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Finest Hour 107

Finest Hour 107, Summer 2000

Page 20

By Michael McMenamin

One hundred years ago:

Summer 1900-Age 25

"[A war] is not a long line of continuous successes."

Churchill returned home on 20 July 1900 on the Dunottar Castle, the same ship on which he had arrived in South Africa eight months earlier. On the very next day he began inscribing copies of his latest book, London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, beginning with an inscription to Oliver Borthwick, the Morning Post editor who had sent him there (see FH 105, p. 45). An election was in the offing so Churchill next set out for Oldham, for his second try at elective office.

"Over 10,000 people turned out in the streets with flags and drums beating and shouted themselves hoarse for two hours," Churchill wrote his brother Jack. "Although it was 12 o'clock before I left the Conservative Club, the streets were still crowded with people."

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Finest Hour 107, Summer 2000

Page 47

London, 23 May - 2 June

This spring our good friends at the London art gallery Ackermann & Johnson produced a stunning exhibit of portraiture, "Images of Sir Winston Churchill." With paintings, drawings, bronzes and ephemera, the gallery showed the work of "many distinguished artists who have captured Churchill's personality and colourful character over the years. In these works, Churchill appears not only as a great statesman, but also as a person of warmth and vitality." A selection of Churchill's own paintings complemented the exhibit, revealing his love of art and an element of his private persona.

Ackermann & Johnson's association with the Churchills goes back a long way. Generations of the family have crossed the gallery's threshold, viewing, buying, seeking advice—and some of the younger generation have even worked there. The gallery has taken a generous interest in the work of the Churchill Center and Societies, having allowed Finest Hour to reproduce the 1942 portrait by Adrian Hill (one of the works on display, central on the catalogue cover above), on the cover of our Autumn 1997 number 96. Mr. Peter Johnson has since loaned us another fine portrait for a future cover, and has promised to pursue the possibility of our reproducing two portraits from the House of Commons collection: a 1946 oil by Oswald Birley, and a 1965 oil by Alfred Egerton Cooper, portraying the Lying-in-State at Westminster Hall.

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Finest Hour 107, Summer 2000

Page 41


On 22 May last I purchased a copy of the abridged one-volume edition of The World Crisis, Macmillan 1941, inscribed "Winston S. Churchill" on Easter 1942, from Andre Nikolai Smith of Southend-on-Sea, Essex. Andre, now aged 86, was a projectionist employed by the Ministry of Information (Mol) during the war. On most weekends from early 1942 to late 1944, he was sent with two colleagues, Messrs. Brownbridge and Hill, to Chequers to show the Prime Minister and his guests (and sometimes staff) feature films and Mol documentaries.

Andre and his colleagues would motor down to Chequers on a Friday afternoon in a car filled with a variety of films, staying in a basement dormitory in the house with other Chequers staff, and return to London on the following Monday morning. Films were shown on two Gaumont BN 35mm projectors. He recalls two Churchill favourites: "How Green is my Valley" and "Stage Door" with Betty Grable.

The films were shown in the Great Library at Chequers (where Andre cannot recall seeing any books!) and he met the PM on two occasions when Churchill went to the projection room and said, "Take this away—I've seen it!"

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Finest Hour 107, Summer 2000

Page 11

Wendy's, the fast food chain, ran an advert in England where a young woman leans over to the Bond Street statue of Winston Churchill, places a sandwich to its mouth and says, "Care for a chicken sandwich, Winnie?" Rafal Heydel-Mankoo writes: "After years of seeing the Royal Family debased and ridiculed on television I have become desensitized to such depictions of great people. At least Churchill is being introduced to couch potatoes"....Unrepentant Communist and syndicated columnist Alexander Cockburn (pronounced "Co-burn") has recirculated the old lie of late actor Norman Shelley, that Shelley gave one or more of Churchill's speeches over the BBC in 1940 when the Premier was indisposed. Sir Robert Rhodes James gave the lie to Shelley's claim years ago (see "An Actor Did Not Give Churchill's Speeches," FH92). Cockburn also said that Churchill contemplated keeping the people out of the London Underground during air raids, and that if Hitler had won, all the Communists would have been shot. We have little doubt about the second of these statements. (Mr. Cockburn was three during the Blitz.)

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Finest Hour 107, Summer 2000

Page 26

By Barry Gough

Fisher, Churchill and The Dardanelles, by Geoffrey Penn. Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Leo Cooper 1999, 299 pages, published at $36.95. Member price $30.

The immediate objective was Constantinople, Turkey's capital, garrisoned by the German Army. The more significant intent was to assist the sagging army of Czarist Russia, pinned down on the Eastern Front and expected to collapse under pressure of repeated German and Austro-Hungarian assaults. The year was 1915, by which time the Western Front had been established, with the opposing armies stalemated by lines of trenches.

To the so-called "Westerners" among British policymakers, such as General Sir William Robertson, the only logical course of action, on strategic grounds, was to pour in more armies to the Western Front. To the "Easterners," among whom Winston Churchill and Lord Kitchener were prominent, the natural course was to capture Constantinople, ship supplies and materiel into the Black Sea, shore up Russian forces and, not least, take the pressure off the Western Front.

It sounded like a satisfactory project, and, not least among the benefits, it might give employment to the Royal Navy which, to that point, had triumphed over the German East Asiatic Squadron in the Battle of the Falkland Islands and was, generally speaking, holding its own in the North Sea. Worth remembering, too, is the impatience of British strategists and statesmen, anxious as they were to end the war as quickly as possible. The war had not ended by the previous Christmas as hoped and expected; Churchill, who by nature was impatient for action and results, stood at the forefront of those anxious to use the Royal Navy to good effect. Thus was born the Dardanelles Expedition.

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Finest Hour 107, Summer 2000

Page 24

By Warren F Kimball

Churchill and the Soviet Union, by David Carlton. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 234 pages. Hardback published at $69.95, member price $58; trade paperback published at $19.95, member price $16.

On 15 September 1919, Winston Churchill penned a caustic warning about the Bolsheviks: "It is a delusion to suppose that all this year we have been fighting the battles of the anti-Bolshevik Russians. On the contrary, they have been fighting ours; and this truth will become painfully apparent from the moment that they are exterminated and the Bolshevik armies are supreme over the whole vast territories of the Russian Empire."

Twenty-five years later, in the aftermath of the Yalta Conference, Churchill commented: "poor Neville Chamberlain believed he could trust Hitler. He was wrong. But I don't think I'm wrong about [trusting] Stalin."

About a year later, on 5 March 1946, Churchill condemned the Soviet Union for dropping "an iron curtain... across the continent," and for allowing Eastern Europe to be ruled by "police government." "God has willed," he declaimed, that the United States, not "some Communist or neo-Fascist state," should have atomic bombs.

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Finest Hour 107, Summer 2000

Page 25

By Elizabeth Edwards Spalding

Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" Speech Fifty Years Later, edited by James W. Muller. University of Missouri Press, 1999, $27.50, member price $23

When ranking the major speeches of the twentieth century—from Woodrow Wilson's 1917 "peace without victory" address, to Ronald Reagan's 1982 remarks before the British Parliament—a convincing argument can be made that Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech of 5 March 1946 in Fulton, Missouri, should come first. Unlike Wilson or Reagan, Churchill, although greatly respected for his intrepid statesmanship in the Second World War, was not in office when he made his memorable remarks at Fulton. With the assistance of The Churchill Center, editor James Muller has put together a collection of essays on Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech that describe, analyze and explain Churchill's best-known, and arguably most important, political statement.

Most academics now tend to dismiss the role of rhetoric in politics and often refer to speeches as merely rhetorical. If such scholars do give public words any weight, they typically see them as declarations that justify actions and policies or politicians themselves. But if rhetoric is understood as the practical art dealing with the way we argue persuasively about human or political affairs, then the connection between rhetoric and politics becomes clear. Statesmen—who are also usually dismissed or devalued as mere leaders by modern academics—use rhetoric to express their regime's principles and to advance arguments for policies that best reflect and apply those principles. Through constant reference to their first principles, rhetoric and discussion, a self-governing people is able to make the most effective political choices and pursue concomitant policies.

Churchill was not confused about the link between politics and rhetoric. His statesmanship and rhetoric were united in his general understanding and practice of politics. In a nicely crafted preface, Muller presents a volume in which the authors strive to understand Churchill's own teaching: "At the summit true politics and strategy are one." Muller describes the care that Churchill took in putting together his speeches and points out, as do others in the book, that the Fulton address reflected nearly a half century of Churchill's thought and experience.

The prologue is Churchill's speech as given at Fulton and, despite the impressive credentials of the other contributors, is the strongest selection in the book. The interpreters of the speech go on to ask and answer questions about whether Churchill's remarks, insights, and policy advice are time bound, timeless, or both.

Most of the chapters were written for a conference held in Fulton to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the speech. Although generally scholarly, the volume is also an American tribute to Churchill, the half-brother from across the Atlantic. Aside from Lady Thatcher, who offers a Churchillian analysis of the post-Cold War world in the epilogue, only one contributor is British and the rest are American. But this is appropriate, one thinks Churchill himself would say, since his purpose at Fulton was to impel the United States to accept its global responsibilities after World War II and meet the challenge of the Cold War. Only by this course, according to Churchill, would the "Sinews of Peace"—from a special relationship between Great Britain and the United States to the establishment of conditions of freedom and democracy in all countries—shield mankind from the "two gaunt marauders, war and tyranny."

The body of the book is six essays, which can be read as pairs in juxtaposition. In their respective chapters, historians John Ramsden and Paul Rahe give detailed background about the speech, including the role of President Harry Truman and his relationship with Churchill, and examine the various reactions, especially in the United States and Great Britain, to the Fulton address. Political scientists Daniel Mahoney and Spencer Warren each aim to define and plumb Churchill's philosophy of politics generally and of international politics specifically through a close treatment of the Fulton text and with reference to major philosophical influences on Churchill. And in their essays, political scientists Larry Arnn and Patrick Powers stress Churchill's political understanding of prudence for his own time and circumstances, and argue for the higher prudence of his statesmanship for all time.

Astute judgments come from all the contributors, but two essays speak well for the whole. Through his textual analysis of the "Iron Curtain" speech, Spencer Warren shows how its themes elucidate Churchill's general political philosophy of international relations. Although he is too quick to portray Churchill as a practitioner of power politics—on this point, Mahoney's chapter provides a necessary corrective—Warren underscores how Churchill sought peace through the strength of both political principles and strategic superiority.

Larry Arnn, meanwhile, explores the depth of Churchill's understanding of America and its bedrock principles, and indicates that the Truman administration's main policies of containment followed naturally from the call at Fulton. More explicitly than the other writers, Arnn is concerned about the current applicability of Churchill's counsel and proposals in the "Iron Curtain" speech, and he says that Americans risk both marring their experiment in self-government and misunderstanding their responsibilities in world leadership if they do not learn from Churchill's message.

There are weaknesses in some of the essays, including excessive dependence on Fraser Harbutt's The Iron Curtain: Churchill, America, and the Origins of the Cold War in one or two cases and underdevelopment of themes in another. But as a group the authors provide a nearly full analysis of the "Iron Curtain" speech and argue persuasively that the substance and presentation of Churchill's remarks were essential in 1946 and still have much to teach us over fifty years later.

No other book has appeared on the "Iron Curtain" speech in the wake of its fiftieth anniversary. Many scholars and even some politicians maintain that we are in a post-Cold War world in which Churchill's words have little or no meaning. The contributors to Churchill's "Iron Curtain" Speech Fifty Years Later prove them wrong. Winston Churchill was not named person of the twentieth century— Time bestowed that honor on Albert Einstein—but according to Patrick Powers and as implied by his fellow writers, the British statesman deserves to be remembered as the greatest man of a century marked by world wars, Cold War, unparalleled tyrannies, and unmatched freedoms.

Dr. Spalding (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) teaches government and politics at George Mason University, and was one of die symposiasts at the second Churchill Center symposium, "Churchill in the Postwar Years," in 1996.

Finest Hour 107, Summer 2000

Page 36

Pages 307-312:
Catalogue numbers are from Gerald Rosen, A Catalogue of British Local Stamps, published 1975.

CHURCHILL in Stamps," tracing Sir Winston's life through Churchill and related postage stamps, began sixteen years ago in Finest Hour 43. "The editor has responded to those who've asked for more album layouts in FH," I wrote, "by illustrating his own! The presence of quarterly deadlines will hopefully force me to keep putting together pages." Well, they did. Installments have appeared in most of the 67 issues since. Finally I have reached the end! We shall try to maintain coverage of philately, the subject that first drew us together, and from which today's movement grew. I hope you have enjoyed it, and I welcome your own philatelic contributions.

307. The British postal strike of 1971 engendered numerous labels sold to validate mail for private carriers, many of which referred to "Old Victory." These examples (PM 11-12, EUR 26) are typical, printed blue with red air mail surcharge. (PM 11).

308. Colorful if unconvincing portraits of JFK and WSC on a Manchester strike label, and a Karsh Ottawa photo from 1941 on labels publicizing the 1965 New York Stamp Show.

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Finest Hour 107, Summer 2000

Page 23

It is absurd to suggest that Franklin D. Roosevelt may be second fiddle to WSC. Yes, Churchill was the voice in the wilderness warning against Hitler publicly, but FDR had trie same beliefs privately. FDR was dealing with a multitude of issues during Americas worst domestic crisis since the Civil War. In the isolationist political climate FDR had carefully to prepare the U.S. for mobilization and the eventual war that he knew was to come. FDR's foresight and leadership not only saved England (Lend-Lease) but eventually would win the war.

I admire Churchill's oratory but he wasn't in FDR's league. In stage presence, he wasn't even in FDR's ballpark. Roosevelt set the stage and still sets the agenda for the world we live in today. Remember the photograph of the Big Three. Who was in the center of that triumvirate?

Iistserv Winston Replies...

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Finest Hour 107, Summer 2000

Page 22


Only Churchill carries that absolutely required, criterion: indispensability.

It is just a parlor game, but since it only plays once every hundred years, it is hard to resist. Person of the Century? Time magazine offered Albert Einstein, an interesting and solid choice. Unfortunately, it is wrong. The only possible answer is Winston Churchill.

Why? Because only Churchill carries that absolutely required criterion: indispensability. Without him the world would be unrecognizable—dark, impoverished, tortured.

Without Einstein? Einstein was certainly the best mind of the century. Though a total unknown when he published his 1905 trifecta—three papers on Brownian motion, the photoelectric effect and the special theory of relativity, each of these revolutionized its field. It was probably the single most concentrated display of genius since the invention of the axle. (The wheel was easy, the axle hard.)

Einstein also had a deeply humane and philosophical soul. I would nominate him as most admirable man of the century. But most important? If Einstein hadn't lived, the ideas he produced might have been delayed. But they would certainly have arisen without him.

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