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War Leader

"We see the Ridge ahead."

Churchill in Leeds 1942 03Winston Churchill visited Leeds on 16 May 1942 at the height of the Second World War. Jane Brechner, the great-granddaughter of Lord Mayor, Hyman Morris, provided the accompanying family photos of her great-grandfather accompanying Churchill during his visit. 
We shall go forward together. The road upwards is stony. There are upon our journey dark and dangerous valleys through which we have to make and fight our way. But it is sure and certain that if we persevere – and we shall persevere – we shall come through these dark and dangerous valleys into a sunlight broader and more genial and more lasting than mankind has ever known. Winston Churchill, Leeds, 16 May 1942
On this occasion of his visit Churchill ChurchillChusssaid in part, "In the height of the second great war, it is a great pleasure to come to Leeds and bring to the citizens a word of thanks and encouragement in all the work they are doing to promote the common cause of many nations and in many lands. That cause appeals to the hearts of all those in the human race who are not already gripped by tyranny or who have not already been seduced to its insidious voice. That cause is shared by all the millions of our cousins across the Atlantic who are preparing night and day to have their will and rights respected. It appeals to the patient millions of China, who have suffered long from cruel aggression and still fight with faithful stubbornness. It appeals to the noble manhood of Russia, now at full grips with the murderous enemy, striking blow for blow."

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International Churchill Society 25th Anniversary International Conference
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum,Washington, 8 November 1993

Martin Gilbert, CBE

First of all I would like to say that I am sure, like everybody here who has been around the Museum today, I am still very much under its impact, and I, too, would like to pay my tribute to Yeshayahu Weinberg, whom I first knew when he was devising the marvelous Beit Hatefusot Museum in Tel Aviv, the museum of the history of the Jewish people in the diaspora. I think the work he has done here is truly extraordinary.

I would like in the next fifty minutes to look at an aspect of Churchill's life which has always concerned me, as a historian of Churchill, as a historian of the Holocaust, and as a Jew.

Every biographer tries to find the key to his subject's personality, and above all the flaws and weaknesses which are an indispensable part of any biographical presentation. I remember how pleased, actually thrilled, I was some twenty-five years ago, talking to one of those who had been close to Churchill in the Twenties, Thirties, Forties and Fifties. He said to me: "You have to understand, Gilbert, that Winston did have one serious fault." As a biographer, my ears pricked up and my pen was poised to record and then to follow this up. This gentleman continued, "He was too fond of Jews." Whether this was a serious fault for some of his contemporaries, for his biographer it was an extraordinary window into his life.

When in November 1932, shortly before Hitler came to power, and Churchill was in Munich doing some historical research about the First Duke of Marlborough, his ancestor, an intermediary tried to get him to meet Hitler, who was in Munich at the time and had high hopes of coming to power within months. Churchill agreed to meet Hitler, who was going to come to see him in his hotel in Munich, and said to the intermediary: "There are a few questions you might like to put to him, which can be the basis of our discussion when we meet." Among them was the following

question: "What is the sense of being against a man simply because of his birth? How can any man help how he is born?"

This may seem a simple sentiment to us now, but how many people, distinguished people from Britain, the United States and other countries, who met or might have met Hitler, raised that question with him? So surprised, and possibly angered, was Hitler by this question that he declined to come to the hotel and see Churchill.

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History D-Day Reports Broadcast on BBC Radio

The Normandy invasion aimed to establish the Allied armies in German-occupied Europe. Operation Overlord, as it was called, was the largest amphibious operation in history. The initial landing was on 6 June 1944 and after hard fighting, the Allied breakout occurred in late July.

Visit the BBC D-Day Homepage here
Listen to the historic reports on the BBC here

Allied land forces that saw combat in Normandy on 6 June came from Canada, the Free French Forces, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In the weeks following the invasion, Polish forces also participated, as well as contingents from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, and the Netherlands. Most of the above countries also provided air and naval support, as did the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the Royal Norwegian Navy.

The Normandy invasion began with overnight parachute and glider landings, massive air attacks, naval bombardments, early morning amphibious landings on five beaches codenamed Juno, Gold, Omaha, Utah, and Sword and during the evening the remaining elements of the parachute divisions landed. The "D-Day" forces deployed from bases along the south coast of England, the most important of these being Portsmouth.


Links to more information about D-Day

BBC, Special Section on Overlord and D-Day

D-Day Museum in Portsmouth

Imperial War Museum

Juno Beach Centre, The Canadian WWII Museum in Normandy

The Royal Navy & Operation Neptune

U.S. Army video presentation, photos, intervews and background

U.S. Navy, Naval History and Heritage Commmand

View a map of Allied and German force positions on 6 June 1944

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Germany unconditionally surrendered on 7 May 1945 and the 8th of May is declared 'Victory in Europe Day'

The British Commonwealth, American and Russian armies had to fight their way right to the heart of the Third Reich—Berlin.

Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace, the home of his grandfather the 7th Duke of Marlborough. Visit the website of Blenheim Palace to find out more about 'VE Day and the Marlborough's'.

Principles and Compromises: Churchill, Roosevelt and Eastern Europe

    Winston Churchill was a British statesman whose goal was to advance the interests of Great Britain. When in office, that was the principle fundamental to his actions. If other principles came into conflict with that bedrock commitment, they automatically took second place. And there were times when what individuals might consider immutable rights—political freedom, for example—came into conflict with what Churchill considered British interests. He understood that conflict and tried to reconcile the two—but when that failed, his interpretation of British interests prevailed. The political fate of Eastern Europe after the Second World War, particularly Poland, is one such case.

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Reviews by Raymond Callahan and Richard Langworth

I approached Richard Lamb's Churchill as War Leader: Right or Wrong? with expectations set by the author's very interesting Montgomery in Europe, 1943-1945: Success or Failure? (London: 1983) as well as by a favorable notice from John Keegan in The Times Literary Supplement. The fiftieth anniversary of World War II is, after all, a good time for reflection and reconsideration, and the continuing flood of books on the subject, many of which bear on Churchill, need to be evaluated for their bearing on our assessment of his career.

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Churchill reviews US and British troops after arriving in Iceland on his way back to London aboard the Prince of Wales on 29 August 1941.

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