Papers of General Fereydoun Djam

Scope and Content

Personal papers and artefacts of General Fereydoun Djam, 1906-2000s (predominantly 1940s-2000s). Comprises: private documents, 1949-1992, including passport and retirement certificate from Imperial Iranian Army; personal correspondence with Iranian political figures, acquaintances and publishers; 1947-2006; writings on Iranian history and military theory, late 20th century, including manuscript works on military history and strategy and modern Iranian political history, c 1979-1996; poetry translations by Djam, late 20th century, notebooks, 1979-1994; photographs, 1901-2000s, including images relating to the Djam's military career, Djam's ambassadorship to Spain, and Djam's family and personal acquaintances; collected and Pahlavi dynasty of Iran; visual artworks, including Islamic calligraphy and paintings collected by Djam; and personal objects of Djam, including his Chief of Staff military uniform and desk accessories.

Administrative / Biographical History

General Fereydoun Djam / فریدون جم was a senior Iranian military officer and diplomat who served as Chief of the Supreme Commander's Joint Staff of the Imperial Iranian Army and ambassador to Spain under the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Fereydoun Djam was born on 29 April 1914 in Tabriz, capital of the East Azerbaijan Province of Iran. His father, Mahmoud Djam was the Prime Minister of Iran from 1935 to 1939 under Reza Shah Pahlavi.

Djam trained as an army officer at the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr in France. He was married by arrangement to Princess Shams Pahlavi, daughter of Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1937. Following the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran in 1941 and forced abdication of Reza Shah Pahlavi, he accompanied the Shah and Princess Shams into exile in Mauritius. Djam returned to Iran in 1942. Following the death of Reza Shah in South Africa in 1944, Djam and Princess Shams were divorced.

Djam subsequently attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, United Kingdom and gained the rank of a Brigadier General. He was appointed as the head of the military academy in Iran and proceeded to remodel the institution along the lines of European academies.

In April 1969, General Bahram Ariana, was removed from the position of Chief of the Supreme Commander's Joint Staff of the Imperial Iranian Army over the Shatt al-Arab/Arvand Rud crisis between Iran and Iraq. Djam was appointed as Ariana's successor as Chief of the Supreme Commander's Joint Staff and promoted to the rank of four star General.

As Chief of the Supreme Commander's Joint Staff, Djam came into conflict with Mohammad Reza Shah, who at the time exerted significant control over all aspects of the army. In June 1971, Djam was removed from his position following a dispute over the movement of troops without royal approval in response to operations by the Iraqi army. Djam was appointed as Iranian ambassador to Spain, a procedure that the Shah imposed on high-level officials who had fallen out of favour. Djam took the opportunity to add Spanish to his existing repertoire of languages, namely Persian, Azeri, English and French. He formally retired from the Imperial Iranian Army in 1973, and completed his tenure as ambassador in Madrid in 1977.

Djam retired to London with his second wife, Firoozeh, and their son, Kamran. During the events that led up to the 1979 Revolution, Shapur Bakhtiar, the last prime minister of the Imperial State of Iran, made an attempt to persuade General Djam to return to Iranian politics as Minister of War in newly appointed provisional civilian government. Travelling to Iran, Djam met with the Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in January 1979 to discuss the proposal. However, following this meeting declined the position of Minister of War and returned to Europe, later claiming that the Shah had refused to give up his role as commander-in-chief of the Imperial Iranian Army.

The Iranian Revolution in February 1979 and the subsequent establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran led to permanent exile for Djam, due to his long-standing association with the deposed Pahlavi family. In his later years he authored a number of personal and historical accounts of the Pahlavi period, as well as theoretical articles on the organisation of the Imperial Iranian Army and its command and control structure, which were published in 'Rahāvard' (Nos. 20-60), a Los Angeles-based Persian-language quarterly, edited by Hasan Shabaz.

General Fereydoun Djam died in London on the 24th May 2008 at the age of 94. He was predeceased by his son Kamran Djam in 1989 and his second wife Firoozeh Djam in 2006.


The papers are arranged into eight series.

Personal documents [PP MS 95/01]

Correspondence [PP MS 95/02]

Writings [PP MS 95/03]

Translations [PP MS 95/04]

Notebooks [PP MS 95/05]

Photographs [PP MS/06]

Visual art [PP MS 95/07]

Artefacts [PP MS 95/08]

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Donated to SOAS Library in 2011 by the Fereydoun Djam Charitable Trust.

Archivist's Note

The cataloguing and conservation of the papers of Fereydoun Djam was supported by an endowment to SOAS by the Fereydoun Djam Charitable Trust in 2011.


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held within the papers by the estate of Fereydoun Djam was transferred in July 2011 to SOAS, University of London.


Not expected

Related Material

SOAS Library also holds the Fereydoun Djam Book Collection, comprising Djam's personal library of 146 published titles, predominantly Persian-language publications covering Iranian history and military history, which were donated alongside his personal papers in 2011 by the Fereydoun Djam Charitable Trust. [Classmark: E Coll. 13].

SOAS Collections (Brunei Gallery) holds larger artworks relating to Fereydoun Djam, which were donated alongside his personal papers in 2011 by the Fereydoun Djam Charitable Trust.

The Harvard University Iranian Oral History Project includes a Persian-language interview with Fereydoun Djam recorded in 1983, covering his life and career; the Pahlavi family; the Iranian military; and the 1979 Iranian Revolution [Reference: MS Persian 39-39.1]

The Bodleian Library, Oxford University holds 'Koran (Qur'an Karim)', an illuminated Koran of the late Qajar period donated by Fereydoun Djam in 1992 [Reference: MS. Arab. b. 13]