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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 March 2019

Department of History, Swansea University E-mail:


This article analyses the post-First World War emergence of intellectual relief. This is defined here as aid given to intellectuals and scholarly institutions. Relief included the provision of food and medicines to individuals as well as the supply of relevant scholarly literature and laboratory equipment to academic institutions. After 1918, significant humanitarian interventions targeted Central and Eastern Europe, which had been ravaged by war and its myriad consequences. The article argues that intellectual relief, while frequently using the language of the “crisis of civilization,” was part of the broader effort to safeguard the postwar liberal democratic order against Bolshevism. The article pays particular attention to the League of Nations' Committee on Intellectual Cooperation (CIC) to show how states like Hungary used intellectual deprivation to agitate for treaty revision. It argues that the CIC's development was shaped by the wider dynamics of intellectual relief.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019

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I would like to thank Daniel Laqua, Elisabeth Piller, Katharina Rietzler, Ciarán Wallace and the anonymous reviewers for Modern Intellectual History for their comments on previous drafts of this article


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90 See, for example, the needs of the Crimean University. Letter of L. Vishnevsky, 26 July 1922, LNA, 13C, Dossier 23815, Document 24805x (R1049).

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95 Ibid.

96 Ibid., 744.

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114 LNA, 13C, Dossier 38975, Document 41420 (R1075).

115 “Report on the Three Years’ Activities,” LNA, 13C, Dossier 38975, Document 41427 (R1075).

116 Proposal by the Romanian delegation, Sept. 1924, LNA, 13C, Dossier 38845, Document 38845 (R1075).

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127 Cited in letter of Nitobe to Murray, 7 April 1924, MS Murray 266/30.

128 Drummond to Murray, 8 March 1924, MS Murray 266/20.

129 Committee of Intellectual Cooperation, Minutes of the Second Session, Geneva, 26 July–2 Aug. 1923, LNA, C-570-M-224-1923-x-ii, 9.

130 Gonzague de Reynold, “The League and Germany,” March 1924, UNESCO archives, A.I.35.

131 Piller, “Can the Science of the World Allow This?”, 195–6.

132 Letter on behalf of Academia Romana to Helene Vacaresco, LNA, 13C, Dossier 23815, Document 24535 (R1049).

133 Garnett to CIC, 25 June 1923, LNA, 13C, Dossier 14297, Document 29542 (R1032).

134 Eleanora Iredale to Nitobe, 10 Jan. 1923, LNA, 13C, Dossier 14297, Document 25541 (R1032).

135 B. M. Headicar to Halecki, 9 Jan. 1923, LNA, 13C, Dossier 23815, Document 24097 (R1049).

136 Report by René Viviani, “Intellectual Cooperation: Scheme for Furthering Intellectual Exchanges in Central and Eastern Europe,” Jan. 1923, LNA, C-112-1923; and report by Gabriel Hanotaux, “Work by the Committee on Intellectual Cooperation,” 1923, LNA, C-573-(1)-1923-XII, Annex II to C-L-20-1924-XII.

137 Memorandum by secretary-general, 11 Dec. 1922, LNA, 13C, Dossier 23024, Document 25168 (R1046).

138 See LNA, 13C, Dossier 29604 (R1057, R1058) for full details on these reports.

139 Bizarrely, they did not include Great Britain as the manuscript submitted for publication was lost in Geneva. LNA, 13C, Dossier 23024, Document 25753 (R1046).

140 Agreement Regarding Establishment of International Institution for Intellectual Cooperation, 8 Dec. 1924, MS Murray 266/100.

141 Organic Statute of the Institute for Intellectual Cooperation, 1924, MS Murray 266/102–5.

142 These were Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia, Switzerland. MS Murray 266/122–3.

143 The non-European nations were Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, India, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Salvador, South Africa, Syria and the United States. National Committees on Intellectual Cooperation (Geneva, 1937), 3–4.

144 Laqua, “Internationalisme ou affirmation de la nation?”, 55.

145 Steiner, The Lights That Failed, 800–16.

146 Palmier, Weimar in Exile.

147 De Reynold, La vie intellectuelle, 24.