Did Churchill Ever Admire Hitler? 3/3

Did Churchill Ever Admire Hitler? 3/3

The cur­rent and best edi­tion of Churchill’s Great Con­tem­po­raries

Part 3: Pleas­ing No One …con­tin­ued from Part 2

Churchill was cor­rect when he said his writ­ings about Hitler sat­is­fied nei­ther Hitler’s defend­ers nor Hitler’s crit­ics. One of the for­mer was Lord Lon­don­der­ry, a pro-Hitler peer who com­plained that Churchill’s Evening Stan­dard piece would pre­vent a decent under­stand­ing with Ger­many. On 23 Octo­ber 1937, Churchill replied to Lord Lon­don­der­ry (Gilbert, Churchill: A Life, 581):

You can­not expect Eng­lish peo­ple to be attract­ed by the bru­tal intol­er­ances of Nazidom, though these may fade with time. On the oth­er hand, we all wish to live on friend­ly terms with Ger­many. We know that the best Ger­mans are ashamed of the Nazi excess­es, and recoil from the pagan­ism on which they are based. We cer­tain­ly do not wish to pur­sue a pol­i­cy inim­i­cal to the legit­i­mate inter­ests of Ger­many, but you must sure­ly be aware that when the Ger­man Gov­ern­ment speaks of friend­ship with Eng­land, what they mean is that we shall give them back their for­mer Colonies, and also agree to their hav­ing a free hand so far as we are con­cerned in Cen­tral and South­ern Europe. This means that they would devour Aus­tria and Czecho­slo­va­kia as a pre­lim­i­nary to mak­ing a gigan­tic mid­dle-Europe bloc. It would cer­tain­ly not be in our inter­est to con­nive at such poli­cies of aggres­sion. It would be wrong and cyn­i­cal in the last degree to buy immu­ni­ty for our­selves at the expense of the small­er coun­tries of Cen­tral Europe. It would be con­trary to the whole tide of British and Unit­ed States opin­ion for us to facil­i­tate the spread of Nazi tyran­ny over coun­tries which now have a con­sid­er­able mea­sure of demo­c­ra­t­ic freedom.

It is pos­si­ble now, know­ing of what Hitler real­ly was, to scoff at Churchill for fail­ing to go all out against him in his writ­ings of 1935-37. In fact, he had told the truth about Hitler from the begin­ning, but tem­pered some of his writ­ing in an effort to meet the wish­es of the For­eign Office—which was cer­tain that Hitler could be han­dled, if only they didn’t upset him. Nev­er­the­less, as Sir Mar­tin Gilbert wrote: “nei­ther the toned-down essay [in Great Con­tem­po­raries] nor the con­cil­ia­to­ry arti­cle in the Evening Stan­dard marked any change in Churchill’s attitude….”

When Churchill writes about buy­ing immu­ni­ty from a “gigan­tic bloc” marked by bru­tal intol­er­ance, one is remind­ed of cer­tain par­al­lels with the poli­cies of West­ern democ­ra­cies toward sim­i­lar fanat­ics in our own time.

One thought on “Did Churchill Ever Admire Hitler? 3/3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *