Winston Churchill Discreetly Veiled, Part 2

Published: 2015-09-04

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Embroiling America in War — Again

In September 1939, Britain went to war with Germany, pursuant to the guarantee which Chamberlain had been panicked into extending to Poland in March. Lloyd George had termed the guarantee "hare-brained," while Churchill had supported it. Nonetheless, in his history of the war Churchill wrote: "Here was decision at last, taken at the worst possible moment and on the least satisfactory ground which must surely lead to the slaughter of tens of millions of people."[1] With the war on, Winston was recalled to his old job as First Lord of the Admiralty. Then, in the first month of the war, an astonishing thing happened: the president of the United States initiated a personal correspondence not with the Prime Minister, but with the head of the British Admiralty, by-passing all the ordinary diplomatic channels.[2]

The messages that passed between the president and the First Lord were surrounded by a frantic secrecy, culminating in the affair of Tyler Kent, the American cipher clerk at the US London embassy who was tried and imprisoned by the British authorities. The problem was that some of the messages contained allusions to Roosevelt's agreement — even before the war began — to a blatantly unneutral cooperation with a belligerent Britain.[3]

On June 10, 1939, George VI and his wife, Queen Mary, visited the Roosevelts at Hyde Park. In private conversations with the King, Roosevelt promised full support for Britain in case of war. He intended to set up a zone in the Atlantic to be patrolled by the US Navy, and, according to the King's notes, the president stated that "if he saw a U boat he would sink her at once & wait for the consequences." The biographer of George VI, Wheeler-Bennett, considered that these conversations "contained the germ of the future Bases-for-Destroyers deal, and also of the Lend-Lease Agreement itself."[4] In communicating with the First Lord of the Admiralty, Roosevelt was aware that he was in touch with the one member of Chamberlain's cabinet whose belligerence matched his own.

In 1940, Churchill at last became Prime Minister, ironically enough when the Chamberlain government resigned because of the Norwegian fiasco — which Churchill, more than anyone else, had helped to bring about.[5] As he had fought against a negotiated peace after the fall of Poland, so he continued to resist any suggestion of negotiations with Hitler. Many of the relevant documents are still sealed — after all these years[6] — but it is clear that a strong peace party existed in the country and the government. It included Lloyd George in the House of Commons, and Halifax, the Foreign Secretary, in the Cabinet. Even after the fall of France, Churchill rejected Hitler's renewed peace overtures. This, more than anything else, is supposed to be the foundation of his greatness. The British historian John Charmley raised a storm of outraged protest when he suggested that a negotiated peace in 1940 might have been to the advantage of Britain and Europe.[7] A Yale historian, writing in the New York Times Book Review, referred to Charmley's thesis as "morally sickening."[8] Yet Charmley's scholarly and detailed work makes the crucial point that Churchill's adamant refusal even to listen to peace terms in 1940 doomed what he claimed was dearest to him — the Empire and a Britain that was non-socialist and independent in world affairs. One may add that it probably also doomed European Jewry.[9] It is amazing that seventy-five years after the fact, there are critical theses concerning World War II that are off-limits to historical debate.

Lloyd George, Halifax, and the others were open to a compromise peace because they understood that Britain and the Dominions alone could not defeat Germany.[10] After the fall of France, Churchill's aim of total victory could be realized only under one condition: that the United States become embroiled in another world war. No wonder that Churchill put his heart and soul into ensuring precisely that.

After a talk with Churchill, Joseph Kennedy, American ambassador to Britain, noted: "Every hour will be spent by the British in trying to figure out how we can be gotten in." When he left from Lisbon on a ship to New York, Kennedy pleaded with the State Department to announce that if the ship should happen to blow up mysteriously in the mid-Atlantic, the United States would not consider it a cause for war with Germany. In his unpublished memoirs, Kennedy wrote: "I thought that would give me some protection against Churchill's placing a bomb on the ship."[11]

Kennedy's fears were perhaps not exaggerated. For, while it had been important for British policy in World War I, involving America was the sine qua non of Churchill's policy in World War II. In Franklin Roosevelt, he found a ready accomplice.

Churchill at the Cairo Conference

Churchill at the Cairo conference with Chiang Kai-shek and Franklin D. Roosevelt, November 25, 1943.
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

That Roosevelt, through his actions and private words, evinced a clear design for war before December 7, 1941, has never really been in dispute. Arguments have raged over such questions as his possible foreknowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack. In 1948, Thomas A. Bailey, diplomatic historian at Stanford, already put the real pro-Roosevelt case:

Franklin Roosevelt repeatedly deceived the American people during the period before Pearl Harbor…. He was like a physician who must tell the patient lies for the patient's own good…. The country was overwhelmingly noninterventionist to the very day of Pearl Harbor, and an overt attempt to lead the people into war would have resulted in certain failure and an almost certain ousting of Roosevelt in 1940, with a complete defeat of his ultimate aims.[12]

Churchill himself never bothered to conceal Roosevelt's role as co-conspirator. In January, 1941, Harry Hopkins visited London. Churchill described him as "the most faithful and perfect channel of communication between the President and me … the main prop and animator of Roosevelt himself":

I soon comprehended [Hopkins's] personal dynamism and the outstanding importance of his mission … here was an envoy from the President of supreme importance to our life. With gleaming eye and quiet, constrained passion he said: "The President is determined that we shall win the war together. Make no mistake about it. He has sent me here to tell you that at all costs and by all means he will carry you through, no matter what happens to him — there is nothing that he will not do so far as he has human power." There he sat, slim, frail, ill, but absolutely glowing with refined comprehension of the Cause. It was to be the defeat, ruin, and slaughter of Hitler, to the exclusion of all other purposes, loyalties and aims.[13]

In 1976, the public finally learned the story of William Stephenson, the British agent code named "Intrepid," sent by Churchill to the United States in 1940.[14] Stephenson set up headquarters in Rockefeller Center, with orders to use any means necessary to help bring the United States into the war. With the full knowledge and cooperation of Roosevelt and the collaboration of federal agencies, Stephenson and his 300 or so agents "intercepted mail, tapped wires, cracked safes, kidnapped, … rumor mongered" and incessantly smeared their favorite targets, the "isolationists." Through Stephenson, Churchill was virtually in control of William Donovan's organization, the embryonic US intelligence service.[15]

Churchill even had a hand in the barrage of pro-British, anti-German propaganda that issued from Hollywood in the years before the United States entered the war. Gore Vidal, in Screening History, perceptively notes that starting around 1937, Americans were subjected to one film after another glorifying England and the warrior heroes who built the Empire. As spectators of these productions, Vidal says: "We served neither Lincoln nor Jefferson Davis; we served the Crown."[16] A key Hollywood figure in generating the movies that "were making us all weirdly English" was the Hungarian émigré and friend of Churchill, Alexander Korda.[17] Vidal very aptly writes:

For those who find disagreeable today's Zionist propaganda, I can only say that gallant little Israel of today must have learned a great deal from the gallant little Englanders of the 1930s. The English kept up a propaganda barrage that was to permeate our entire culture … Hollywood was subtly and not so subtly infiltrated by British propagandists.[18]

While the Americans were being worked on, the two confederates consulted on how to arrange for direct hostilities between the United States and Germany. In August 1941, Roosevelt and Churchill met at the Atlantic conference. Here they produced the Atlantic Charter, with its "four freedoms," including "the freedom from want" — a blank-check to spread Anglo-American Sozialpolitik around the globe. When Churchill returned to London, he informed the Cabinet of what had been agreed to. Thirty years later, the British documents were released. Here is how the New York Times reported the revelations:

Formerly top secret British Government papers made public today said that President Franklin D. Roosevelt told Prime Minister Winston Churchill in August, 1941, that he was looking for an incident to justify opening hostilities against Nazi Germany…. On August 19 Churchill reported to the War Cabinet in London on other aspects of the Newfoundland [Atlantic Charter] meeting that were not made public. … "He [Roosevelt] obviously was determined that they should come in. If he were to put the issue of peace and war to Congress, they would debate it for months," the Cabinet minutes added. "The President had said he would wage war but not declare it and that he would become more and more provocative. If the Germans did not like it, they could attack American forces…. Everything was to be done to force an incident."[19]

On July 15, 1941, Admiral Little, of the British naval delegation in Washington, wrote to Admiral Pound, the First Sea Lord: "the brightest hope for getting America into the war lies in the escorting arrangements to Iceland, and let us hope the Germans will not be slow in attacking them." Little added, perhaps jokingly: "Otherwise I think it would be best for us to organize an attack by our own submarines and preferably on the escort!" A few weeks earlier, Churchill, looking for a chance to bring America into the war, wrote to Pound regarding the German warship Prinz Eugen: "It would be better for instance that she should be located by a US ship as this might tempt her to fire on that ship, thus providing the incident for which the US government would be so grateful."[20] Incidents in the North Atlantic did occur, increasingly, as the United States approached war with Germany.[21]

But Churchill did not neglect the "back door to war" — embroiling the United States with Japan — as a way of bringing America into the conflict with Hitler. Sir Robert Craigie, the British ambassador to Tokyo, like the American ambassador Joseph Grew, was working feverishly to avoid war. Churchill directed his foreign secretary, Anthony Eden, to whip Craigie into line:

He should surely be told forthwith that the entry of the United States into war either with Germany and Italy or with Japan, is fully conformable with British interests. Nothing in the munitions sphere can compare with the importance of the British Empire and the United States being co-belligerent.[22]

Churchill threw his influence into the balance to harden American policy towards Japan, especially in the last days before the Pearl Harbor attack.[23] A sympathetic critic of Churchill, Richard Lamb, has recently written:

Was [Churchill] justified in trying to provoke Japan to attack the United States? … in 1941 Britain had no prospect of defeating Germany without the aid of the USA as an active ally. Churchill believed Congress would never authorize Roosevelt to declare war on Germany … . In war, decisions by national leaders must be made according to their effect on the war effort. There is truth in the old adage: "All's fair in love and war."[24]

No wonder that, in the House of Commons, on February 15, 1942, Churchill declared, of America's entry into the war: "This is what I have dreamed of, aimed at, worked for, and now it has come to pass."[25]

Churchill's devotees by no means hold his role in bringing America into World War II against him. On the contrary, they count it in his favor. Harry Jaffa, in his uninformed and frantic apology, seems to be the last person alive who refuses to believe that the Man of Many Centuries was responsible to any degree for America's entry into the war: after all, wasn't it the Japanese who bombed Pearl Harbor?[26]

But what of the American Republic? What does it mean for us that a president collaborated with a foreign head of government to entangle us in a world war? The question would have mattered little to Churchill. He had no concern with the United States as a sovereign, independent nation, with its own character and place in the scheme of things. For him, Americans were one of "the English-speaking peoples." He looked forward to a common citizenship for Britons and Americans, a "mixing together," on the road to Anglo-American world hegemony.[27]

But the Churchill-Roosevelt intrigue should, one might think, matter to Americans. Here, however, criticism is halted before it starts. A moral postulate of our time is that in pursuit of the destruction of Hitler, all things were permissible. Yet why is it self-evident that morality required a crusade against Hitler in 1939 and 1940, and not against Stalin? At that point, Hitler had slain his thousands, but Stalin had already slain his millions. In fact, up to June, 1941, the Soviets behaved far more murderously toward the Poles in their zone of occupation than the Nazis did in theirs. Around 1,500,000 Poles were deported to the Gulag, with about half of them dying within the first two years. As Norman Davies writes: "Stalin was outpacing Hitler in his desire to reduce the Poles to the condition of a slave nation."[28] Of course, there were balance-of-power considerations that created distinctions between the two dictators. But it has yet to be explained why there should exist a double standard ordaining that compromise with one dictator would have been "morally sickening," while collaboration with the other was morally irreproachable.[29]

"First Catch Your Hare"

Early in the war, Churchill, declared: "I have only one aim in life, the defeat of Hitler, and this makes things very simple for me."[30] "Victory — victory at all costs," understood literally, was his policy practically to the end. This points to Churchill's fundamental and fatal mistake in World War II: his separation of operational from political strategy. To the first — the planning and direction of military campaigns — he devoted all of his time and energy; after all, he did so enjoy it. To the second, the fitting of military operations to the larger and much more significant political aims they were supposed to serve, he devoted no effort at all.

Stalin, on the other hand, understood perfectly that the entire purpose of war is to enforce certain political claims. This is the meaning of Clausewitz's famous dictum that war is the continuation of policy by other means. On Eden's visit to Moscow in December 1941, with the Wehrmacht in the Moscow suburbs, Stalin was ready with his demands: British recognition of Soviet rule over the Baltic states and the territories he had just seized from Finland, Poland, and Romania. (They were eventually granted.) Throughout the war he never lost sight of these and other crucial political goals. But Churchill, despite frequent prodding from Eden, never gave a thought to his, whatever they might be.[31] His approach, he explained, was that of Mrs. Glass's recipe for Jugged Hare: "First catch your hare."[32] First beat Hitler, then start thinking of the future of Britain and Europe. Churchill put in so many words: "the defeat, ruin, and slaughter of Hitler, to the exclusion of all other purposes, loyalties and aims."

Tuvia Ben-Moshe has shrewdly pinpointed one of the sources of this grotesque indifference:

Thirty years earlier, Churchill had told Asquith that … his life's ambition was "to command great victorious armies in battle." During World War II he was determined to take nothing less than full advantage of the opportunity given him — the almost unhampered military management of the great conflict. He was prone to ignore or postpone the treatment of matters likely to detract from that pleasure … . In so doing, he deferred, or even shelved altogether, treatment of the issues that he should have dealt with in his capacity as Prime Minister.[33]

Churchill's policy of all-out support of Stalin foreclosed other, potentially more favorable approaches. The military expert Hanson Baldwin, for instance, stated:

There is no doubt whatsoever that it would have been in the interest of Britain, the United States, and the world to have allowed — and indeed, to have encouraged — the world's two great dictatorships to fight each other to a frazzle. Such a struggle, with its resultant weakening of both Communism and Nazism, could not but have aided in the establishment of a more stable peace.[34]

Instead of adopting this approach, or, for example, promoting the overthrow of Hitler by anti-Nazi Germans — instead of even considering such alternatives — Churchill from the start threw all of his support to Soviet Russia.

Franklin Roosevelt's fatuousness towards Joseph Stalin is well-known. He looked on Stalin as a fellow "progressive" and an invaluable collaborator in creating the future New World Order.[35] But the neo-conservatives and others who counterpose to Roosevelt's inanity in this matter Churchill's Old World cunning and sagacity are sadly in error. Roosevelt's nauseating flattery of Stalin is easily matched by Churchill's. Just like Roosevelt, Churchill heaped fulsome praise on the Communist murderer, and was anxious for Stalin's personal friendship. Moreover, his adulation of Stalin and his version of Communism — so different from the repellent "Trotskyite" kind — was no different in private than in public. In January 1944, he was still speaking to Eden of the "deep-seated changes which have taken place in the character of the Russian state and government, the new confidence which has grown in our hearts towards Stalin."[36] In a letter to his wife, Clementine, Churchill wrote, following the October 1944 conference in Moscow: "I have had very nice talks with the old Bear. I like him the more I see him. Now they respect us & I am sure they wish to work with us."[37] Writers like Isaiah Berlin, who try to give the impression that Churchill hated or despised all dictators, including Stalin, are either ignorant or dishonest.[38]

Churchill with Stalin at Potsdam

Triple handshake, with, from left to right, Winston Churchill, President Harry S. Truman, and Generalissimus Joseph Stalin at the Potsdam Conference.
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Churchill's supporters often claim that, unlike the Americans, the seasoned and crafty British statesman foresaw the danger from the Soviet Union and worked doggedly to thwart it. Churchill's famous "Mediterranean" strategy — to attack Europe through its "soft underbelly," rather than concentrating on an invasion of northern France — is supposed to be the proof of this.[39] But this was an ex post facto defense, concocted by Churchill once the Cold War had started: there is little, if any, contemporary evidence that the desire to beat the Russians to Vienna and Budapest formed any part of Churchill's motivation in advocating the "soft underbelly" strategy. At the time, Churchill gave purely military reasons for it.[40] As Ben-Moshe states: "The official British historians have ascertained that not until the second half of 1944 and after the Channel crossing did Churchill first begin to consider preempting the Russians in southeastern Europe by military means."[41] By then, such a move would have been impossible for several reasons. It was another of Churchill's bizarre military notions, like invading Fortress Europe through Norway, or putting off the invasion of northern France until 1945 — by which time the Russians would have reached the Rhine.[42]

Moreover, the American opposition to Churchill's southern strategy did not stem from blindness to the Communist danger. As General Albert C. Wedemeyer, one of the firmest anti-Communists in the American military, wrote:

if we had invaded the Balkans through the Ljubljana Gap, we might theoretically have beaten the Russians to Vienna and Budapest. But logistics would have been against us there: it would have been next to impossible to supply more than two divisions through the Adriatic ports. … The proposal to save the Balkans from communism could never have been made good by a "soft underbelly" invasion, for Churchill himself had already cleared the way for the success of Tito . . . [who] had been firmly ensconced in Yugoslavia with British aid long before Italy itself was conquered.[43]

Wedemeyer's remarks about Yugoslavia were on the mark. On this issue, Churchill rejected the advice of his own Foreign Office, depending instead on information provided especially by the head of the Cairo office of the SOE — the Special Operations branch — headed by a Communist agent named James Klugman. Churchill withdrew British support from the Loyalist guerrilla army of General Mihailovic and threw it to the Communist Partisan leader Tito.[44] What a victory for Tito would mean was no secret to Churchill.[45] When Fitzroy Maclean was interviewed by Churchill before being sent as liaison to Tito, Maclean observed that, under Communist leadership, the Partisans'

ultimate aim would undoubtedly be to establish in Jugoslavia a Communist regime closely linked to Moscow. How did His Majesty's Government view such an eventuality? … Mr. Churchill's reply left me in no doubt as to the answer to my problem. So long, he said, as the whole of Western civilization was threatened by the Nazi menace, we could not afford to let our attention be diverted from the immediate issue by considerations of long-term policy … . Politics must be a secondary consideration.[46]

It would be difficult to think of a more frivolous attitude to waging war than considering "politics" to be a "secondary consideration." As for the "human costs" of Churchill's policy, when an aide pointed out that Tito intended to transform Yugoslavia into a Communist dictatorship on the Soviet model, Churchill retorted: "Do you intend to live there?"[47]

Churchill's benign view of Stalin and Russia contrasts sharply with his view of Germany. Behind Hitler, Churchill discerned the old specter of Prussianism, which had caused, allegedly, not only the two world wars, but the Franco Prussian War as well. What he was battling now was "Nazi tyranny and Prussian militarism," the "two main elements in German life which must be absolutely destroyed."[48] In October 1944, Churchill was still explaining to Stalin that: "The problem was how to prevent Germany getting on her feet in the lifetime of our grandchildren."[49] Churchill harbored a "confusion of mind on the subject of the Prussian aristocracy, Nazism, and the sources of German militarist expansionism … [his view] was remarkably similar to that entertained by Sir Robert Vansittart and Sir Warren Fisher; that is to say, it arose from a combination of almost racialist antipathy and balance of power calculations."[50] Churchill's aim was not simply to save world civilization from the Nazis, but, in his words, the "indefinite prevention of their [the Germans'] rising again as an Armed Power."[51]

Little wonder, then, that Churchill refused even to listen to the pleas of the anti-Hitler German opposition, which tried repeatedly to establish liaison with the British government. Instead of making every effort to encourage and assist an anti-Nazi coup in Germany, Churchill responded to the feelers sent out by the German resistance with cold silence.[52] Reiterated warnings from Adam von Trott and other resistance leaders of the impending "bolshevization" of Europe made no impression at all on Churchill.[53] A recent historian has written, "by his intransigence and refusal to countenance talks with dissident Germans, Churchill threw away an opportunity to end the war in July 1944."[54] To add infamy to stupidity, Churchill and his crowd had only words of scorn for the valiant German officers even as they were being slaughtered by the Gestapo.[55]

In place of help, all Churchill offered Germans looking for a way to end the war before the Red Army flooded into central Europe was the slogan of unconditional surrender. Afterwards, Churchill lied in the House of Commons about his role at Casablanca in connection with Roosevelt's announcement of the policy of unconditional surrender, and was forced to retract his statements.[56] Eisenhower, among others, strenuously and persistently objected to the unconditional surrender formula as hampering the war effort by raising the morale of the Wehrmacht.[57] In fact, the slogan was seized on by Goebbels, and contributed to the Germans' holding out to the bitter end.

The pernicious effect of the policy was immeasurably bolstered by the Morgenthau Plan, which gave the Germans a terrifying picture of what "unconditional surrender" would mean.[58] This plan, initialed by Roosevelt and Churchill at Quebec, called for turning Germany into an agricultural and pastoral country; even the coal mines of the Ruhr were to be wrecked. The fact that it would have led to the deaths of tens of millions of Germans made it a perfect analog to Hitler's schemes for dealing with Russia and the Ukraine.

Churchill was initially averse to the plan. However, he was won over by Professor Lindemann, as maniacal a German-hater as Morgenthau himself. Lindemann stated to Lord Moran, Churchill's personal physician: "I explained to Winston that the plan would save Britain from bankruptcy by eliminating a dangerous competitor…. Winston had not thought of it in that way, and he said no more about a cruel threat to the German people."[59] According to Morgenthau, the wording of the scheme was drafted entirely by Churchill. When Roosevelt returned to Washington, Hull and Stimson expressed their horror, and quickly disabused the president. Churchill, on the other hand, was unrepentant. When it came time to mention the Morgenthau Plan in his history of the war, he distorted its provisions and, by implication, lied about his role in supporting it.[60]

Beyond the issue of the plan itself, Lord Moran wondered how it had been possible for Churchill to appear at the Quebec conference "without any thought out views on the future of Germany, although she seemed to be on the point of surrender." The answer was that "he had become so engrossed in the conduct of the war that little time was left to plan for the future":

Military detail had long fascinated him, while he was frankly bored by the kind of problem which might take up the time of the Peace Conference…. The P. M. was frittering away his waning strength on matters which rightly belonged to soldiers. My diary in the autumn of 1942 tells how I talked to Sir Stafford Cripps and found that he shared my cares. He wanted the P. M. to concentrate on the broad strategy of the war and on high policy…. No one could make [Churchill] see his errors.[61]

War Crimes Discreetly Veiled

There are a number of episodes during the war revealing of Churchill's character that deserve to be mentioned. A relatively minor incident was the British attack on the French fleet, at Mers-el-Kebir (Oran), off the coast of Algeria. After the fall of France, Churchill demanded that the French surrender their fleet to Britain. The French declined, promising that they would scuttle the ships before allowing them to fall into German hands. Against the advice of his naval officers, Churchill ordered British ships off the Algerian coast to open fire. About 1500 French sailors were killed. This was obviously a war crime, by anyone's definition: an unprovoked attack on the forces of an ally without a declaration of war. At Nuremberg, German officers were sentenced to prison for less. Realizing this, Churchill lied about Mers-el-Kebir in his history, and suppressed evidence concerning it in the official British histories of the war.[62] With the attack on the French fleet, Churchill confirmed his position as the prime subverter through two world wars of the system of rules of warfare that had evolved in the West over centuries.

But the great war crime which will be forever linked to Churchill's name is the terror-bombing of the cities of Germany that in the end cost the lives of around 600,000 civilians and left some 800,000 seriously injured.[63] (Compare this to the roughly 70,000 British lives lost to German air attacks. In fact, there were nearly as many Frenchmen killed by Allied air attacks as there were Englishmen killed by Germans.[64] ) The plan was conceived mainly by Churchill's friend and scientific advisor, Professor Lindemann, and carried out by the head of Bomber Command, Arthur Harris ("Bomber Harris"). Harris stated: "In Bomber Command we have always worked on the assumption that bombing anything in Germany is better than bombing nothing."[65] Harris and other British airforce leaders boasted that Britain had been the pioneer in the massive use of strategic bombing. J.M. Spaight, former Principal Assistant Secretary of the Air Ministry, noted that while the Germans (and the French) looked on air power as largely an extension of artillery, a support to the armies in the field, the British understood its capacity to destroy the enemy's home-base. They built their bombers and established Bomber Command accordingly.[66]

Winston Churchill among the ruins

Churchill among the ruins

Winston Churchill looks over the Rhine from the ruins of the west end of the bridge at Wesel during a visit to the front. Photo: 25 March 1945.
By US Army Signal Corps photographer Post-Work: User:W.wolny [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Brazenly lying to the House of Commons and the public, Churchill claimed that only military and industrial installations were targeted. In fact, the aim was to kill as many civilians as possible — thus, "area" bombing, or "carpet" bombing — and in this way to break the morale of the Germans and terrorize them into surrendering.[67]

Harris at least had the courage of his convictions. He urged that the government openly announce that:

the aim of the Combined Bomber Offensive … should be unambiguously stated [as] the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers, and the disruption of civilized life throughout Germany.[68]

The campaign of murder from the air leveled Germany. A thousand-year-old urban culture was annihilated, as great cities, famed in the annals of science and art, were reduced to heaps of smoldering ruins. There were high points: the bombing of Lübeck, when that ancient Hanseatic town "burned like kindling"; the 1000-bomber raid over Cologne, and the following raids that somehow, miraculously, mostly spared the great Cathedral but destroyed the rest of the city, including thirteen Romanesque churches; the firestorm that consumed Hamburg and killed some 42,000 people. No wonder that, learning of this, a civilized European man like Joseph Schumpeter, at Harvard, was driven to telling "anyone who would listen" that Churchill and Roosevelt were destroying more than Genghis Khan.[69]

The most infamous act was the destruction of Dresden, in February 1945. According to the official history of the Royal Air Force: "The destruction of Germany was by then on a scale which might have appalled Attila or Genghis Khan."[70] Dresden, which was the capital of the old kingdom of Saxony, was an indispensable stop on the Grand Tour, the baroque gem of Europe. The war was practically over, the city filled with masses of helpless refugees escaping the advancing Red Army. Still, for three days and nights, from February 13 to 15, Dresden was pounded with bombs. At least 30,000 people were killed, perhaps as many as 135,000 or more. The Zwinger Palace; Our Lady's Church (die Frauenkirche); the Bruhl Terrace, overlooking the Elbe where, in Turgenev's Fathers and Sons, Uncle Pavel went to spend his last years; the Semper Opera House, where Richard Strauss conducted the premiere of Rosenkavalier; and practically everything else was incinerated. Churchill had fomented it. But he was shaken by the outcry that followed. While in Georgetown and Hollywood, few had ever heard of Dresden, the city meant something in Stockholm, Zurich, and the Vatican, and even in London. What did our hero do? He sent a memorandum to the Chiefs of Staff:

It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed. Otherwise, we shall come into control of an utterly ruined land…. The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing…. I feel the need for more precise concentration upon military objectives … rather than on mere acts of terror and wanton destruction, however impressive.[71]

The military chiefs saw through Churchill's contemptible ploy: realizing that they were being set up, they refused to accept the memorandum. After the war, Churchill casually disclaimed any knowledge of the Dresden bombing, saying: "I thought the Americans did it."[72]

And still the bombing continued. On March 16, in a period of 20 minutes, Würzburg was razed to the ground. As late as the middle of April, Berlin and Potsdam were bombed yet again, killing another 5,000 civilians. Finally, it stopped; as Bomber Harris noted, there were essentially no more targets to be bombed in Germany.[73] It need hardly be recorded that Churchill supported the atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which resulted in the deaths of another 100,000 or more civilians. When Truman fabricated the myth of the "500,000 U.S. lives saved" by avoiding an invasion of the Home Islands — the highest military estimate had been 46,000 — Churchill topped his lie: the atom-bombings had saved 1,200,000 lives, including 1,000,000 Americans, he fantasized.[74]

The eagerness with which Churchill directed or applauded the destruction of cities from the air should raise questions for those who still consider him the great "conservative" of his — or perhaps of all — time. They would do well to consider the judgment of an authentic conservative like Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, who wrote: "Non-Britishers did not matter to Mr. Churchill, who sacrificed human beings — their lives, their welfare, their liberty — with the same elegant disdain as his colleague in the White House."[75]

1945: The Dark Side

And so we come to 1945 and the ever-radiant triumph of Absolute Good over Absolute Evil. So potent is the mystique of that year that the insipid welfare states of today's Europe clutch at it at every opportunity, in search of a few much-needed shreds of glory.

The dark side of that triumph, however, has been all but suppressed. It is the story of the crimes and atrocities of the victors and their protégés. Since Winston Churchill played a central role in the Allied victory, it is the story also of the crimes and atrocities in which Churchill was implicated. These include the forced repatriation of some two million Soviet subjects to the Soviet Union. Among these were tens of thousands who had fought with the Germans against Stalin, under the sponsorship of General Vlasov and his "Russian Army of Liberation." This is what Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote in The Gulag Archipelago:

In their own country, Roosevelt and Churchill are honored as embodiments of statesmanlike wisdom. To us, in our Russian prison conversations, their consistent shortsightedness and stupidity stood out as astonishingly obvious … what was the military or political sense in their surrendering to destruction at Stalin's hands hundreds of thousands of armed Soviet citizens determined not to surrender[76]

Most shameful of all was the handing over of the Cossacks. They had never been Soviet citizens, since they had fought against the Red Army in the Civil War and then emigrated. Stalin, understandably, was particularly keen to get hold of them, and the British obliged. Solzhenitsyn wrote of Winston Churchill:

He turned over to the Soviet command the Cossack corps of 90,000 men. Along with them he also handed over many wagonloads of old people, women, and children…. This great hero, monuments to whom will in time cover all England, ordered that they, too, be surrendered to their deaths.[77]

The "purge" of alleged collaborators in France was a blood-bath that claimed more victims than the Reign of Terror in the Great Revolution — and not just among those who in one way or other had aided the Germans: included were any right-wingers the Communist resistance groups wished to liquidate.[78]

The massacres carried out by Churchill's protégé Tito must be added to this list: tens of thousands of Croats, not simply the Ustasha, but any "class-enemies," in classical Communist style. There was also the murder of some 20,000 Slovene anti-Communist fighters by Tito and his killing squads. When Tito's Partisans rampaged in Trieste, which he was attempting to grab in 1945, additional thousands of Italian anti-Communists were massacred.[79]

As the troops of Churchill's Soviet ally swept through central Europe and the Balkans, the mass deportations began. Some in the British government had qualms, feeling a certain responsibility. Churchill would have none of it. In January 1945, for instance, he noted to the Foreign Office: "Why are we making a fuss about the Russian deportations in Rumania of Saxons [Germans] and others? … I cannot see the Russians are wrong in making 100 or 150 thousand of these people work their passage…. I cannot myself consider that it is wrong of the Russians to take Rumanians of any origin they like to work in the Russian coal-fields."[80] About 500,000 German civilians were deported to work in Soviet Russia, in accordance with Churchill and Roosevelt's agreement at Yalta that such slave labor constituted a proper form of "reparations."[81]

Worst of all was the expulsion of some 15 million Germans from their ancestral homelands in East and West Prussia, Silesia, Pomerania, and the Sudetenland. This was done pursuant to the agreements at Tehran, where Churchill proposed that Poland be "moved west," and to Churchill's acquiescence in the Czech leader Eduard Benes's plan for the "ethnic cleansing" of Bohemia and Moravia. Around one-and-a-half to two million German civilians died in this process.[82] As the Hungarian liberal Gaspar Tamas wrote, in driving out the Germans of east-central Europe, "whose ancestors built our cathedrals, monasteries, universities, and railroad stations," a whole ancient culture was effaced.[83] But why should that mean anything to the Churchill devotees who call themselves "conservatives" in America today?

Then, to top it all, came the Nuremberg Trials, a travesty of justice condemned by the great Senator Robert Taft, where Stalin's judges and prosecutors — seasoned veterans of the purges of the 30s — participated in another great show-trial.[84]

By 1946, Churchill was complaining in a voice of outrage of the happenings in eastern Europe: "From Stettin on the Baltic to Trieste on the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended over Europe." Goebbels had popularized the phrase "iron curtain," but it was accurate enough.

The European continent now contained a single, hegemonic power. "As the blinkers of war were removed," John Charmley writes, "Churchill began to perceive the magnitude of the mistake which had been made."[85] In fact, Churchill's own expressions of profound self-doubt comport oddly with his admirers' retrospective triumphalism. After the war, he told Robert Boothby: "Historians are apt to judge war ministers less by the victories achieved under their direction than by the political results which flowed from them. Judged by that standard, I am not sure that I shall be held to have done very well."[86] In the preface to the first volume of his history of World War II, Churchill explained why he was so troubled:

The human tragedy reaches its climax in the fact that after all the exertions and sacrifices of hundreds of millions of people and of the victories of the Righteous Cause, we have still not found Peace or Security, and that we lie in the grip of even worse perils than those we have surmounted.[87]

On V-E Day, he had announced the victory of "the cause of freedom in every land." But to his private secretary, he mused: "What will lie between the white snows of Russia and the white cliffs of Dover?"[88] It was a bit late to raise the question. Really, what are we to make of a statesman who for years ignored the fact that the extinction of Germany as a power in Europe entailed … certain consequences? Is this another Bismarck or Metternich we are dealing with here? Or is it a case of a Woodrow Wilson redivivus — of another Prince of Fools?

With the balance of power in Europe wrecked by his own policy, there was only one recourse open to Churchill: to bring America into Europe permanently. Thus, his anxious expostulations to the Americans, including his Fulton, Missouri "Iron Curtain" speech. Having destroyed Germany as the natural balance to Russia on the continent, he was now forced to try to embroil the United States in yet another war — this time a Cold War, that would last 45 years, and change America fundamentally, and perhaps irrevocably.[89]

Winston Churchill outside of Hitler's bunker

Churchill sits on one of the damaged chairs from Hitler's bunker in Berlin.
By No 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit, Malindine E G (Capt), Lockeyear W T (Capt) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Triumph of the Welfare State

In 1945, general elections were held in Britain, and the Labor Party won a landslide victory. Clement Attlee and his colleagues took power and created the socialist welfare state. But the socializing of Britain was probably inevitable, given the war. It was a natural outgrowth of the wartime sense of solidarity and collectivist emotion, of the feeling that the experience of war had somehow rendered class structure and hierarchy — normal features of any advanced society — obsolete and indecent. And there was a second factor — British society had already been to a large extent socialized in the war years, under Churchill himself. As Ludwig von Mises wrote:

Marching ever further on the way of interventionism, first Germany, then Great Britain and many other European countries have adopted central planning, the Hindenburg pattern of socialism. It is noteworthy that in Germany the deciding measures were not resorted to by the Nazis, but some time before Hitler seized power by Bruning … and in Great Britain not by the Labour Party but by the Tory Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill.[90]

While Churchill waged war, he allowed Attlee to head various Cabinet committees on domestic policy and devise proposals on health, unemployment, education, etc.[91] Churchill himself had already accepted the master-blueprint for the welfare state, the Beveridge Report. As he put it in a radio speech:

You must rank me and my colleagues as strong partisans of national compulsory insurance for all classes for all purposes from the cradle to the grave.[92]

That Mises was correct in his judgment on Churchill's role is indicated by the conclusion of W. H. Greenleaf, in his monumental study of individualism and collectivism in modern Britain. Greenleaf states that it was Churchill who

during the war years, instructed R. A. Butler to improve the education of the people and who accepted and sponsored the idea of a four-year plan for national development and the commitment to sustain full employment in the post-war period. As well he approved proposals to establish a national insurance scheme, services for housing and health, and was prepared to accept a broadening field of state enterprises. It was because of this coalition policy that Enoch Powell referred to the veritable social revolution which occurred in the years 1942–44. Aims of this kind were embodied in the Conservative declaration of policy issued by the Premier before the 1945 election.[93]

When the Tories returned to power in 1951, "Churchill chose a Government which was the least recognizably Conservative in history."[94] There was no attempt to roll back the welfare state, and the only industry that was really reprivatized was road haulage.[95] Churchill "left the core of its [the Labor government's] work inviolate."[96] The "Conservative" victory functioned like Republican victories in the United States, from Eisenhower on — to consolidate socialism. Churchill even undertook to make up for "deficiencies" in the welfare programs of the previous Labor government, in housing and public works.[97] Most insidiously of all, he directed his leftist Labor Minister, Walter Monckton, to appease the unions at all costs. Churchill's surrender to the unions, "dictated by sheer political expediency," set the stage for the quagmire in labor relations that prevailed in Britain for the next two decades.[98]

Yet, in truth, Churchill never cared a great deal about domestic affairs, even welfarism, except as a means of attaining and keeping office. What he loved was power, and the opportunities power provided to live a life of drama and struggle and endless war.

There is a way of looking at Winston Churchill that is very tempting: that he was a deeply flawed creature, who was summoned at a critical moment to do battle with a uniquely appalling evil, and whose very flaws contributed to a glorious victory — in a way, like Merlin in C.S. Lewis's great Christian novel, That Hideous Strength.[99] Such a judgment would, I believe, be superficial. A candid examination of his career, I suggest, yields a different conclusion: that, when all is said and done, Winston Churchill was a Man of Blood and a politico without principle, whose apotheosis serves to corrupt every standard of honesty and morality in politics and history.

This essay, which originally appears in The Costs of War: America's Pyrrhic Victories, is respectfully dedicated to the memory of Henry Regnery, who was, of course, not responsible for its content. It is republished with permission by its author.


[1] Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm, vol. 1, The Second World War (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948), p. 347. Churchill commented that the guarantee was extended to a Poland "which with hyena appetite had only six months before joined in the pillage and destruction of the Czechoslovak State." He was referring to the annexation of the Teschen district, by which Poland had reclaimed the ethnically Polish areas of that bizarre concoction Churchill was pleased to dignify as "the Czechoslovak State."
[2] David Irving, Churchill's War, vol. 1, The Struggle for Power (Bullsbrook, Western Australia: Veritas, 1987), pp. 193–96.
[3] James Leutze, "The Secret of the Churchill-Roosevelt Correspondence: September 1939 — May 1940,"Journal of Contemporary History 10, no. 3 (July 1975): 465–91; Leutze concludes that this was the real reason the two governments colluded to silence Tyler Kent.
[4] John W. Wheeler-Bennett, King George VI: His Life and Reign (New York: St. Martin's, 1958), pp. 390–92. Wheeler-Bennett added: "On his return to London the King communicated the essence of his talks with the President to the proper quarters, and so greatly did he esteem their importance that he carried the original manuscript of his notes about him in his dispatch case throughout the war."
[5] Hart, "The Military Strategist," p. 208.
[6] John Charmley, Churchill: The End of Glory (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1993), p 423.
[7] See also Charmley's review of Clive Ponting's work, in the Times Literary Supplement, May 13, 1994, p. 8.
[8] Gaddis Smith, "Whose Finest Hour?" New York Times Book Review, August 29, 1993, p. 3.
[9] On March 27, 1942, Goebbels commented in his diary on the destruction of the European Jews, which was then underway: "Here, too, the Führer is the undismayed champion of a radical solution necessitated by conditions and therefore inexorable. Fortunately, a whole series of possibilities presents itself for us in wartime that would be denied us in peacetime. We shall have to profit by this." He added: "the fact that Jewry's representatives in England and America are today organizing and sponsoring the war against Germany must be paid for dearly by its representatives in Europe — and that's only right." The Goebbels Diaries, 1942–1943, Louis P. Lochner ed. and trans. (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1948), p. 148.
[10] Paul Addison, "Lloyd George and Compromise Peace in the Second World War," in Lloyd George: Twelve Essays, A.J.P. Taylor, ed. (New York: Atheneum, 1971), pp. 359–84. Churchill himself told Stalin in 1944: "We never thought of making a separate peace even the year when we were all alone and could easily have made one without serious loss to the British Empire and largely at your expense." Ibid, p. 383.
[11] Irving, Churchill's War, pp. 193, 207.
[12] Thomas A. Bailey, The Man in the Street: The Impact of American Public Opinion on Foreign Policy (New York: Macmillan, 1948), p. 13. A recent writer has commented on Bailey's position: "In reality, when Roosevelt and other presidents lied, they did it for their own good, or what they believed to be their own good. But they were often mistaken because they have tended to be at least as shortsighted as the masses … Roosevelt's destroyer deal marked a watershed in the use and abuse of presidential power, foreshadowing a series of dangerous and often disastrous adventures abroad." Robert Shogan, Hard Bargain (New York: Scribner's, 1995), pp.271, 278. The classical revisionist case on Roosevelt's war policy was presented in Charles A. Beard, President Roosevelt and the Coming of War 1941 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1949); and Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, Harry Elmer Barnes, ed. (Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton, 1953), among other works.
[13] Winston S. Churchill, The Grand Alliance, vol. 3, The Second World War (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1950), pp. 23–24.
[14] William Stevenson, A Man Called Intrepid (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976).
[15] Irving, Churchill's War, pp. 524–27.
[16] Gore Vidal, Screening History (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992), p.40.
[17] Ibid., p. 47.
[18] Ibid., p. 33.
[19] "War-Entry Plans Laid to Roosevelt," New York Times, January 2, 1972.
[20] Beesly, Room 40, p. 121 n. 1.
[21] See, for instance, William Henry Chamberlin, America's Second Crusade (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1950), pp. 124–47.
[22] Richard Lamb, Churchill as War Leader (New York: Carroll and Graf, 1991), p. 149.
[23] Ibid., pp. 147–62.
[24] Ibid., p. 162.
[25] Chamberlin, America's Second Crusade, p. 177. On Churchill's use of the "backdoor to war" for the United States, see John Costello, Days of Infamy. MacArthur, Roosevelt, Churchill — The Shocking Truth Revealed (New York: Pocket Books, 1994). On the question of Pearl Harbor, it is interesting to note that even as "mainstream" a historian as Warren F. Kimball, editor of the Churchill-Roosevelt correspondence, writes: "Doubts have not yet been laid to rest concerning still-closed British intelligence files about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor: information that Churchill may have chosen not to pass on to the Americans in the hope that such an attack would draw the United States into war." See also Warren F. Kimball, "Wheel within a Wheel: Churchill, Roosevelt, and the Special Relationship," in Churchill, Blake and Louis, eds., p. 298, where Kimball cites James Rusbridger and Eric Nave, Betrayal at Pearl Harbor: How Churchill Lured Roosevelt into World War II (New York: Summit, 1991). Kimball complains that, despite written requests from him and other historians, British government files on relations with Japan in late 1941 remain closed. Churchill, p. 546 n. 29. Robert Smith Thompson, in A Time for War: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Path to Pearl Harbor (New York: Prentice Hall, 1991), presents a useful recent account of the coming of the war with Japan.
[26] Jaffa, "In Defense of Churchill," p. 277.
[27] Charmley, Churchill: The End of Glory, p. 538.
[28] Norman Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland, vol. 2, 1795 to the Present (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), pp. 447–53.
[29] For a critique of the view that Hitler's aim was to "conquer the world," see Geoffrey Stoakes, Hitler and the Quest for World Domination (Leamington Spa, England: Berg, 1986).
[30] Taylor, "The Statesman," p. 43.
[31] For instance, in May 1944, Eden protested to Churchill, regarding the prospect of the "Communization of the Balkans": "We must think of the after-effect of these developments, instead of confining ourselves as hitherto to the short-term view of what will give the best dividends during the war and for the war." Charmley, Churchill: The End of Glory, p. 538.
[32] Ben-Moshe, Churchill: Strategy and History, pp. 236–37.
[33] Ibid., 241.
[34] Hanson W. Baldwin, Great Mistakes of the War (New York: Harper, 1949), p. 10.
[35] Roosevelt's attitude is epitomized in his statement: "If I give him [Stalin] everything I possibly can, and ask nothing of him in return, [then] noblesse oblige, he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of peace and democracy." Robert Nisbet, Roosevelt and Stalin: The Failed Courtship (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 1988), p. 6. Joseph Sobran's remarks in his brief essay, "Pal Joey," Sobran's 2, no. 8 (August 1995): pp. 5–6, are characteristically insightful.
[36] Ben-Moshe, Churchill: Strategy and History, pp. 287–88, 305–6.
[37] Ponting, Churchill, p. 665.
[38] Isaiah Berlin, "Winston Churchill," in idem, Personal Impressions, Henry Hardy, ed. (New York: Viking, 1980), p. 16., where Churchill is quoted as saying of Stalin that he is "at once a callous, a crafty, and an ill-informed giant." Note, however, that even this quotation shows that Churchill placed Stalin in an entirely different category from the unspeakably evil Hitler. In fact, as the works by Charmley, Ponting, and Ben-Moshe amply demonstrate, until the end of the war Churchill's typical attitude toward Stalin was friendly and admiring. Berlin's essay, with its mawkish infatuation with "the largest human being of our time," has to be read to be believed. An indication of one source of Berlin's passion is his reference to Churchill's sympathy for "the struggle of the Jews for self-determination in Palestine."
[39] Cf. Charmley, Churchill: The End of Glory, pp. 572–73, on "Operation Armpit," the extension of the Italian campaign and a thrust towards Vienna; Charmley concludes that, contrary to Churchill's Cold War defenders: "there is little evidence to show that Churchill's support for 'Armpit' was based upon political motives … [He supported it] for the reason which any student of his career will be familiar with — it fired his imagination."
[40] Cf. Taylor, "The Statesman," pp. 56–57: "According to one version, Churchill was alarmed at the growth of Soviet power and tried to take precautions against it, if not in 1942 at least well before the end of the war…. It is hard to sustain this view from contemporary records. Churchill never wavered from his determination that Nazi Germany must be utterly defeated…. Churchill had no European policy in any wider sense. His outlook was purely negative: the defeat of Germany…. With Churchill it was always one thing at a time." See also Ben-Moshe, Churchill: Strategy and History, pp. 292–99, on the southern strategy not being aimed at forestalling Soviet gains.
[41] Ibid., p. 287.
[42] An instance of the lengths to which Churchill's apologists will go is provided by John Keegan, in "Churchill's Strategy," in Churchill, Blake and Louis, eds., p. 328, where he states of Churchill: "Yet he never espoused any truly unwise strategic course, nor did he contemplate one. His commitment to a campaign in the Balkans was unsound, but such a campaign would not have risked losing the war." Risking losing the war would appear to be an excessively stringent criterion for a truly unwise strategic course.
[43] Albert C. Wedemeyer, Wedemeyer Reports! (New York: Holt, 1958), p. 230. Everyone else was against Churchill's plan, including his own military advisors. Brooke pointed out to his chief that, if they followed through with his idea, "we should embark on a campaign through the Alps in winter." Ponting, Churchill, p. 625.
[44] Lamb, Churchill as War Leader, pp. 250–75.
[45] Churchill's own Foreign Office informed him that: "we would land ourselves with a Communist state closely linked to the USSR after the war who would employ the usual terrorist methods to overcome opposition." Ibid., p. 256. Anthony Eden told the Cabinet in June 1944: "If anyone is to blame for the present situation in which Communist-led movements are the most powerful elements in Yugoslavia and Greece, it is we ourselves." British agents, according to Eden, had done the work of the Russians for them. Charmley, Churchill: The End of Glory, p. 580.
[46] Fitzroy Maclean Eastern Approaches (London: Jonathan Cape, 1949), p. 281.
[47] Lamb, Churchill as War Leader, p. 259. Churchill believed Tito's promises of a free election and a plebiscite on the monarchy; above all, he concentrated on a single issue: killing Germans. See also Charmley, Churchill: The End of Glory, p. 558.
[48] On September 21, 1943, for instance, Churchill stated: "The twin roots of all our evils, Nazi tyranny and Prussian militarism, must be extirpated. Until this is achieved, there are no sacrifices we will not make and no lengths in violence to which we will not go." Russell Grenfell, Unconditional Hatred (New York: Devin-Adair, 1953), p. 92.
[49] Ponting, Churchill, p. 675.
[50] Watt, "Churchill and Appeasement," p. 210.
[51] In a memorandum to Alexander Cadogan, of the Foreign Office; Richard Lamb, The Ghosts of Peace, 1935–1945 (Salisbury, England: Michael Russell, 1987), p. 133.
[52] Peter Hoffmann, German Resistance to Hitler (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988), pp. 95–105; idem, The History of the German Resistance, Richard Barry, trans. (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1977), pp. 205–48; and idem, "The Question of Western Allied Co-Operation with the German Anti-Nazi Conspiracy, 1938–1944," The Historical Journal 34, no. 2 (1991): 437–64.
[53] Giles MacDonogh, A Good German: Adam von Trott zu Solz (Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook Press, 1992), pp. 236–37.
[54] Lamb, Churchill as War Leader, p. 292. Lamb argues this thesis at length and persuasively in his The Ghosts of Peace, 1935–1945, pp. 248–320. A less conclusive judgment is reached by Klemens von Klemperer, German Resistance against Hitler: The Search for Allies Abroad 1938–1945 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992), esp. pp. 432–41, who emphasizes the difficulties in the way of any agreement between the British government and the German resistance. These included, in particular, the loyalty of the former to its Soviet ally and the insistence of the latter on post-war Germany's keeping ethnically German areas, such as Danzig and the Sudetenland.
[55] Marie Vassiltchikov, who was close to the conspirators, in her Berlin Diaries, 1940–1945 (New York: Knopf, 1987), p. 218, expressed her bafflement at the line taken by the British: "The Allied radio makes no sense to us: they keep naming people who, they claim, took part in the plot. And yet some of these have not yet been officially implicated. I remember warning Adam Trott that this would happen. He kept hoping for Allied support of a 'decent' Germany and I kept saying that at this point they were out to destroy Germany, any Germany, and would not stop at eliminating the 'good' Germans with the 'bad.'"
[56] Ben-Moshe, Churchill: Strategy and History, pp. 307–16. See also Anne Armstrong, Unconditional Surrender (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, [1961] 1974); and Lamb, The Ghosts of Peace, 1935–1945, pp. 215–35. Among the strongest wartime critics of the unconditional surrender policy, as well as of the bombing of civilians, was the military expert, Liddell Hart; see Brian Bond, Liddell Hart: A Study of his Military Thought (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1977), pp. 119–63.
[57] Lamb, The Ghosts of Peace, 1935–1945, p. 232.
[58] Ibid., pp. 236–45.
[59] Lord Moran, Churchill: The Struggle for Survival, 1940–1965 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966), pp. 190–91. Churchill's ready acceptance of this specious argument casts considerable doubt on the claim of Paul Addison, Churchill on the Home Front, p. 437, that Churchill was "schooled" in free-trade doctrines, which were "ingrained" in him. More consistent with the evidence, including his outright rejection of free trade beginning in 1930, is that Churchill used or cast aside the economic theory of the market economy as it suited his political purposes.
[60] Moran, Churchill: The Struggle for Survival, 1940–1965, pp. 195–96.
[61] Ibid., p. 193. That the spirit at least of the Morgenthau Plan continued to guide Allied policy in post-war Germany is shown in Freda Utley's The High Cost of Vengeance (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1949).
[62] Lamb, Churchill as War Leader, pp. 63–73. See also Ponting, Churchill, pp. 450–54; and Hart, "The Military Strategist," pp. 210–21.
[63] The "British obsession with heavy bombers" had consequences for the war effort as well; it led, for instance, to the lack of fighter planes at Singapore. Taylor, "The Statesman," p. 54. On the whole issue, see Stephen A. Garrett, Ethics and Airpower in World War II: The British Bombing of German Cities (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993). See also Max Hastings, Bomber Command (New York: Dial Press, 1979); David Irving, The Destruction of Dresden (New York: Ballantine, 1963); and Benjamin Colby, 'Twas a Famous Victory (New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House, 1974), pp. 173–202. On the British use of airpower to "pacify" colonial populations, see Charles Townshend, "Civilization and 'Frightfulness': Air Control in the Middle East between the Wars," in Warfare, Diplomacy, and Politics: Essays in Honor of A.J.P. Taylor, Chris Wrigley, ed. (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1986), pp. 142–62.
[64] Ponting, Churchill, p. 620.
[65] Hastings, Bomber Command, p. 339. In 1945, Harris wrote: "I would not regard the whole of the remaining cities of Germany as worth the bones of one British grenadier." Ibid., p. 344. Harris later wrote "The Germans had allowed their soldiers to dictate the whole policy of the Luftwaffe, which was designed expressly to assist the army in rapid advances…. Much too late in the day they saw the advantage of a strategic bombing force." Hughes, Winston Churchill: British Bulldog, p 189.
[66] J.M. Spaight, Bombing Vindicated (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1944), p. 70–71. Spaight declared that Britons should be proud of the fact that "we began to bomb objectives on the German mainland before the Germans began to bomb objectives on the British mainland." Hitler, while ready enough to use strategic bombing on occasion, "did not want [it] to become the practice. He had done his best to have it banned by international agreement." Ibid., pp. 68, 60. Writing during the war, Spaight, of course, lied to his readers in asserting that German civilians were being killed only incidentally by the British bombing.
[67] On February 14, 1942, Directive No. 22 was issued to Bomber Command, stipulating that efforts were now to be "focused on the morale of the enemy civil population and in particular of the industrial workers." The next day, the chief of the Air Staff added: "Ref the new bombing directive: I suppose it is dear that the aiming points are to be the built-up areas, not, for instance, the dockyards or aircraft factories." Garrett, Ethics and Air Power in World War II, p. 11. By lying about the goal of the bombing and attempting a cover-up after the war, Churchill implicitly conceded that Britain had committed breaches of the rules of warfare. Ibid., pp. 36–37.
[68] Ibid., pp. 32–33.
[69] Richard Swedberg, Schumpeter: A Biography (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1991), p. 141.
[70] Garrett, Ethics and Air Power in World War II, p. 202.
[71] Hastings, Bomber Command, pp. 343–44. In November, 1942, Churchill had proposed that in the Italian campaign: "All the industrial centers should be attacked in an intense fashion, every effort being made to render them uninhabitable and to terrorise and paralyse the population." Ponting, Churchill, p. 614.
[72] To a historian who wished to verify some details, Churchill replied: "I cannot recall anything about it. I thought the Americans did it. Air Chief Marshal Harris would be the person to contact." Rose, Churchill: The Unruly Giant, p. 338.
[73] Garrett, Ethics and Air Power in World War II, p. 21.
[74] See Barton J. Bernstein, "A postwar myth: 500,000 U.S. lives saved," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 42, no. 6 (June/July 1986): 38–40; and, idem, "Wrong Numbers," The Independent Monthly (July 1995): 41–44. See also, idem, "Seizing the Contested Terrain of Early Nuclear History: Stimson, Conant, and Their Allies Explain the Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb," Diplomatic History 17, no. 1 (Winter 1993): 35–72, where the point is made that a major motive in the political elite's early propaganda campaign justifying the use of the atomic bombs was to forestall a feared retreat into "isolationism" by the American people. It is interesting to note that Richard Nixon, sometimes known as the "Mad Bomber" of Indo-China, justified "deliberate attacks on civilians" by citing the atomic bombings of the Japanese cities, as well as the attacks on Hamburg and Dresden. Richard M. Nixon, "Letters to the Editor," New York Times, May 15, 1983.
[75] Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Leftism Revisited: From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Pol Pot (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 1990), p. 281. This work contains numerous perceptive passages on Churchill, e.g., pp. 261–65, 273, and 280–81, as well as on Roosevelt.
[76] Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918–1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Thomas P. Whitney, trans. (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), 1–2, p. 259n.
[77] Ibid., pp. 259–60.
[78] Sisley Huddleston, France: The Tragic Years, 1939–1947 (New York: Devin-Adair, 1955), pp. 285–324.
[79] See, for instance, Richard West, Tito and the Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia (New York: Carroll and Graf, 1995), pp. 192–93.
[80] Ponting, Churchill, p. 665.
[81] Herbert Mitzka, Zur Geschichte der Massendeportationen von Ostdeutschen in die Sowjetunion im Jahre 1945 (Einhausen: Atelier Hübner, 1986). On other crimes against German civilians in the aftermath of the war, see, among other works, Heinz Nawratil, Die deutschen Nachkriegsverluste unter Vertriebenen, Gefangenen, und Verschleppten (Munich/Berlin: Herbig, 1986); John Sack, An Eye for an Eye (New York: Basic Books, 1993); and James Bacque, Verschwiegene Schuld: Die allierte Besatzungspolitik in Deutschland nach 1945, Hans-Ulrich Seebohm, trans. (Berlin/Frankfurt a. M.: Ullstein, 1995).
[82] Alfred de Zayas, Nemesis at Potsdam: The Anglo-Americans and the Expulsion of the Germans. Background, Execution, Consequences (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977).
[83] Gaspar M. Tamas, "The Vanishing Germans," The Spectator, May 6, 1989, p. 15.
[84] Critiques of the Nuremberg Trials are included in Lord Hankey, Politics, Trials, and Errors (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1950), and F.J.P. Veale, Advance to Barbarism: The Development of Total Warfare from Sarajevo to Hiroshima (New York: Devin-Adair, 1968).
[85] Charmley, Churchill: The End of Glory, p. 622.
[86] Robert Boothy, Recollections of a Rebel (London: Hutchison, 1978), pp. 183–84.
[87] Churchill, The Gathering Storm, pp. iv — v.
[88] Nisbet, Roosevelt and Stalin: The Failed Courtship, p. 106.
[89] Cf. Robert Higgs, "The Cold War Economy: Opportunity Costs, Ideology, and the Politics of Crisis," Explorations in Economic History 31 (1994): 283–312.
[90] Ludwig von Mises, Human Action (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1949), p. 855.
[91] Charmley, Churchill: The End of Glory, p. 610, 618. Cf. Peter Clarke, Liberals and Social Democrats (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), p. 281: "When the Churchill Coalition was formed in May 1940 it gave progressivism a central political role which it had lacked since 1914…. The people's war brought a people's government in which ordinary Labour and good Liberals were the ascendant elements…. Anti-appeasement was the dominant myth; it helped displace the Guilty Men of Munich; and it prepared the ground for the overthrow of the Chamberlain consensus in domestic policy too. Keynes suddenly moved to a pivotal position inside the Treasury. Labour's patriotic response to the common cause was symbolised by the massive presence of Ernest Bevan as Minister of Labour."
[92] Addison, "Churchill and Social Reform," p. 73. Addison states: "By the spring of 1945 the Coalition government had prepared draft bills for comprehensive social insurance, family allowances, and a national health service." As Leader of the Opposition for the next six years, "in social policy [Churchill] invariably contested the Labour Party's claim to a monopoly of social concern, and insisted that the credit for devising the post-war welfare state should be given to the wartime Coalition, and not to the Attlee government." For a contrasting view, see Kevin Jeffreys, The Churchill Coalition and Wartime Politics, 1940–1945 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991).
[93] Greenleaf, The British Political Tradition, pp. 254–55.
[94] Roberts, Eminent Churchillians, p. 258.
[95] Ibid., p. 254. Roberts points out that "when the iron and steel industries were denationalized in 1953, they effectively continued to be run via the Iron and Steel Board."
[96] Roy Jenkins, "Churchill: The Government of 1951–1955," in Churchill, Blake and Louis, eds., p. 499.
[97] Addison, "Churchill and Social Reform," p. 76.
[98] Roberts, Eminent Churchillians, pp. 243–85.
[99] C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength: A Modern Fairy-Tale for Grown-Ups (New York: Collier, [1946] 1965), p. 291.

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Author(s): Ralph Raico
Title: Winston Churchill Discreetly Veiled, Part 2
Sources: Inconvenient History, 2015, vol. 7, no. 3
Published: 2015-09-04
First posted on CODOH: Sept. 8, 2015, 8:58 a.m.
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