Updated: 20-Mar-2002 NATO Archives


Background to the creation of a post of NATO Historical Officer (NHO)

Note by the International Staff Archives Section

Following a request by the Secretary General to the Executive Secretary on methods of recording factual information after the experience of the drafting of NATO The First Five Years , Lord Coleridge, in a memorandum dated 10th March 1955, suggested to the Secretary General that consideration should be given to establishing a post of NATO Historian reporting directly to the Secretary General. He felt that the Organization was lacking a regular interpretative history of events prepared on an annual basis.

There was also in the late 50's and early 60's some concern at a lack of proper documentation and official records particularly of the early years of the Organization.

In 1959, the Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs in a Report to the North Atlantic Studies Committee on a proposed sequel to "NATO The First Five Years" by Lord Ismay, recommended that NATO should have a permanent historical Section, headed by a Director and responsible to the Secretary General. This recommendation was forwarded to the North Atlantic Council and approved.
Mr. S.I.P van Campen (Research Section - Political Affairs Division) was tasked with looking into the matter and making proposals.

Mr. van Campen subsequently proposed that a post of Historical Officer be created in the Political Affairs Division. This Officer would write a series of classified surveys and monographs for internal or governmental use.
In 1961 the Civil Budget Committee approved the creation of the Post of Historical Officer and Mr. van Campen was appointed to the post.
In the framework of his activities Mr. van Campen issued 4 monographs.
Mr. van Campen continued to work in the Research Section until his appointment as Director of the Private Office of Secretary General Luns in 1971. He took with him the title of Historical Officer.

The monograph "The evolution of NATO political consultation 1949 - 1962 " ,dated 2nd May 1963, was reissued on 28th April 1967 at the request of Sub-group 2 of the Special Group on the Future Tasks of the Alliance ( or Harmel Report) , as it was felt it would be of interest to the work of the Sub-group.

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