Catalogue description Foreign Office: Wilton Park: Records

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Details of FO 1120
Reference: FO 1120
Title: Foreign Office: Wilton Park: Records

This series contains student record cards of prisoners of war who attended the Wilton Park centre prior to repatriation to Germany (and occasionally Austria), showing details of previous camps attended, peacetime occupation, wartime service and so on. There are also a number of reports and other documents produced by the director of Wilton Park, Heinz (later Sir Heinz) Koeppler and his staff detailing the work of Wilton Park and education and re-education provision for prisoners of war in other detention camps.

Some files are written largely or wholly in German.

The set of German camp visit reports in FO 1120/206-249 is incomplete.

Date: 1944-1951
Separated material:

Reports of conferences are published as Summary Reports by Wilton Park. Academic Council papers are in various FO and FCO series.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and German

Foreign Office, Wilton Park, 1946-1968

Physical description: 293 file(s)
Access conditions: Open
Immediate source of acquisition:

in 2009 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Selection and destruction information: Selected under Acquisition Policy criterion (documenting UK efforts to re-educate the leading cadre of German figures in British hands at the close of World War Two to influence post-war German thought and political development). Prisoner of War student record cards and post-war policy files selected; routine administration records and duplicates destroyed.
Accruals: No further accruals are expected.
Administrative / biographical background:

The name Wilton Park comes from the original home of the British Prisoner of War Camp 300, near Beaconsfield. The camp was used to house some of the more prominent German prisoners in British hands in the Second World War, who it was thought would become leaders of German thought and opinion in democratic conditions in Germany after the War. Prior to repatriating the prisoners, they were involved in a series of debates and re-education programmes in a liberal regime. Between 1946 and 1948 the camp was visited by leading British politicians, intellectuals and academics and its programmes considered approaches to rebuilding a democratic Germany. As repatriation gathered speed and the numbers of prisoners fell, civilians from Germany and other parts of Europe began to participate in the camp's activities, and Wilton Park began to take on the character of an international conference centre. The last prisoner left in June 1948, at which time the camp was changed from a military to a civilian institution and Wilton Park became an independent academic centre under the supervision of the Foreign Office.

While the Foreign Office ensured that the programme of conferences carried out at Wilton Park furthered Britain's international objectives, the programme was actually devised by an Academic Council independent of Foreign Office control which proposed programmes and topics worthy of discussion at Wilton Park. Later, when Wilton Park's interest became wider, an International Academic Council, made up of the ambassadors in London of member states of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), was also formed.

Wilton Park moved from its original home to Wiston House in Sussex in 1950, but the original name was retained. The original focus on issues significant to Anglo-German relations steadily widened, and from 1957 participation was broadened to include all the member states of the Organisation for European economic Co-operation (later OECD). After 1961, when additional funding from the Ford Foundation was secured, the scope of Wilton Park's interests became more transatlantic. In 1991, Wilton Park became an executive agency of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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