A very lengthy piece in Der Spiegel explains how Churchill took on Hitler. After watching the World at War this summer. a question was asked: what did the U.K. get out of the war? The answer? Not much.
The U.S. and Russia emerged as the world’s superpowers. Germany was rebuilt. Really, only Churchill’s moral arguments and statesmanship against the Nazis was their claim. The U.K. won the moral victory.
Churchill was a man of adventure and risk. These manly features we do not see very often any more:
Churchill had killed people in battle as a young man, but he was not particularly struck by the experience. “Nothing in history was ever settled except by wars,” the bellicose Churchill believed. He loved danger and sought out adventure. Even when he was in his sixties, as prime minister, he would stand on the roof of a government building in London during German air raids to observe the murderous spectacle from above, while his cabinet ministers fled into the bomb shelters.
One of my favorite Churchill stories is this one:
The gauntlet had been thrown down, and the mood quickly shifted. A furious Hitler publicly berated Churchill as a “warmonger,” while Churchill increasingly ignored diplomatic etiquette. By now he was sharply criticizing the persecution of the Jews, and in a newspaper commentary in the summer of 1939, he wrote that the Third Reich represented an unprecedented “cult of malignancy.”
When World War II began a few weeks later, it was Hitler, ironically, who paved the way for Churchill’s political comeback. The German invasion of Poland shed a new light on Churchill’s earlier predictions. He had been right, after all, and the fact that the Nazis were now railing against him, calling him a “filthy liar” and a “bloated pig,” only enhanced his popularity.
Yielding to public pressure, Chamberlain appointed him to his cabinet, and in the spring of 1940, Churchill finally succeeded him as prime minister.
On the evening of May 10, Churchill, now 65, was sitting in a limousine on his way to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI would ask him to form a new government. In his memoirs, Churchill writes: “I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.”
All of Churchill’s sacrifice, all his risk taking, politically, his time in the wilderness, his education–all was but a preparation for this moment in which, quite literally, Churchill would be the moral voice to save the world. Not many people can say they have had the opportunity to really do that, much less have actually done it.
There is a lot left out of Der Spiegel’s article, but one thing is sure, the article by this apparent German writer is glowing of the man who helped conquer the country. Is the world better off having an empire loving statesman at the helm who understood human nature? The conclusion is most certainly.