Category: Quotations

Sir Martin Gilbert on Churchill and the Holocaust

Sir Martin Gilbert on Churchill and the Holocaust

Why so little of the Holocaust in Churchill's war memoirs? There were many reasons. Intelligence restrictions were still in place, war crimes trials were occurring. Churchill had an understandable reluctance to criticize American officials who had blocked his order to bomb the railway lines to Auschwitz. Churchill was never never one to open a quarrel with allies over the past. Also, as Lady Gilbert pointed out that it wasn't actually known as the Holocaust for years later.

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Winston Churchill’s Tests of Freedom: Then and Now

Winston Churchill’s Tests of Freedom: Then and Now

"These simple, practical tests, are some of the title-deeds on which a new Italy could be founded." Think of the years of experience, thought, and hard political lessons that went into those basic tenets. How Churchill expressed them in only 201 words, mostly of one or two syllables. How little they are thought of today, when we try to describe certain nations as free countries.

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Churchill and the Rhineland: “Terrible Circumstances”

Churchill and the Rhineland: “Terrible Circumstances”

Churchill would have backed French reoccupation of the Rhineland, but he soon gathered that the League of Nations was toothless. Churchill’s theme did not dramatically change in 1936; it merely evolved. As early as 1933 he had declared:  "Whatever way we turn there is risk. But the least risk and the greatest help will be found in re-creating the Concert of Europe." The failure of a concerted response over the Rhineland was to be repeated. Each time western statesmen hoped the latest Hitler inroad would be his last.

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Churchill’s Christmas, 1882-1947: Halcyon and Sterner Days

Churchill’s Christmas, 1882-1947: Halcyon and Sterner Days

At Christmas 1932, Churchill received as a present “a huge bottle of brandy, and decided to paint it, accompanied by lesser bottles," Johnnie Churchill remembered. "He sent us children scurrying around Chartwell to find them: 'Fetch me associate and fraternal bottles to form a bodyguard to this majestic container.'"

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Conant, Churchill, and the Harvard of 1943

Conant, Churchill, and the Harvard of 1943

James Conant was a liberal. He favored admitting women and minorities, and ultimately Harvard did. I don't think he welcomed anti-Semites, although undoubtedly they existed on his campus. He was, above all, devoted to the free exchange of ideas. "Free speech carries with it the evil of all foolish, unpleasant and venomous things that are said," as Churchill once remarked. "But on the whole we would rather lump them than do away with it."

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2012 Benghazi Consulate: “Sometimes History Rhymes”

2012 Benghazi Consulate: “Sometimes History Rhymes”

"The Middle East is one of the hardest-hearted areas in the world.... Your friends must be supported with every vigour and if necessary they must be avenged. Force, or perhaps force and bribery, are the only things that will be respected. It is very sad, but we had all better recognise it. At present our friendship is not valued, and our enmity is not feared." —WSC

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Trump’s “Vermin” Crack: Nothing New Except the Reaction

Trump’s “Vermin” Crack: Nothing New Except the Reaction

"We speak of the Minister of Health, but ought we not rather to say the Minister of Disease? For is not morbid hatred a form of mental disease, moral disease, and indeed a highly infectious form? Indeed, I can think of no better step to signalize the inauguration of the National Health Service than that a person who so obviously needs psychiatrical attention should be among the first of its patients." —Churchill on Bevan, 1948

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Irving Berlin, Isaiah Berlin: Churchill’s Mistaken Identity

Irving Berlin, Isaiah Berlin: Churchill’s Mistaken Identity

Enthralled by his accounts of American politics from the British Embassy in Washington, Churchill invited a "Mr. I. Berlin" to lunch. The invitee turned out to be Irving Berlin, not Isaiah, which produced a confusing dialogue around the table. ("Tell me, Mr. Berlin, what is your greatest work?" ... "White Christmas.") Later, meeting the real Isaiah Berlin, WSC acknowledged "the grave solipsism I was so unfortunate to have perpetrated."

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Churchill’s Shakespeare: Quoting “Romeo and Juliet”

Churchill’s Shakespeare: Quoting “Romeo and Juliet”

Darrell Holley offers one citation from "Romeo and Juliet." In his biography of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, Sir Winston writes: “Would he, under the many riddles the future had reserved for such as he, snapped the tie of sentiment that bound him to his party, resolved at last to ‘shake the yoke of inauspicious stars’….?” As so often in that better-read age, Churchill didn’t bother to cite the source, assuming most of his readers would know the source.

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Winston Churchill and Thucydides

Winston Churchill and Thucydides

"Open no more negotiations with Sparta. Show them plainly that you are not crushed by your present afflictions. They who face calamity without wincing, and who offer the most energetic resistance, these, be they States or individuals, are the truest heroes." —Lord Beaverbrook's advice to Churchill, quoting Thucydides, 1942.

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