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The Political Correspondence Files are the central archive of documentation created by the British Foreign Office (BFO), Great Britain's equivalent of the U.S. State Department. Together with the Confidential U.S. State Department Central Files, they offer researchers an unsurpassed look at world affairs in the early to mid-20th century. As the information hub of British foreign policy, the BFO was both the collection and the dissemination point for information generated by London and the diplomatic posts, as well as by other government ministries. The Political Correspondence Files were the repository for these documents. Letters and telegrams traveled between the BFO and the diplomatic posts, along with instructions from London and dispatches from the posts. The BFO originated many documents, such as minutes of meetings, reports, and correspondence with other government ministries and foreign government embassies in London. The BFO also received documents such as minutes of meetings, reports, telegrams, and correspondence from the War Office, the Admiralty, the India Office, and the Colonial Office. The Political Correspondence Files also contain cabinet papers and parliamentary debates dealing with foreign policy. British diplomats at every level were acutely aware of the importance of Germany during the early 20th century. By 1906, when these files begin, more than a generation had passed since the unification of the German states as an empire. Documents from late in the war offer insights on how much the German public knew about their armies' reverses in the field-and thus how surprised the public was with the war's final outcome. At the close of Part 1, occupation troops governed the Rhineland, and in some cities radical revolutionaries, heartened by the Bolsheviks' success in Russia, were staging local uprisings.
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