Filming Internationalism

The Locarno Treaties (1925)

In early October 1925, foreign ministers from the major European nations assembled in the Swiss lakeside resort of Locarno to agree a series of international treaties which were signed at the British Foreign Office in London in December. The Locarno treaties sought to normalize relations between old and new European nations, especially with Weimar Germany, which pledged never to wage an aggressive war in the future, and to secure a lasting peace in Europe by settling outstanding territorial disputes (in Western Europe at least). The representatives from Britain, France and Germany – Austen Chamberlain (1863-1937), Gustav Stresemann (1878-1929) and Aristide Briand (1862-1932) – were widely celebrated, and each received a Nobel Peace Prize, Chamberlain in 1925 and Briand and Stresemann jointly in 1926, though only Chamberlain lived to witness the collapse of the Locarno agreements in the late 1930s.

The City of Conference (1926)

Geneva embraced its role as a hub of internationalism, celebrating its hosting of pacifistic international conferences by, somewhat ironically, appropriating the pageantry of nationalism and military tattoos. Nevertheless, these parades demonstrated the significance that international conferences held for the city.

7th Assembly of the League of Nations, Geneva (1926)

The 1925 Locarno agreement seemed to have secured Germany’s admittance into the League of Nations. However, a special Assembly convened in March 1926 expressly for this purpose failed to reach terms. At the ordinary 7th Assembly of the League of Nations in September 1926, shown here, each and every step was carefully choreographed to ensure the March fiasco could not be repeated. The German delegation was led into the assembly hall by Gustav Stresemann, the leading German voice of pragmatic internationalism.

Begum Shah Nawaz Talks to You (1930)

Begum Shah Nawaz was one of only two female delegates invited to the Round Table Conference to represent Indian women. Her father, Sir Muhammed Shafi, represented India at the Imperial Conferences as well as the Round Table Conference. Any sense of the Begum being overshadowed by her father was dispelled after her first conference speech, which was widely reported in the national and international press.

The King's Microphone (1930)

A specially commissioned gold and silver microphone had been made for the use of King George V. A silver plate was engraved with each occasion the King used the apparatus, his 1930 broadcast at the Round Table Conference being the ninth.

The Final Session of the India Round Table Conference (1931)

The concluding meeting of the first session of the Round Table Conference was recorded, to the consternation of many delegates, who found the heat and noise of the lighting and cameras unbearable. The Begum Shah Nawaz's speech was included, as was the reading out of a message from the King, which the delegates listened to upstanding.

Gandhi's travel to London (1931)

Gandhi's travel to London, with his retinue, for the Round Table Conference caused a global media sensation. This footage charts his journey from Bombay, through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean to London

Gandhi Is - Here! (1931)

On arrival in London, in the pouring rain, Gandhi was received at Friend's House on Euston Road. Commentators obsessed over his body (including his exposed knees) and clothing, especially during the miserable London autumn in which the Round Table Conference took place.

Gandhi's London Home in the East End (1931)

In London Gandhi stayed with Muriel Lester at Bow in the East End.  Here his host describes Kingsley Hall, its purpose, and why it was felt to fit Gandhi's mission.

Gandhi in Lancashire (1931)

The boycott of British cloth which Gandhi had led in India had compounded the effects of the economic depression on the textile industry in Lancashire. Gandhi visited workers in Lancashire but was uncompromising in his views, insisting that poverty in Britain did not compare to that in India.

Gandhi's Farewell Talk in Europe (1931)

After the disappointment of the Round Table Conference Gandhi toured France, Switzerland and Italy (including an interview with Mussolini) before departing for India. Here he explains his philosophy of non-violence in Geneva, the unofficial capital of internationalism.

Treaty Of Lausanne Signed By Europe (1932)

The 1932 Lausanne Conference, held at the Beau-Rivage Palace Hotel, was intended to solve the economic obstacles to world peace, prime among which was the issue of outstanding reparations payments from World War One. It was presided over by the British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, whose words here at the signing of the conference treaty were indicative of his keen interest and belief in international politics, and for whom speaking for ‘Europe’ was a welcome distraction from his isolation and unpopularity back in Britain. The Treaty was undone in December that year when the US Congress rejected the agreement that MacDonald had brokered.

Haile Selassie at the League of Nations (1936)

Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia, both Member States of the League of Nations, proved a crisis point that demonstrated the League’s toothlessness. Nevertheless, the Ethiopian leader Haile Selassie retained a faith in international cooperation, which made his denunciation of Italy’s actions and the League’s inaction at a June 1936 Special Assembly in Geneva one of the most incisive and memorable speeches given in that forum. Greeted at the rostrum by a barrage of whistles and jeers from Italian journalists, Selassie chose to speak in his native Amharic rather than French (in which he was fluent), telling his audience that ‘it is international morality which is at stake’. See the Amharic & French official record, and an English translation of Selassie’s speech.

The Paris International Exposition (1937)

This film of the 1937 Exposition Internationale in Paris was shot by Philip Medicus. Medicus was an ‘amateur’ filmmaker in the strictest sense, but his use of expensive Kodachrome colour film and his meticulous documentation of the Exposition speak to a hobby taken seriously. Based in New York, Medicus also shot extensive colour footage of the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair.

Filming Internationalism