Winston Churchill, the son of Randolph
Churchill, a Conservative politician, was born in Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, on
30th November, 1874. His mother, Jennie Jerome, was the daughter of Leonard
Jerome, a New York
After being educated at
Harrow he went
to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. Churchill joined the Fourth Hussars
in 1895 and saw action on the Indian north-west frontier and in the Sudan where
he took part in the Battle of Omdurman (1898).
While in the army Churchill supplied
military reports for the
and wrote books such as The Story of the Malakand Field
Force (1898) and
The River War
After leaving the
in 1899, Churchill worked as a war correspondent for the
While reporting the
Boer War in South Africa he was taken prisoner by the Boers but made
headline news when he escaped. On returning to England he wrote about his
experiences in the book, London to Ladysmith (1900).
1900 General Election
Churchill was elected as the
MP for Oldham.
As a result of reading, Poverty, A Study of Town Life
Rowntree he became a supporter of social reform. In 1904, unconvinced by his
party leaders desire for change, Churchill decided to join the
1906 General Election
Churchill won North West Manchester and immediately became a member of the new
Liberal government as Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. When
Campbell-Bannerman as Prime Minister in 1908 he promoted Churchill to his
cabinet as President of the Board of Trade. While in this post he carried
through important social legislation including the establishment of employment
On 12th September 1908 Churchill married
Clementine Ogilvy Spencer and the following year published a book on his
political philosophy, Liberalism and the Social Problem (1909).
1910 General Election
Churchill became Home Secretary. Churchill introduced several reforms to the
prison system, including the provision of lecturers and concerts for prisoners
and the setting up of special after-care associations to help convicts after
they had served their sentence. However, Churchill was severely criticized for
using troops to maintain order during a Welsh miners's strike.
Churchill became First Lord of the
Admiralty in October 1911 where he helped modernize the navy. Churchill was one
of the first people to grasp the military potential of aircraft and in 1912 he
set up the Royal Naval
Air Service. He also established an Air Department at the Admiralty so as to
make full use of this new technology. Churchill was so enthusiastic about these
new developments that he took flying lessons.
On the outbreak of war in 1914, Churchill
joined the War Council. However, he was blamed for the failure at the
Campaign in 1915 and was moved to the post of Chancellor of the Duchy of
Lancaster. Unhappy about not having any power to influence the Government's war
policy, he rejoined the
and commanded a battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers on the
David Lloyd George
Asquith as Prime Minister, he brought Churchill back into the government as
Minister of Munitions and for the final year of the war, Churchill was in charge
of the production of tanks, aeroplanes, guns and shells.
Churchill also served under
David Lloyd George
as Minister of War and Air (1919-20) and Colonial Secretary (1921-22). The
divisions in the
Liberal Party led to Churchill being defeated by
E. D. Morel in
the 1922 General
Election. Churchill now rejoined the
Party and was elected to represent Epping in the
1924 General Election.
the leader of the new
administration, appointed Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer. In 1925
Churchill controversially returned Britain the the Gold Standard and the
following year took a strong line against the
Churchill edited the Government's newspaper, the
British Gazette, during the dispute where he argued that "either the
country will break the General Strike, or the General Strike will break the
With the defeat of the
government in 1929, Churchill lost office. When
formed the National Government in 1931 Churchill, who was now seen as a
right-wing extremist, was not invited to join the Cabinet. He spent the next few
years concentrating on his writing, including the publication of the
History of the English Speaking Peoples.
and the Nazi Party
gained power in
Germany in 1933, Churchill became a leading advocate of rearmament. He was
also a staunch critic of
Chamberlain and the Conservative government's
policy. In 1939 Churchill controversially argued that
France should form
of a military alliance with the
On the outbreak of the
Second World War
Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty and on 4th April 1940 became
chairman of the Military Coordinating Committee. Later that month the
invaded and occupied Norway. The loss of Norway was a considerable setback for
Chamberlain and his policies for dealing with
On 8th May the
demanded a debate on the Norwegian campaign and this turned into a vote of
censure. At the end of the debate 30 Conservatives voted against Chamberlain and
a further 60 abstained. Chamberlain now decided to resign and on 10th May, 1940,
appointed Churchill as prime minister. Later that day the
began its Western
Offensive and invaded the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Two days
later German forces entered
Churchill formed a coalition government
and placed leaders of the
Labour Party such
as Clement Attlee,
and Hugh Dalton
in key positions. He also brought in another long-time opponent of Chamberlain,
Anthony Eden, as
his secretary of state for war. Later that year Eden replaced
as foreign secretary.
Churchill also developed a strong personal
Roosevelt and this led to the sharing and trading of war supplies. The
agreement of March 1941 allowed
Britain to order
war goods from the United
States on credit.
Although he provided strong leadership the war continued to go badly for Britain
and after a series of military defeats Churchill had to face a motion of no
confidence in Parliament. However, he maintained the support of most members of
the House of Commons
and won by 475 votes to 25.
Churchill continued to be criticized for
meddling in military matters and tended to take too much notice of the views of
his friends such as
Lindemann rather than his military commanders. In April 1941 he made the
serious mistake of trying to save
weakening his forces fighting the
One of the major contributions made by
Churchill to eventual victory was his ability to inspire the British people to
greater effort by making public broadcasts on significant occasions. A brilliant
orator he was a tireless source of strength to people experiencing the
sufferings of the
Churchill worked closely with
Roosevelt to ensure victory over
Japan. He was also
a loyal ally of the
Soviet Union after
Operation Barbarossa in June, 1941.
Churchill held important meetings with
Joseph Stalin at
1943) and Yalta
(February, 1945). Although Churchill's relationship with Stalin was always
difficult he managed to successfully develop a united strategy against the Axis
Despite intense pressure from Stalin to
open a second-front by landing Allied troops in
France in 1943,
Churchill continued to argue that this should not happen until the defeat of
was guaranteed. The
D-Day landings did not take place until June, 1944 and this delay enabled
the Red Army to
capture territory from
In public Churchill accepted plans for
social reform drawn up by
in 1944. However, he was unable to convince the electorate that he was as
committed to these measures as much as
and the Labour Party.
In the 1945 General
Election Churchill's attempts to compare a future Labour government with
backfired and Attlee won a landslide victory.
Churchill became leader of the opposition
and when visiting the
United States in March 1946, he made his famous Iron Curtain speech at
Fulton, Missouri. He suffered the first of several strokes in August 1946 but
this information was kept from the general public and he continued to lead the
Churchill returned to power after the
1951 General Election.
After the publication of his six volume, The Second
World War, Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Churchill's health continued to deteriorate and in 1955 he reluctantly retired
from politics. Winston Churchill died on 24th January, 1965.
David Low first met
Winston Churchill in 1922.
As might be expected from his origins and temperament, Churchill was inwardly
contemptuous of the 'common man' when the 'common man' sought to interfere in
his (the 'common man's) own government; but bearing with the need to appear
sympathetic and compliant to the popular will. In those days, whenever I heard
Churchill's dramatic periods about democracy, I felt inclined to say: "Please
define." His definition, I felt, would be something like "government of the
people, for the people, by benevolent and paternal ruling-class chaps like me."
Churchill was witty and easy to talk to
until I said that the Australians were an independent people who could not be
expected to follow Britain without question. They were, in the case of new wars,
for instance, not to be taken for granted, but would follow their own judgment.
Churchill was one of the few men I have
met who even in the flesh give me the impression of genius. George Bernard Shaw
is another. It is amusing to know that each thinks the other is overrated.
Churchill, Illustrated Sunday Herald (8th February, 1920)
The part played in the creation of Bolshevism and in the actual bringing
about of the Russian Revolution by these international and for the most part
atheistic Jews ... is certainly a very great one; it probably outweighs all
others. With the notable exception of Lenin, the majority of the leading figures
are Jews. Moreover, the principal inspiration and driving power comes from
Jewish leaders ... The same evil prominence was obtained by Jews in (Hungary and
Germany, especially Bavaria).
Although in all these countries there are many non-Jews every
whit as bad as the worst of the Jewish revolutionaries, the part played by the
latter in proportion to their numbers in the population is astonishing. The fact
that in many cases Jewish interests and Jewish places of worship are excepted by
the Bolsheviks from their universal hostility has tended more and more to
associate the Jewish race in Russia with the villainies which are now being
An Autobiography (1934)
The most surprising of the Ministerial appointments made by Mr. Baldwin was the
constituted his government in November 1924 was the selection of Mr. Winston
Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer. What induced Mr. Baldwin to offer Mr.
Churchill this important post still remains an inscrutable mystery.
As an ex-Chancellor it fell to me to lead the Opposition in the Budget debates,
and I found Mr. Churchill a foe worthy of my steel. Mr. Churchill, during these
years, gradually developed as a Parliamentary debater. He learnt to rely less on
careful preparation of his speeches and more upon spontaneous effort. However
much one may differ from Mr. Churchill, one is compelled to like him for his
finer qualities. There is an attractiveness in everything he does. His high
spirits are irrepressible. Mr. Churchill was as happy facing a Budget deficit as
in distributing a surplus. He is an adventurer, a soldier of fortune.
Jennie Lee made her
first speech in the
House of Commons soon after she was elected in a by-election in 1929.
Winston Churchill was at that time Chancellor of the Exchequer and I
directed my attack mainly against his budget proposals. Later in the day, in the
Smoking Room, he came over to me and congratulated me on my speech. He assured
me that we both wanted the same thing, only we had different notions of how to
get it. The richer the rich became, the more able they would be to help the poor.
That was his theme and he said he would send me a book that would explain
everything to me. The book duly arrived. It was The American Omen by
Garet Garrett, a right-wing economist who was despised by most of us for his
J. R. Clynes,
I met Churchill in 1901 during his Election campaign in Oldham, having been
chosen to lead a group of local Labour supporters to interview him, and obtain
from him an exposition of his views on certain Labour topics. I found him a man
of extraordinarily independent mind, and great courage. He absolutely refused to
yield to our persuasions, and said bluntly that he would rather lose votes than
abandon his convictions.
Churchill was, and has always remained, a soldier in mufti. He possesses inborn
militaristic qualities, and is intensely proud of his descent from Marlborough.
He cannot visualize Britain without an Empire, or the Empire without wars of
acquisition and defence. A hundred years ago he might profoundly have affected
the shaping of our country's history. Now, the impulses of peace and
internationalism, and the education and equality of the working classes, leave
first met Winston Churchill while teaching at the
London School of
Economics. Martin wrote about Churchill and the
in his book, Father Figures (1966)
The General Strike of 1926 was an unmitigated disaster. Not merely for Labour
but for England. Churchill and other militants in the cabinet were eager for a
strike, knowing that they had built a national organization in the six months'
grace won by the subsidy to the mining industry. Churchill himself told me this
on the first occasion I met him in person. I asked Winston what he thought of
the Samuel Coal Commission. When Winston said that the subsidy had been granted
to enable the Government to smash the unions, unless the miners had given way in
the meantime, my picture of Winston was confirmed.
He was a delicious and witty guest, quite willing to talk freely to young
academics. I then regarded him as the most dangerous of all politicians. He
combined brilliance with the most foolish and antiquated views, which would have
condemned us without hope of reprieve to war between classes and nations; he had
tried to make war with Russia in 1919, and he waged successful war against the
workers in 1926. The economic disasters of the thirties were inaugurated by his
return to the Gold Standard in 1925; he was to be a supporter of Mussolini and
Franco, and would have carried out a disgracing war in India. All the more
remarkable that I was to become his admirer in the later thirties and to write a
eulogy of him as our indispensable leader in 1940.
Churchill, speech in the House of Commons on the resignation of
Anthony Eden as
Foreign Secretary (22nd February, 1938)
The resignation of the late Foreign Secretary may well be a milestone in history.
Great quarrels, it has been well said, arise from small occasions but seldom
from small causes. The late Foreign Secretary adhered to the old policy which we
have all forgotten for so long. The Prime Minister and his colleagues have
entered upon another and a new policy. The old policy was an effort to establish
the rule of law in Europe, and build up through the League of Nations effective
deterrents against the aggressor. Is it the new policy to come to terms with the
totalitarian Powers in the hope that by great and far-reaching acts of
submission, not merely in sentiment and pride, but in material factors, peace
may be preserved.
A firm stand by France and Britain, under the authority of the League of Nations,
would have been followed by the immediate evacuation of the Rhineland without
the shedding of a drop of blood; and the effects of that might have enabled the
more prudent elements of the German Army to gain their proper position, and
would not have given to the political head of Germany the enormous ascendancy
which has enabled him to move forward. Austria has now been laid in thrall, and
we do not know whether Czechoslovakia will not suffer a similar attack.
(8) On 16th April,
1939, the Soviet
Union suggested a three-power military alliance with
and France. In a
speech on 4th May, Winston Churchill urged the government to accept the offer.
Ten or twelve days have already passed since the Russian offer was made. The
British people, who have now, at the sacrifice of honoured, ingrained custom,
accepted the principle of compulsory military service, have a right, in
conjunction with the French Republic, to call upon Poland not to place obstacles
in the way of a common cause. Not only must the full co-operation of Russia be
accepted, but the three Baltic States, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, must also
be brought into association. To these three countries of warlike peoples,
possessing together armies totalling perhaps twenty divisions of virile troops,
a friendly Russia supplying munitions and other aid is essential.
There is no means of maintaining an eastern front against Nazi aggression
without the active aid of Russia. Russian interests are deeply concerned in
preventing Herr Hitler's designs on eastern Europe. It should still be possible
to range all the States and peoples from the Baltic to the Black sea in one
solid front against a new outrage of invasion. Such a front, if established in
good heart, and with resolute and efficient military arrangements, combined with
the strength of the Western Powers, may yet confront Hitler, Goering, Himmler,
Ribbentrop, Goebbels and co. with forces the German people would be reluctant to
Churchill wrote about
in his book The Second World War (1949)
Ever since May 20, the gathering of shipping and small craft had been
proceeding under the control of Admiral Ramsay, who commanded at Dover. After
the loss of Boulogne and Calais only the remains of the port of Dunkirk and the
open beaches next to the Belgian Frontier were in our hands. On the evening of
the 26th an Admiralty signal put Operation Dynamo into play, and the first
troops were brought home that night.
Early the next morning, May 27, emergency measures were taken to find additional
small craft. The various boatyards, from Teddington to Brightlingsea, were
searched by Admiralty officers, and yielded upwards of forty serviceable
motor-boats or launches, which were assembled at Sheerness on the following day.
At the same time lifeboats from liners in the London docks, tugs from the
Thames, yachts, fishing-craft, lighters, barges and pleasure-boats - anything
that could be the use along the beaches - were called into service.
Churchill, speech in the
House of Commons
(4th June, 1940)
Our losses in men (at Dunkirk) have been 30,000 killed, wounded and missing.
Against this we might set the far heavier loss certainly inflicted upon the
enemy. We have lost nearly 1,000 guns and all our transport and all the armed
vehicles that were with the army in the north.
The best of all we had to give, has gone with the B.E.F. and although they had
not the number of tanks they were a very well and finely equipped army. They had
all the first fruits of all our industry had to give, and that is gone.
An effort the like of which has never been seen in our records is now being
made. Work is proceeding everywhere night and day, Sundays and weekdays. Capital
and labour have cast aside their interests, rights and customs, and put them
into the common stock.
Already the flow of munitions has leapt forward. There is no reason why we
should not, in a few months overtake the sudden and serious loss that has come
upon us without retarding development of our general programme.
(11) As commander
of the 9th Armed Division
had responsibility for protecting the
It wasin Brighton that I first met the Prime Minister, Mr. Winston Churchill. He
came down to have a look at our defences and watch the Royal Ulster Rifles carry
out a small exercise. Though no one knew of his visit, he was quickly spotted
and a large and enthusiastic crowd soon gathered. The complete confidence shown
in him was most touching, and rather frightening to us who knew that, to all
intents and purposes, the military cupboard was bare. During one of these
spontaneous demonstrations of affection I found myself standing at the back
beside Mrs. Churchill. There were tears in her eyes, and I heard her murmur, "
Pray God we don't let them down."
Guardian (10th April, 1941)
It was a solemn House of Commons that heard Mr. Churchill today, which was
natural. Mr. Churchill's was a solemn speech. It said in effect that the Allies
are facing another crisis. Though it is not comparable with the gravity of the
crisis that followed the collapse of France, no reader of Mr. Churchill's speech
will doubt that it is grave enough. The House had sensed the occasion. It was
full in all its parts.
He was as masterful as ever. Indeed, he
was masterful enough at times as to be quite casual. Think of Hitler addressing
his Reichstag with both hands thrust deep in his trouser pockets! Yet that was
Mr. Churchill. It was in this way that he announced that the Germans had entered
Salonika at four o'clock this morning. He almost did it in an aside. Intended or
not, the manner took a lot of the force out of the blow.
But what was the tale as a whole? We had
lost Benghazi, and the Germans and Italians were pressing us so hard that we
must expect severe fighting not only to defend the rest of Cyrenaica but Egypt.
Against that had to be set the victories in Eritrea, Italian Somaliland, and
Abyssinia and the freeing of the Red Sea. Then there was the shattering naval
victory of Matapan. Nothing, Mr. Churchill said amid cheers could detract from
these brilliant achievements or diminish our gratitude to our forces.
Mr. Churchill is clearly not comfortable
about France, in spite of his welcome of Marshall Petain's declaration that she
will never fight her old ally. He sees how dependent Vichy is on Hitler. But his
warning that we shall maintain our blockade aroused the greatest cheer of the
speech. The next biggest cheer greeted his declaration that we should not
tolerate any movements of French warships from African ports to the ports of
Metropolitan France, for that would alter the balance of naval power in the
Atlantic affecting the United states as much as ourselves.
Churchill, letter to
in a reply to a report on the need to use more terror bombing attacks on
(27th September, 1941)
It is very disputable whether bombing by itself will be a decisive factor in
the present war. On the contrary, all that we have learnt since the war began
shows that its effects, both physical and moral, are greatly exaggerated. There
is no doubt that British people have been stimulated and strengthened by the
attack made upon them so far. Secondly, it seems very likely that the ground
defences and night-fighters will overtake the air attack. Thirdly, in
calculating the number of bombers necessary to achieve hypothetical and
indefinite tasks, it should be noted that only a quarter of our bombs hit the
targets. Consequently an increase of bombing to 100 per cent would in fact raise
our bombing force to four times its strength. The most we can say is that it
will be a heavy and I trust a seriously increasing annoyance.
(14) While he was
at a Mansion House luncheon Winston Churchill heard a rumour that Japan had
Harbor. He immediately telephoned President
In two or three minutes Mr. Roosevelt came through. "Mr. President, what's this
about Japan? "It's quite true," he replied. "They have attacked us at Pearl
Harbor. We are all in the same boat now."
No American will think it wrong of me if I
proclaim that no have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy.
I could not foretell the course of events. I do not pretend to have measured
accurately the martial might of Japan, but now at this very moment I knew the
United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death. So we had won
Yes, after Dunkirk; after the fall of
France; after the horrible episode of Oran; after the threat of invasion, when,
apart from the Air and the Navy, we were an almost unarmed people; after the
deadly struggle of the U-boat war - the first Battle of the Atlantic, gained by
a hand's-breath; after seventeen months of lonely fighting and nineteen months
of my responsibility in dire stress. We had won the war. England would live;
Britain would live; the Commonwealth of Nations and the Empire would live.
How long the war would last or in what
fashion it would end no man could tell, nor did I at this moment care. Once
again in our long Island history we should emerge, however mauled or mutilated,
safe and victorious. We should not be wiped out. We should not be wiped out. Our
history would not come to an end. We might not even have to die as individuals.
Hitler's fate was sealed. Mussolini's fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they
would be ground to powder.
had lunch with Winston Churchill
at the White House on 22nd May, 1943. That night he wrote
about the meeting in his diary.
He made it more clear than he had at the luncheon on Saturday
that he expected England and the United States to run
the world and he expected the staff organizations which had been set up for
winning the war to continue when the peace came, that these staff organizations
would by mutual understanding really run the world even though there was a
supreme council and three regional councils.
I said bluntly that I thought the notion of Anglo-Saxon
superiority, inherent in Churchill's approach, would be offensive to many of the
nations of the world as well as to a number of people in the United States.
Churchill had had quite a bit of whiskey, which, however, did not affect the
clarity of his thinking process but did perhaps increase his frankness. He said
why be apologetic about Anglo-Saxon superiority, that we were superior, that we
had the common heritage which had been worked out over the centuries in England
and had been perfected by our constitution. He himself was half American, he
felt that he was called on as a result to serve the function of uniting the two
great Anglo-Saxon civilizations in order to confer the benefit of freedom on the
rest of the world.
Eisenhower wrote about Winston Churchill in his book Crusade in Europe
An inspirational leader, he seemed to typify Britain's courage and perseverance
in adversity and its conservatism in success. He was a man of extraordinarily
strong convictions and a master in argument and debate. Completely devoted to
winning the war and discharging his responsibility as Prime Minister of Great
Britain, he was difficult indeed to combat when conviction compelled
disagreement with his views. In most cases problems were solved on a basis of
almost instant agreement, but intermittently important issues arose where this
was far from true. He could become intensely oratorical, even in discussion with
a single person, but at the same time his intensity of purpose, made his
delivery seem natural and appropriate. He used humor and pathos with equal
facility, and drew on everything from the Greek classics to Donald Duck for
quotation, cliché, and forceful slang to support his position.
I admired and liked him. He knew this
perfectly well and never hesitated to use that knowledge in his effort to swing
me to his own line of thought in any argument. Yet in spite of his strength of
purpose, in those instances where we found our convictions in direct opposition,
he never once lost his friendly attitude toward me when I persisted in my own
course, nor did he fail to respect with meticulous care the position I occupied
as the senior American officer and, later, the Allied
commander in Europe. He was a keen student of the war's developments and of
military history, and discussion with him, even on purely professional grounds,
was never profitless. If he accepted a decision unwillingly he would return
again and again to the attack in an effort to have his own way, up to the very
moment of execution. But once action was started he had a faculty for forgetting
everything in his desire to get ahead, and invariably tried to provide British
support in a greater degree than promised. Some of the questions in which I
found myself, at various periods of the war, opposed to the Prime Minister were
among the most critical I faced, but so long as I was acting within the limits
of my combined directive he had no authority to intervene except by persuasion
or by complete destruction of the Allied concept. Nevertheless, in countless
ways he could have made my task a harder one had he been anything less than big,
and I shall always owe him an immeasurable debt of gratitude for his unfailing
courtesy and zealous support, regardless of his dislike of some important
decisions. He was a great war leader and he is a great man.
Chief of Imperial General Staff (diary entry, 12th April 1945)
We had to consider this morning one of Winston's worst minutes I have ever
seen. I can only believe that he must have been quite tight when he dictated it.
My God! How little the world at large knows what his failings and defects are!
Of This Our Time (1982)
A consequence of this seemingly unending
series of disasters was that now for the first time there began to be criticism
of Churchill as Prime Minister. This took two different slants. Popular
criticism, such as was to be heard in pubs, air-raid
shelters and in general talk, took the line that the 'old man' himself was still
the only possible war leader, but that he was
failing to share the burden sufficiently with others, and also being 'let down'
by commanders in the field. Simultaneously a
body of 'insider' criticism began to be heard which followed an opposite line,
that it was Churchill who was the cause of our continuing setbacks through his
taking far too much upon himself. Confidential meetings took place, at one or
two of which I was asked to be present, attended by MPs of all parties, two or
three editors and influential journalists, and some renowned admirals and
generals no longer in active posts but carefully briefed, it seemed to me, by
top brass who were
unable - or thought it unwise - to attend in person.
Bomber Command (1947)
I was frequently bidden to Chequers, especially during the weekends when Winston
was normally there. I never failed to return from these visits invigorated and
full of renewed hope and enthusiasm, in spite of the appalling hours that
Winston habitually kept. If it was a mixed party - which was not very often -
and I could take my wife, I knew that we might get home somewhere between
midnight and one in the morning, but when I was asked alone, it would be
anywhere between three and four before I got back. Not that I minded.
After dinner Winston would talk; he was
really thinking aloud about how things were going. He would get repeated
reminders that a film show was waiting for him, and eventually we would all go
up to the gallery - the household staff, and the rest of the family, and even
the military guard from outside - to see the picture. There the Prime Minister
would sit, occasionally making amusing comments about the drama. One realised,
of course, that he was really resting himself in this atmosphere and that his
thoughts were often far away. Sometimes one could hear him rehearse a phrase for
a telegram he would send later. Well
after midnight we would go back down to the hall and he would get down to
another batch of work, sending signals, dictating to his secretaries, and so on,
while at intervals one of his family, and sometimes his naval A.D.C. would
attempt to steer him off to bed, as his doctors had advised, but invariably
without the least success. He went to bed when he wanted to.
I think the first thing that impresses one
about Winston is the extraordinary mixture in him of real human kindness and of
sometimes impish mischief, all overlaid with an immense, thrusting, purposeful
determination to reach the goal which he so clearly sees. The affection which
the whole Churchill family
feel for one another is very obvious and most refreshing.
Th'e worse the state of the war was, the
greater was the support, enthusiasm, encouragement and constructive criticism
that one got from this extraordinary man; it was all done with the utmost
kindness, though not without a mischievous dig now and again just for the fun of
it. He did not mind your expressing views contrary to his own, but he was
difficult to argue with for the simple reason that he seldom seemed to listen
long to sides of a question other than his own. He has, in fact, developed to a
perhaps extreme degree this rather unfortunate trait of the man who has almost
absolute power, knows his own mind, and really does not want to be bothered with
everybody else's ideas. He is a bad listener, and frequently interrupts anyone
who is expressing views, whether they are opposed to his own or not, halfway
through a sentence; then he is off at a tangent, holding forth, always with
interest and generally on sound lines, on some other aspect of the subject under
discussion, or even on some entirely different subject.
The last occasion when I went to Chequers
to see Winston was on the day after it had been decided to break up the National
Government; I remember feeling horrified by the certainty with which Winston
asserted that the coming election would go in his favour. I was equally certain
that this showed a complete blindness to political realities, and when I left
that night, or rather in the small hours of the next morning, I knew that I
should never again go to Chequers as the guest of Winston Churchill.
diary (27th March, 1945)
The Führer is right when he says that
Stalin is in the best position to do an about-turn in war policy, since he need
take no account of his public opinion. It is rather different with England. It
is quite immaterial whether Churchill wants to pursue a different war policy;
even if he did, he couldn't; he is too dependent on internal political forces
which are already semi-bolshevistic in character, to say nothing of Roosevelt,
who shows not the smallest sign of any intention to change course.
The objective which the Führer has in mind
is to discover some possibility of an accommodation with the Soviet Union and
then to pursue the struggle against England with brutal violence. England has
always been the mischief-maker in Europe; if she was finally swept out of
Europe, then we should have peace and quiet, at least for a time.
Churchill, election broadcast (May, 1945)
I must tell you that a socialist policy is abhorrent to British ideas on
freedom. There is to be one State, to which all are to be obedient in every act
of their lives. This State, once in power, will prescribe for everyone: where
they are to work, what they are to work at, where they may go and what they may
say, what views they are to hold, where their wives are to queue up for the
State ration, and what education their children are to receive. A socialist
state could not afford to suffer opposition - no socialist system can be
established without a political police. They (the Labour government) would have
to fall back on some form of Gestapo.
election broadcast (May, 1945)
The Prime Minister made much play last night with the rights of the individual
and the dangers of people being ordered about by officials. I entirely agree
that people should have the greatest freedom compatible with the freedom of
others. There was a time when employers were free to work little children for
sixteen hours a day. I remember when employers were free to employ sweated women
workers on finishing trousers at a penny halfpenny a pair. There was a time when
people were free to neglect sanitation so that thousands died of preventable
diseases. For years every attempt to remedy these crying evils was blocked by
the same plea of freedom for the individual. It was in fact freedom for the rich
and slavery for the poor. Make no mistake, it has only been through the power of
the State, given to it by Parliament, that the general public has been protected
against the greed of ruthless profit-makers and property owners.
The Conservative Party remains as always a
class Party. In twenty-three years in the House of Commons, I cannot recall more
than half a dozen from the ranks of the wage earners. It represents today, as in
the past, the forces of property and privilege. The Labour Party is, in fact,
the one Party which most nearly reflects in its representation and composition
all the main streams which flow into the great river of our national life.
Churchill, speech in Fulton, Missouri (5th March, 1946)
A shadow has fallen upon the scenes so lately lighted by the Allied victory.
Nobody knows what Soviet Russia and its Communist international organization
intends to do in the immediate future, or what are the limits, if any, to their
expansive and proselytizing tendencies. I have a strong admiration and regard
for the valiant Russian people and for my wartime comrade Marshal Stalin. There
is sympathy and goodwill in Britain - and I doubt not here also - toward the
peoples of all the Russias and a resolve to persevere through many differences
and rebuffs in establishing lasting friendships.
We understand the Russians need to be
secure on her western frontiers from all renewal of German aggression. We
welcome her to her rightful place among the leading nations of the world. Above
all we welcome constant, frequent, and growing contacts between the Russian
people and our own people on both sides of the Atlantic. It is my duty, however,
to place before you certain facts about the present position in Europe - I am
sure I do not wish to, but it is my duty, I feel, to present them to you.
From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in
the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that
line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of central and eastern Europe.
Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest, and Sofia, all
these famous cities and the populations around them lie in the Soviet sphere and
all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a
very high and increasing measure of control from Moscow. Athens alone, with its
immortal glories, is free to decide its future at an election under British,
American, and French observation. The Russian-dominated Polish government has
been encouraged to make enormous and wrongful in-roads upon Germany, and mass
expulsions of millions of Germans on a scale grievous and undreamed of are now
The Communist parties, which were very
small in all these Eastern states of Europe, have been raised to preeminence and
power far beyond their numbers and are seeking everywhere to obtain totalitarian
control. Police governments are prevailing in nearly every case, and so far,
except in Czechoslovakia, there is no true democracy. Turkey and Persia are both
profoundly alarmed and disturbed at the claims which are made upon them and at
the pressure being exerted by the Moscow government. An attempt is being made by
the Russians in Berlin to build up a quasi-Communist Party in their zone of
occupied Germany by showing special favors to groups of left-wing German