Sir Horace Rumbold, 9th Baronet

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The Right Honourable

Sir Horace Rumbold, Bt

GCB, GCMG, KCVO, PC
Sir Horace Rumbold.jpg
Sir Horace Rumbold, Bt.
British Ambassador to Germany
In office
1928–1933
Monarch George V
Preceded by Sir Ronald Lindsay
Succeeded by Sir Eric Phipps
Personal details
Born 5 February 1869
Died 24 May 1941
Nationality British

Sir Horace George Montagu Rumbold, 9th Baronet GCB, GCMG, KCVO, PC (5 February 1869 - 24 May 1941) was a British diplomat. A well-travelled diplomat, learning Arabic, Japanese and German, he is best remembered for his role as British Ambassador to Berlin from 1928 to 1933, where he warned of the ambitions of Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Background and education[edit]

Rumbold was the son of Sir Horace Rumbold, 8th Baronet, and was educated at Eton.

Career[edit]

Rumbold was an attaché at The Hague (1889–1890) and then served in Cairo, Tehran, Vienna, and Munich between 1900 and 1913. He was then moved to Tokyo (1909–1913) and to Berlin (1913–1914). In 1916 he was appointed ambassador to Berne.[1] After the First World War he was appointed ambassador to Poland in 1919,[2] The following year he became the High Commissioner to Constantinople, during which he signed the Lausanne Treaty on behalf of the British Empire. He was then ambassador to Madrid from 1924 to 1928.

Rumbold then went on to his last job, when he was appointed ambassador to Berlin in 1928.[3] During this time Rumbold was in favour of appeasing the Brüning Government in the hope that this would stave off German nationalist parties, like Adolf Hitler's Nazi party. However, once Hitler came to power in 1933 he was deeply unsettled by the Nazi régime and produced a succession of despatches which were critical of the Nazis. On 26 April 1933 Rumbold sent to the Foreign Office his valedictory despatch, in which he gave an unvarnished view of Hitler, the Nazis and their ambitions:

[Hitler] starts with the assumption that man is a fighting animal; therefore the nation is a fighting unit, being a community of fighters...A country or race which ceases to fight is doomed...Pacifism is the deadliest sin...Intelligence is of secondary importance...Will and determination are of the higher worth. Only brute force can ensure survival of the race. The new Reich must gather within its fold all the scattered German elements in Europe...What Germany needs is an increase in territory...[to Hitler] the idea that there is something reprehensible in chauvinism is entirely mistaken...the climax of education is military service [for youths] educated to the maximum of aggressiveness...It is the duty of the government to implant in the people feeling of manly courage and passionate hatred...Intellectualism is undesirable...It is objectionable to preach international understanding...[he] has spoken with derision of such delusive documents as peace-pacts and such delusive ideas as the spirit of Locarno.[4]

Rumbold concluded by giving stark warnings for the future of international relations:

...it would be misleading to base any hopes on a return to sanity...[the German government is encouraging an attitude of mind]...which can only end in one way...I have the impression that the persons directing the policy of the Hitler government are not normal.[5]

Sir John Simon, the Foreign Secretary, found Rumbold's descriptions "definitely disquieting".[6] Ralph Wigram, an official in the Foreign Office, gave Winston Churchill a copy of this despatch in mid-March 1936.[7] After Rumbold's death, Lord Vansittart said of him; "little escaped him, and his warnings [about Nazi Germany] were clearer than anything that we got later".[8]

Rumbold was made a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) in 1907, a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1917,[9] sworn of the Privy Council in 1920[10] and appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) in 1922.[11]

Personal life[edit]

In a classic case of diplomatic inbreeding, Rumbold married Etheldred Constantia Fane, younger daughter of the British diplomat Sir Edmund Douglas Veitch Fane (1837–1900)[12] by his wife Constantia Wood,[13] a niece of the 3rd Earl of Lonsdale, on 18 July 1905.

They had one son and two daughters, but the younger daughter died young in 1918. Lady Rumbold's only brother Henry Nevile Fane was married 1910 (div 1935) to the elder daughter of the 21st Baron Clinton, and the Rumbolds were thus was indirectly related to the British Royal Family after 1923.[14]

Rumbold retired due to his age in June 1933 and died in May 1941, aged 72. He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his son, Anthony, who also became a distinguished diplomat.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The London Gazette: no. 29759. p. 9208. 22 September 1916.
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 31663. p. 14674. 28 November 1919.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33417. p. 5767. 31 August 1928.
  4. ^ Correlli Barnett, The Collapse of British Power (Pan, 2002), pp. 386-387.
  5. ^ Barnett, p. 387.
  6. ^ Barnett, p. 387.
  7. ^ Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life (Pimlico, 2000), p. 553.
  8. ^ Robert Gilbert Vansittart, The Mist Procession (Hutchinson, 1958), p. 476.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 30111. p. 5457. 1 June 1917.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 32125. p. 11089. 16 November 1920.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: no. 32782. p. 5. 29 December 1922.
  12. ^ [Sir Edmund Fane was of the landed gentry, since his mother was an heiress. His father Rev. Arthur Fane had more socially questionable antecedents, as the younger surviving illegitimate son of General Sir Henry Fane (d. 1840), a prominent army officer, himself grandson of an earl of Westmorland. Interestingly, the illegitimate branch retained connections to their legitimate relatives; Arthur Fane served as chaplain to his cousin the earl.
  13. ^ Her father Lt-General Robert Blucher Wood, of a prominent and well-married landed gentry family, was nephew of the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry and half-nephew of the statesman Viscount Castlereagh. His godfather was the Prussian field marshal Blucher, a contemporary of the Duke of Wellington
  14. ^ The Hon. Harriet Fane's younger sister Fenella was married to a brother of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon who in 1923 married the future George VI of the United Kingdom, then HRH The Duke of York Tragically, both sisters had daughters who were mentally retarded and had to be institutionalized, of whom two Katherine Bowes-Lyon and Rosemary Fane are still living today

Bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Liebmann, George W. Diplomacy between the Wars: Five Diplomats and the Shaping of the Modern World (London I. B. Tauris, 2008)
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sir Evelyn Grant Duff
British Ambassador to Switzerland
1916–1919
Succeeded by
Odo Russell
New office British Ambassador to Poland
1919–1920
Succeeded by
William Müller
Preceded by
Sir Somerset Gough-Calthorpe
British High Commissioner to Turkey
1920–1924
Succeeded by
Sir Ronald Lindsay
Preceded by
Sir Esme Howard
British Ambassador to Spain
1924–1928
Succeeded by
George Dixon Grahame
Preceded by
Sir Ronald Lindsay
British Ambassador to Germany
1928–1933
Succeeded by
Sir Eric Phipps
Baronetage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Horace Rumbold
Baronet
(of Woodhall)
1913–1941
Succeeded by
Anthony Rumbold