Lionel Curtis first came to prominence during his activities in the British colonies in South Africa between 1899-1909. Appointed by Sir Alfred Milner to carry out various duties in the region, Curtis was accompanied by other Oxford graduates, who were also sent by Milner.
Known as ‘Milner’s Kindergarten’, this was a close-knit group of people with similar educational backgrounds, lifestyles and shared values. They spent their time together in South Africa, and had frequent debates on social and political matters. The Kindergarten consisted of the following people:
- George Geoffrey Dawson: Director and Editor of the Times magazine
- Richard Feetham: Lawyer, Judge of Appeal on the South Africa Court of Appeals, member of the Transvaal Legislative Council
- William Lionel Hitchens: Chairman of the English Electric Company
- Robert Henry Brand: Managing director in Lazard Brothers Co.
- Sir Patrick Duncan: Governor General of South Africa
- John Dove: Journalist, editor of the Round Table journal
- F. (Peter) Perry
- Geoffrey Robinson
- Hugh Wyndham
- After 1905, Philip Kerr (British ambassador to the US, 1939-1940), Lord Selborne and Sir Dougal Orme Malcolm also became a part of the group.
The activities of the Kindergarten group continued long after these particular members left South Africa.
The goal of Alfred Milner was uniting the South African colonies under the British flag. He helped transfer money to the Kindergarten from the ‘Rhodes Scholarship’, which was previously set up in line with Cecil Rhodes’ will. The readers will recall from the first chapters of the book that Cecil Rhodes was one of the prominent Darwinist and racist members of the British deep state, who became rich in South Africa through diamond trade and mining.
In the meantime, Lionel Curtis began to be called ‘the prophet’ within the Kindergarten (Certainly prophets are above such remarks). Curtis managed to unite South Africa on May 31, 1910, through his pursuit of a global ideal. To Curtis, South Africa was a ‘microcosm’ and what was true for the British Empire was equally true in South Africa. After the unification was completed on the continent, he believed that the Kindergarten could “begin some work of the same kind” on the scale of the Empire.335
In 1909, Alfred Milner met with potential sponsors and supporters helping Lionel Curtis with one more task: enabling him to organize a Round Table meeting in the residence of Lord Anglesey at Plas Newydd in Wales, Great Britain on September 4-5, 1909. In addition to the Kindergarten team, Lords Howick, Lovat, Wolmer and F. S. Oliver were also in attendance. Shortly after, another exclusively British lineup joined, which included Leo Amery, Lord Robert Cecil, Reginald Coupland, Edward Grigg and Alfred Zimmern.
Lionel Curtis published an article in December 1918 in the Round Table publication, where he proposed that a League of Nations should be built after WWI to oversee a worldwide mandatory system. He believed that a British-American alliance in the management of the system would ensure international balance. Consequently, he was invited to the Paris Peace Conference. Then, he attended the League of Nations session chaired by Robert Cecil from the British Ministry of Information, who was also in the cadres of the Round Table. In 1919, the American-British Institute of International Affairs was founded, which would later transform into CFR (the Council on Foreign Relations) in New York, and the Royal Institute of International Affairs, a.k.a. Chatham House, in London.
First presidents of Chatham House:
- Robert Cecil
- Arthur James Balfour
- John R. Clynes
- Edward Grey
Interestingly, this lineup was also behind the dismemberment plans made for the Ottoman Empire in the Paris Peace Conference as well as the Treaty of Sèvres.
Furthermore, again during the conference, the British-led commission decided to build the League of Nations.