I find the glorification of Churchill quite disgusting. It is typical British-American arrogance to ignore the outcome of WW2 for the peoples of Eastern Europe, not to speak of the Germans. Churchill knew from the beginning about the terrible fate of the Russians and many other East European peoples under Bolshevist dictatorship. He obviously didn’t care. He was obsessed with anti-German hatred. Knowing that he bombed German cities, killing thousands of civilians long before the Germans were retaliating, makes him in my opinion even worse than Hitler. Why did he go into alliance with Stalin against the Germans? That is his crime and the recognition of it will come. —H.W. via email.
The choice before Churchill and Britain in 1939-40 was anything but clear-cut. There were good reasons, however, supporting the choice they made.
While considering the fate of Eastern Europe it is reasonable also to consider that of Western Europe, and what Europe would have looked like had Hitler triumphed, and moved on into the nuclear age.
Before assuming that Churchill didn’t care about Bolshevism, it is necessary to read a little. Read about 1919-20, when he supported the Whites against the Bolsheviks, earning no love from his practical, wise and eminent colleagues, who didn’t see what he did.
Read on into the 1930s. Who occupied the Rhineland in violation of treaties? What was the March 1938 Anschluss about? What happened at Munich? What about March 1939, and the absorption of all those Bohemians, Moravians and Slovakians into the Reich? Which country first allied herself with Russia—Britain or Germany? Cities like Guernica, Warsaw and Rotterdam were all hit before the RAF had dropped a single bomb on the Reich. Indeed, for many months after the war started in 1939, the most the British would drop were pamphlets. Bombing, some in the government believed, would amount to destruction of private property.
Why side with Stalin in 1941? If your back is to the wall you tend to welcome allies without being too choosy about them. It is a legitimate criticism that Churchill was too trusting of Stalin; those arguments are not coming out, they’ve been out for thirty years. But if he hated Germans, his postwar declaration that the only way to salvage Europe was through rapprochement between France and Germany was an odd way to express it. “My hate,” he wrote later, “died with their surrender.”
In 1931 Churchill wrote “Mass Effects in Modern Life”: words that still ring today:
No material progress, even though it takes shapes we cannot now conceive, or however it may expand the faculties of man, can bring comfort to his soul. It is this fact, more wonderful than any that Science can reveal, which gives the best hope that all will be well. Projects undreamed-of by past generations will absorb our immediate descendants; forces terrific and devastating will be in their hands; comforts, activities, amenities, pleasures will crowd upon them, but their hearts will ache, their lives will be barren, if they have not a vision above material things.
“Implicit in those words,” says Dr. Larry Arnn, “are the speeches of 1940. Churchill told the British people we must fight to the death—better to die than to give this thing up. The sin of Hitler, almost superhuman in its scale but not, is that he tried too form a polity that would eliminate the very heart of humanity. No one saw that more clearly than Winston Churchill.”