The European foreign correspondence series spans the period from January 1912 to December 1939 and consists predominantly of correspondence between the editor (or occasionally other members of staff) and the foreign correspondents based in various major European cities. It comprises over 6,000 items, including letters, telegrams, dispatches, confidential notes and memoranda, with some press cuttings and the occasional photograph. It covers the later period of the editorship of C.P. Scott (until 1929), his son, Edward Taylor Scott (until April 1932) and a significant period of the editorship of the first non-family member editor, W.P. Crozier. Amongst the correspondence of 1929 to 1932 are a number of unsigned missives, which may be from either Crozier or Scott. The bulk of the material emanates from the period of Crozier’s editorship in the 1930s.
The archive contains correspondence with: Robert Dell, initially based in Paris, and later in Geneva, 1932-1939; Frederick Voigt in Berlin, 1921-1932, Paris, 1932-1933 and 1934, and London, 1934-1939; Alexander Werth in Paris 1931-1932, 1933-1939 and Berlin, 1933; Marcel Fodor, although actually having commenced work for the Guardian in the 1920s, is first represented here in Vienna 1932-1938, Prague 1938 and subsequently Zürich and the Hague; Charles Lambert in Berlin 1929, 1933-1939 and Stockholm, 1939. There are also some exchanges with Voigt’s assistant, Swiss refugee Max Wolf, 1937-1939.
The correspondence charts the growth of the foreign correspondence from the appointment of Robert Dell in Paris in 1912 (when interest focused on the effect foreign affairs had on England) until the 1930s, when the correspondence reached its height under Crozier’s editorship, with a network of foreign correspondents worldwide. Many of the items are confidential, being intended for the editor’s private information, Crozier in particular being keen to keep abreast of the key issues in foreign issues and verify his sources.
The archive is a rich source of material for historians of the period; although the earlier sequence from 1912 to 1929 is somewhat sparse, that of the 1930s is extensive, providing in particular a detailed narrative of the events and political machinations in the period leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War, including the escalating Nazi terror, the Stalinist purge of the mid 1930s, and from 1936, the Spanish Civil War and its repercussions. Another of the archive’s strengths is the detailed chronicling of the politics and events in the smaller and lesser-known (in England) central and eastern European states by the Vienna and Balkans correspondent in the lengthy memoranda he sent to Crozier.
The archive contains a great deal of information which did not make it into, or was never intended for the paper's columns, for reasons of confidentiality, diplomacy, or simply lack of space. In particular, there are a number of both original and copies of letters or accounts, many in German, from or about victims, or relatives of victims, of the Nazi persecution and the Stalinist purge in Russia, and whose identities had to be concealed for fear of reprisals.
The series ends in December 1939, a few months after the outbreak of war; the final batch of letters gives an insight into some of the difficulties faced by the editor and the correspondents as they try not only to communicate during the early stages of the conflict, but to try to find new and safe bases from which to work.
The correspondence also gives an insight into the status of the paper, the way in which the correspondents worked, their relationships with the editor and each other, and also with other papers and journalists. There are frequent references to other Manchester Guardian staff in both Manchester and London, to freelancers and to journalists of other papers, which should also be of interest to family historians. A brief glimpse into the commercial side of the paper can be viewed in the small run of correspondence between 1922 and 1925, dealing with advertising in the central European Weekly edition.
The series of foreign correspondence largely retains the chronological sequence in which it was acquired from the newspaper. Some foreign correspondence may also be found in other areas of the Guardian archive; the editorial correspondence may contain material relating to the staff correspondents and a number of the freelancers, whilst the private correspondence of W.P. Crozier may include some relevant material relating to Europe (see Related Material). Further information about the foreign service may be gleaned from contributors’ lists, payment books, staff ledgers and address lists.