11 NOVEMBER 1949, Page 16

Kuhlmann and the Foreign Office

SIR,—On my return from abroad I have read Mr. Harold Nicolson's comments in the Spectator of June 24th last on the memoirs of the late Ttichard von Kuhlmann. As I was the " junior official " of our own Foreign Office with whom Baron )(Uhlmann negotiated concerning the Baghdad Railway and cognate matters, perhaps you will allow me space to say that I possess a letter dated October, 1914, from Mr. Nicolson's own father, the Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, expressing regret that so much of our joint (the italics are mine) labours had proved abortive. I also possess appreciative letters from Lord Hardinge of Pcnshurst and Sir Edward Grcy himself.

' I may refer to pages 236-240 of Dr. G. M. Trevelyan's Grey of Fallodon, which deals with the negotiations with Germany and other countries (including France and Russia) about the Baghdad Railway and the Portuguese colonies. I would also refer to a letter which appeared over my own signature in The Times Literary Supplement of October 2th, 1949, and notably to the following passage:

" In 1907, Sir Edward Grey sought from the most competent

persons the best information he could obtain regarding the prospects of completion of the Baghdad Railway right down to the Persian Gulf, and the balance of testimony and authority was that Germany undoubtedly could complete the enterprise alone even if we stood completely aside. In these circumstances a conference was held at the Foreign Office, attended among others by Sir Eyre Crowe, Sir W. Tyrrell, Sir Valentine Chirol, Lord Inchcape, and repre- sentatives of the India Office and our important oil interests. It was decided unanimously that, subject to due regard for the interests of France and Russia, we should engage in negotiations with Germany and Turkey. It was deemed of paramount importance to protect our interests at Koweit and Mohammerah. Both Lord Hardinge and later Sir Arthur Nicolson approved this attitude."—Yours faithfully,