Baron Robert Rothschild
Not to be confused with the Robert Rothschild who is a banker in New York and was born in 1947. From The Weekly Telegraph - No. 386 (Week of December 16-22, 1998):
The Belgian diplomatist who has died aged 86, was caught up in many of the world's conflicts, including civil wars in China and Congo. He helped to draft the Treaty of Rome, the foundation of the EEC. Robert Rothschild was born in Brussels on December 16, 1911. His father, a business-man of German-Jewish extraction, descended from Moses Rothschild, of Frankfurt, whose brother Mayer Amschel, together with his five sons, founded the Rothschild banking dynasty. He decided to become a diplomat, and luckily his father was a friend of Paul Spaak, whose son Paul-Henri became Belgiums' foreign minister in 1936. Rothschild passed the diplomatic service examination that year and joined the younger Spaak's private office the next April. As an officer in the Belgian army reserve on the outbreak of the Second World War, Rothschild returned to his regiment [and his brother Maurice started his service at the Piron armored brigade]. In May, 1940, he was captured by the Germans and sent to Colditz. In 1941 he was sent back to Brussels in a cattle truck. With the help of underground organisations and the SOE he escaped to non-occupied France. He obtained an exit visa from a pro-Belgian official and travelled to Spain. He made his way to London to join the Belgian government in exile, which posted him to the legation in Lisbon. The city was crawling with spies, all of whom knew one another's identity. They lunched at the same smart restaurants, peering at one another over their menus. Rothschild remained in Lisbon until 1944, when he was sent, at his request - there was no competition from colleagues - to China. He became first secretary at the embassy in Chungking, the headquarters of Chiang Kai-shek's government. During the Japanese occupation there was a lull in the Chinese civil war. Mao's Communists even had an envoy in Chungking in the person of Chou En-Lai, whom Rothschild grew to like. After the Japanese surrender Rothschild flew to Shanghai, where in 1946 he was appointed consul general. The Chinese civil war revived and in 1949 the Communists entered Shanghai. Under pressure from the French, who hoped to protect their interests in Indo-China, Belgium declined to recognise the new regime for the next 20 years. Rothschild considered this a mistake and regretted the failure to comprehend the rivalry between Soviet and Chinese Communism. In early 1950 Rothschild left Shanghai for Washington as second counsellor. It was the time of the Korean War and the build-up of NATO and after two years in Washington, Rothschild went to Paris as a Belgian representative on the council of NATO. In 1954 Rothschild was appointed Spaak's chef de cabinet at the Belgian foreign ministry. For two years he worked with Spaak on the Treaty of Rome before the final signing in 1957. Shortly before the treaty was signed, Rothschild was standing beside Spaak gazing over the Forum in Rome. "I think," Spaak said, "that we have re-established the Roman Empire without a single shot being fired." Rothschild was due to join the Belgian delegation at Nato after the summit conference in Paris in 1960 between Khrushchev and Eisenhower. But, because of the U2 spy plane incident, the conference was a failure and so Rothschild was posted to Belgian's vast Congo colony as number two to the governor. Rothschild arrived in Leopoldville two days after the rebellion by the constabulary, egged on by the Pan-Africanist independence leader Patrice Lumumba. On July 11, Katanga, the richest of the six provinces of the colony, seceded, and the Belgians decided to make it their base for a campaign to bring down Lumumba. In Katanga, Rothschild had to steer his way delicately between Moise Tshombe the Rightist Katangan leader, who wanted Belgian support for the province's independence, and Belgium,'s reluctance to grant it. After two years as ambassador to Switzerland, where in 1966 he was president of the executive committee of the General Agreement on Tariffs and trade, Rothschild went as ambassador to Paris. In 1973 he was appointed ambassador in London, where he remained en post until 1976 and then lived for the rest of his life. He was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George in 1963.