Winston Churchill led Britain to victory against the Nazi war machine, but debate continues to rage about whether he was responsible for overseeing atrocities that rival those ordered by Adolf Hitler.
History is written by the winners. Although there is lots to admire about Churchill’s bulldog spirit – and Brits are eternally grateful for his tenacious fight against the Nazis – much of Churchill’s dark past has been airbrushed out of history.
To gain any understanding of Churchill, we must go beyond the heroic images propagated for over half a century.
British bombing raids killed a thousand German civilians a day when World War II was already won, says the historian sparking debate on whether Churchill was a war criminal.
Winston Churchill was effectively a war criminal who sanctioned the extermination of Germany’s civilian population through indiscriminate bombing of towns and cities, an article in the country’s biggest-circulation newspaper claimed yesterday.
The morality of the Allied bombing campaign during the Second World War is still hotly debated. What should we feel about the decision to attack Dresden?
The RAF began the war with the policy of targeting enemy military or industrial targets. But then, early in 1942, that policy suddenly changed to embrace the deliberate destruction of civilians. Why?
CHURCHILL IN HIS OWN WORDS
(During first World War): “Perhaps the next time round the way to do it will be to kill women, children and the civilian population.”
Churchill on defending the morality of bombing from the air: “Now everyone’s at it. It’s simply a question of fashion – similar to that of whether short or long dresses are in.”
“I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes.”
Writing as president of the Air Council, 1919.
“It is alarming and nauseating to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the east, striding half naked up the steps of the viceregal palace, while he is still organising and conducting a campaign of civil disobedience, to parlay on equal terms with the representative of the Emperor-King.”
Commenting on Gandhi’s meeting with the Viceroy of India, 1931.
“I do not admit… that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia… by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race… has come in and taken its place.”
Churchill to Palestine Royal Commission, 1937.
“The choice was clearly open: crush them with vain and unstinted force, or try to give them what they want. These were the only alternatives and most people were unprepared for either. Here indeed was the Irish spectre – horrid and inexorcisable.”
Writing in The World Crisis and the Aftermath, 1923-31.
“The unnatural and increasingly rapid growth of the feeble-minded and insane classes, coupled as it is with a steady restriction among all the thrifty, energetic and superior stocks, constitutes a national and race danger which it is impossible to exaggerate… I feel that the source from which the stream of madness is fed should be cut off and sealed up before another year has passed.”
Churchill to Asquith, 1910.
“One may dislike Hitler’s system and yet admire his patriotic achievement. If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as admirable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations.”
From his Great Contemporaries, 1937.
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
“Never, never, never give up.”
“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”