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“The Creeds of the Devil”: Churchill between the Two Totalitarianisms, 1917-1945



By Antoine Capet

Abstract: Contrary to much of the literature that depicts him first and foremost as a lifelong foe of communism, Winston Churchill was actually quite pragmatic regarding his opposition to various forms of totalitarianism, a worldview which explains his near-rabid anti-communism following the First World War and also his gradually softening change as he began to see fascist Nazi Germany as the greatest threat to a stable world order in the years before the Second World War.  It is this pragmatism and a basic hostility to tyranny, then, that best explains Churchill’s approach to all forms of totalitarianism.


Antoine Capet, FRHistS, is Professor of British Studies at the University of Rouen (France).  He has edited a number of collections on Britain’s diplomatic and military policy in the 20th century, the latest being Britain, France and the Entente Cordiale since 1904 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). He has been Editor of the “Britain since 1914” section of the Royal Historical Society Bibliography since 2001 and he sits on the International Board of Twentieth Century British History.


Last March, I was invited to deliver a keynote lecture on “Churchill, Fascism and the Fascists” at the University of Lille (France),1 and when Dr Michael Kandiah2 asked if I were interested in giving a paper at the Cold War Conference which he was organizing,3 I immediately thought of “Churchill and Bolshevism”4 as the obverse of the same coin.5

The prevailing image of Churchill is that of the “bulldog,” relentlessly resisting and finally defeating the fascist dictators, including of course by their archetype Hitler.6 But David Carlton, who has devoted a monograph to the study of Churchill’s attitude to Soviet Communism7—or “Bolshevism” as it was better known before the Second World War—argues that Churchill’s real relentless struggle was against the Bolsheviks and Soviet Communists: a protracted one, in fact almost a lifelong task from the 1917 Revolution until his retirement from active politics, with the period from 1941 to 1945 not even constituting the lull which mainstream historians and biographers like to emphasise.


Carlton summed up the gist of his book in a paper which he gave at the Institute of Historical Research in January 2001 and published in the Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. Concluding the paper on a minute sent to Eden on 6 December 1953, in which Churchill addressed the Soviet threat in no uncertain terms, Carlton concludes:


These are not the words of a serious pioneer of détente. For with great certitude they depict the Soviets as unreformable creatures of tireless aggression. In fact they represent the convictions of the visceral anti-Soviet that Churchill had never ceased to be since the first days of the Bolshevik Revolution. In short, his anti-Nazi phase, for which ironically he will always be principally remembered, was for him something of a digression, however necessary, in his extraordinarily long career. Thus, once the Battle of Britain had been won and the Americans had entered the war, the struggle to defeat Germany became for him no more than a second-order crusade. For in his own eyes at least the contest with Soviet Bolshevism was what gave his political life the greatest continuity and meaning.8


In this, Carlton more or less follows the “revisionist” theories put forward by Clive Ponting in his highly critical—and highly controversial—1994 biography of Churchill.9 Carlton quotes at length from the animal and medical imagery used by Churchill against the Bolsheviks after 1917, as documented by Ponting. The revision in question bears on the conventional picture of Churchill given by “traditionalist historian[s].”10 Kinvig also indirectly indicts them when he writes in his Introduction: “Churchill’s Russian policy during the twenty-five months he spent at the War Office has received little attention from most of his biographers.” A note indeed gives full statistical details:


Roy Jenkins gave but seven paragraphs to [Russian policy] in the 900-odd pages of his major biography Churchill (2001); Geoffrey Best gave it five paragraphs in his 300-page reflective work A Study in Greatness (2001). John Keegan’s 170-page introductory biography Churchill (2002) and Richard Holmes’s 300-page work, In the Footsteps of Churchill (2005),11 each allot it a single paragraph.12


One favourite target is Roland Quinault, who suggested in 1991 that Churchill was not the hot-headed interventionist in post-revolutionary Russia which his critics denounced, since he considerably reduced the British military presence there when he was Secretary of State for War and Air in 1919.13 For his part, Kinvig refutes this thesis by emphasizing Churchill’s equivocation during his term of office:


Churchill claimed correctly that the key intervention decisions had been taken by the Cabinet and Supreme War Council before he came into office. There is no doubt, however, that he strove, and managed at times, to extend, revise or circumvent them.14


Sir Martin Gilbert and William Manchester are also specifically named among those who perpetuate the Churchill “mythology,” notably the argument that his increasing denunciations of Chamberlain’s refusal to initiate a rapprochement with the Soviet Union from 1938 showed a toning down of his former uncompromising anti-Bolshevik stance.15


Anyone who has read Churchill’s abundant pronouncements on Soviet Communism and relations with the USSR in the inter-war years knows that things are not as simple as that. Surely, an author like Geoffrey Best would be seen as a “traditionalist historian” by Carlton—yet Best adheres to the conception of Churchill as anti-Bolshevik hothead in the years following the First World War, pointing out that “no other person of highest political stature publicised and went on about his dislike of it [Bolshevism] as much as he did.” For Geoffrey Best, Churchill “became worked up and histrionic in much the same way as Edmund Burke had become worked up about the French Revolution.”


As evidence of these histrionics, Geoffrey Best adduces what Churchill wrote in The Aftermath, the fourth volume16 of The World Crisis, looking back in 1929 on the situation in Eastern Europe after the Russian Revolution:


[To the East of Poland] lay the huge mass of Russia—not a wounded Russia only, but a poisoned Russia, an infected Russia, a plague-bearing Russia, a Russia of armed hordes not only smiting with bayonet and with cannon, but accompanied and preceded by swarms of typhus-bearing vermin which slew the bodies of men, and political doctrines which destroyed the health and even the souls of nations.17


In fact, Churchill was only “recycling” almost verbatim an article which contained the stark sub-headings “Shall the Red Flood of Bolshevism Swamp all Europe?” and “The Poison Peril from the East,” which he had published in The Evening News on 28 July 1920.18 Interestingly, this offensive language did not pass unnoticed, even in the Conservative press. Ronald Cohen, who also reproduces the text, notes that it “led to a critical article in The Times of the following day.”19 And this was not the end of the story: Churchill wrote to Lord Northcliffe to complain:


[I]n undertaking to do this, I did not expect to encounter the hostile criticism of the Times. I can quite understand that the Times might not agree with any particular phrase or argument....Criticism of policy is one thing. Criticism on the propriety of my writing an article for the Evening News is another. I confess I feel myself unfairly treated in this respect. No other morning paper that I have read has found it necessary to make any adverse comment, yet the leading paper in your group of papers goes out of its way to attack the propriety of my writing an article which I was strongly pressed to write by another paper in the same group.20


This exchange with Lord Northcliffe shows, if need be, that Churchill’s anti-Bolshevik “histrionics” did not necessarily ingratiate him with senior representatives of the British Right—and that Churchill took no notice of their reservations. It is probably impossible to say when the image of the “maverick” was born, but Churchill’s lone unrelenting anti-Bolshevik campaign in 1918-1919-1920 must have played a significant part in its creation.




For a possible explanation, one should perhaps start with the trauma of the Bolshevik Revolution. “Bolshevism is not a policy; it is a disease,” Churchill said in the House of Commons on 29 May 1919, adding, “it is not a creed; it is a pestilence,”21 thus starting a long series of highly offensive medical metaphors in his attacks on the Bolsheviks. In June, he described them with the suggestion of mental illness as a “league of failures, the criminals, the morbid, the deranged and the distraught.”22 A variant was “the vampire which sucks the blood from his victims,” used in the House of Commons on 26 March.23 Later in the year, on 6 November, he took up again his extreme vocabulary of insidious epidemics in his description of Lenin’s journey back from Switzerland in the House of Commons:


Lenin was sent into Russia by the Germans in the same way that you might send a phial containing a culture of typhoid or cholera to be poured into the water supply of a great city, and it worked with amazing accuracy.24


Slightly modifying his choice of words, he took up the same idea in The Aftermath ten years later, remarking that the Germans “transported Lenin in a sealed truck like a plague bacillus from Switzerland into Russia.”25 Paul Addison also notes after Norman Rose26 that Churchill spoke of Bolshevism as a “cancer,” and a “horrible form of mental and moral disease.”27 With another version of what must have been his favourite description of Bolshevism in the 1920s, Churchill applied the phrase once again to Trotsky, baptised “The Ogre of Europe” in Nash’s Pall Mall Magazine (December 1929): “Like the cancer bacillus, he grew, he fed, he tortured, he slew in fulfilment of his nature.”28


Churchill was Minister of Munitions from 18 July 1917 to 9 January 1919. His perception of the “stab in the back” syndrome was not that of the German Left forcing defeat on an unvanquished army; it was that of the Bolsheviks betraying their Western allies by accepting a separate peace with the Central Powers (Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, 3 March 1918).


In a speech given at the Connaught Rooms on 11 April 1919, he arraigned them as traitors:


Every British and French soldier killed last year was really done to death by Lenin and Trotsky, not in fair war, but by the treacherous desertion of an ally without parallel in the history of the world.29


This was taking up in much stronger terms the regrets expressed when he spoke of the Russian withdrawal from the war in a speech at Bedford on 11 December 1917:


It is this melancholy event which has prolonged the war, that has robbed the French, the British and the Italian armies of the prize that was perhaps almost within their reach this summer; it is this event, and this event alone, that has exposed us to perils and sorrows and sufferings which we have not deserved, which we cannot avoid, but under which we shall not bend.30


Two of the things Churchill most hated were at work in this troubled period: betrayal and the break-up of the social order. Lloyd George, the Prime Minister, famously added a more personal consideration: “His ducal blood revolted against the wholesale elimination of Grand Dukes in Russia.”31 In his diary, Sir George Riddell noted that Lloyd George had commented upon Churchill’s Connaught Rooms speech in no uncertain terms: “He has Bolshevism on the brain…he is mad for operations in Russia.”32 A few weeks earlier, on 17 February, using the same word “mad,” Lloyd George had personally wired Churchill to warn him against a “purely mad enterprise out of hatred of Bolshevik principles.”33


Still, as Secretary of State for War until 14 February 1921, Churchill embarked on a policy of eradication of what he called “the foul baboonery of Bolshevism” during an official luncheon at the Mansion House on 19 February 1919,34 a policy soon dubbed “Mr. Churchill’s Private War” by the press,35 though with some exaggeration, since Kinvig’s examination of the Parliamentary debates following Churchill’s presentation of the Army Estimates on 3 March show that some Members were equally ready to use abusive language against the Bolsheviks and enthusiastically supported him.36


The fact remains that Churchill’s assimilation of the Bolsheviks to animals became a constant in the inter-war years. Of the Russian revolutionaries a few months earlier, at his Dundee seat on 26 November 1918, during the General Election campaign, Churchill said:


Russia is being rapidly reduced by the Bolsheviks to an animal form of Barbarism….Civilization is being completely extinguished over gigantic areas, while the Bolsheviks hop and caper like troops of ferocious baboons amid the ruins of cities and the corpses of their victims.37


“Baboons” reappeared in a conversation with H.A.L. Fisher on 8 April 191938 and three days later, in the Connaught Rooms speech, he denounced “that foul combination of criminality and animalism which constitutes the Bolshevik regime.”39 The criminal/animal analogy was again used in “Trotsky: The Ogre of Europe”:


He had raised the poor against the rich. He had raised the penniless against the poor. He had raised the criminal against the penniless….Nothing lower than the Communist criminal class could be found. In vain he turned his gaze upon the wild beasts. The apes could not appreciate his eloquence. He could not mobilize the wolves, whose numbers had so notably increased during his administration. So the criminals he had installed stood together, and put him outside.40


Churchill did not only use the imagery of wolves and baboons. In “Mass Effects in Modern Life” (1931), he rhetorically considered what other animal metaphors would be appropriate:


Sub-human goals and ideals are set before these Asiatic millions. The Beehive? No, for there must be no queen and honey, or at least no honey for others. In Soviet Russia we have a society which seeks to model itself upon the Ant. There is not one single social or economic principle or concept in the philosophy of the Russian Bolshevik which has not been realized, carried into action, and enshrined in immutable laws a million years ago by the White Ant.41


The allusion to “sub-human goals” and “these Asiatic millions”—also found in the Trotsky article, in which Churchill speaks of “a vast process of Asiatic liquefaction”42—naturally remind us of the worst excesses of Hitler’s “Aryan” vocabulary.


Indeed, at some stage, Churchill was very near to speaking, like the German Nazis a few years later, of Judaeo-Bolshevism. Not that Churchill was a rabid antisemite—on the contrary, it can be argued that he was a philosemite all his life43—but in a remarkable article entitled “Zionism versus Bolshevism,” published in 1920, he distinguished between the good Jews, the “National Jews” like those of Britain who were perfectly assimilated, or the Zionist Jews prepared to re-people their “home” in Palestine, and the evil “International Jews”:


Most, if not all, of them have forsaken the faith of their forefathers, and divorced from their minds all spiritual hopes of the next world. This movement among the Jews is not new. From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxembourg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States), this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing.


The link between Jewry and Bolshevism—the Judaeo-Bolshevism of Hitler—is provided by the leadership of the Russian Revolution:


With the notable exception of Lenin, the majority of the leading figures are Jews. Moreover, the principal inspira­tion and driving power comes from the Jewish leaders. Thus Tchitcherin, a pure Russian, is eclipsed by his nominal subordinate Litvinoff, and the influence of Russians like Bukharin or Lunacharski cannot be compared with the power of Trotsky, or of Zinovieff, the Dictator of the Red Citadel (Petrograd), or of Krassin or Radek—all Jews. In the Soviet institutions the predominance of Jews is even more astonishing. And the prominent, if not indeed the principal, part in the system of terrorism applied by the Extra­ordinary Commissions for Combating Counter-Revolution has been taken by Jews, and in some notable cases by Jewesses.


Even worse, the leadership of World Revolution as fomented by the Bolsheviks is also provided by these “International Jews”:


The same evil prominence was obtained by Jews in the brief period of terror during which Bela Kun ruled in Hungary. The same phenomenon has been presented in Germany (especially in Bavaria), so far as this madness has been allowed to prey upon the temporary prostration of the German people. Although in all these coun­tries there are many non-Jews every whit as bad as the worst of the Jewish revolutionaries, the part played by the latter in proportion to their numbers in the population is astonishing.44


But Kinvig fails to notice the ambiguities in Churchill’s vocabulary when he wrote about the “International Jews”: when Kinvig argues that “there was no trace of anti-Semitism in Churchill’s make-up,” rightly adducing the example of his opposition to the pogroms and wholesale executions on the part of the White45 Russians,46 he seems to neglect Churchill’s notorious “Zionism versus Bolshevism” 1920 article. Conversely, Carlton has a case when he writes that the “extent to which Churchill “lost his balance” on the subject of the early Soviet Union is, then, too little recognised.”47


Churchill also seems to have “lost his balance” in his evaluation of the comparative demerits of Germany (from which it was widely considered that Prussian militarism had not been eradicated by the defeat of 1918) and Russia (now in the hands of the Bolsheviks). In a remarkable letter to Lloyd George, written on 24 March 1920, he notably wrote: “Since the armistice my policy w[oul]d have been ‘Peace with the German people, war on the Bolshevik tyranny.’ Willingly or unavoidably, you have followed something vy near the reverse.”48


This hypothetical policy may have been derived from his assessment of the two dangers—a sort of “first things first” line of conduct which we will have occasion to discuss later. Already, in the Connaught Rooms speech of 11 April 1919, Churchill compared the two threats—to the Soviets’ disadvantage:


Of all the tyrannies in history, the Bolshevist tyranny is the worst, the most destructive, and the most degrading. It is sheer humbug to pretend that it is not far worse than German militarism. [Its atrocities are] incomparably more hideous, on a larger scale, and more numerous than any for which the Kaiser is responsible.49


Considering the list of atrocities then attributed to the Germans during the Great War (the rape of Belgian nuns, etc.), this was no small accusation at the time. In fact, in the secrecy of the War Cabinet, he had adumbrated a reversal, if not of alliances, at least of the policy followed since the conclusion of the Entente Cordiale in the 1900s, on the eve of the 1918 Armistice, declaring that “[W]e might have to build up the German army, as it was important to get Germany on its legs again for fear of the spread of Bolshevism.”50


Whatever the scepticism which may be attached to the reliabilty of reminiscences published fifty years after the event, Lady Violet Bonham Carter, in conversation with Sir Martin Gilbert, said that Churchill had explained his policy to her in terms of “Kill the Bolshie, Kiss the Hun.”51 Coming as it did after the Armistice, this has the ring of truth. This is borne out by WSC’s slightly more careful words to Lloyd George in April 1919: “Feed Germany; fight Bolshevism; make Germany fight Bolshevism.”52




It is only with the utmost reluctance that Churchill bowed to reality and accepted the Bolshevik take-over of Russia as accomplished fact in 1920. Kinvig also argues, with some plausibility, that “Churchill’s attention became increasingly diverted to Ireland, where the first IRA campaign was gathering intensity.”53 Initially, of course, the war against Bolshevism had not been a “cold” one but a “hot” one, with British troops aiding the White Russians to fight the Reds.54


Sir Martin Gilbert has given us a superbly documented account of “Mr. Churchill’s Private War” against Bolshevism—a war which he lost in the Cabinet as much as in Eastern Europe.55 But as Quinault pointedly reminds us, “Churchill was not personally responsible for the British military intervention in Russia, which was part of a collective Allied military strategy.”56 The fact remains that the British intervention gave rise to at least two unfortunate episodes in Churchill’s long career: his dubious phraseology over the “International Jews” and his imprudent prescription of gas as “the right medicine for the Bolshevist.” Kinvig in fact explains that the gas in question was not of a lethal nature, only temporarily incapacitating the enemy57—but of course the harm was done, and the phrase has stuck,58 much to Churchill’s disrepute.59


By the early 1920s it was clear that “there was something almost visceral about Churchill’s hatred,”60 and his reputation as the arch-enemy of “the enemies of the human race,” who “must be put down at any cost,”61 was therefore well established, and Ramsay MacDonald, the Leader, declared in connection with Churchill’s anti-Bolshevik campaigns, “If the Labour Party can’t fight this, it can fight nothing.”62


Technically, however, Churchill was still a Liberal. He only crossed the Floor of the House again in 1924, standing as an Independent Anti-Socialist candidate at a by-election in March, in which he was narrowly defeated by the official Conservative candidate, and as a Constitutionalist candidate at the October General Election, with official Conservative backing. He won the seat of Epping, which he kept until 1964. In November 1924, he became Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Conservative Government led by Baldwin. The following year he officially rejoined the Conservative Party.


In May 1926 he was at the forefront of the Government’s efforts to defeat the General Strike, notably editing the British Gazette, the official Government newspaper in the absence of the usual commercial newspapers. Churchill emerged from the episode with a reinforced reputation as the enemy of the working man, the more so as he initially opposed the distribution of welfare payments to the coalminers who continued with the strike until the autumn. He was presented as the extremist of the General Strike, not without justification.63


His image as a man of the authoritarian Right was made even worse by his disastrous public pronouncements following his trip to Rome in January 1927, when he met the Pope and Mussolini. In fact he had already expressed his admiration for Mussolini in January 1926, in a speech before Treasury officials :


Italy is a country which is prepared to face the realities of post-war reconstruction. It possesses a Government under the commanding leadership of Signor Mussolini which does not shrink from the logical consequences of economic facts and which has the courage to impose the financial remedies required to secure and to stabilise the national recovery.64


This is what we could call the “classic” defence of Fascism—its economic efficiency at a time when the democracies were at a loss to find a coherent economic policy. Oswald Mosley was to put it more concisely later when he repeated that he and his fellow British Fascists wanted to turn Parliament “from a talk-shop to a work-shop.” When Churchill praised Mussolini’s Italy for its economic realism, it was of course the British Chancellor of the Exchequer envying the Fascist dictator for the room for manoeuvre which the absence of an effective opposition gave him.


The offensive declarations of January 1927 were of a different nature, in that they clearly justified the introduction of Fascism as a bulwark against Bolshevism: “If I had been an Italian, I am sure I should have been whole-heartedly with you from the start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism.”65


This argument was to be repeated ten years later, at the time of the Spanish Civil War, in a slightly different form—though the old assimilation with animals was not taken up: I will not pretend that, if I had to choose between Communism and Nazi-ism, I would choose Communism.66


But then one must introduce a capital factor into the equation. In all these cases, Churchill was talking from the point of view of the Italians, the Spanish and the Germans. Thanks to Britain’s superior institutions and traditions, summed up by the well-known popular phrase, “it could not happen here,” the British were fortunately protected from these impossible choices.


In his approval of the Italian Fascists” in January 1927, Churchill was careful to distance himself from any advocacy of replication in Britain, immediately adding: But in Great Britain we have not yet had to face this danger in the same form. We have our own particular method of doing things.67 Ten years later, in “The Ebbing Tide of Socialism,” published in July 1937, Churchill continued to argue that Britain was above these Continental errors:


So also have been reduced to impotence and ridicule the Nazi conceptions of Sir Oswald Mosley.68 He had built his hopes upon the Socialist or Communist menace, and in all probability he would have risen in opposition to it. But at the present time it does not exist. The failure of the red-hot men of the Left has involved a simultaneous failure of the white-hot men of the Right.69


This is of course an extremely interesting argument coming from a man of the Right, as Churchill then undoubtedly was. If we follow WSC, it is precisely because “the Socialist or Communist menace” was warded off in Britain that Fascism was unable to take root in the country. Closely following French affairs as he always did, he perfectly knew of the cries from the Fascist or crypto-Fascist ligues heard all over France at the time: “Plutôt Hitler que Blum” or the “clever” rhyming phrase (in French) “Plutôt Hitler que le Front populaire.


The easy point which Churchill would then have been able to make was that it was thanks to men of the “moderate” Right, like him, that the “menace” had not materialised into anything serious. But Churchill being Churchill, he chose instead to attribute the merit to the democratic maturity of the British people:


The massive common sense of the only long-trained democracy—apart from the United States—has established a spacious and predominant middle zone within which the class adjustments of the nation can be fought out, and from which the extremists at both ends are excluded.70


More than that, in his Commons speech of 14 April 1937 he suggested that a self-respecting Briton would face death rather than accept “to choose between Communism and Nazism: I hope not to be called upon to survive in a world under a government of either of these dispensations.”


A third reason may perhaps be adduced for Churchill’s praise of Mussolini in the 1920s: it appeared that at a time when the affairs of Continental Europe continued to preoccupy Churchill, he was reassured that Britain could count on Italy as a reliable partner under his rule, contrary to what he had initially feared. “What a swine this Mussolini is,” he wrote to his wife on 5 September 1923 after Mussolini decided to occupy Fiume.71


Thus three elements were clear in Churchill’s attitude to the Fascists and Communists—the two faces of the same coin in his eyes—around 1931-32. He feared the Bolshevik threat far more than the Fascist threat. Founding his reasoning on Churchill’s speeches in Parliament, Quinault argues that “As late as 1931, Churchill still considered Soviet Russia the main threat to peace in Europe and the principal obstacle to disarmament.”72


If Fascism did not encroach upon British interests there was no reason in his eyes not to praise its perceived economic efficiency. Fascism was all very well for the Continentals, with their shaky and often recent adoption of democratic institutions; but Britain did not need it to ward off the Communist danger. Although there is evidence that the early British Fascists, Rotha Lintorn-Orman’s British Fascisti (founded in 1923) and the splinter-group created in 1924, the National Fascisti (later the British National Fascisti), had occasionally given a hand in breaking the General Strike, for instance in Liverpool, it was obvious that the strike would have failed even without their intervention.73


In the 1930s, there was a complex evolution of Churchill’s attitude on the first two points, even though he never varied in his absolute disdain for the home-made version of Fascism. This did not mean that he did not share the Fascists’ extreme views on the intellectual Left. As Paul Addison puts it, “in the early 1930s Churchill sounded reactionary about England,”74 and he quotes from a speech delivered on 24 April 1933 before the staunchly patriotic Royal Society of St. George. A more extensive excerpt makes the point even clearer:


The worst difficulties from which we suffer do not come from without. They come from within. They do not come from the cottages of the wage-earners. They come from a peculiar type of brainy people always found in our country, who, if they add something to its culture, take much from its strength.


Our difficulties come from the mood of unwarrantable self-abasement into which we have been cast by a powerful section of our own intellectuals. They come from the acceptance of defeatist doctrines by a large proportion of our politicians. But what have they to offer but a vague internationalism, a squalid materialism, and the promise of impossible Utopias?75


What made him change his approach—pace Carlton—was clearly the emergence of the radical National-Socialist movement in Germany.76 Even before he acceeded to the Chancellorship of Germany on 30 January 1933, Churchill “viewed the rise of Hitler with disquiet,” as Wrigley mildly puts it.77


In Rome in January 1927, Churchill had met Mussolini twice, in informal or semi-formal circumstances, at a ball and after a dinner at the British Embassy. The same scenario of informality almost repeated itself for the only occasion which he ever had of meeting Hitler, in September 1932. Churchill had been traveling to Germany, notably to Blenheim78 where his famous ancestor the Duke of Marlborough had defeated the French-led coalition in 1704. He was staying in Munich before going back to England, in a hotel which Hitler also frequently patronised, and he was approached by a very cheerful Herr Hanfstaengl who befriended him, saying that he could easily arrange a meeting with Hitler, whom he knew well and who he felt sure would be very glad to see him. We know this because Churchill recounted the episode in the first volume of his War Memoirs, The Gathering Storm, and Hanfstaengl confirmed it to the letter in his own memoirs. Writing immediately after the Second World War, this is how Churchill describes his state of mind in the late summer of 1932 :


I had no national prejudices against Hitler at this time. I knew little of his doctrine or record and nothing of his character. I admire men who stand up for their country in defeat, even though I am on the other side. He had a perfect right to be a patriotic German if he chose. I always wanted England, Germany and France to be friends.79


This is all the more plausible as Churchill had not lost his crusading spirit against Bolshevism. In November 1931, when the fifth and final volume of his narrative of the First World War, The World Crisis, was published, he dedicated it to “Our Faithful Allies and Comrades in the Russian Imperial Armies” because it dealt with The Eastern Front.80 We can agree in retrospect with John Young’s opinion:


Where the USSR was concerned Churchill’s realism led him to accept, by the 1930s, that it would exist for some time and was an essential component in any anti-German balance of power.81


But the real question is when exactly “by the 1930s” Churchill came to realise that—to invert Carlton’s phrase—the Bolshevik peril was now of “second order” compared with the Nazi menace? There is probably no answer, if only because there was a long period of uncertainty over Hitler’s capacity for starting another war. Churchill never doubted Hitler’s evil nature, just as he never doubted Stalin’s—but it took some time before it became certain that the Nazi danger was the worser of the two.


In a speech before the House of Commons on 11 July 1932, Churchill had described Hitler as “the moving impulse behind the German Government.” He “may be more than that very soon,”82 he percipiently added—it must be remembered that Hitler’s party, the NSDAP, received just over 37 percent of the popular vote in the Reichstag elections of 31 July 1932. So a meeting would have made sense.


But then Churchill mentioned to Hanfstaengl Hitler’s attitude to the Jews. It is not clear whether this was a deliberate provocation or an incidental remark in their conversation. According to Hanfstaengl,83 Churchill’s exact words were “Tell your boss from me that anti-Semitism may be a good starter, but it is a bad sticker.”84


The result was decisive: the proposed meeting was called off. “Thus Hitler lost his only chance of meeting me,” Churchill concludes in his memoirs. “Later on, when he was all-powerful, I was to receive several invitations from him. But by that time a lot had happened, and I excused myself.”85


Hanfstaengl makes it clear that there was in fact mutual suspicion, a distrust on both sides which gradually turned into absolute hatred and it is impossible to know whether Hitler was later shown the secret memorandum which one of the Counsellors at the German Embassy in London had sent to his Foreign Ministry, reporting a conversation with Churchill on 18 October 1930, over a year therefore before Hitler became Chancellor:


Hitler had admittedly declared that he had no intention of waging a war of aggression; he, Churchill, however, was convinced that Hitler or his followers would seize the first available opportunity to resort to armed force.86


This secret memorandum also contains evidence that Churchill had read at least passages from Mein Kampf, published in Germany in 1925-1926, privately translated for his own edification, because in the conversation he alluded to a cynical remark by Hitler, “the great masses of the people … will more easily fall victims to a great lie than to a small one,” which did not even figure in the official English translation published in 1933.87


The private Foreign Office translation88 of the expurgated passage, later forwarded to Churchill, read: “if one tells big lies, people will always believe a part” and “something always remains of the most impudent lies.”89


There is also indirect evidence that Churchill immediately understood the significance of Hitler’s incitements to racial and national hatred long before their aborted meeting. In an article entitled “Shall We All commit Suicide?” published in September 1924 in Pall Mall Magazine and reprinted in Thoughts and Adventures in 1932, Churchill assumed the role of the prophet of doom which was to gradually estrange him from his fellow-citizens, who did not want to hear his apocalyptic predictions. It was not a welcome warning when he wrote, “Let it not be thought for a moment that the danger of another explosion in Europe is passed.” There were two reasons for that. For one, Russia bemoaned the loss of “her Baltic Provinces.” But there was worse:


From one end of Germany to the other an intense hatred of France unites the whole population. The enormous contingents of German youth growing to military manhood year by year are inspired by the fiercest sentiments, and the soul of Germany smoulders with dreams of a War of Liberation or Revenge. These ideas are restrained at the present moment only by physical impotence.


Now, even though Hitler as such is not named as such, it is permissible to see him as the archetype of aggressive man in the most blood-curdling passage in Churchill’s article—and if the readers of Pall Mall did not all perceive the allusion in 1924, it is most likely that those of 1932 did, when they read the reprinted piece in Thoughts and Adventures:


Death stands at attention, obedient, expectant, ready to serve, ready to shear away the peoples en masse; ready, if called on, to pulverise, without hope of repair, what is left of civilisation. He awaits only the word of command, He awaits it from a frail, bewildered being, long his victim, now—for one occasion only—his Master.90


Considering all this, why Churchill wrote a long portrait, “The Truth about Hitler” (published in November 1935 in The Strand Magazine, and reprinted in 1937 in Great Contemporaries as “Hitler and his Choice”) remains one of the more puzzling aspects of this complex relationship-by- proxy. In any case it is a typical exercise in damning with faint praise. The German Foreign Ministry lodged an official complaint, and the magazine was banned in Germany.91


The gist of the article is that the “former Austrian house-painter,” the “Austrian-born corporal,” had by 1935 “succeeded in restoring Germany to the most powerful position in Europe.” Before Hitler, “Germany lay prostrate at the feet of the Allies,” Churchill argued. “He may yet see the day when what is left of Europe will be prostrate at the feet of Germany.”


The great question was whether what Churchill called “the mellowing influences of success” would eventually make Hitler “a gentler figure in a happier age.” The article was not well balanced, because Churchill obviously devoted far more space to the discussion of the negative and pessimistic arguments, notably the idea that if past behaviour was anything to go by, there was serious cause for worry.


Churchill bore down on Hitler’s relentless persecution of the German Jews, “a community numbered by hundred of thousands” and on the arrest of all opponents, including “Trade Unionists and the liberal intelligentsia,” with “an attack upon the historical basis of Christianity.” In a forceful image, he linked this repression to the military effort: ‘side by side with the training grounds of the new armies and the great aerodromes, the concentration camps pock-mark the German soil.”


One remarkable aspect of his argument is that Churchill indicts Hitler for proscribing “socialists and communists of every hue.”92 Carlton curiously glosses over this imbalance and interprets the language of the text as showing a partiality towards Hitler which Churchill had never shown towards the Bolsheviks.93 But overall Churchill’s article makes it clear that by 1935 his visceral anti-Communism was relegated to the background in the face of the mounting danger from Nazi Germany. Given the choice between Godless Communism and Godless Nazism,94 he found the latter the most obnoxious.


This does not mean that he now rejected Fascist Italy. On the contrary, by a curious twist in the reasoning, largely founded on considerations of British defence priorities, Churchill courted Mussolini more assiduously than ever after Hitler’s accession to the Chancellorship.


One of the most important sources for our subject is the impassioned speech which Churchill delivered at the 25th anniversary meeting of the Anti-Socialist and Anti-Communist Union, on 17 February 1933, less than three weeks after Hitler came to power—the context is obviously of capital importance. There is of course a great deal of irony in Churchill addressing this organisation, because it had been founded as the Anti-Socialist Union in 1908 precisely to fight the welfare measures which Lloyd George was drafting with the help of Churchill, then at the height of his anti-Conservative “progressive” phase.95 Though adopting a militant Anti-Communist position, as the postwar addition to its name indicated, it clearly distanced itself from British Fascist groups—indeed these Fascist groups were now much more attractive for people with far-right inclinations. But it is a measure of Churchill’s evolution that he was now its guest speaker.


The speech contains the first public allusions to another perceived menace: militarist Japan. Context is again all-important: Japan had attacked Manchuria on 18 September 1931 and proclaimed the “independence” of the puppet state of Manchukuo on 15 September 1932. When the League of Nations expressed a protest, Japan withdrew from it immediately, on 24 February 1933. Also, only a week before Churchill’s speech, on 9 February, the Oxford Union had passed the extraordinary resolution that “This House refuses in any circumstances to fight for King and Country.”


Starting with a denunciation of the “abject, squalid, shameless avowal” of the Oxford students, Churchill offered a bleak panorama of the world situation, which dictated British rearmament, not pacifism. The first passage of that vast survey must have displeased his audience, since many members probably shared the common belief among the Right that Nazi Germany was the best bulwark against Soviet contagion. When thinking of the Oxford Union resolution, he argued,


I think of Germany, with its splendid clear-eyed youth marching forward on all the roads of the Reich singing their ancient songs, demanding to be conscripted into the army; eagerly seeking the most terrible weapons of war; burning to suffer and die for their fatherland.


It was obvious here that Churchill did not primarily have the Soviet Union in mind as the potential target of Germany’s “splendid clear-eyed youth.” This is what made him differ so sharply with the Appeasers and the activists of the British Right and extreme Right: he never believed that the supporters of German Nazism could be the objective allies of British Conservatives against Bolshevism. This is all the more remarkable as he shared their belief—at least in 1933, at the time of his speech—in the Far East:


I must say something to you which is very unfashionable. I am going to say one word of sympathy for Japan… I hope we should try in England to understand a little the position of Japan, an ancient state with the highest sense of national honour, and patriotism and with a teeming population and a remarkable energy. On the one side they see the dark menace of Soviet Russia. On the other the chaos of China, four or five provinces of which are actually now being tortured under Communist rule.


As if this did not make it sufficiently evident that he judged the militarist and Fascist Right on the merits of the case, he had most surprising words of praise to pour on Italy “with her ardent Fascisti, her renowned Chief, and stern sense of national duty,” and even more so on Mussolini, whom he saw as “the Roman genius…the greatest lawgiver among living men.”96


In his biography of Churchill, Roy Jenkins calls this “an altogether unfortunate speech”97: admittedly, with the benefit of hindsight, knowing that Japan was to associate with Germany in the Anti-Comintern Pact three years later, with Italy soon joining them—eventually forming the so-called “Axis.” Churchill’s partiality towards Japan and Italy now seems little founded, and cannot be explained by his desire to please his audience, since he knew that he was probably affronting most of them with his uncompromising rejection of Nazism; but that did not stop him.


So we have to go back to psychological explanations founded on the complexity of Churchill’s personality. No doubt he was a man of principle—but like all virtuous men, only up to a point. He was an opportunist in the sense that he always chose what was the lesser of two evils in his eyes. Here his guiding principle seems to have been no less than the preservation of civilisation. For him, this meant first and foremost the liberal values of Western culture—as most cherished in England. Churchill was “Liberal” in the economic sense—he wrote in a letter sent shortly before he became Chancellor of the Exchequer that “the existing capitalist system is the foundation of civilisation”98—but perhaps even more so in the democratic sense.


The lesser of the two evils approach is illustrated by his speech to the Commons on 7 February 1934 :


We…are left exposed to a mortal thrust, and are deprived of that old sense of security and independence upon which the civilization99 of our island has been built.100


It was clear to him that with Hitler now the unchallenged Leader of Germany, the foundations of British and Western civilisation—and therefore of all civilisation in his eyes, as he was to say four years later in so many words101—were mortally threatened.


The lesser evil was therefore to accept to have some truck with those whom he then perceived as lesser Fascists and Militarists—the Italians and Japanese—the better to ward off the only truly dangerous menace, Nazi Germany, intent on enslaving the “rotten plutocracies.” There was nothing new in this priority. As early as February 1919, Churchill had expressed before the Cabinet his fear of “a great combination from Yokohama to Cologne in hostility to France, Britain and America.”102 He had expressed this fear with special reference to the possible spreading of Bolshevism; but he reactivated it in the 1930s with the spectre of a Nazified Europe.


It is not easy to determine when Churchill lost his illusions about continued Japanese goodwill or at least neutrality. In a speech to the House of Commons on 31 May 1935, he laconically alluded to the potential danger of a rapprochement between Germany and Japan:


There is the question of the relations between Germany and Japan. It seems to me that that is a matter which must be in the thoughts of everyone who attempts to make an appreciation of the foreign situation.103


Extant published sources, however, include a disabused letter to his wife dated 17 January 1936, in which he wrote that “One must consider these two predatory military dictatorship nations, Germany and Japan, as working in accord,”104 and an important article, “Germany and Japan,” following their signing of the Anti-Comintern Pact, published in November 1936 and reprinted in Step by Step (1939).


This article is important because in it Churchill stresses (pace Carlton again) that all forms of anti-Communism are not virtuous—something of course which he would never have admitted fifteen years before:


Communism in Japan as in Germany is held fast in the grip of a highly efficient, all-pervading police force, eagerly waiting to smite the smallest manifestation. Yet these two great powers in opposite quarters of the globe use the pretext of their fears of Communism to proclaim an association the purpose of which, and the consequences of which, can only be the furtherance of their national designs.105


But unfortunately, one has to take the complexity of Churchill’s character into account. His position of advocating a strict neutrality during the Spanish Civil War—a neutrality which in fact favoured the Fascist camp—showed that he still believed that the Right, even the extreme Right, had a duty to fight what he saw as Communist infiltration:


[I]t seems certain that a majority of Spaniards are on the rebel side.106 Four and a half millions of them voted only last spring107 for the various Conservative parties of the Right and Centre against four and a quarter millions who voted for the parties of the Left. One must suppose that those people who were then opposed to constitutional Socialism, are to-day all the more hostile to the Communist, Anarchist and Syndicalist forces which are now openly warring for absolute dominance in Spain.108


Not disguising his continued anti-Communism, Churchill had written a fortnight before:


All the national and martial forces in Spain have been profoundly stirred by the rise of Italy under Mussolini to Imperial power in the Mediterranean. Italian methods are a guide. Italian achievements are a spur. Shall Spain, the greatest empire in the world when Italy was a mere bunch of disunited petty princedoms, now sink into the equalitarian squalor of a Communist State, or shall it resume its place among the great Powers of the world?109


Likewise, Churchill adopted a benevolent attitude towards the Fascist dictatorship in Portugal established by Salazar in 1932, probably this time for strategic considerations, since, contrary to Spain, the threat of a Communist takeover seemed remote.110 Salazar had two invaluable assets: his lack of aggressiveness111 and the possession of the Azores, a capital position to hold in any battle for the Atlantic. Churchill had remained obsessed by the devastation wreaked by the U-boat war in 1914-18, and there is little doubt that strategic considerations entered into his complacent treatment of Salazar, who indeed delivered his side of the bargain by allowing Britain to occupy the Azores for the duration of the war—somewhat belatedly in October 1943—after the Germans had been driven from North Africa and decisively beaten by the Soviets in the gigantic tank battle at Kursk.


There is no reason to believe that Churchill entertained any illusions towards Salazar, and even less that he had any empathy for him and his régime. Simply, Churchill evidently believed that he had played a good trick on Hitler by turning the tables on him, with a Fascist dictator indirectly participating in the British struggle against the U-boats. Churchill never let slip a chance to outwit his opponents, but in his speech to the House of Commons announcing this splendid diplomatic victory on 12 October 1943, Churchill had another reason to rejoice: the deal with Salazar was naturally presented as a deal with “Britain’s oldest ally,” as Portugal was always presented.


Churchill could not resist to enter into the historical minutiae which he enjoyed so much, starting his speech with a carefully-crafted theatrical effect:


I have an announcement to make to the House arising out of the Treaty signed between this country and Portugal in the year 1373 between His Majesty King Edward III and King Ferdinand and Queen Eleanor of Portugal….This engagement has lasted now for over [sic] 600 years, and is without parallel in world history. I have now to announce its latest application.112


Historical considerations also probably dictated Churchill’s attitude to Franco, though in an indirect way, once the rebellious general had become the Caudillo of Spain—the continued existence of the historical anomaly of Gibraltar was now entirely dependent on his goodwill, or rather on his avoidance of a formal military alliance with Germany and Italy. It was clear that the Rock could not be long defended against a combined attack of German, Italian and Spanish forces.


It is now known that the British secret services, with Churchill’s approval, “bought” a number of Spanish generals and high officials. In exchange for British gold, they were expected to use their influence to persuade Franco and his associates to remain neutral.113 Churchill also encouraged the Spanish authorities in the belief that if they remained neutral towards Britain—that is, of course, if they left Gibraltar alone—the British Government would find no objection to their acquisition of territory in Morocco to the detriment of the French. He had no qualms explaining his position to Lord Halifax in September 1940:


I do not mind if the Spaniards go into French Morocco. The letters exchanged with de Gaulle do not commit us to any exact restoration of the territories of France, and the attitude of the Vichy Government towards us and towards him has undoubtedly justified a harder feeling towards France than existed at the time of her collapse.114


We have discussed elsewhere115 the highly complicated relations between the British Government and the Vichy régime after June 1940. It is clear that Churchill never saw in Pétain the bulwark against Bolshevism which he pretended to be—but he hoped that he could somehow be useful against the Germans. In his memoirs, Churchill published a passage of a remarkable memorandum sent to his Cabinet colleagues on 14 November 1940, in which it is clear that he distinguishes between his contempt of Pétain and Vichy, and the British Government’s interest in refusing to break with them:


Pétain has always been an anti-British defeatist, and is now a dotard. The idea that we can build on such men is vain. They may, however, be forced by rising opinion in France and by German severities to change their line in our favour. Certainly we should have contacts with them.116


As we now know, these hopes were unfounded. Just as the gamble that Mussolini would remain neutral if carefully nursed by British diplomacy proved wrong in the event, Pétain did not hesitate to order French troops in North Africa to shoot at the Anglo-American “invaders” in November 1942.


But in 1936, in the first months of the Spanish Civil War, he continued to make scathing comments upon “the evangelists of the Third International”—in an article published on the occasion of the Moscow Trials, in which by the way he made the point that the victims “were nearly all Jews,”117 as if he now saw those “International Jews” whom he formally denounced in a favourable light—and in one devoted to “The Communist Schism” between Stalinists and Trostkyists, in which he took up the religious metaphor:


What Rome is to Catholics, Moscow is to the Communists of every country: with the important difference that whereas devout Catholics contribute to the centre of their faith, it is Moscow which distributes money to its adherents in foreign lands….On the other hand, the Trostkyites, now almost entirely cut off from the Moscow finance, are emerging as a separate force. Even in the Spanish welter we discern their appearance as the P.O.U.M., a sect achieving the quintessence of fœtidity, and surpassing all others in hate.118


Sometimes, silence speaks volumes : In Arms and the Covenant, a selection of speeches published in June 1938,119 Churchill denounces German rearmament and British appeasement in every page—but there is not a single word on the Soviet Union. In the summer of 1938, when the book appeared, it would have been impolitic to remind the reading public of Churchill’s pronouncements on “the evangelists of the Third International” at the time of the Spanish Civil War.


By contrast, Step by Step , whose Preface was written almost exactly one year later120, contains both anti-Soviet writings (like “The Communist Schism” quoted above) and his most recent advocacy of at least a tacit alliance with the USSR, “The Russian Counterpoise,” published in May 1939, in which he openly said that “a definite association between Poland and Russia becomes indispensable.” One can of course notice that he speaks of Russia, not the Soviet Union—but for the Poles, “eternal Russia” was of course no more reassuring than the Soviet Union. That this policy should be considered as the lesser of the two evils is made quite explicit:


These are days when acts of faith must be performed by Governments and peoples who are striving to resist the spread of Nazidom….This is no time to dawdle. Peace may yet be saved by the assembly of superior forces against aggression. Grave risks have to be run by all the anti-Nazi countries if war is to be prevented.121


By including both his more reticent and his (reluctantly) “realistic” writings, did Churchill not want to show his public, notably on the Right, that in the spring of 1939, even an arch-enemy of Communism like himself had to come round to the idea of an alliance with the Soviet Union? By suggesting that he did not pursue this evolution wholeheartedly, he increased its exemplary value for those who continued to nurture violently anti-Communist sentiments.122


Thus in 1945-46, when he resumed his anti-Communist crusade in the context of the “Cold War,” he was able to claim that he had always remained consistent at least deep in his heart, even if reason pleaded in favour of an alliance with the Soviets in the months preceding the outbreak of war in 1939—and even more so after Germany’s attack on Russia in June 1941.


Indeed, even Churchill’s magnificently combative speech on the BBC on the day of that surprise attack was balanced in such a way that he did not appear as an enthusiastic convert of Communism. He was careful not to use the word “Bolshevik” and its derivatives, now only part of the vocabulary of Hitler and the various quisling régimes in Occupied Europe, but to speak of Russia: “At four o”clock this morning Hitler attacked and invaded Russia… [at a pinch “Soviet Russia”]: We have offered the Government of Soviet Russia any technical or economic assistance which is in our power” [avoiding “the Soviet Union” or “USSR].” And there were of course the carefully-chosen sentences which justified his past and present conduct—but also preserved the future, though it is impossible to know whether, as Carlton suggests, he was already thinking about it:


No one has been a more consistent opponent of Communism than I have for the last twenty-five years. I will unsay no word that I have spoken about it. But all this fades away before the spectacle which is now unfolding. The past with its crimes, its follies and its tragedies, flashes away.123




What are we to conclude from all this? The first reflection that springs to mind is the diversity of the situations. Ironically, the first Fascist dictator, whose rise to power Churchill largely approved in the name of the containment of Bolshevism in the 1920s, was the first to fall. “The keystone of the Fascist arch has crumbled,” Churchill declared in the House of Commons, after the Fascist Grand Council repudiated Mussolini on 25 July 1943.124


But things were not as simple as that. Admittedly, the Vichy puppets also crumbled when their German masters were no longer in a position to impose their presence. But Churchill’s attitude in the spring of 1945, when it was the turn of the German version of Fascism to crumble, has always remained veiled in ambiguity. His constant belief in “the lesser of two evils” led him to toy with the idea of using at least some of the German armed forces as a countervailing power against the irresistible Red Army. In his superbly researched book on The Second World War, David Reynolds demonstrates how Churchill kept silent in his memoirs about the secret plans which he ordered for “Operation Unthinkable”—a surprise Anglo-American attack on the Soviet Union with the help of ten German divisions to be launched on 1 July 1945. The existence of these plans at the former Public Record Office, now called British National Archives, was only made official in 1998.125


Although the report mentioned that it would take some time before German troops could be used, it did not say whether the delay was due to the necessary phase of “denazification”: It is estimated that 10 German divisions might be reformed and re-equipped in the early stages. These could not, however, in any event be available by 1st July.126


As it turned out, nazified or de-nazified German forces were not used—but it is significant that Churchill did not baulk at the thought of employing them in yet another anti-Soviet campaign.


On the other hand, since it did not mean confronting the Soviets militarily, he allowed the Portuguese and Spanish dictators to die a natural death—which took some time, since Salazar only died in 1970 and Franco in 1975, respectively five and ten years after Churchill’s own death.


The reason is not far to see. David Reynolds once more points out how Churchill left out from The Second World War a minute to the Cabinet dated 10 November 1944 in which he wrote, taking up once again his medical vocabulary of 1918-20: “should the communists become masters of Spain we must expect the infection to spread very fast both through Italy and France.”127


In 1945 Churchill had evidently not forgotten his earlier fear of “the foul baboonery of Bolshevism.” Given the choice between the authoritarian extreme Left and the authoritarian extreme Right, it was clear that he remained faithful to his phrase of 1937, “I hope not to be called upon to survive in a world under a government of either of these dispensations,” and that he believed that the dictatorships of Portugal and Spain, contrary to the totalitarian régimes of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, were no threat to British freedom.


Still, there is no substantial evidence to contradict Quinault’s view that Churchill “initially opposed the Bolsheviks, but once they had won the civil war Churchill sought a settlement with them in the interests of international stability.”128 Broadly speaking, if we take his anti-Bolshevik language between the wars as a discourse for internal consumption, his “Cold War rhetoric” was precisely that—behind the offensive language,129 behind the “war of words,” Churchill had become reconciled to the continued existence of Soviet Russia—as opposed to that of Nazi Germany. For Churchill, Hitler not Stalin was the real “warmonger” in the late 1930s. Nevertheless, Kinvig is right when he says:


The language in which he chose publicly to denounce the Russian regime was eloquent of the depth of his detestation and more than rivalled that which he directed at his adversaries in the Second World War.130


One may approve or denounce Churchill’s eminently pragmatic position towards the various forms of the extreme Right and extreme Left. But one cannot deny his remarkable consistency if one accepts that his constant overriding aim was the preservation of “bourgeois” liberties—the key, in his eyes, to the survival of civilisation.



BIBLIOGRAPHY (Sources quoted)

Books by Winston S. Churchill


The World Crisis, 6 vols., (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1923-31. Abridged Edition, London : Penguin, 2007). Volumes quoted here: vol. IV, The Aftermath (1929); vol. V, The Eastern Front (1931).


Thoughts and Adventures (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1932; revised edition (London: Odhams, 1947); new annotated edition, James W. Muller, editor, with contributions by Paul H. Courtenay & Alana L. Barton (Wilmington, Delaware: ISI Books, 2009).


Great Contemporaries (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1937; revised and extended edition,1938: subsequent revised editions (London: Macmillan, 1942, London: Odhams, 1947).


Arms and the Covenant: Speeches by the Right Hon. Winston S. Churchill, compiled by Randolph S. Churchill (London: G.G. Harrap & Co., 1938).

Step By Step: Speeches 1936-1939 (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1939; new edition (London: Odhams, 1947).


Into Battle: War Speeches by the Right Hon. Winston S. Churchill [1938-1940], compiled by Charles Eade (London: Cassell, 1941).


The Unrelenting Struggle: War Speeches by the Right Hon. Winston S. Churchill [1940-1941], compiled by Charles Eade (London: Cassell, 1942).


Onwards to Victory: War Speeches by the Right Hon. Winston S. Churchill, 1943, compiled by Charles Eade (London: Cassell, 1944).


The Second World War, 6 vols. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948-1954). Vol. 1, The Gathering Storm (1948); vol. 2, Their Finest Hour (1949).


The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, edited by Michael Wolff, 4 vols. (London: Library of Imperial History, 1975). Vol. 1, Churchill and War; vol.2: Churchill and Politics; vol.4: Churchill at Large.


Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897-1963, edited by Robert Rhodes James, 8 vols. (New York: Bowker, 1974). Vol. IV, 1922-1928; vol.V, 1928-1935.



Articles by Winston S. Churchill


“Zionism versus Bolshevism.” Illustrated Sunday Herald, 8 February 1920. Reprinted in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill (see below), IV: 26-31.


“Shall we All commit Suicide?” Pall Mall Magazine, 24 September 1924. Reprinted in Thoughts and Adventures.


“Trotsky: The Ogre of Europe.” Nash’s Pall Mall Magazine, December 1929; Reprinted in Cosmopolitan, March 1930 and Great Contemporaries.


“Mass Effects in Modern Life.” The Strand Magazine, May 1931. Reprinted in Thoughts and Adventures.


“The Spanish Tragedy.” Evening Standard, 10 August 1936. Reprinted in Step By Step.

“Keep out of Spain.” Evening Standard, 21 August 1936. Reprinted in Step By Step.


“Enemies to the Left.” Evening Standard, 4 September 1936. Reprinted in Step By Step.


“The Communist Schism.” Evening Standard, 16 October 1936. Reprinted in Step By Step.


“Germany and Japan.” Evening Standard, 27 November 1936. Reprinted in Step by Step.


“The Creeds of the Devil.” The Sunday Chronicle, 27 June 1937. Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, vol.2: Churchill and Politics.


“The Russian Counterpoise.” Daily Telegraph (4 May 1939). Reprinted in Step by Step.



Works by Other Authors


Addison, Paul. Churchill on the Home Front (London : Jonathan Cape, 1992; reprinted with a new preface by the author (London: Pimlico, 1993).


Paul Addison. Churchill : The Unexpected Hero (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).


Geoffrey Best. Churchill: A Study in Greatness (London: Hambledon, 2001; London: Penguin, 2002). See my review on


David Carlton. Churchill and the Soviet Union (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000).


David Carlton. “Churchill and the Two ‘Evil Empires.’” Churchill in the Twenty-first Century: A Conference held at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, 11-13 January 2001. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 6th Series 11 (2001): 331-352.


Ronald I. Cohen. Bibliography of the Works by Sir Winston Churchill, 3 vols. (London & New York: Thoemmes Continuum, 2006).


Anthony Eden (Lord Avon). The Eden Memoirs, vol. I1, Facing the Dictators (London: Cassel, 1962).


Martin Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill (London: Heinemann, 1976-88); Vol. 4, 1917-1922; vol. 5, Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939; vol. 6: Finest Hour, 1939-1941; Companion to vol. 4, Part 1.


Roy Jenkins. Churchill. (London: Macmillan, 2001; London: Pan Books, 2002).


Clifford Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: The British Invasion of Russia (London: Hambledon, 2006).


Richard M. Langworth, editor. Churchill by Himself: The Life, Times and Opinions of Winston Churchill in His Own Words (London: Ebury Press, 2008).


David Lloyd George. The Truth about the Peace Treaties, 2 vols. (London: Victor Gollancz, 1938).


William Manchester. The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, 2 vols. (London: Michael Joseph, 1983, 1988). Vol. 1, Visions of Glory 1874-1932; vol. 2, The Caged Lion 1932-1940.


Charles L. Mowat, Britain Between the Wars 1918-1940 (London: Methuen, 1955; London: University Paperbacks, 1968).


Henry Pelling. Winston Churchill (London: Macmillan, 1974; new edition with new introduction (Ware, Dorset: Wordsworth, 1999).


Roland Quinault, “Churchill and Russia.” War & Society 9-1 (May 1991): 99-120.


David Reynolds. In Command of History: Churchill Fighting and Writing the Second World War (London: Allen Lane, 2004). See Paul Addison’s review on


Norman Rose. Churchill: An Unruly Life (London: Simon & Schuster, 1994); Churchill: Unruly Giant (New York: Free Press, 1995).


Denis Smyth. “«Les chevaliers de Saint-George» : la Grande-Bretagne et la corruption des généraux espagnols (1940-1942).” Guerres mondiales et conflits contemporains 162 (April 1991): 29-54.


Mary Soames, editor. Speaking for Themselves: The Personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill. (London: Doubleday, 1998).


Chris Wrigley. Winston Churchill: A Biographical Companion (Oxford: ABC-Clio, 2002). See my review on


Young, John W. “Churchill and the East-West Détente.” Churchill in the Twenty-first Century: A Conference held at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, 11-13 January 2001. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 6th Series 11 (2001): 373-392.





1 “The radical rights in France and Britain in the 20th century: comparisons, transfers, crossed perspectives / Les droites radicales en France et en Grande-Bretagne au XXe siècle : comparaisons, transferts, regards croisés.” Université Charles-de-Gaulle Lille III, 20-21 March 2009.

2 The author also wants to express his gratitude to Simon Baker, Assistant Project Editor, Royal Historical Society British and Irish History Bibliographies, Institute of Historical Research, London, and two mainstays of the Churchill Centre, James R. Lancaster and Richard M. Langworth, for their invaluable help in locating and checking the original sources and supplying other essential material for many points in the following discussion.

3 “Britain and the Cold War.” 23rd CCBH Annual Conference, Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, University of London, 22-25 June 2009.

4 The actual title of the short paper given at the CCBH Conference was “Revisiting the archaeology of the Cold War: “The foul baboonery of Bolshevism” as fought by Churchill, 1917-1941.” The present article merges and expands the arguments put forward at Lille and London.

5 As suggested for instance by Churchill’s own phrase, “The Creeds of the Devil” (see below, note 72) and such titles as David Carlton’s “Churchill and the two “Evil Empires” .” Referring to an even earlier period, Roland Quinault speaks of Churchill’s “joint opposition to “Kaiserism” and “Bolshevism” .” (“Churchill and Russia”: 102-103).

6 Many people tend to make a distinction between the Fascists and the Nazis, but most of our German colleagues generally prefer to speak of “the Fascists” as a blanket term and we will follow their practice here.

7 Carlton, David. Churchill and the Soviet Union. Manchester: University Press, 2000.

8 Carlton. “Churchill and the two “Evil Empires” “: 351.

9 Ponting, Clive. Winston Churchill. London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1994.

10 Carlton. “Churchill and the two “Evil Empires” “: 333.

12 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: xiv and Note 1, p. 335

13 Quinault argued that Churchill had a “persistent belief that Russia was a major and essential element in the international community” (“Churchill and Russia”: 99).

14 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 322.

15 Carlton. “Churchill and the two “Evil Empires” “: 333, 336.

16 Volume Three: 1916-1918 was in fact in two parts—hence the common confusion, since The Aftermath is sometimes described as the fifth volume of The World Crisis. To make the confusion even worse, Best calls The Aftermath the “conclusion” of The World Crisis, possibly because of Churchill’s indication in the Preface, “This volume completes the task I undertook nearly ten years ago of making a contemporary contribution to the history of the Great War.” In fact, he was to publish a final volume in 1931, The Eastern Front (The Unknown War in the United States).

17 Best. A Study in Greatness: 96. Churchill’s text is in The Aftermath, Chapter XIII, “The Miracle of the Vistula,” pp. 262-263.

18 “POLAND: / The Choice that Germany May Have to Face / Shall the Red Flood of Bolshevism Swamp All Europe? / Poland—Lynch-pin of Peace / The Poison Peril from the East.” The (very minor) differences seem to consist in a different location of the second “only,” in the plural for ‘souls” and in the use of tenses: “[To the East of Poland] lay the huge mass of Russia—not a wounded Russia only, but a poisoned Russia, an infected Russia, a plague-bearing Russia; a Russia of armed hordes smiting not only with bayonet and with cannon, but accompanied and preceded by the swarms of typhus-bearing vermin which slay the bodies of men, and political doc­trines which destroy the health and even the soul of nations.” The Evening News, 28 July 1920. Reprinted in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, vol. I: 235.

19 Cohen. Bibliography of the Works by Sir Winston Churchill, vol. II: 1328-1329.

20 Ibid.

21 “Army Estimates (Russia).” A speech in the House of Commons on 29 May 1919. Complete Speeches, vol.3: 2798. Thirty years later, in the House of Commons on 3 September 1939, Churchill took up the word pestilence and declared: “We are fighting to save the whole world from the pestilence of Nazi tyranny and in defence of all that is most sacred to man.” Churchill. Into Battle : 128a.

22 Weekly Dispatch (22 June 1919). In Ponting. Winston Churchill, p. 229.

23 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 270. Kinvig notes that “Churchill was denouncing the Bolsheviks in the most dehumanising language.” Churchill’s Crusade: 321.

24 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 355.

25 Churchill. The Aftermath: 76.

26 Rose. Churchill: An Unruly Life: 146.

27 Addison. Churchill: The unexpected Hero: 93.

28 Churchill. “Trotsky: The Ogre of Europe.” (Great Contemporaries, 1947 ed.: 154).

29 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 278.

30 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 219.

31 Different sources and variants are given in the Churchill literature. Pelling has established that it comes from The Truth about the Peace Treaties, p. 325. (Pelling. Winston Churchill. [1999]: 258). For a discussion of his “ducal blood” as a source for his anti-Bolshevism, see Best, A Study in Greatness: 97.

32 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 164.

33 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 104. Further extracts from the telegram are given in Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 251-252.

34 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 257.

35 See cartoon on the remarkable British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent:

36 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 153.

37 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 227.

38 Sir Martin Gilbert gives two versions (which are not contradictory). In the Official Biography, he writes that Fisher noted the phrase in his diary: “After conquering all the huns—tigers of the world—I will not submit to be beaten by the baboons!” (Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 275-276). In the Companion, he reproduces slightly different words, from a letter by Fisher to his wife on the same day: “I had a long talk with Winston to-day. He is very anti-Bolshevik: “After having defeated all the tigers & lions I don”t like to be beaten by baboons” .” Companion to Vol. 4, Part 1: 609.

39 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 278.

40 Churchill. “Trotsky: The Ogre of Europe.” (Great Contemporaries, 1947 ed.: 152).

41 Churchill. “Mass Effects in Modern Life.” (Thoughts and Adventures, 1947 ed.: 195).

42 Churchill. “Trotsky: The Ogre of Europe.” (Great Contemporaries, 1947 ed.: 157).

43 See my review of Michael Makovsky. Churchill’s Promised Land: Zionism And Statecraft (Yale University Press, 2007) on the Cercles site:

44 Churchill. “Zionism versus Bolshevism.” Reprinted in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill. Vol.4: Churchill at Large: 26-31, passim.

45 The official language seems to have been “the National Russians.” See Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 250.

46 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 321.

47 Carlton. “Churchill and the two “Evil Empires” “: 334.

48 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. IV: 1917-1922: 384.

49 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. IV: 1917-1922: 278. Also Carlton. “Churchill and the two “Evil Empires” ”: 333, quoting The Times, 12 April 1919.

50 10 november 1918. Carlton. Churchill and the Soviet Union: 5.

51 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. IV: 1917-1922: 277-278.

52 Letter to Lloyd George, 9 April 1919. Gilbert. Companion to Vol. IV, Part 1: 613.

53 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 325.

54 For a full account of the military operations, see Ullman, Richard H. Anglo-Soviet Relations, 1917-1921. 3 vol. Princeton: University Press, 1961-72.

55 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. IV: 1917-1922: 219-442.

56 Quinault. “Churchill and Russia”: 103.

57 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 128-129 and 183.

58 Eighty years later, the Imperial War Museum Review (now defunct) contained an article with that very same title: Jones, Simon. “ “The right medicine for the Bolshevist”: British air-dropped chemical weapons in north Russia, 1919.” Imperial War Museum Review 12 (1999): 78-88.

59 One could draw an analogy with the contemporary “Iraq accusation” or “uncivilised tribes accusation,” which is discussed on the Churchill Centre site. See 4) on

60 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 85.

61 In a letter dated 15 February 1919, Philip Kerr wrote to Lloyd George after meeting Churchill, notably telling him: “He is perfectly logical in his policy, because he declares that the Bolsheviks are the enemies of the human race and must be put down at any cost.” Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. IV: 1917-1922: 246.

62 Pelling, Winston Churchill (1999): 257.

63 Addison. Churchill on the Home Front, 1900-1955: 264.

64 “Italian Debt Settlement (Signing).” A speech at the Treasury, London, on 27 January 1926. Reprinted in Winston S. Churchill : His Complete Speeches, 1897-1963. Vol.IV: 1922-1928: 3824.

65 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. V: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939: 226.

66 Speech in the House of Commons, 14 April 1937. Reprinted in Arms and the Covenant: 409.

67 “Anglo-Italian Relations.” A press statement in Rome on 20 January 1927. Reprinted in Winston S. Churchill : His Complete Speeches, 1897-1963. Vol.IV: 1922-1928: 4126.

68  In Langworth’s substantial volume of Churchill quotations, Churchill by Himself, Mosley is mentioned only once, in 1920: “I can well understand the Hon. Member speaking for practice, which he badly needs.. This would tend to suggest that Churchill saw Mosley as a negligible opponent, not worth attacking in his speeches and writings.

69 Churchill and the British authorities were no longer sure of the lasting character of that failure in the panic atmosphere of May-June 1940, when Mosley was seen as a high security risk.

Churchill of course never believed in the principle “no freedom for the enemies of freedom,” adopted by the Bolsheviks among others. The memo which he sent to the Home Secretary on 22 December 1940 over Mosley’s internment shows his embarrassment at having had to follow that policy: “Naturally I feel distressed at having to be responsible for action so utterly at variance with all the fundamental principles of British liberty, habeas corpus, and the like. The public danger justifies the action taken, but that danger is now receding.” Mosley was interned under Regulation 18B from 23 May 1940 until November 1943—by then the danger of German invasion had become nil.

In the light of the Guantanamo controversy, Churchill’s preoccupation in the same memo over Mosley’s conditions of detention makes fascinating reading—and reflects on his innate sense of what concurs to the dignity of man (e.g. “Does a bath every week mean a hot bath, and would it be very wrong to allow a bath every day?”). See Their Finest Hour: Appendix A, p. 703.

Sir Oswald Mosley makes no mention of Churchill’s personal role in detaining or releasing him in his memoirs (My Life. London: Nelson, 1968). He only quotes the passage in the memo where Churchill says “In the case of Mosley and his wife there is much pressure from the Left, in the case of Pandit Nehru from the Right.”

70 “The Ebbing Tide of Socialism.” Evening Standard (9 July 1937). Reprinted in Step by Step (1947 ed.: 135).

71 Soames. Speaking for Themselves: 275.

72 Quinault. “Churchill and Russia”: 106.

73 Mowat. Britain Between the Wars 1918-1940. (1968): 294.

74 Addison. Churchill on the Home Front: 315

75 Winston S. Churchill : His Complete Speeches, 1897-1963. Vol.V: 1928-1935: 5268.

76 In common with most of his contemporaries, Churchill variously said and wrote Nazism or Nazi-ism when using the abbreviation. The spelling found in the sources and records will be kept here.

77 Wrigley. Winston Churchill: A Biographical Companion: 218.

78 Blindheim in German, in Bavaria.

79 Churchill. The Gathering Storm: 83.

80 Churchill. The World Crisis—The Eastern Front: Dedication.

81 Young. “Churchill and the East-West détente”: 374.

82 Speech in the House of Commons, 11 July 1932. Reprinted in Arms and the Covenant: 29.

83 Hanfstaengl, Ernst. Hitler: The Missing Years. In collaboration with Brian Connell. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1957.

84 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. V: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939: 448.

85 Churchill. The Gathering Storm: 84.

86 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. V: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939: 407.

87 Manchester. Visions of Glory: 874-875.

88 For a full discussion of the National Government members” supposed reluctance to see the publication of a full and faithful version of Hitler’s book, see Stone, Dan. “ “The Mein Kampf Ramp”: Emily Overend Lorimer and Hitler Translations in Britain.” German History 26:4 (2008): 504-519.

89 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. V: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939: 738.

90 Churchill. ‘shall we All commit Suicide?” Thoughts and Adventures (1947 ed.): 187, 188.

91 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. V: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939: 680.

92 Churchill. “Hitler and his Choice.” Reprinted in Great Contemporaries (1937): 261-269 passim. (Odhams, 1947: 203-210 passim). Whatever conclusions may be drawn from this, the photograph of Hitler is curiously different in the two editions. In 1937 he is smiling.

93 Carlton. “Churchill and the two “Evil Empires” ”: 336

94 See his very seductive comparison between the two in “The Creeds of the Devil” (The Sunday Chronicle, 27 June, 1937), notably: “There are two strange facts about these non-God religions. The first is their extraordinary resemblance to one another. Nazism and Communism imagine themselves as exact opposites. They are at each other’s throats wherever they exist all over the world. They actually breed each other; for the reaction against Communism is Nazism, and beneath Nazism or Fascism Communism stirs convulsively. Yet they are similar in all essentials. First of all, their simplicity is remarkable. You leave out God and put in the Devil; you leave out love and put in hate; and everything thereafter works quite straightforwardly and logically. They are, in fact, as alike as two peas. Tweedledum and Tweedledee are two quite distinctive personalities compared to these two rival religions.”

95 Cf. The People’s Rights. By the Right Hon. W.S. Churchill, President of the Board of Trade. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1909.

96 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. V: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939: 456-457.

97 Jenkins. Churchill (2002): 469.

98 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol V: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939: 73.

99 The sources sometimes have “civilisation,” sometimes “civilization.” The original spelling is kept here in the quotations.

100 Reprinted in Arms and the Covenant: 112

101 “We should lay aside every hindrance and endeavour by uniting the whole force and spirit of our people to raise again a great British nation standing up before all the world; for such a nation, rising in its ancient vigour, can even at this hour save civilization.” Speech in the House of Commons, 24 March 1938. Reprinted in Arms and the Covenant: 466.

102 Cabinet Papers. 13 February 1919. In Pelling. Winston Churchill (1999): 258.

103 Reprinted in Arms and the Covenant: 236.

104 Soames. Speaking for Themselves: 411.

105 Churchill. “Germany and Japan.” Reprinted in Step By Step (1947 ed.): 71-72.

106 I.e. the Francoist side.

107 The article was published on 21 August 1936.

108 Churchill. “Keep out of Spain.” Evening Standard (21 August 1936). Reprinted in Step By Step (1947): 42-43.

109 Churchill. “The Spanish Tragedy.” Evening Standard (10 August 1936). Reprinted in Step By Step (1947): 40.

110 This may explain why Franco features repeatedly in Churchill’s published speeches and writings of the 1930s, as opposed to Salazar, who is never mentioned.

111 “Well-informed at all points that were of concern to him, Stalin was prudent but not slow. Seldom raising his voice, a good listener, prone to doodling, he was the quietest dictator I have ever known, with the exception of Dr. Salazar.” Eden. The Eden Memoirs. Vol. I : Facing the Dictators: 153.

112 Churchill. Onwards to Victory: 235.

113 The story is notably recounted in Smyth. “ « Les chevaliers de Saint-George » : la Grande-Bretagne et la corruption des généraux espagnols (1940-1942).”

114 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. VI: Finest Hour, 1939-1941: 816

115 During the Lille Conference of March 2009, whose Proceedings are under way.

116 Churchill. Their Finest Hour: 527

117 “Enemies to the Left.” Evening Standard (4 September 1936). Reprinted in Step By Step (1947): 49, 48.

118 “The Communist Schism.” Evening Standard (16 October 1936). Reprinted in Step By Step (1947): 58, 60.

119 The Preface is dated 28 May 1938.

120 21 May 1939. The book was published on 27 June 1939.

121 “The Russian Counterpoise.” Daily Telegraph (4 May 1939). Reprinted in Step By Step (1947): 344.

122 In Winston S. Churchill. Vol.V: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939, Sir Martin Gilbert gives a revealing list, drawn by Lord Halifax following Churchill’s article, of the obstacles to an alliance with Russia (p. 1068). He also neatly documents Churchill’s private and public pleas in favour of a revival of the pre-1914 alliance between Britain, France and Russia (e.g. pp. 1073 & 1088).

123 “The Fourth Climacteric: A Broadcast Address on the German Invasion of Russia, June 22, 1941.” Churchill. The Unrelenting Struggle: 178, 179.

124 Churchill. “Mussolini’s Downfall.” A speech to the House of Commons, July 27, 1943. Onwards to Victory: 142.

125 A scan is available on

It was left to a Russian historian to provide the first scholarly article on this “revelation.” Rzeševskij, Oleg. ‘sekretnye voennye plany U. Xercillja protiv SSSR v mae 1945 g.” [W. Churchill’s secret war plans against the USSR in May 1945] Novaja i novejšaja storia 3 (1999): 98-123.

126 "Operation Unthinkable: “Russia: Threat to Western Civilization,”" British War Cabinet, Joint Planning Staff [Draft and Final Reports: 22 May, 8 June, and 11 July 1945], Public Record Office, CAB 120/691/109040 / 001: p.10.

127 Reynolds. In Command of History: 463.

128 Quinault. “Churchill and Russia”: 115.

129 Kinvig speaks of his “extravagant language” and of his “extreme language.” Churchill’s Crusade: xiii and 85.

130 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 85.