Excerpted from “Churchill’s Steady Adherence to His 1946 ‘Iron Curtain’ Speech in Fulton,” written for the Hillsdale College Churchill Project. For the Hillsdale post with endnotes and more images, please click here. (Part of the text is taken from “Iron Curtain 75 Years On,” while adding relevant timelines.)
Fulton then and now
Initially condemned as a warmonger for telling the truth about Soviet intentions in his 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech, Churchill was soon acknowledged as a prophet—sometimes by the same individuals and media who excoriated him. Churchill himself never backed off.…
The Greeks are still not laughing about their mid-1940s civil war, so levity may be inappropriate. Nor was at the time was Winston Churchill. “There is a lot of ruin in any nation,” he once mused. In Athens, 1944, Britain was “responsible for building up the nest of cockatrices for EAM [communist partisans] in Greece.” (His vocabulary was broad: A cockatrice is a mythical, two-legged dragon or serpent-like creature with a cock’s head.)
Nevertheless, the peace deal Churchill brokered between warring Greeks in 1944 had so many hilarious moments that, 75 years later, we may be permitted to indulge in lighter aspects.…
About lies. Can you please advise whether or not Sir Winston Churchill said: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Many thanks. —A.S., Bermuda
That one lies with Cordell Hull
It was Franklin Roosevelt‘s Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, not Churchill. I have a slight variation of it in the “Red Herrings” appendix of Churchill by Himself, page 576: “A lie will gallop halfway round the world before the truth has time to pull its breeches on.” Although commonly ascribed to Churchill (who would have said “trousers,” not “breeches”), this is definitely down to Hull.…
A r eader writes: “Rather late in the day, I have been reading The Spectator (UK) Christmas Special dated 15/21/29 December 2018. Page 28 refers to one Ronnie Boyd, who had been a teenage Ordinary Seaman aboard HMS Ajax in December 1944, when Winston Churchill arrived in Athens to try to end the ongoing civil war.
“British forces ‘helped put down, with considerable force of arms, a perceived partisan/communist uprising—the so-called Battle of Athens, or the Dekemvriana in Greece,’ the article states. There follows the extraordinary statement ‘Not Winston Churchill’s Finest Hour, it has to be said.’…
The success of the movie Darkest Hour has prompted many to look up other film and video presentations of the Churchill saga. One of these is the 2005 series on Walter Thompson, Churchill’s Bodyguard, which a colleague tells me is a useful documentary. It is. All thirteen episodes are on YouTube. I watched several without complaint—rare for me.
Walter Henry Thompson
…was Winston Churchill’s protection officer and detective, on and off between 1921 and 1945. They had many adventures together, and Thompson wrote four books about his experiences. The first, Guard from the Yard (1938, now very rare) involved Churchill and others whom Thompson protected.…
EXCERPT ONLY: For the complete text of “Churchill and the Baltic” with endnotes, please go to this page on the Hillsdale College Churchill Project.
“No doubt where the right lay”: 1940-95
Soviet Ambassador Ivan Maisky was a “Bollinger Bolshevik” who mixed support for Communism with a love of Western luxury. Friendly to Churchill, he knew the Englishman hoped to separate Hitler and Stalin, even after World War II had started.
But Maisky tended to see what he wished to see. In December he recorded: “The British Government announces its readiness to recognize ‘de facto’ the changes in the Baltics so as to settle ‘de jure’ the whole issue later, probably after the war.” There…
Col. Gault (Military Assistant to General Eisenhower, 29 April 1945): “John Peck, is that you? The General told me to ask you if the war is over.”
Peck: “I beg your pardon?”
Gault: “Seriously, we’ve got a press message here which says quite clearly that it’s all over. If so, nobody has told the General and he thought you would be the most likely to know at your end.”
Peck: “Well, if it has ended, nobody has told the Prime Minister either.”
A striking work of scholarship (actually an abridgement of a three-volume complete work coming in 2016), this book will inspire fresh scholarship on Churchill, Russia and World War II. Ivan Maisky was a penetrating observer of 1932-43 Britain, and Gabriel Gorodetsky connects every long gap in his diaries with informed accounts of what was happening.…
The campaign to Leave is heating up. Take Grassroots Out, a “combined operation” supporting Brexit—the campaign for Great Britain to exit the European Union. G-O fielded a broad spectrum of speakers in London February 19th. Along with UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage were Conservative Sir William Cash, Labour’s Kate Hoey, economist Ruth Lea, and a London cab driver.
The most unexpected Leave speaker was the far-left former Labour MP and head of the socialist Respect Party. Mr. George Galloway was immediately queried about his new colleagues.
This book examines Churchill’s theory that “timely action” could have forced Hitler to recoil, and a devastating catastrophe avoided. We consider his proposals, and the degree to which he pursued them. Churchill was both right and wrong. He was right that Hitler could have been stopped. He was wrong in not doing all he could to stop him. The result is a corrective to traditional arguments, both of Churchill’s critics and defenders. Whether the war was avoidable hangs on these issues.