The Man Who Saved Europe

How Winston Churchill Stopped the Nazis
By Klaus Wiegrefe

Photo Gallery: 13 Photos

Some 70 years ago, Hitler's Wehrmacht was chalking up one victory after the next, but then Winston Churchill stood up to the dictator. Their duel decided World War II. The former British prime minister has been viewed as one of the shining lights of the 20th century ever since. Is the reputation justified? Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill never met, and who knows how it might have changed the course of history in the 20th century if the Nazi had made a different decision in the spring of 1932. He was already standing in the lobby of the Grand Hotel Continental in Max Joseph Strasse in Munich, unshaven, exhausted from his election campaign, wearing a shabby trench coat. In another room, Churchill was dining with his family and members of his entourage, waiting for Hitler. The short, stout Briton, the scion of one of England's most important families, was already famous. He was a successful journalist and author of bestsellers, and before World War I he had already served as home secretary, president of the board of trade and first lord of the admiralty (head of the navy). During World War I, he was appointed minister of munitions, then secretary of state for war and secretary of state for air. After the war, he became secretary of state for the colonies and, finally, served as chancellor of the Exchequer from 1924 to 1929. The British Isles had not seen someone with such an illustrious career in a long time. Hitler Showed Little Interest

The Nazi had coincidentally met with a benefactor at the Continental. the duel between these two men was to shape the fate of the world." If Hitler had met Churchill in Munich. he would stand on the roof of a government building in London during German air raids to observe the murderous spectacle from above." the bellicose Churchill believed. Churchill's son and Hitler's foreign press agent Ernst "Putzi" Hanfstaengl arranged for the two men to meet over dinner at the Continental. and they sang Scottish songs together. who was the Chancellor of the German Reich by then. Churchill was a member of the opposition at the time. but he was not particularly struck by the experience. He was aligned with the Soviets and the Americans were still neutral and biding their time. After the dessert. Hanfstaengl sat down at the piano in the hotel's music room.Of course. an ascetic again a hedonist. and Hitler. he wanted to use the opportunity to meet the notorious Hitler. Eight years after Hitler's failure to turn up at that dinner in Munich. It's truly important. It was a rivalry that pitted a member of the petit bourgeoisie against a son of the aristocracy. you know perfectly well that I have a lot to do at the moment and that we plan to get an early start tomorrow. Hanfstaengl e xcused himself and hurried to the hotel telephone booth to call the Fuehrer and find out whether he still intended to show up. He loved danger and sought out adventure. Hanfstaengl took the Nazi party leader aside and told him that if Churchill saw him now. The German had overrun Poland. The evening progressed without Hitler. He had come to Munich to conduct research for a new book. So -. Hitler. occupied Norway and defeated and humiliated France. a racist revolutionary against an imperial political realist. a major power. and said: "Hanfsta engl. Suddenly he saw Hitler standing in the lobby." Churchill put on a good face over the rejection. whose supporters were in the process of destroying the Weimar Republic. Churchill writes with regret that Hitler "lost his only chance of meeting me. It seemed only a matter of time before Hitler would dominate all of Europe. and while he was there. his failure to appear would be seen as an insult. . while his cabinet ministers fled into the bomb shelters.good night. Later on. Even when he was in his sixties." But the party leader remained obstinate. But even in his memoirs. And then he said: "Mr. you should come. and ideologue st against a pragmatist. was closer to winning the war than he would ever be again. as prime minister. although Hanfstaengl neglected to tell the Churchills that the Fuehrer had shown little interest and had left it open as to whether he would attend. "Nothing in history was ever settled except by wars. Part 2: Britain Defies the Dictator It was the summer of 1940. Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill. would he have realized that he was facing a man who was every bit his match? A man who actually enjoyed the war? And who would eventually force Hitler to his knees? A Man Who Loved Danger and Sought Out Adventure Churchill had killed people in battle as a young man. a murderer against an adventurer.

the only country Hitler truly admired and respected. Nowadays. 1941. became the world's most important symbolic figure of resistance against Nazi Germany." Churchill shot back. with significant casualties. Britain's 'Finest Hour' It's been 70 years since Britain experienced its "finest hour. Bush even borrowed a bust of the prime minister from the British government art collection and placed it in the . Of course. James's Park." It soon became clear that the loser in this duel would pay with his life. that defied the dictator. hundreds of thousands of visitors stream through the award -winningChurchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms in London. where the cabinet met during the war. calling Hitler a "wicked man. across the meadows of the region known as the Weald of Kent. There are few wars that can be described without qualification as just wars. the Balkans and Scandinavia. Chartwell. The prime minister. polka dot bow tie and conspicuous hates. it was Great Britain. Churchill declared that he had only one goal: "Victory -." Great Britain persevered for a good year. one of England's most magnificent palatial complexes." as Churchill called it. but the fact that Churchill had stood his ground in 1940 played an important role in their success. despite German victories in Africa. just as he had done. the crowds would raise their hands and part their index and middle fingers to form the victory symbol. And Churchill deserved the credit for this perseverance. admired by statesmen in all countries and political parties. with his trademark Cuban cigars. Whenever he appeared in public. victory however long and hard the road may be." "paralytic" and "world arsonist. How else could the United States have launched an invasion of the European continent if the British Isles hadn't been available to it as a giant aircraft carrier? And what would have happened if Hitler could have shifted the divisions and bombers to the Eastern front that were tied up in the war against England? It wouldn't have taken Hitler much more to defeat Stalin. the Red Army and. in the basement of England's Treasury Department Building on St.Ironically. from France's capitulation until Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union on June 22. but the fascination remains unbroken." the "monstrous product of former wrongs and shame" and said that "Europe will not yield itself to Hitler's gospel of hatred. Or they enjoy the view from Churchill's estate. Bush. despite German air raids on London and Coventry. The perseverance of the British was of great and probably decisive importance in shaping the course of World War II. American GIs achieved final victory.victory at all costs. and as wars in which the right side prevailed. and despite the threat of national bankruptcy. Hitler berated his rival as a "lunatic. Churchill has long been one of the icons of the 20th century. where Churchill was born in 1874. from former German Chancellors Helmut Kohl and Helmut Schmidt to former US Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. victory in spite of all terror. They stroll through the Baroque rooms and gardens of Blenheim Palace.

Bush said. did poorly in school and eventually embarked on a military career. And that's what the author of various historical works did. and the world is better for it. one of the most famous military leaders in British history. like all young men. But there was a difference between being descended from a family named Schicklgruber in a poor. He was an excellent writer and sought out assignments a a s combat reporter: in tropical Cuba. there is also a mythical component to wartime prime minister's achievements." It could. while Hitler was still going to school. countless historians.. One concerned his vicious war of words with Lady Nancy Astor. until then. one who could delight an audience of millions with his articles. "charged ahead .. After being captured by rebel Boers in South Africa. they believed that they were destined to be great men. The Briton. forested region in Lower Austria and being part of a family that resided in Blenheim Palace and counted the Duke of Marlborough.Oval Office. Hitler hoped to be a successful artist while Churchill. the first female member of parliament. lectures and books. His spectacular esc ape and trek turned him into a national hero. Both men were outsiders. During his lifetime. who once hissed: "Winston.because he intended to write them himself. of course.. among its ancestors." Churchill replied: "Nancy.. . too. Surprising as it may be. but the existing material is enough to allow us to form our own opinions about this duel. some documents are still classified today. he found it amusing that the history books would judge him kindly -." and Churchill. the many anecdotes that the sharp-tongued aristocrat told. Readers loved his sparkling style and. a component to which Churchill himself repeatedly contributed. analyzed decision -making sequences and evaluated secret documents. In 1898. because he saw Churchill as a visionary with whom he hoped to be compared. wasn't afraid of opinion polls . journalists and political commentators have studied the battle plans of the day. more than 14 years his senior. of course. which brought together two men whose paths. felt the pull of the battlefield. he escaped from their prison camp and made his way through the desert to what is now Mozambique. the British Empire was still what German historian Peter Alter calls an "enormous playground and source of adventure for young Britons. could not have been more different. Part 3: Trench Warfare Cooled Churchill's Romance for War At the time. Both were moderate students and. His six-volume work "The Second World War" became a bestseller and was part of the reason he was awarded the 1953 Nobel Prize in Literature." Since then. of course." A Mythical Component to Churchill's Achievements But as with all great historic figures who embark on the path to immortality. in the Indian jungles and the deserts of Sudan. the 23-year-old Churchill went to the Conservative Party headquarters in London to explore whether "a constituency could be found for me. If I were married to you I'd drink it. if I were your wife I'd put poison in your coffee.

eloquent politician would soon become a member of the government. To make amends. . now First Lord of the Admiralty. but when the country began losing large numbers of soldiers in 1914. Hitler. After a few months. lived a Bohemian life. 'Germany Must Feel She Is Beaten' Before World War I. would dominate the world's oceans. as a lieutenant colonel. and so was the world of Lance Corporal Hitler." Once again. he resigned and was soon appointed to another cabinet minister position. Churchill and Hitler were at opposite ends of their respective chains of command. Europe's great empires were breaking apart. The 29-year-old social Darwinist believed that he had found the purpose of human existence in the bone mills of Verdun ("Every generation should take part in a war at least once"). He said it best himself: "The British Empire is everything to me. The carnage of trench warfare cooled Churchill's romantic ent husiasm for war. had to fight to the end. because he assumed that it was based on rigidity and a sense of racial superiority. One was the German Kaiser. He soon dreamed of an "Aryan world order. commanded the world's largest war fleet. of course. and what is bad for the Empire is bad for me. his early writings suggest that the Nazi would have preferred to become Fuehrer in the British Isles than in Germany. was assigned to a section of Flanders where Hitler was serving in the German army. on the other hand. He was mainly interested in seeing his painting appear alongside those of his ancestors in the family gallery and. What is good for the Empire is also good for me. Churchill assumed responsibility for the catastrophic failure of the British landing operation at the Dardanelles. Hitler Admired Victorious British It was an unusually turbulent time. Only 13 kilometers (8 miles) separated the two men. The war did bring the two later rivals into close physical proximity with each other. who had been expelled from sch ool. who invited the young deputy secretary of state for the colonies to attend fall maneuvers in Silesia as an observer in 1906." in which the Germans would control Eurasia and the British." The restless. in the British Empire.To understand the Churchill phenomenon. as their junior partner. insisting that "Germany must feel she is beaten. as historian Hermann Graml wrote derisively. Hitler saw the Empire as a model for his racist empire. Hitler was never promoted past the rank of lance corporal. he signed up to serve at the front and. he became an unrelenting supporter of the war. After the German defeat. and resigned in 1915. he decided to "become a politician. to which his ancestors had already felt committed." Hitler admired the victorious British and. where the Ottoman army prevailed. and while Hitler. Churchill was not among the agitators in London. while Churchill. resourceful. Churchill was already conferring with world leaders. He envisioned death or slavery for a large share of mankind. it is important to consider the historic impact of his origins.

Churc hill wrote. he was horror-stricken by the Russian Revolution. London had always aligned itself with the second -strongest power." He changed parties twice. while "Rule. the 56-year-old Churchill was outdated. he wrote history books to make money (they were a huge success). once from the Conservatives to the Liberals and then back to the Conservatives. He was not interested in party agendas or ideological designs. Churchill fell out with his own party because it wanted to grant more rights to the Indians. Why? He had read parts of Hitler's "Mein Kampf. The sullen Churchill retired to Chartwell. which he initially blamed on a Jewish-Bolshevik global conspiracy. and he once told his mother that he considered his quickness to pass judgment a "mental flaw. When Hitler won almost 20 percent of the vote in the 1930 parliamentary election. as long as they are confined inside Germany. To the public. which Churchill. where gardeners. Churchill told a Berlin diplomat that the Nazi Party leader "would seize the first available opportunity to resort to armed force. began drinking in the morning and lived well beyond his means. his predictions for the future were downright prophetic. cooks and servants attended to the needs of a hedonist who suffered from depression. after all. not to Napoleon (in the 19th century) and not to Kaiser Wilhelm II (in the 20th century).Churchill also proved to be susceptible to the prevailing sentiments of the day. who he called "a Roman genius. At this point. not to Philipp II of Spain (in the 16th century). Part 4: Churchill Advocates a Massive Military Buildup Hitler had hardly risen to power before Churchill began advocating a massive military buildup in Great Britain. and for a time he even sympathized with the Italian fascist Benito Mussolini. he said: "We cannot say that we admire your treatment of the Jews or of the Protestants and Catholics of Germany « But. "would be contrary to the whole of our history." Indeed." . In one respect. a man of the 19th century who refused to accept change." But Churchill abandoned positions as quickly as he adopted them. As a monarchist. When he was a politician. saw as a threat to the Empire. The acceptance of German hegemony. however." It was a view he continued to hold. In the early 1930s. Britannia!" applied on the high seas. In a letter to a friend. he even believed that an alliance with the hated Soviet Union was the right thing for Britain. and now he returned to his writing. in remarks directed at Hitler. he wrote that the Britain had never yielded to the strongest power on the continent." and he despised the dictator's methods. not to the French Sun King Louis XIV (in the 18th century). these matters. but this wasn't his greatest concern. Churchill was motivated by the maxims of the traditional British balance -of-power approach. are not our business. in which the major powers were to balance each other out on land. an imperialist. In 1937. his checkered career seemed to have come to an end.

By now he was sharply criticizing the persecution of the Jews." only enhanced his popularity. he wrote that the Third Reich represented an unprecedented "cult of malignancy. ironically. The Duke of Marlborough's descendant was on his own. as commander-in-chief of the British army. in the Ukraine and Belarus. and the fact that the Nazis were now railing against him. . and it was the same logic that prompted Churchill to turn against Stalin once again after World War II. after all. and Churchill stood together in front of an enormous map in the German Embassy in London. The duel had not yet begun. His fellow conservatives. Churchill can hardly be blamed for feeling committed to a special mission in the regard. or Lebensraum. Churchill finally succeeded him as prime minister. and ironically. "Hitler constitutes the greatest danger for the British Empire!" But his warnings went unheard. because he feared that the British politician could end up playing an important role. to which Ribbentrop brusquely replied: "In that case. war is inevitable. felt that this division of territory was unacceptable. Yielding to public pressure. Churchill received envoys from Berlin and met with Nazi Ambassador Joachim von Ribbentrop. the host. He had been right. He assured Churchill that the Empire would be left untouched. Of course. He now called upon his government to obstruct the Third Reich. and the mood qui kly shifted. He invited the MP with the illustrious past to Germany twice. It was his ancestor. however. A furious Hitler publicly c berated Churchill as a "warmonger. Chamberlain appointed him to his cabinet. it was Hitler. the Duke of Marlborough. "Stop it! Stop it! Stop it now!!!" he said." The Duel Begins The gauntlet had been thrown down. calling him a "filthy liar" and a "bloated pig. supporters of then -Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. the chief Nazi sought to curry favor with Churchill. while the Nazi explained that the Germans needed space for a greater Germany." while Churchill increasingly ignored diplomatic etiquette. but that the British would have to accept Germany's eastward expansion in return. Ribbentrop. and in the spring of 1940. favored appeasement of the Germans. Churchill. who paved the way for Churchill's political comeback. who.'Stop It! Stop It! Stop It Now!!!' It was pure realpolitik. and in a newspaper commentary in the summer of 1939. who favored war. The German invasion of Poland shed a new light on Church ill's earlier predictions. and Churchill was writing the Duke's biography in the 1930s. who sought to convince Churchill. because they feared another world war and believed that the dictator could be kept happy." When World War II began a few weeks later. of the benefits of appeasement. had reined in the troops of the Sun King. but Churchill turned down the invitations.

"Neither in . At the same time." Curiously enough. He sought to curb his officers and "ranted and raved that they were about to spoil the entire operation.. German armored units pushed their way through the hills of the Ardennes. Churchill. The Nazis behaved as if they welcomed this development. Part 5: 'Utter Dejection Was Written on Every Face' In the early morning hours. At 5:35 a.m. now 65. The ascetic fanatic was determined not to go down in history as a man who had lived in the lap of luxury. and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial. He later admitted that he had underestimated the extent of the change that had t aken place since the last war. The Wehrmacht's coup was a success nonetheless. Hitler moved into a Spartan combat bunker on a hill named the Eselsberg (Donkey Mountain)." as Franz Halder. Churchill writes: "I felt as if I were walking with destiny. Bri ish t and Belgians. France and Great Britain were unwilling to chance an advance on Germany. where he expected his guests to sit on simple wicker chairs. a substantial portion of the Allied divisions threatened to be surrounded. Hitler raised his hand. pointed to the west. as a result of the emergence of large numbers of fast -moving. the "Amerika. But now it was time to move forward. which the French had considered a buffer against attack. and said: "Gentlemen. the Netherlands and Luxembourg. where King George VI would ask him to form a new government. the diary also contained other entries that testified to his respect for the new British prime minister. a village near the town of Bad Münstereifel. After a few days. the head of the Army General Staff. the offensive against the Western powers has just begun. and Hitler had also hesitated. noted." Nazi e Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels noted in his diary. German troops invaded Belgium. where they created the impression that they would then launch their main attack from these countries. heavy armored vehicles. as Germany had done in World War I. Goebbels described Churchill as a "man with great gifts." The Wehrmacht's Coup On paper. he traveled to Euskirchen near Co logne on an armored special train." "completely unpredictable" and "the soul of the English attack." From there. was sitting in a limousine on his way to Buckingham Palace. Of course. The Germans had fewer soldiers. which had been fortified with flak positions and road blocks. and then suddenly appearedin the rear of the front. fewer tanks and fewer artillery guns. the Wehrmacht was inferior to the combined armed forces of the French. The German advance also took Churchill by surprise. the muffled roar of artillery was heard in the distance for the first time. In his memoirs." The duel could begin. Little had happened on the western front since the beginning of the war. several convoys took the dictator and his entourage to Rodert. "Clear fronts! W love that. Hitler was suspicious of the Wehrmacht's success and feared that he was marching into a trap. the Friday Churchill took office was also a fateful day for Hitler.On the evening of May 10.

" Churchill wrote in his memoir. and could advance a hundred miles a day. he was determined to rescue the effort. sailing dinghies. he already noted that "utter dejection was written on every face. enough time for the evacuation to succeed. because low clouds made for poor visibility for Germany's Luftwaffe. Most military historians believe that if the evacuation had failed. German artillery shells and the bombs dropped by the German dive bombers known as Stukas made their wait a living hell. Hitler would later claim that he had spared the British so as to solicit "the recognition of our dominance on the continent. He promised squadrons of aircraft (which he didn't send) and divisions (which he didn't have). the war is apt to become somewhat unequal. . ironically. London would probably have had to sue for peace. maliciously: "Of course. As he later wrote: "Outside in the garden of the Quai d'Orsay clouds of smoke arose from large bonfires." Churchill. He flew to France several times to encourage his French allies to hang on. if one side fights and the other does not." Then the prime minister looked out of the window. and I saw from the window venerable officials pushing wheelbarrows of archives onto them. yachts and motorboats. the dictator enabled the British to stage the biggest evacuation in their military history at Dunkirk in northern France. Nevertheless." Chivalry is not a trait for which Hitler is commonly known. It was then that Hitler." Hitler Briefly Becomes Churchill's Unwitting Ally When the British expeditionary force and parts of the French army were forced to retreat in northern France. He corrected the course two days later. became Churchill's unwitting ally. The British were in luck. Churchill said. In the ensuing evacuation. By halting the German advance. But after his first visit to the Foreign Ministry in Paris on May 15. and in fact there is every indication that the decision to halt the German advance was a mis calculation on the part of his military leaders. By the time the Wehrmacht captured Dunkirk on June 4.000 ships crisscrossed the English Channel to bring the boys home. The Royal Air Force also stood up to the Luftwaffe for a few days. a decision with which the dictator had concurred. most of the Allied soldiers had escaped. When the boats finally arrived. Already therefore the evacuation of Paris was being prepared. but it also commandeered cutters. but by then it was too late to stop the British evacuation. he added. about 1. protected by the piers and breakwaters of Dunkirk. The Royal Navy used its own ships. As a result. had unfortunately "failed to appreciate" his "generosity and chivalry.France nor in Britain had there been any effective comprehension of the consequences of the new fact that armored vehicles could be made capable of withstanding artillery fire. hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers were waiting on the beaches in late May." Nevertheless. the soldiers wading through the shallow waters had step over and push aside the cold bodies of their dead comrades.

Churchill. a man about whom the writer H. as a murmur of consent from the entire table." it would make no difference in the end. Hitler Would Turn England into 'Slave State' On the afternoon of May 29. too. He would inspect the troops at the fronts. allies of former Prime Minister Chamberlain. for his part. after World War I: "He believes quite naively that he belongs to a peculiarly gifted and privileged class of beings to whom the lives and affairs of common men are given over. ran to his chair. masked a disaster elsewhere. because Hitler would only seek to turn Great Britain into "a slave state. Although he was adamantly opposed to peace at all costs. and when he did. and for reasons of domestic policy. Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax. he aded the peace faction. he would venture so dangerously close to the enem lines that his commanders y feared for his life. Churchill. an English Catholic with a passion for hunting (hence his nickname." . Churchill needed their support. The British and the French had stood their ground against the Germans for four years in World War I. the Nazis were at the gates of Paris. but it had. or was it only a tactical maneuver? According to the minutes of the cabinet. According to the Churchill. in fact. "Holy Fox"). We will probably never know what was then discussed in London.G.000 kilometers (about 112. Mussolini offered to a broker a peace with Berlin. he argued.The British were ecstatic over the rescue effort. the time had come to reach a decision. Had the duel between Hitler and Churchill already been decided? Part 6: Churchill's Strongest Weapon Was the Word While the evacuation was underway. the British should continue the fight. seemed to vacillate. He would fly more than 180." For that reason. the situation was clear: The war would continue. were still in the cabinet. he said that the government could consider making peace with Hitler.and one hero. after only a few weeks. the raw material of brilliant careers « Before all things he desires a dramatic world with villains -. his remarks were received with great enthusiasm. The war was entirely to the taste of the prime minister. Wells wrote. but now. he was interested in exploring London's options. savored the drama of the day. Some members of the cabinet jumped up from the table. shouted and slapped him on the back. Either way. Churchill knew that Hitler would never agree to such conditions. The appeasers. The prime minister assembled the expanded cabinet and explained that whether the British sued for peace or "fought it out.000 miles) by 1945. where it was noted in the minutes of the cabinet that the minutes were to be temporarily suspended. Another source describes the reaction in somewhat more muted terms. provided the German leader would settle for the return of former German colonies and would agree to limit German dominance to Central Europe.

he would lie on his four-poster bed. He gave magnificent speeches. reported that at Easter in 1940. and even the Nazis were impressed by his eloquence. by a prime minister who conducted a significant portion of government affairs from a horizontal position. yes.Churchill's strongest weapon was the word. too. chewing a cigar and sipping ice-cold soda water. The equally eloquent John F. Speaking to a friend. the Britons were expected to contribute directly to the war effort. we shall never surrender. Sebastian Haffner. Meanwhile. once said that Churchill had sent the English language to war. but when he did." Goebbels wrote. On June 4. he does command a certain amount of respect." According to the Churchill saga. the people had disappeared from the streets and the War Office had requisitioned the hotels. hanging on his every word. scholars disagree over whether the prime minister was trying to turn around a defeatist mood with his passionate words. He was probably the most powerful British prime minister in history. or whether he was merely echoing the sentiments of an already determined populace." 'We Will Make Germany a Desert' To this day. "We will make Germany a desert. Dressed in his red dressing gown." A similar passage appears in Rudyard Kipling's collection of stories. While the Third Reich exploited forced laborers and ransacked the countries it occupied." and that "nothing moves an Englishman so much as the threat of an invasion. Churchill's rhetorical performances were only slightly diminished by the fact that some of his wording was not entirely new. a German immigrant. uniformed doormen were still standing in front of the luxury hotels. a desert. saying that "there was no need to rouse their spirit. And the Empire has probably never been governed in such a bizarre way. he grimly predicted: "You and I will be dead in three months' time. "The Jungle Book. the British Isles were practically defenseless against Hitler in the summer of 1940. Churchill addressed the people directly only a few times." he announced over lunch. "In his crud eness. Only a few months later. we shall fight on the landing grounds. Churchill. Churchill was dreaming of air attacks on the German Reich. memos that were often titled "Action This Day. we shall fight in the hills. and dictate memos to his secretary." Churchill emphasized a total commitment to the war. while a million unemployed were looking for work. Kennedy. up to two-thirds of Britons sat in front of their radios." Part 7: 'When Will that Creature Churchill Finally Capitulate?' . was infected by the so -called invasion fever that was taking hold all around him. we shall fight in the fields and in the streets. son of the then US ambassador in London and later president of the United States. The prime minister would later seek to downplay the impact his words may have had. he uttered the following famous words in the House of Commons: "We shall fight on the beaches.

but even then they were not enthusiastic about the idea. Instead. An invasion across the Channel was hardly a possibility before the end of September. Today we know that there was no threat of a German invasion. . Its radar. as metal parts and cartridges rained down on the gardens of Kent and Sussex. the appeasers would prevail in London. Britain benefited from its island position. airports and armament factories. many Englishmen anxiously looked on as the German Messerschmitts dueled with the British Spitfires and Hurricanes. and doesn't know what he wants to do and how he wants to do it. Most of all. possibly even flying new missions on the same day. At first. who had been against opposing Rome but felt that he was left with no other choice.He had barricades made of sandbags erected in front of key government buildings to provide cover for soldiers. they could save themselves by parachuting into their own territory. the prime minister's country house.ended up in prisoner-of-war camps. When British pilots were shot down. In addition. German fighter planes and bombers appeared in the skies over southeastern England. Hitler reluctantly decided to bomb the British to the negotiating table. he was waging war against the country he would have preferred to have as his junior partner. Day after day. At the same time. Hitler was "more indecisive than ever before. Hitler and his senior military leaders were in agreement that the British Navy was far too powerful. street signs were removed in the government district to prevent attackers from getting their bearings. while German pilots either drowned in the sea or -. practicing with his Mannlicher pistol on the firing range at Chequers. Churchill was also determined to join the fight himself. forcing Churchill to stay away from his beloved Chartwell. According to a report by an adjutant. For a time. "They want to extend the hand of the Germans to England. he found himself with allies he either despised (Italy) or wanted to destroy (the Soviet Union).if they were lucky enough to land on solid ground -. An Attempt to Bomb the British to the Negotiating Table In the end. at least not in the summer of 1940. to fend off a potential attack by German paratroopers. if necessary. The fast fighter planes created vapor trails that formed giant circular patterns in the sky. They considered a landing operation to be a remote option that was only to be considered if the British Air Force could be put out of commission first. The Royal Air Force was technically superior to the Germans. On the ground." The dictator had expected that after his victory in France. Hitler focused his attacks on ports. guidance and warning systems were among the most advanced in the world. which was in the Germans' flight path. He likened himself to Martin Luther." a high-ranking Nazi complained in Berlin. The Germans felt that they stood a better chance of succeeding in May 1941. British aircraft factories were producing more planes than their German counterparts.

the people called out. the attacks prompted Hitler to vow: "If they declare that they will attack our cities on a large scale. Part 8: 'I Shall Drag the United States In' At the end of 1940. He had already abandoned his half hearted plans to invade Britain months earlier. Coventry and Birmingham. The first major attack on a German city struck Mannheim in December 1940. with its large wall maps of the world and its candy-colored telephones.000 people had died in the British capital -. Churchill made a point of demonstratively trudging through the destroyed areas of London. of course. but they were also puzzled. Only the rats have disappeared and. giving him an air of determination. it could.burned. "When will that creature Churchill finally capitulate?" Goebbels asked himself. and by the end of December 1940. After that. London's air ride sirens howled night after night. probably by mistake. 24. 1940. Get back at them. about 14. . A direct hit would have put an end to the duel between Hitler and Churchill." the British rendering of the German term "Blitzkrieg. Churchill and his cabinet ministers were not especially well protected in the facility. On Aug. James's Park. Photos depict him bent forward slightly at the shoulders. and he did. The "Blitz. the kitchen with its cast-iron tableware -. and Churchill's war cabinet moved to the cellar vaults beneath the Treasury on St." Although Berlin suffered little damage. Although he did not expect bombing the German capital to yield significant military benefits." Any sympathy Hitler might have had for the British had disappeared. the Germans bombed residential neighborhoods in London for the first time. Hitler openly conceded that he could not force his rival to capitulate with his bombing campaign.everything still looks the same. Cartoonists drew him as a bulldog. suffocated or crushed by wreckage. which are accessible to visitors today. Buckingham Palace and the House of Commons w ere also damaged.The Blitzkrieg Although things were looking good for the Luftwaffe at first. which was only adequately fortified later on." had begun. it was "good for the morale of all of us. The Nazis regaled themselves with the destruction of London. "England cannot hold out forever!" But indeed. we will eradicate their cities. Hitler would not win the so called Battle of Britain. Churchill gave the order to attack Berlin. the unsavory odor of cigar smoke mixed with the stench of fecal matter coming from the chemical toilets. The map room.

On that morning. He paid a high price for this success." It was an obvious proposition for Churchill. Suddenly Churchill stopped shaving and said. the imperialist. "I shall drag the United States in. Hitler seriously resolved to attack Stalin. which had been his intention all along. Churchill was also unable to bring down his rival. . "Of course I mean we can beat them. whose mother was American and who was both fond of and familiar with the new superpower. "Once Russia is annihilated." Hitler Invades Soviet Union In May 1941. American arms shipments were modest. because the bombers were needed in the East." he told US President Franklin Roosevelt. he developed the original theory that the reason Churchill was refusing to yield was that he was secretly counting on the Soviet Union. and although Churchill was eloquent in his warnings and appeals to Washington. who was shaving. But as a political realist he had only one choice: a junior partnership with either democratic America or Nazi Germany. too. Armed with this nonsensical notion. 1940. he began putting his plan into action on May 18. through the open door: "I think I see my way through. and if we are to believe his son Randolph's account. hadn't bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Japan. which was still aligned with Hitler. Randolph was waiting outside the bathroom door for his father. It is an irony of history that it was Churchill. even historians with a favorable view of Churchill believe that the situation would not have changed much if Hitler's ally. thereby drawing the United States into the war. Shortly before his demise in 1945. "This certainly simplifies things. It wasn't difficult to recognize which of the two arrangements was more likely to further British interests. What a compliment! Hitler believed that it was easier to conquer Moscow instead of London. Finally. There was nothing more that Churchill could achieve. was looking for new options and was puzzled that the British were holding their ground. because the war accelerated the decline of the overstretched Empire. Churchill danced for joy when he heard the news." With the attack on the Soviet Union." Churchill replied. because the British Army alone was incapable of defeating the Wehrmacht. England's last hope will be gone. But the US public wanted no part of the Europeans' fight. who was forced to expedite this decline.The two men were at a stalemate. What next? Churchill did have a plausible plan. "God be with you. there was a significant decline in the German air raids on Great Britain. the British political system had been saved once and for all. The Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union six weeks later." "Do you m ean that we can avoid defeat?" Randolph asked. Hitler complained that Churchill was the "real father of this war." Hitler.

contribute to the expulsion of Germans from Eastern Europe. because the other Allies would bear the main burden of the war from then on. Despite his occasional doubts. A number of cities were all but destroyed. the duel had been decided long ago. he picked up three matchsticks. In the end. civilians were primarily the victims of its bombings of residential areas. in February 1945." Stalin said derisively. Although Churchill magnanimously promised his ne w ally Stalin all the assistance "that time. He had already agreed to Stalin's demand that part of Poland was to go to . old men and children. Churchill had been thwarting an invasion of the continent. between a Carthaginian peace and chivalrous generosity." Civilians Were Primary Victims of British Bombings Hoping to make a significant contribution to victory over the Nazis. however. Poland and the Soviet Union. "You should not think that the Germans are supermen. While the RAF attacks on armament factories and rail lines did shorten the war by several months. even Churchill admitted that the bombings were "mere acts of terror and wanton destruction. In fact. the "Second Front. the British began systematically bombing German cities in the spring of 1942." By then. as historian Detlef Brandes has shown. Churchill vacillated between extremes. Churchill was relentless. which were meant to represent Germany. at the Summit of the Big Three in Tehran in 1943. Stalin's and Roosevelt's ideas prevailed. As he had done so many times before. "You British are afraid of fighting. and our growing resources allow. and the only decision remaining for the Allies was to determine what to do with Hitler and the Germans once they were defeated.Now that the Soviet Union and the United States had entered the war. but he eventually included Pomerania and parts of Silesia in his plans. He did so by supporting (and thus legitimizing) the demands of the Polish and Czechoslovak exile governments in London. When Dresden was destroyed near the end of the war. It was one of Churchill's darkest hours when. the Germans were to "be given a brief amount of time to gather the bare necessities and leave. beca use he feared it would turn into a disaster." At first. most of them women. but his generals objected.000 Germans died in the bombings. About 600." by the Western powers for some time. it was time for Churchill to give up his position as Hitler's main rival. According to the Churchill." the British shipments were marginal. geography. After viewing film of devastated German cities. he asked: "Are we beasts? Are we taking this too far?" Churchill even toyed with the idea of dropping poison gas on German cities. he was referring to East Prussia and the Sudetenland. Part 9: Churchill's Role in the Explusion of Germans from Easter Europe Churchill did.

Churchill's visit was not announced ahead of time. several million people were ultimately rounded up. Of course. He had finally prevailed. 'A Tragedy on a Prodigiou s Scale' Churchill later criticized the brutal behavior of the Poles and Soviets. and because he lost his sense of perspective during the bombing wa and r endorsed ethnic cleansing.the Soviet Union. Hitler committed suicide in his bunker a few days before Germany capitulated in 1945. and the duel had if ethnic cleansings had ever been anything but tragic. Hitler was the "mainspring of evil. As Churchill writes in his memoirs. Churchill toyed with the idea of banishing Hitler and other top Nazis to an isolated island. Now he placed the matches together to illustrate the consequences: By pushing the Soviet match toward the West. and tens of thousands died during the forced marches. Of course. just as Napoleon had once been banished to Elba. it was a more preferable end for the Nazi dictator. the prime minister told the cabinet that he would have Hitler put to death if he were captured -. Or perhaps he was simply tipsy when he voiced this idea. He was also shown the spot in the courtyard of the Reich Chancellery where the dictator's body was incinerated. he was astonished to hear the Germans celebrate him as a hero. who was ultimately responsible for the entire calamity by starting the war in the first place? Before the Holocaust. after all. he was also shifting the positions of the other two matches. calling it "a tragedy on a prodigious scale" -. and when Churchill walked through the crowd. when the victorious Churchill toured the ruins of Berlin. the Germans would have to vacate the territory that fell to Poland. Churchill learned of the Nazis' crimes after the British cracked the code the Germans had used to encrypt SS and police reports on the massacres of Jews in the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941. robbed and expelled. such bizarre ideas were quickly taken off the table. . And that was how it was with Churchill. a large number of people gathered in front of the Chancellery. Only one o man shook his ld head disapprovingly. he asked to be taken to the bunker where Hitler ended his life. Stalin found this depiction of Poland's westward shift amusing. In July 1945. As a result. Nevertheless.without a trial and in the electric chair. There are those who dislike him because he was an imperialist." For Churchill. In 1942. like a "gangster. And what was to happen to Hitler. But when the Holocaust began. because a single human life meant little to him." As we know.

we can only be pleased that he won the duel.In the end. Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan . however.

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