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Finest Hour 170

Finest Hour 170, Fall 2015

Page 06

By David Patterson

Professor David Patterson holds the Hillel A. Feinberg Chair in Holocaust Studies in the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies at The University of Texas at Dallas.



MacDonaldSir Winston Churchill was known for his foresight. Just as he saw the gathering storm over Europe long before the Second World War broke out, so he understood early on the singularity of what we now call the Holocaust, Shoah, Churban, Final Solution, Judenvernichtung, or simply, in Paul Celan’s words, “that which happened.”1 In his radio broadcast of 24 August 1941, just two months after the Einsatzgruppen killing units began the systematic murder of the Jewish people, Churchill announced that Jews in “whole districts are being exterminated,” adding, “We are in the presence of a crime without a name.”2

Well before the Nazis were gassing and burning Jews in the six extermination camps a year later, Churchill understood that what was to be called the Holocaust was something more than mass murder, something more than the annihilation of a people.3 Unlike most others, he had some sense of just what the Nazis set out to exterminate in their total extermination of the Jews, from Tromsø to Tunis, namely, the millennial teaching and testimony that the Jewish people represent by their very presence in the world.

Churchill’s insight into this aspect of the nameless crime can be seen in his view of the Zionists’ effort to seek a haven for the Jews in the Land of the Covenant. When as First Lord of the Admiralty he first met with Zionist leader Chaim

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Finest Hour 170, Fall 2015

Page 28

By Warren Dockter

Warren Dockter is a Research Fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge, and the author of Churchill and the Islamic World, reviewed on page 36.



LawrenceFew friendships shaped history as much as that between Winston Churchill and T. E. Lawrence. In Great Contemporaries, Churchill reminded his readers that Lawrence “flew best and easiest in the hurricane.” The same might be said of Churchill.1 Both were men of genius littered with paradoxes; both had an unyielding sense of justice; and both were products of the British Empire. Churchill admired Lawrence as a sort of Napoleon and undoubtedly saw traces of himself in Lawrence. Both men were early enthusiasts of air power, and both enjoyed not only making history but writing it. This helps explain the nature of what might appear to have been an unlikely friendship, especially after their first meeting in Paris during the 1919 Peace Conference.

The two were both attending a luncheon when Churchill was told a story about Lawrence refusing honours to be bestowed upon him by King George V. Churchill’s impression was that Lawrence, wishing to make a political statement, declined the honours during an official public ceremony. Churchill was outraged and quickly rebuked Lawrence, calling his actions “most wrong.”2 Only later did Churchill learn that Lawrence had refused the honours in a private reception with the King in order to demonstrate that “the honour of Great Britain was at stake in the faithful treatment of the Arabs and that their betrayal to the Syrian demands of France would be an indelible blot on our history.” Lawrence’s cool demeanour and “good humour” regarding the incident stood out in Churchill’s mind.3

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Finest Hour 170, Fall 2015

Page 15

By David Freeman

David Freeman is editor of Finest Hour.



Anne FrankThe greatest book of the twentieth century is The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Anne’s tragically short biography is well known. She was born on 12 June 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany, a city with a long and rich history of Jewish culture. After the Nazis came to power in 1933, her family emigrated to the Netherlands and settled in Amsterdam.

Anne adored her adoptive country, but following the German invasion of the Netherlands in the spring of 1940 (on the day Churchill became prime minister), Anne’s father Otto began to make arrangements to hide his family from the inevitable Nazi roundup of Jews.

On 6 July 1942 the Franks and another family went into hiding together in a specially prepared “secret annex” at the back of a warehouse on the Prinsengracht Canal, now home to the Anne Frank Museum. Altogether there were eight people in seclusion: Anne, her sister Margot, their parents Otto and Edith, Hermann and Auguste Van Pels (known as the Van Daans in the book), their sixteen-year-old son Peter, and, starting in November 1942, Fritz Pfeffer (an elderly dentist known in the book as Mr. Dussel).

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Finest Hour 170, Fall 2015

Page 34

By Michael McMenamin


ATD-Label copy

125 Years ago

Spring 1890 • Age 16

“I am working my very best”


In December 1890, Winston was set to take the Preliminary Examination for Sandhurst. In the days leading up to the exam, however, he told his mother that he thought he would not pass because he had been put under a master “whom I hated & who returned that hate.” Lady Randolph was not pleased, and her displeasure made its way to her son. In mid-November, Winston wrote and reassured her that he had complained to the headmaster about the hated master, who had since been replaced “by masters who take the greatest interest in me & who say that I have been working very well.” “Arithmetic & Algebra are the dangerous subjects,” Winston continued, but he was “sure of English” and “nearly sure of Geography, Euclid & French.” He concluded his letter asking her to take his “word of honour…that I am working my very best.”

Apparently Lady Randolph did not do so and visited Harrow herself to talk to Harrow’s Headmaster James Welldon, who backed up Winston’s claim. She wrote to her husband on 23 November explaining that “Winston was working under a master he  hated—& that one day the master accused him of a lie—whereupon Winston grandly said that his word had never been doubted before & that he wld go straight to Welldon—which he did.” She explained further that Welldon had sided with Winston and placed him with a new master and that Welldon “thought Winston was working as hard as he possibly cld & that he would pass his preliminary exam.”

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Finest Hour 170, Fall 2015

Page 49



St. Martin’s Church, Bladon, is well known, not least to members of The Churchill Centre, as the final resting place of Sir Winston Churchill. Many of you will have visited the church and the Churchill graves. This anniversary year has had quite an impact on us, and it has been a privilege to welcome even more visitors who make their pilgrimage to pay tribute to Churchill.

All readers of Finest Hour know the date of Churchill’s death: 24 January 1965. Exactly fifty years to the day since he died, his family attended a quiet service of thanksgiving and commemoration at St. Martin’s. At Churchill’s grave the Last Post and Reveille were played, some of his great-great-grandchildren laid wreaths, and the actor Robert Hardy, who has played Churchill on so many occasions, read the poem At Bladon, which concluded Richard Dimbleby’s celebrated television commentary at Churchill’s State Funeral. At the same service I was also able to dedicate Lady Soames’s Garter Banner. Lady Soames bequeathed her banner as a Lady of the Garter to the church, and that now hangs proudly on the west wall. This is the Bidding Prayer that I adapted from the one used at the funeral in St. Paul’s in 1965:

Today we gather,
in the name of Jesus Christ,

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Finest Hour 170, Fall 2015

Page 46

Review by Paul H. Courtenay

Fake or Fortune? Season Four, Episode Four
Executive Producer: Simon Shaw First broadcast by the BBC on  26 July 2015



1901ChiNewsEach week on the BBC Television show Fake or Fortune? art experts examine paintings of dubious authenticity. Using forensic skills as well as Sherlockian methods, the experts eventually decide whether or not the owners of the paintings are about to become millionaires. This past summer the subject of inquiry was a painting possibly done by Churchill but which was unsigned.

The owner of the painting, Charles Henty, received the canvas from his father, who had bought a London house around 1962 that once belonged to Churchill’s daughter Sarah. Three paintings were found in the coal cellar: one was signed by Churchill and two were not. Henty’s father showed them to Sarah’s mother, Clementine, who took possession of the picture signed by her husband and a second, which she said was by Paul Maze. The finder was allowed to keep
the unsigned painting, which thus became the subject of the recent BBC programme.

The mystery painting certainly appears to the untutored eye as if it very well could have been painted by Churchill. It

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Finest Hour 170, Fall 2015

Page 43

Review by Bill Dwyre

Fred Glueckstein, Churchill and Colonist II: The Story of Winston Churchill and  His Famous Race Horse, iUniverse, 2014, $22.95.
ISBN 978-1491749722



colonistIt is refreshing to learn that not all of Winston Churchill’s races were political. We discover this in a recent book written by New York writer and frequent author on all subjects Churchillian, Fred Glueckstein.

In Churchill and Colonist II we discover that the British prime minister who walked side-by-side with us through the horrors of the Second World War dearly enjoyed walking into a horse race winners’ circle, or, for that matter, into the clubhouses of England’s racetracks.

Colonist II was a grey horse, and not a particularly pretty one, who was purchased by Churchill when the former prime minister was seventy-five. It was not Churchill’s first foray with horses—he had ridden joyfully at prep school and in the military—but it came at a time when his postwar political fortunes had dipped and so had his general mood. His son-in-law, Christopher Soames, saw the gloom and the need to address that. So he found Churchill a horse, Colonist II, and a love affair began.

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Finest Hour 170, Fall 2015

Page 44

Review by Grant Agamalian

Ellen Labrecque with illustrations by Jerry Hoare, Who Was Winston Churchill? Grosset and Dunlap, 2015, 106 pages, $5.99.
ISBN 978-0448483009



who was I liked Who Was Winston Churchill? for two reasons. First it is just over 100 pages, and I had a reading assignment at school that called for a book with a minimum of 100 pages. Secondly, the book is about Winston Churchill. I really admire him and think he is super interesting.

When I flipped through the book at the store I noticed it had lots of nice pictures! That was cool, and it meant less reading too! I read it in one day and liked it. I learned new things about Churchill, and the drawings inside gave me a different perspective than just reading words.

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Finest Hour 170, Fall 2015

Page 37

Review by W. Mark Hamilton

Steve R. Dunn, The Scapegoat:  The Life and Tragedy of  a Fighting Admiral and  Churchill’s Role in His Death,  Book Guild Publishing, 2014,  251 pages, £17.99.
ISBN 978-1846249716



Scapegoat Steve R. Dunn has brought back to life a forgotten hero of the Royal Navy. Not only does the author focus on the life of Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher “Kit” Cradock, but on the life and times of the late Victorian and Edwardian Navy—Dunn’s “Vicwardian Navy.” Cradock’s actions at the Battle of Coronel in November 1914 resulted in the first British naval defeat in 100 years and the loss of 1,600 lives off the coast of central Chile. Yet, Dunn’s effort portrays Cradock as a true hero up against the questionable actions of the ambitious and youthful First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill. The book is extremely critical not only of Churchill’s actions, but of the class-ridden Royal Navy’s officer “establishment” before 1914. Cradock personally did not welcome Churchill’s arrival at the Admiralty in 1911 and believed the new First Lord never liked him.

During the early months of the First World War, Cradock found himself and his squadron facing German Vice-Admiral Maxmilian von Spee off the coast of South America. All the belligerents knew the German squadron was vastly superior as a fighting unit to the British. As the conflict approached, Cradock requested additional naval support, which was refused.

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Finest Hour 170, Fall 2015

Page 47

Review by David Freeman

Andrew Marr on Churchill: Blood, Sweat, and Oil Paint Directed by David Barrie, Executive Producer for Wavelength Films: Patrick McGrady. First broadcast by the BBC in August 2015



During the fiftieth anniversary year of Churchill’s death, the BBC continues to probe his legacy. Veteran British journalist Andrew Marr ventured to Chartwell to examine Churchill’s painting studio and tell the story of how “Britain’s greatest prime minister”—his words—took to painting as a pastime and how this sustained Churchill from then on.

Marr interviews Churchill’s granddaughters Celia Sandys and Emma Soames, who recall how serious their grandfather was about painting. The studio at Chartwell was every bit as out of bounds for the grandchildren as the study, so much did Churchill dislike being interrupted while working. Celia explains that her grandfather became completely absorbed in his canvas while painting and that the grandchildren learned not to disturb him at these times even though they knew their grandfather loved them dearly.

Also interviewed by Marr is Churchill painting authority David Coombs. They discuss how much time Churchill spent in the company of the great English painters of his era, such as William Orpen and John Lavery, and how immensely Churchill respected these artists, who in turn respected him because they understood how seriously he approached painting.

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