister Campbell-Bannerman , Asquith , Ripon and Morley but there is no evidence either way that any of them either read or were influenced by the argument. The historian Richard Hamilton states: "Though a life-long Liberal , Crowe came to despise the Liberal Cabinets of 1906–1914, including Sir Edward Grey, for what he perceived as their irresolute attitude to Germany".
However, detractors of Crowe, for example the historian John Charmley
, argue that he was being unduly pessimistic about
Crowe regarded the
During the First World War, Crowe served in the Contraband Department and at the start of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference he was Assistant Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; by June 1919 he was head of the political section of the British Delegation there. Harold Nicolson 's diary entry for 22 January 1919 records:
Crowe is cantankerous about Cyprus and will not allow me even to mention the subject. I explain (1) that we acquired it by a trick as disreputable as that by which the Italians collared the Dodecanese. (2) that it is wholly Greek, and that under any interpretation of self-determination would opt for union with Greece. (3) that it is of no use to us strategically or economically. (4) that we are left in a false moral position if we ask everyone else to surrender possessions in terms of self-determination and surrender nothing ourselves. How can we keep Cyprus and express moral indignation at the Italians retaining Rhodes? He says, ‘Nonsense, my dear Nicolson. You are not being clear-headed. You think that you are being logical and sincere. You are not. Would you apply self-determination to India, Egypt, Malta and Gibraltar? If you are not prepared to go as far as this, then you have no right to claim that you are logical. If you are prepared to go as far as this, then you had better return to London.’ Dear Crowe – he has the most truthful brain of any man I know.
Whilst Crowe had been an implacable opponent of appeasement towards
Germany, he also doubted the French government's motives and sincerity
at the Paris Peace Conference, regarding the French as more interested
in revenge than a lasting peace. He also regarded the League of
Nations Mandates over Danzig, with Polish ownership of a
German-populated city, as a 'house of cards that would not stand'.
Crowe was sceptical of the usefulness of the
League of Nations
Crowe was Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office from 1920 until his death in 1925.
He was appointed
Companion of the Order of the Bath
...probably the most efficient public servant ever produced by the Foreign Office. His mother was German, he spoke with a guttural accent and he had a mind of truly Germanic clarity and orderliness. No-one since his time has ever kept so tight a grip on the work of the whole office. He read a copy of every inward and outward telegram (there were fewer in those days) and sent his marginal notes on them by urgent box to the appropriate department. He sometimes telephoned to juniors to make known his views or his disapproval. I was paralysed one day to pick up the telephone to hear his voice: ‘I have just r-r-read your minute. Either you do not mean what you say, in which case you are wasting my time. Or you do mean it, in which case you are wr-r-riting r-r-rot.’ And with that he put down the receiver. Crowe's industry was prodigious. In December 1921 Lord Curzon asked for the office views on Anglo-French relations. Crowe regarded this as a suitable holiday task for himself, and on our return from the Christmas holidays we found a 20,000-word manuscript memorandum in his inimitable limpid style. It was unfortunate for Crowe that he should have served under a chief who never appreciated his quality and who was apt to take advantage of his zeal. The work which Curzon heaped on his willing shoulders probably accelerated his premature death whilst still in harness.
A. J. P. Taylor
Zara Steiner and Keith Nelson have described Crowe as "the leading German expert in the pre-war Foreign Office...He was a master of detail but also interested in the broader complex of international and military relations...Crowe was the arch anti-appeaser. With ruthless logic and in a forthright manner, he opposed every effort to come to terms with Berlin...A prodigious worker, Crowe's knowledge and skill earned him a very special place in the Foreign Office hierarchy and his comments were read with attention if not always with approval".
In the 2014 BBC mini-series 37 Days , Crowe is portrayed by actor Nicholas Farrell . Crowe is depicted as a competent and shrewd administrator, but one who is exasperated and confused by the Foreign Secretary's (Sir Edward Grey ; portrayed by Ian McDiarmid ) superior diplomatic prowess. The narrator of the series, a Second Division Clerk in the Foreign Office (portrayed by actor James McArdle ), also describes Crowe as: "German born, educated in Berlin, but...more British than any one of us."
* ^ http://eyrecrowe.com/biography/familytree accessed 2012-08-24
* ^ Sibyl Crowe and Edward Corp, Our Ablest Public Servant: Sir
Eyre Crowe GCB, GCMG, KCB, KCMG, 1864-1925 (Devon: Merlin, 1993), pp.
* ^ Jeffrey Stephen Dunn (2013). The Crowe Memorandum: Sir Eyre
Foreign Office Perceptions of Germany, 1918-1925. Cambridge
Scholars Publishing. p. 247.
* ^ Richard Hamilton, The Origins of
World War I
* Sibyl Crowe and Edward Corp, Our Ablest Public Servant: Sir Eyre Crowe GCB, GCMG, KCB, KCMG, 1864-1925 (Devon: Merlin, 1993). * F.H. Hinsley (ed.), British Foreign Policy Under Sir Edward Grey (Cambridge, 1977). * Zara S. Steiner, The Foreign Office and Foreign Policy 1898-1914 (Cambridge, 1969). * Zara S. Steiner and Keith Nelson, Britain and the Origins of the First World War. Second Edition (Macmillan, 2003).
* Corp, Edward. "Sir
Eyre Crowe and the Administration of the
Foreign Office, 1906-1914" The Historical Journal, Vol. 22, No. 2
(Jun., 1979), pp. 443–454.
* Corp, Edward. "The problem of promotion in the career of Sir Eyre
Crowe, 1905–1920", Australian Journal of Politics and History, 28
(1982), pp. 236–49.
* Corp, Edward. "Sir
Eyre Crowe and
* Full Text: Crowe