The men who fronted the early stages of the Versailles meetings, Clemenceau, Wilson and Balfour but it was the power behind them which called the tune.

For some students of history, the claim that international bankers had influenced and supported the British Secret Elite and their political agents to prolong the war will induce cognitive dissonance. It grates awkwardly against mainstream history taught in the classroom, read in the newspapers or watched on film and television versions of the First World War. The realisation that we have been lied to, opens the way to a new level of appreciation of what was actually happening. It may take time. For example, consider the American and British delegations to the armistice/preparatory peace talks in Paris in 1919. When the British economist, John Maynard Keynes arrived in January to be housed with the British delegation in the luxurious Hotel Majestic, ‘no one yet knew what the Conference was doing or whether it had started’. [1] There were numerous officials who attended informal meetings many of which were not recorded. Paris swarmed with self-interest from around the globe. Britain was formally represented by the eventual signatories to the Treaty, David Lloyd George, Arthur Balfour, Alfred Milner, Andrew Bonar Law and Georges Barnes who were all closely linked to, or approved by the Secret Elite. But there was a plethora of hangers-on.

Leo Amery, Milner’s parliamentary secretary, shuttled back and forth between London and Paris for five months. His task was to influence and advise on the discussions about the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire and direct negotiations with France over the future of the Arabs and the Zionists, the latter whose cause he strongly supported. [2] William Ormsby-Gore was present, a member of the Secret Elite, who had been Alfred Milner’s parliamentary private secretary and an assistant secretary to Sir Mark Sykes. Lord Robert Cecil, a cousin of Alfred Balfour had been given charge of the Blockade from 1916 and had direct links with Herbert Hoover. He was tasked to liaise with President Wilson on his ideas for a League of Nations [3] and ensured the Empire’s interests were safeguarded. Cecil was later appointed Chair of the Supreme Economic Council and drew his advice from Robert Brand, a Milner man from his Boer War reconstruction years. Brand was managing director of the merchant bank, Lazard Brothers, and a Director of Lloyd’s Bank. [4] Keynes himself was the Treasury advisor appointed to assist Cecil’s team, and as an outsider his observations were not coloured by secret loyalties.

Consider this assembly of imperial loyalists, all of whom were committed to the ultimate victory of the English ruling-class in a struggle for one world domination. These heirs to Cecil Rhodes’s dream marched on Versailles with serious purpose. Protect, strengthen and enlarge the Empire for ‘the benefit of mankind’. They had a staunch ally inside the American camp, an academic historian whom Professor Carroll Quigley named as a member of the Secret Elite, George Louis Beer. [5] Beer strongly supported the Mandate system which would allow Britain to take responsibility for Palestine. He was a member of the Round Table and Milner had him named as the head of the Mandate Department of the League of Nations.

The formal American Commission to Negotiate Peace, but it was unofficial vested interests which held sway.

The official members of the American Commission included, President Woodrow Wilson and Colonel Edward Mandel House, Secretary of State Robert Lansing, Henry White, a former Ambassador at Rome and Paris and General Talisker Bliss. [6] Strange to relate, these men were probably the least important of the Americans in Paris. Certainly Wilson and House shared the limelight, and that, as ever, suited the real powers behind the curtain. But the President had been severely weakened.  Woodrow Wilson suffered a serious political blow in the 1918 mid-term elections to the Senate and House of Representatives in the United States. The Democrats had lost control of both Houses of Congress to the Republican Party which did not bode well for Wilson’s chance of a third term in office. [7]

Of much more importance was the entourage of vested interest from the banking community which chose to accompany him. These included, Thomas Lamont a senior partner in J.P. Morgan and Bernard Baruch, who left Wall Street in 1916 to advise Wilson. Baruch served on the Advisory Commission to the Council of National Defence, became the chairman of the War Industries Board in the USA in 1918, and successfully managed America’s economic mobilisation through which he reputedly netted a personal fortune of $200 million. [8] His origins were Wall Street and war industries and he was believed to be a Rothschild agent. [9]

Vance McCormick (left) with President Woodrow Wilson.

Herbert Hoover hovered around the conferences, aided and advised by the team which worked with him in Belgium. Other important financiers from the US Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve Board, [10] J.P. Morgan’s bank in Boston, the International Harvester Company (owned from 1902 by J.P. Morgan) and several others, whose fortunes were linked to Hoover’s malpractice in Belgium, became major contributors. Vance McCormick, chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Chair of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace (1919) was nominally a simple politician, but he also served as head of the War Trade Board (1916 to 1919). Links to industry and finance, mainly J.P. Morgan, dovetailed at every point.

High level profiteering by major banks was not an exclusive American domaine. One example of how rich European bankers had also become, may be gauged from the post war success of Emile Francqui’s Societe Generale bank in Brussels. Having made an exorbitant fortune through its link with Herbert Hoover’s Belgian Relief programme and its internal association with the Bundesbank during the occupation of Belgium, [11] it flourished as never before from 1919 onwards. It’s London branch, the Banque Belge pour L’Etranger was the financial centre for all of the Societe Generale’s affairs outside occupied territories.

The real power in Belgium, banker Emile Francqui.

In the immediate post-war period it benefitted greatly from the influx of capital which followed the signing of the armistice. It created a series of new companies to accommodate the immense reconstruction in Belgium and extended and modernised the country’s infrastructure. Banque Belge pour L’Etranger opened new international branches in New York (1917), Paris, Manchester and Cologne (1919), Bucharest (1920) and Constantinople. (1924) [12] While the poor in Belgium remained needy and impoverished, its banks flourished. In wars, all wars, billions of dollars are made through profits accrued from the manufacture of warships, airplanes, weapons, and munitions. At war’s end, they reap a second dividend through reconstruction of cities, towns and villages shattered by the conflict. War is good business for banks; very good business. But these vested interests were not exclusively financial.

As has been said repeatedly, no event ‘just happens’ as if by mystical or divine intervention. Two important Americans who made their way to Paris were Supreme Court Judge, Mr Justice Brandeis, and his close associate, Felix Frankfurter. Brandeis openly ‘went abroad on Zionist missions’ and had three ‘busy and profitable days’ in Paris where he ‘lunched effectively’ with his new friend, Alfred Balfour and breakfasted with the American Peace Commissioners.’ [13] The only item on his agenda was Palestine. Indeed most of the leading Zionists went to Paris during the conference. Chaim Weizmann maintained his high-pressure tactic of interviews and meetings with the powerful and the influential, [14] the most important of which was held at the French foreign office at the Quay D’Orsay on February 27, 1919.

The British representation, Arthur Balfour, Alfred Milner, Maurice Hankey and William Ormsby-Gore, was, as we have detailed above, handsomely pro-Zionist. The American delegation that day was limited to Robert Lansing and former Ambassador White while the Zionist delegation was headed by Chaim Weizmann. [15] He presented a Statement of the Zionist Organisation with regard to Palestine, which supported a British Mandate. In other words, the land would come under British control, a development much sought after by the Zionists who felt confident of Britain’s sympathy. Weizmann claimed to speak in the name of a million Jews ‘who, staff in hand, waited for the signal to move’. [16] While the claim was clear and bold, it was not backed-up by any rush of eager immigrants once the mandate had been agreed.

Sylvain Levi, the French-Jewish historian whose evidence to the meeting stunned the other Zionist representatives

A Franco-Jewish historian, Sylvain Levi, had been included in the French delegation. He was not a Zionist, and questioned the validity of the ingrained idea of a “country of their ancestors” and warned that the eastern European migrant Jews would include many who ‘would carry with them into Palestine, highly explosive passions conducive to very serious trouble in a country which might be likened to a concentration camp of Jewish refugees’. He stated that ‘nations could not be created at will…and that the realisation of a certain number of aspirations would not suffice to create a national identity…’ [17] Levi warned that it was dangerous to create a precedent whereby people who already possessed citizenship in one country would be called upon to govern and exercise other rights of citizenship in a new country. [18] This was not the Zionist party-line. Indeed it ran contrary to all their arguments in favour of a Jewish Homeland.

Weizmann was stunned, frozen in anger. Lansing stepped in to save the day. He asked for clarification about the correct meaning of a ‘Jewish national home.’ Weizmann prevaricated. The Zionists he said did not want to set up an autonomous Jewish government, merely set up, under a Mandate, an administration ‘not necessarily Jewish,’ to send 70-80,000 Jews per year into Palestine. That they would build up gradually a nationality that would be as Jewish as the French nation was French and the British nation, British.’ [19] This was a pivotal moment. Had Levi’s interpretation carried weight with the British and American delegates, who knows where history would have taken Palestine. What matters is that Levi was ignored; that Weizmann prevailed, thanks to a quick-witted American Secretary of State.

If the Zionist agenda later became self-evident and openly contentious, little attention has been paid to the J.P. Morgan/Warburg/Rockefeller/Wall Street assault on Versailles. What brought that legion of damned bankers to Paris? Their presence had the feel of an exclusive conference for sales executives, for in many ways that was their agenda. War was opportunity and so was its consequence. In America, the January 1919 Bankers Magazine reported a high level conference held in Atlantic City. Entitled, ‘A Reconstruction Congress’, it was spearheaded by Rockefeller Jnr., banker, William Cox Redfield (President Wilson’s Secretary of State for Commerce from 1913-1919) and James A. Farrell of the US Steel Corporation, part of the Morgan Empire. Rockefeller opened the Congress by stating: ‘Never was there such an opportunity as exists today for the industrial leader with clear vision … to establish a solid foundation for industrial prosperity’. [20] This prosperity was to be had on the back of reconstruction and reparation in Europe. The Reconstruction Congress stressed that ‘there seems no reason why enterprise should not move forward with confidence in the great work of reconstruction’. The market – place was the new world of post-war investment, reparations and reconstruction, but this new world order embraced its old world mentor as a partner.

The image is from a 1922 publication. The January-June 1919 edition of 812 pages followed the same format.

In the same edition of Bankers Magazine, the US financial elites advocated the re-union of ‘the two great English-speaking countries of the world’ whose language, faith in democracy and concern for human liberty ‘derives from the same source.’ Put aside the grand lie of meaningful democracy and concern for humanity. These were the weasel-words behind which the Secret Elite had always protected themselves. One can almost hear Cecil Rhodes speaking. Magnanimously, the Americans accepted that Britain had spread civilisation; that differences between the English-speaking nations had become less marked and wider financial co-operation ‘will be welcome by the English bankers’. At which point the Bankers Magazine announced a new alliance: ‘The people of these two great English-speaking democracies have made their minds definitely to pull together hereafter – and no propaganda engendered either in hell or in Germany can change this purpose.’ [21]

And there it was. A statement from the heart of American banking that categorically announced the merger of Britain’s Secret Elite and the US Money power in a united design to ‘pull together hereafter’, for these were the people about whom the article was talking. Not ordinary people; powerful bankers and financiers. It was as if the birth of a new world order had been announced in their columns. It was to be a marriage of like purpose and all that remained to be ironed out were the pre-nuptial agreements. The Anglo-American establishment was to be in their joint control. What makes this all the more galling is the fact that in both Britain and America the ordinary man and woman was close to despair. High prices, low wages and industrial disputes became the order of the day. General strikes took place in Seattle and Winnipeg. [22] In Glasgow, troops from England had to be rushed into the fray carrying rifles with bayonets. Tanks were brought into the streets and union leaders beaten and thrown into prison. [23] The new Anglo-American establishment rose above such working-class protest. It always has.

1. Keynes, Dr. Melchior, p. 70.
2. J. Lee Thompson, Forgotten Patriot, p. 359.
3. The League of Nations came into being on 10 January 1920. It was the first international organisation which theoretically aimed to maintain world peace, prevent wars through collective security and disarmament. International disputes were to be solved through negotiation and arbitration. It failed because those who wielded real power ensured that it did not succeed..
4. Kathleen Burk, ‘Brand, Robert Henry, Baron Brand (1878–1963)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
5. Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, p. 168.
6. https://www.loc.gov/law/help/us-treaties/bevans/m-ust000002-0043.pdf
7. http://www.usmidtermelections.com/midterm_summary.php?year=1918_1918&chart…
8. Mujahid Kamran, The International Bankers, World Wars 1, II and Beyond, p. 146.
9. Ibid., p. 63.
10. Minutes of the Federal Reserve Board, 20 January 1919, https://fraser.stlouisfed.org/files/docs/historical/nara/bog_minutes/19190120_Minutes.pdf
11. See Chapter 17.
12. Manfred Pohl, Handbook on the History of European Banks, pp 84-5.
13. Brandeis: A Free Man’s Life, p. 529.
14. Margaret Macmillan, Peacemakers, Six Months That Changed The World. p. 429.
15. FRUS vol. IV, p. 159.
16. Ibid., p. 165.
17. Ibid., p. 167.
18. Ibid., p. 168.
19. Ibid., p. 169.
20. The Bankers Magazine Vol. 49, No 1, January 1919, p. 8.
21. Ibid., p. 7.
22. https://libcom.org/history/1919-winnipeg-general-strike.
23. Chanie Rosenberg, http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk/sr226/rosenberg.htm