KONNI ZILLIACUS (13 September 1894 – 6 July 1967) was a left-wing
Labour Party politician in the
United Kingdom . Of Finnish and
American parentage, he spoke nine languages fluently; international
issues were to absorb much of his energy, both as an official of the
League of Nations
League of Nations between the wars, and as a Labour member of the
House of Commons in the post-War period. Zilliacus's extensive
contacts with figures in Eastern Europe during the Cold War era,
together with his frequent support for positions promoted by the
Soviet Union, periodically brought him into conflict with the Labour
Party leadership and in 1949 led to his expulsion from the party. In
1950 he lost his seat in parliament, was re-admitted by Labour in
1952, and returned to the Commons in 1955. He was widely regarded as,
at least, a fellow traveller . He was, however, a self-proclaimed
anti-Communist who never belonged to the Communist Party, and who
occasionally adopted positions opposed to Moscow's line, for example
Stalin 's conflict with Tito .
* 1 Early life
League of Nations
League of Nations Secretariat
* 3 War work and election to Parliament
* 3.1 International policy
* 3.2 Return to parliament
* 4 Personal life
* 5 Works
* 6 Parliamentary Succession
* 7 References
* 8 External links
Zilliacus was born in
Kobe, Japan , the son of exiled
Finnish-nationalist Konrad Viktor (Konni) Zilliacus (1855–1924) and
American-born Lilian McLaurin Grafe (1873–1938). He travelled the
world with his parents until 1909, when they settled in England.
Zilliacus then attended
Bedales School in
Hampshire , where he became
Josiah Clement Wedgwood 's sons. He went on to Yale
University in the USA, graduating first in his class in 1915.
World War I
World War I , he applied to the British
Royal Flying Corps
Royal Flying Corps but
was denied for physical reasons. Instead, he found work as an orderly
for a French medical unit near the front lines. Soon invalided out of
the medical corps with diphtheria , Zilliacus returned to Britain and
Union of Democratic Control and worked for the Liberal
Party MPs Noel Buxton and
Norman Angell . He travelled with Wedgwood
to Russia, where he developed a sympathy for the
October Revolution ,
and leaked details of Britain's counter-revolutionary activities to
the press. In 1919, newly married to Eugenia Nowicka and with his
daughter Stella Zilliacus just born, he joined the British Labour
LEAGUE OF NATIONS SECRETARIAT
Being multilingual, he found work as the British envoy to the League
of Nations alongside
Philip Noel-Baker . In 1931 during the
Manchurian Crisis he wrote speeches for the League's committee for
Cooperation with China along with
Alfred Sze , Koo , and
Quo Tai-Chi .
He was Geneva's official interpreter for visiting Russians. Writing
as "C. Howard-Ellis", he wrote the text book for the League: Origins,
Structure, and Working of the League of Nations.
Zilliacus maintained secret correspondence with C. P. Scott of the
Manchester Guardian, which in 1935 helped generate popular support
within Britain for sanctions against Italy should it attempt to
Ethiopia , an invasion which was in fact launched later that
year. He wrote many articles and letters on international affairs on
a pro bono basis, usually under pen names such as Vigilantes.
Zilliacus was a firm believer in the power of multinational
organizations to prevent war, but he could not lead British foreign
policy to work through the League. He worked diligently for the League
of Nations until the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia , when he
resigned from the Secretariat of the League of Nations.
WAR WORK AND ELECTION TO PARLIAMENT
World War II
World War II , Zilliacus worked for the Ministry of Information
and joined the
1941 Committee . He was elected as MP for Gateshead in
1945 and became known as a left-wing critic of government foreign
Zilliacus was frequently accused of being a communist because he was
sympathetic to Soviet policies and frequently contributed articles to
liberal British publications, but he was not affiliated with the
Communist Party of Great Britain
Communist Party of Great Britain . In 1949, he voted against joining
NATO and remained an open critic of Foreign Secretary
Ernest Bevin and
his anti-Soviet policies. In 1949, he was expelled from the party,
Leslie Solley . To compensate, he helped found the Labour
Independent Group , although he would later leave the group when it
Josip Broz Tito
Josip Broz Tito . He sought re-election
in the 1950 general election , but he lost his seat to Labour Party
Arthur Moody . Zilliacus was also sympathetic to Communist
Yugoslavia . During the show-trial of
Rudolf Slánský in
Czechoslovakia in 1952, Slánský claimed he had given information to
Zilliacus while "planning the restoration of capitalism in
Czechoslovakia"; Zilliacus dismissed the accusation as "quite
RETURN TO PARLIAMENT
In 1952, he was readmitted to the Labour Party, and he took
Manchester Gorton district in the 1955 general election . He held the
seat until his death, on 6 July 1967. He became a founder member of
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and in 1961 was suspended from
the party for several months for writing an article for a Czech
magazine. Zilliacus was a prominent pacifist, pushing for less
spending on arms and nuclear testing during the 1950s and opposing the
Vietnam War during the 1960s. He died of leukaemia , aged 72.
According to one historian, Zilliacus died "an unrepentant admirer of
Harold Wilson and N. S. Khrushchev ".
Zilliacus married, in 1919, Eugenia Nowicka, a 19-year-old Polish
woman revolutionary whom he had met while in Siberia. She took the
name Eugenia Nowicka Zilliacus.
Zilliacus never married his arguably more important or better-known
"wife", Jan Trimble, daughter of
Laurence Trimble , an American film
director of the silent screen era, though she took the name Zilliacus
and had a daughter by him in 1945. The Zilliacus family (she had
other children) lived in the 1940s and thereafter in the St. John\'s
Wood and nearby
Maida Vale areas of London, where she was a London Zoo
volunteer and, until her death in 1999, a stalwart of the local
Constituency Labour Party .
Zilliacus wrote under several pseudonyms, as given here.
* Williams, Roth (1923). The
League of Nations
League of Nations Today. London: George
Allen & Unwin.
* Williams, Roth (1924). The Technique of the League of Nations.
League of Nations
League of Nations Union.
* Williams, Roth (1925). The League, the Protocol, And The Empire.
London: George Allen & Unwin.
* C. Howard-Ellis (1928). The Origin Structure & Working of the
League of Nations. London: George Allen & Unwin.
* Vigilantes (1933). The Dying Peace. London: New Statesman.
* Vigilantes (1935). Inquest on Peace: An Analysis of the National
Government's Foreign Policy. Gollancz.
* Vigilantes (1935). Abyssinia: The Essential Facts In The Dispute
and An Answer To the Question -"Ought We To Support Sanctions?".
London: New Statesman and Nation.
* Covenanter (1936). Labour and war resistance. Fabian Research
Series. London: Gollancz.
* Vigilantes (1938). Why the League Has Failed. Left Book Club.
London: Victor Gollancz.
* Diplomaticus (1938). The Czechs and their Minorities. London: T.
* Vigilantes (1939). Between Two Wars? The Lessons of the Last World
War in Relation to The Preparations for The Next. London: Penguin.
* Vigilantes (1939). Why We Are Losing the Peace: The National
Governments Foreign Policy its Causes Consequences and Cure. London:
* K. Zilliacus ("Vigilantes") (1944). The Mirror of the Past - Lest
it Reflect the Future. Left Book Club. Victor Gollancz.
* Diplomaticus (K. Zilliacus) (1945). Can the Tories Win the Peace?
And How They Lost the Last One. London: Victor Gollancz.
* Zulliacus, Konni (1946). Britain, U.S.S.R. and World Peace.
London: British-Soviet Society.
* K. Zilliacus (1947). Mirror of the present : the way the world is
going. London: Meridian Books.
* Zilliacus, K. (1949). I Choose Peace. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
* K. Zilliacus (1949). Dragon's teeth : the background, contents and
consequences of the North Atlantic Pact. London.
* Zilliacus, Konni (1949). Why I was expelled. London: Collets.
* K. Zilliacus (1952). Tito of Yugoslavia. London: Mchael Joseph.
* Zilliacus, Konni (1955). Four Power Talks: For Peace or War?.
London: Union of Democratic Control.
* K.Zillliacus (1957). A New Birth of Freedom? World Communism after
Stalin. London: Secker & Warburg.
Konni Zilliacus (1960). aNATOmy of a Sacred Cow. Campaign for
* Zilliacus, Konni (1963). Our Lives and Cuba: What Britain must do
to Survive. London: Gladiator.
* K. Ziliacus (1966). Labour's crisis : its nature, cause and cure.
PARLIAMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM
Thomas Magnay MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR GATESHEAD
1945 –1950 CONSTITUENCY ABOLISHED
William Oldfield MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR MANCHESTER GORTON
1955 –1967 Succeeded by
* Spartacus on Konni Zilliacus
* Leigh Rayment\'s Peerage Pages
* Potts, Archie (2002). Zilliacus: A Life for Peace and Socialism.