All the “Quotes” Churchill Never Said (2: Fanatic to Liberty)

All the “Quotes” Churchill Never Said (2: Fanatic to Liberty)

“Red Her­rings”: Fake Churchill Quotes (or things he said quot­ing some­one else), con­tin­ued from Part 1.…  Com­piled for the next expand­ed edi­tion of Churchill by Him­self. Chap­ter ref­er­ences are to cur­rent edi­tions of that book.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going” is the most com­mon coun­ter­feit. Heard by every­one from pres­i­dents to comics, it is sheer fantasy—Churchill wasn’t giv­en to such redun­dan­cy. What’s your favorite among these Red Her­rings? Mine is the one about golf, which I expe­ri­enced per­son­al­ly before I wise­ly gave the game up.

Fanatic – France

Fanat­ic: A fanat­ic is some­one who won’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.

• Often attrib­uted to Churchill or Pres­i­dent Tru­man. “Among quotes I see often, but with­out a source. I doubt that it’s Tru­man, or, if he ever said it, that the quo­ta­tion orig­i­nat­ed with him.” – Ralph Keyes, edi­tor, The Quote Verifier.

Fas­cists: The fas­cists of the future will be the anti-fascists.

• No attri­bu­tion, but some­thing sim­i­lar may have been uttered by Huey Long. It is always tempt­ing to put words in WSC’s mouth, giv­en the con­trast between the pol­i­tics of his day and ours.

Fear and Courage: Fear is a reac­tion. Courage is a deci­sion.No attri­bu­tion.

Feet-first: Not feet-first, please!

• Sup­pos­ed­ly said in 1962 to the stretch­er-bear­er after break­ing his leg at Monte Car­lo, but no quotes resem­bling this can be tracked.

Fire Fight­ers: Heroes with grimy faces. • No attri­bu­tion.

First Thoughts: Dis­trust first thoughts—they are usu­al­ly honest.

• Churchill uttered these words in Par­lia­ment, 15 July 1948, but he put quote marks around them, and pre­ced­ed them by say­ing, “As the cyn­ic has said…”

Fools: The great­est les­son in life is to know that even fools are right some­times • No attri­bu­tion.

France: The des­tiny of a great nation has nev­er yet been set­tled by the tem­po­rary con­di­tion of its tech­ni­cal apparatus.

  • Not one of Churchill’s quotes but said by him in the Com­mons, 2 August 1944. Churchill attrib­uted it to Leon Trotsky.

France: God cre­at­ed France for its beau­ty and French­men to bal­ance it. • No attribution.

Free Lunch – Genius

Free Lunch: There ain’t no free lunch.

  • WSC is alleged to have said only these five words at a com­mence­ment cer­e­mo­ny, and then resumed his seat. The Quote Ver­i­fi­er tracks them to var­i­ous peo­ple from Mil­ton Fried­man to Mer­rill Rukeyser. It can also be found in Rud­yard Kipling’s Amer­i­can Notes (1891). Kipling report­ed that San Fran­cis­co bars offered food to cus­tomers who ordered at least one drink.

Friend­ship: We [or “He and I”] have been out togeth­er in all weathers.

  • Alleged­ly 1906. Said by Louis Botha about Churchill to WSC’s moth­er.  At an impe­r­i­al con­fer­ence, hav­ing become prime min­is­ter of the Trans­vaal, Botha “so recent­ly our ene­my, passed up the hall to his place, he paused to say to my moth­er, who stood by my side, ‘He and I have been out in all weath­ers.’ It was sure­ly true.” See Churchill’s My Ear­ly Life.

Gand­hi ought to be laid, bound hand and foot, at the gates of Del­hi and then tram­pled on by an enor­mous ele­phant with the new Viceroy seat­ed on its back.

  • Alleged­ly 4 Novem­ber 1920, an exam­ple of how hearsay becomes a quo­ta­tion. The usu­al­ly reli­able Duff Coop­er report­ed it (Old Men For­get, 133), and it could be Churchill in one of his “Gand­hi moods.” But with­out cor­rob­o­ra­tion, it appears with quotemarks in an unread­able attack biog­ra­phy; and by an accom­plished his­to­ri­an, Sarvepal­li Gopal, in “Churchill and India” (Blake & Louis, Major New Assess­ment, 459). For gen­uine Gand­hi quotes see Chap­ter 20, Peo­ple, Gandhi.

Gen­er­als are always prepar­ing to fight the last war. • No attri­bu­tion, although this old expres­sion may well have been his sen­ti­ment dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

Genius: True genius resides in the capac­i­ty for eval­u­a­tion of uncer­tain, haz­ardous, and con­flict­ing infor­ma­tion. • No attribution.

Germany, pre-1939

Attacks on Ger­many (Pre­ven­tive War): 

Ger­many should be bombed every 50 years as a pre­ven­tive mea­sure, with­out giv­ing any rea­son. • No attribution.

If Ger­many begins trad­ing in the next fifty years we would have fought the [First World] War for noth­ing. (Vari­a­tion: Should Ger­many attempt to mer­chan­dise again in the next fifty years we have led this war in vain.)

Post­ed on YouTube ref­er­enc­ing a let­ter or state­ment to The Times, 1919; no such words can be tracked.

We will force this war on Hitler if he wants it or not.

Post­ed on YouTube alleg­ing a “1936 broad­cast.”  No attribution.

Ger­many becomes too pow­er­ful. We have to crush it.

Post­ed on YouTube claim­ing to be said to U.S. Gen­er­al Robert E. Wood, a finan­cial backer of the Amer­i­ca First Com­mit­tee, in Novem­ber 1936. While Wood may have alleged such a state­ment, there is no record of it in the Churchill Papers.

Germany, 1939-on

This war is an Eng­lish war and its goal is the destruc­tion of Germany.

• Post­ed on YouTube ref­er­enc­ing an “Autumn 1939 broad­cast.” No such state­ment can be tracked to his broad­casts or any oth­er source.

I do not wish to be chained to a dead German.

• Referred to as a 1944 remark by Con­rad Black in The Spec­ta­tor, Lon­don, 25 May 2019. No attribution.

Germany’s unfor­giv­able crime before the Sec­ond World War was her attempt to extri­cate her eco­nom­ic pow­er from the world’s trad­ing sys­tem and to cre­ate her own exchange mech­a­nism which would deny world finance its oppor­tu­ni­ty to prof­it. We butchered the wrong pig.

•  Alleged­ly among quotes by Robert Booth­by, but not in his mem­oirs, or any­where else. Churchill nev­er had any doubt, from the rise of Hitler to 1945, that the Nazis not the Bol­she­viks were the chief ene­my. He real­ized lat­er that they con­quered one mor­tal foe, only to be faced by anoth­er. But these are not his words.

The war wasn’t only about abol­ish­ing fas­cism, but to con­quer sales mar­kets. We could have, if we had intend­ed to, pre­vent­ed this war from break­ing out with­out doing one shot, but we didn’t want to.

• Alleged­ly to Tru­man at Ful­ton, March 1946. “Doing one shot” is ungram­mat­i­cal and not Churchillian. No attribution.

Germany, cont’d.

Peo­ple: The Ger­mans are a peo­ple who killed off their own gods. • No attri­bu­tion.

You must under­stand that this war is not against Hitler or Nation­al Social­ism but against the strength of the Ger­man peo­ple, which is to be smashed once and for all, whether it is in the hands of Hitler or a Jesuit priest! (Alleged­ly 1955, in Emrys Hugh­es, British Bull­dog, 145.) • Not in Hugh­es, nor any­where else.

Resis­tance move­ment: In Ger­many there lived an oppo­si­tion which was weak­ened by their loss­es and an ener­vat­ing inter­na­tion­al pol­i­cy, but which belongs to the noblest and great­est that the polit­i­cal his­to­ry of any nation has ever pro­duced. These men fought with­out help from with­in or from abroad—driven for­ward only by the rest­less­ness of their con­science. As long as they lived they were invis­i­ble and unrecog­nis­able to us, because they had to cam­ou­flage them­selves. But their death made the resis­tance visible.

  • Sup­pos­ed­ly 1946. Richard Lamb, Churchill as War Leader, 292, 363, con­tains the only appear­ances in Eng­lish of this pas­sage, repeat­ed in Ger­man by Rudolf Pechel (Deutsch­er Wider­stand, 1947). In a foot­note, Lamb says there is doubt that Churchill said the words, but did hold the sen­ti­ments, quot­ing WSC to Wal­ter Ham­mer of Ham­burg, 19 Novem­ber 1946: “I have had a search made through my speeches…but so far no record can be found of any such pro­nounce­ment by me. But I might quite well have used the words you quote as they rep­re­sent my feel­ings on this aspect of Ger­man affairs.”

Giving up – Harlot’s perogative

Giv­ing up: Nev­er give up on some­thing that you can’t go a day with­out think­ing about. • No attribution.

Golf: A curi­ous sport whose object is to put a very small ball in a very small hole with imple­ments ill-designed for the purpose.

• Alleged­ly 1915. Man­ches­ter, Last Lion I, 213, car­ries this remark, but the foot­note is not dis­pos­i­tive. It does not, con­trary to the foot­note, appear in the Offi­cial Biography’s Com­pan­ion Vol­umes. Ver­dict: Almost every golfer prob­a­bly said some­thing like this at one time or another.

Gov­ern­ment secrets: There is a dif­fer­ence between what endan­gers the nation and what mere­ly embar­rass­es the government.

  • Not tracked to Churchill. See “What was then in egg is now afoot” in Chap­ter 12, “War.”

Grand­fa­ther­ly advice: What you say is very grand­fa­ther­ly. You’re always giv­ing me grand­fa­ther­ly advice. You’re not my grand­fa­ther, you know. • No attri­bu­tion.

Greeks fight like heroes: Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks.

  • Alleged­ly over Greece’s resis­tance to Ger­man inva­sion in April 1941. No attribution.

 Harlot’s pre­rog­a­tive: Pow­er with­out responsibility…the pre­rog­a­tive of the har­lot through the ages.

  • Not Churchill but Rud­yard Kipling. Sub­se­quent­ly used by Bald­win in 1931 with­out ref­er­ence to Kipling (his cousin).

Health – Heritage

Health: Half the world’s work is done by peo­ple who don’t feel well. • No attri­bu­tion.

Hebrew Blood­suck­ers: The cen­tral fact which dom­i­nates the rela­tions of Jew and non-Jew is that the Jew is “dif­fer­ent.” He looks different….thinks dif­fer­ent­ly. He has a dif­fer­ent tra­di­tion and back­ground…. Every Jew­ish money­len­der recalls Shy­lock and the idea of the Jews as usurers. And you can­not rea­son­ably expect a strug­gling clerk or shop­keep­er, pay­ing 40 or 50 per­cent inter­est on bor­rowed mon­ey to a “Hebrew Blood­suck­er,” to reflect that almost every oth­er way of life was closed to the Jew­ish people.

  • A 1937 draft for a pro­posed Churchill arti­cle by Mar­shall Dis­ton, who wrote draft pro­pos­als for some Churchill arti­cles. Mar­tin Gilbert repro­duced the draft years ago (OB, CV5 Part 5, 670). He showed that Churchill scarce­ly glanced at it and twice dis­ap­proved its pub­li­ca­tion. The orig­i­nal bore none of his usu­al copi­ous edits. This did not pre­vent scan­dalous claims that these were Churchill’s words.

Hell: If you’re going through hell, keep going. •No attri­bu­tion.

Her­itage, pride in: Any peo­ple with con­tempt for their her­itage have lost faith in them­selves and no nation can long sur­vive with­out pride in it’s [sic] traditions.

• Ungram­mat­i­cal­ly inscribed on a Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ment (recent­ly removed) in Lawrenceville, Geor­gia. In 1974, Dean Bog­gs of the Sons of Con­fed­er­ate vet­er­ans, wrote the words, say­ing they were Churchill’s sen­ti­ments. Lat­er they were incor­rect­ly placed with­in quote marks.

Heroes – Horrible Cow

Heroes: A nation that fails to hon­or its heroes soon will have no heroes to honor.

Not Churchill. Pos­si­bly derived from Allan Bloom’s The Clos­ing of the Amer­i­can Mind: In mod­ern soci­ety “they have no heroes to emulate.”

His­to­ry, remembering 

Those who can­not remem­ber the past are con­demned to repeat it.

• Famous among quotes by George San­tayana (1863-1952) in The Age of Rea­son (1905). Churchill shared the sen­ti­ments, but nev­er repeat­ed the exact words.

His­to­ry, writ­ers of

His­to­ry is writ­ten by the victors.

• Not Churchill. Ralph Keyes in The Quote Ver­i­fi­er traces vari­ants of this quote at least back to 1879. The words above were repeat­ed more recent­ly by Alex Haley and Jawa­har­lal Nehru. A sim­i­lar line cred­it­ed to Oliv­er Wen­dell Homes is, “His­to­ry is what the win­ners say it is.”

His­to­ry you don’t know

The only thing that’s new in the world is the his­to­ry you don’t know. • No attribution.

Hitler, Adolf

When the Aus­tro-Hun­gar­i­an Empire was crushed, defeated…a young painter resolved to put things right.

No attri­bu­tion: an inac­cu­rate ver­sion of the open­ing lines of The Gath­er­ing Storm: “…a gap­ing void was opened in the nation­al life of the Ger­man people…and into that void after a pause there strode a mani­ac of fero­cious genius…” (See Chap­ter 18, World War II…Causes of the War.)

Hor­ri­ble Cow: How shall I deal with this hor­ri­ble cow? I will sit on the stile, And con­tin­ue to smile, Which may soft­en the heart of the cow.

  • (Liv­er­pool, 7 May 1924). Not Churchill, since he pre­ced­ed this by say­ing, “You all know the famous rhyme about the old man….” (He was blam­ing the Lib­er­als for keep­ing the minor­i­ty Labour gov­ern­ment in power.)

Horses – Idiots

Hors­es: The world is best viewed through the ears of a horse. No attri­bu­tion.

The out­side of a horse is good for the inside of a man. • Repeat­ed­ly attrib­uted to every­one from Woodrow Wilson’s physi­cian to Ronald Rea­gan,  Hen­ry Ward Beech­er and Oliv­er Wen­dell Holmes. “Ver­dict: Long-time male eques­tri­an wis­dom.” –The Quote Ver­i­fi­er, 91. What Churchill did say about hors­es is an amus­ing sub­sti­tute. (See Chap­ter 32, Tastes and Favourites, Horses.)

Huns: The Hun is always at your throat or at your feet.

  • Not orig­i­nal. WSC did say this (to Con­gress, 19 May 1943) but pre­ced­ed it by say­ing, “The proud Ger­man Army has once again proved the truth of the say­ing…” 

Hus­band, sec­ond: If I could not be who I am, I would most like to be Mrs. Churchill’s sec­ond hus­band. No attri­bu­tion.

Idiots: I’d rather argue against a hun­dred idiots than have one agree with me.No attri­bu­tion.

Immigration – Indians

Immi­gra­tion: Keep Eng­land White.

• Alleged excla­ma­tion at a cab­i­net meet­ing on 20 Jan­u­ary 1955. It stems from a diary note by Harold Macmil­lan: “P.M. thinks ‘Keep Eng­land White’ a good slo­gan! The excla­ma­tion point sug­gests that it was a wry aside dur­ing dis­cus­sion of West Indi­an immi­gra­tion. Unrecord­ed in cab­i­net min­utes or a pub­lic state­ment, it remains hearsay.

Indi­an Ras­cals, Rogues and Free­boot­ers: Pow­er will go to the hands of ras­cals, rogues, free­boot­ers; all Indi­an lead­ers will be of low cal­i­bre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and sil­ly hearts. They will fight amongst them­selves for pow­er and India will be lost in polit­i­cal squabbles.

  • Among fake quotes this gar­ners the most com­ment on my web­site.I found no ref­er­ences in his 20 mil­lion word canon to “ras­cals, rogues or free­boaters” or to “low cal­i­bre.” How­ev­er, he did refer to the Con­gress lead­ers as “men of straw” on 6 March 1947, in con­demn­ing their rush toward inde­pen­dence before bor­ders of a sub­di­vid­ed sub­con­ti­nent were resolved. 

Ingrat­i­tude towards their great men is the mark of strong peoples.

  • Pub­lished 1949 in Their Finest Hour, but Churchill him­self cred­it­ed Plutarch with this remark. He was com­men­tat­ing on the dis­card­ing of the French war leader Georges Clemenceau after the vic­to­ry of World War I. See Chap­ter 20, Peo­ple, Clemenceau.

Interrupting – Italians

Inter­rupt­ing: Do stop inter­rupt­ing me while I am inter­rupt­ing you.

• A bowd­ler­ized ver­sion of a com­ment to his son: “Ran­dolph, do not inter­rupt me while I’m inter­rupt­ing” (see Chap­ter 31, Per­son­al Mat­ters, Faults — interrupting).

Irish: We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be Eng­lish. • No attri­bu­tion.

Islam: When Mus­lims are in the minor­i­ty they are very con­cerned with minor­i­ty rights, when they are in the major­i­ty there are no minor­i­ty rights. • No attribution.

Ital­ians:  They lose wars as if they were foot­ball match­es and foot­ball match­es as if they were wars.  No attri­bu­tion.

[Ger­man Ambas­sador von Ribben­trop:] “Don’t for­get, Mr. Churchill, if there is a war, we will have the Ital­ians on our side this time.”] My dear Ambas­sador, it’s only fair. We had them last time.

  • Alleged aside dur­ing WSC’s famous 1937 meet­ing with the “Lon­don­der­ry Herr” (see Chap­ter 20, Peo­ple, Ribben­trop). A very droll line. Sad­ly, no attri­bu­tion exists, although it amused an Ital­ian friend of mine immensely.

Jaw, Jaw – Lies

Jaw, Jaw and War, War: Jaw, jaw is bet­ter than war, war.

  • Wash­ing­ton, 1954. Mis­quot­ed from “Meet­ing jaw to jaw is bet­ter than war.” Harold Macmil­lan in 1958 said the words usually—and wrongly—attributed to Churchill: “Jaw, jaw is bet­ter than war, war.” 

Keep your Mouth Shut: Life is fraught with oppor­tu­ni­ties to keep your mouth shut. • No attri­bu­tion.

Kiss a Girl, Climb a Wall: The most dif­fi­cult things for a man to do are to climb a wall lean­ing towards you, and to kiss a girl lean­ing away from you. [Some­times quot­ed with an addi­tion: “…and to make an after-din­ner speech.”]

  • Com­mon­ly ascribed, but nowhere in the canon. Recent­ly claimed by reli­gion colum­nist Mar­i­on de Velder, it prob­a­bly dates long before Churchill.

Kites: Kites rise high­est against the wind—not with it. • No attri­bu­tion.

Lib­er­al and Con­ser­v­a­tive: If a man is not lib­er­al in youth he has no heart. If he is not con­ser­v­a­tive when old­er he has no brain. [Or: When I was a young lib­er­al I thought with my heart; when I grew wis­er and con­ser­v­a­tive I thought with my brain.]

  • Among pop­u­lar quotes on the Inter­net, but not by Churchill.

Lib­er­ty: They who can give up essen­tial lib­er­ty to obtain a lit­tle tem­po­rary safe­ty deserve nei­ther lib­er­ty nor safety.

  • Cir­ca 1940. Often attrib­uted to Churchill, this remark orig­i­nat­ed at least as ear­ly as 1776 with Ben­jamin Franklin, though it may date back two decades ear­li­er, to 1755. If Churchill used it, he was quot­ing Franklin.

More fake quotes:

…con­tin­ued in Part 3.

5 thoughts on “All the “Quotes” Churchill Never Said (2: Fanatic to Liberty)

  1. This is a real­ly inter­est­ing col­lec­tion – I learned a lot about here! Would you mind fix­ing the for­mat­ting of the “Ger­many, Nazi” sec­tion? It’s rather con­fus­ing to read. Also, the title of Rudelf Pechel’s book is “Deutsch­er Wider­stand” (Ger­man resis­tance), not “Deutsch­er Wilder­strand” (Ger­man wild­beach). Sor­ry for being nitpicky!

  2. Thanks! I can say with cer­tain­ty that the only occur­rence of “camel dung” among Churchill’s 20 mil­lion known words is his 23Oct43 ques­tion to Eden’s Under­sec­re­tary, Alexan­der Cado­gan, as to whether the Turk­ish word AMGOT “means camel dung or some­thing equal­ly unpleas­ant?” (AMGOT was the acronym for “Allied Mil­i­tary Gov­ern­ment for Occu­pied Ter­ri­to­ries.”)

    Cado­gan replied: “Prime Min­is­ter, I have estab­lished, on high author­i­ty, that AMGOT does not, in Turk­ish, sig­ni­fy camel dung. It does not cor­re­spond to any sin­gle Turk­ish word. There are, how­ev­er, two Turk­ish words, ‘Ahm’ and ‘Kot,’ which an Eng­lish schol­ar would, not incor­rect­ly, trans­late as ‘Cunt’ and ‘Arse’…. The Turk­ish term for camel’s dung is deve gübre­si.” (Cado­gan to his Diary: “My task is com­pli­cat­ed by the PM suggesting—or sending—spasmodic replies to telegrams which real­ly require some modification.”) 

    Sor­ry, couldn’t resist.

    There is one hearsay report that he said some­thing sim­i­lar to the words you quote, but the evi­dence is not strong, in fact con­tra­dic­to­ry. The con­text was Churchill’s crit­i­cism of the 1939 Pales­tine White Paper, which he regard­ed as anti-Semit­ic. It’s in Michael Makovsky’s excel­lent book, Churchill’s Promised Land, pp. 168-69: but you need to read it in full:

    As much as Churchill’s respect and sym­pa­thy for the Jews had strength­ened, his opin­ion of the Pales­tin­ian Arabs and their cause had wors­ened. He could not under­stand why the Arabs were indulged when they, in con­trast to the Jews, reaped more than his­to­ry owed. He argued that “else­where over vast regions inhab­it­ed by the Arabs inde­pen­dent Arab King­doms and prin­ci­pal­i­ties have come into being such as had nev­er been known in Arab his­to­ry before.” More specif­i­cal­ly, he did not under­stand why the gov­ern­ment favored the Pales­tin­ian Arabs who his­tor­i­cal­ly had been hos­tile to Britain and its inter­ests (fight­ing for the Ottomans in the First World War, for instance), and still were. He expressed great frus­tra­tion with the per­verse strate­gic choic­es made by the gov­ern­ment of favor­ing ene­mies over allies. He exclaimed, “We are now asked to submit—and this is what ran­kles most with me—to an agi­ta­tion which is fed with for­eign mon­ey and cease­less­ly inflamed by Nazi and by Fas­cist pro­pa­gan­da.” Per­haps reflect­ing his com­plete exas­per­a­tion with the Pales­tin­ian Arabs, in 1938 he got into a big argu­ment with Mal­colm Mac­Don­ald, the new colo­nial sec­re­tary, in the lob­by of the House of Com­mons. Mac­Don­ald recalled the argu­ment sev­er­al decades lat­er: “He told me I was crazy to help the Arabs, because they were a back­ward peo­ple who ate noth­ing but camel dung.” While these might not have been Churchill’s exact words, the gist of the com­ment jibed with what he had thought of the Pales­tin­ian Arabs at least since encoun­ter­ing them in the ear­ly 1920s.

  3. Great work Mr Lang­worth, your web­site and your works have aid­ed me in my argu­ments both against the liars who indulge in calum­ny against Sir Win­ston. How­ev­er, I do have one ques­tion. Did he ever say “Pales­tini­ans are bar­bar­ic hordes who ate lit­tle but camel dung?

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