The scholar Harry V. Jaffa placed most of the blame on human error: “Not only was Lusitania's steam reduced; her crew was also. The best men had been taken by the Royal Navy; lifeboat drills were listless…. The davits by which they had to be lowered were virtually unworkable from the moment the ship began to list. But the greatest of all the failures was the captain’s, since he navigated almost exactly as he would have done in peacetime.” Captain Turner had slowed down after striking the Irish coast, in order to arrive with the tide at Merseyside.
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.
Leaving quietly was what you did in those bygone days. Lord Halifax in 1940 proposed negotiations with Hitler; rejected by the War Cabinet, he did not offer interviews to air his grievances. Nor would such an act of public disloyalty have occurred to him. George Marshall, a great man, had many disagreements with his civilian chiefs. Offered a million dollars for his memoirs, he declined, saying, “I have already been adequately compensated for my services.”
Churchill’s staff remembered the sense of urgency so characteristic of the man. In the old Humber, “Murray, the detective, would sit at [the chauffeur’s] side, quietly murmuring, ‘slow down here’ or ‘pull in to the left a little more,’” wrote Roy Howells, a male nurse. “At the back Sir Winston would be…tapping on the glass partition and calling out, ‘Go on!’ Whenever he felt Bullock was slow in overtaking he would lean forward and bellow, ‘Now!’ It does Bullock great credit that he never really took the chances his passenger would have liked….”
Morley pronounced the epitaph for his age in May 1923, four months before he died. His words sound more like 2023. "Present party designations have become empty of all contents…. Vastly extended State expenditure, vastly increased demands from the taxpayer who has to provide the money, social reform regardless of expense, cash exacted from the taxpayer already at his wits’ end—when were the problems of plus and minus more desperate?"
"Cast your eye from the entrance on the War Rooms slightly to the right. You’ll see a doorway well above ground. To the right of that doorway you will see a set of six windows ending in a curved window at Storey’s Gate. Those are the actual rooms in which Winston Churchill slept and worked during the Second World War."
"On 4 July 1942 the 8th army held the line at El Alamein.... You’d see the glow from their cigarettes and pipes, and the little glow from the radio dial. After the news we'd switch over to the "Message from Home" program from Germany. And before long it would go Ompa Ompa—and there was Lili Marlene.... And the 8th Army swept on, capturing on its way 800 miles of desert, 75,000 prisoners, 5000 tanks, 1000 guns, and the famous enemy song of Lili Marlene." —Denis Johnston
The Martin Gilbert Learning Centre offers a free Zoom presentation by Lady Gilbert herself, on the 1945 bombing of Dresden. The date is Monday 13 February 2023 at 2pm Eastern, 11 am Pacific, 7pm Greenwich Mean Time. Email Deputy Director Dr. Bethany Gaunt to be put on the Zoom invitation list. Lady Gilbert will include Sir Martin's story about how a Soviet general corroborated the truth about who ordered the bombing—in Moscow!
Lord Alfred Douglas, friend of Oscar Wilde, was involved in several scandals, one of the more unfortunate being his accusation that Churcill manipulated press announcements about the Battle of Jutland in order to favor Jewish investors on the New York Stock Market.
When Ripka said the Czechs would defend themselves, Churchill waxed emotional: “Tomáš.Masaryk was right,” he cried. “Death is better than slavery.” If war did come, he continued, mopping his eyes, this time they must wage it against the Boche so thoroughly that he wouldn’t recover for generations.... After a while he spoke of “Herr Beans,” as he pronounced the name of Czechoslovakia’s president, Edvard Beneš, Ripka continued: "Churchill called him one of the greatest men of our epoch, and praised the resolution of the Czechs to fight for freedom with such vehemence that he began to cry all over again."