Speeches

The Lead up to VE Day

With the net tightening around Germany, on 4 February 1945 the Allied Leaders, Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, met in Yalta, on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea, to clarify their plans for the final offensive, the occupation policy for Germany and the establishment of the United Nations and its Security Council.

A month later, in March 1945, the Germans were in retreat. The Allies were on the west bank of the Rhine, the traditional border of Germany that no foreign army had crossed in 140 years (since Napoleon in 1805). On 22-24 March, the Allies crossed the Rhine and entered enemy territory. On 30 April, Adolf Hitler committed suicide during the Battle of Berlin.

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The Iron Curtain

In November 1945, Churchill was invited to give one of a series of annual lectures at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri. The letter of invitation was annotated by President Truman who offered to introduce Churchill, and therefore guaranteed a high profile event.

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.
Churchill, 5 March 1946

Churchill’s speech, given on 5 March 1946, was to prove enormously influential. Originally entitled ‘The Sinews of Peace’, it became better known as the ‘Iron Curtain’ speech because of his use of a phrase now in common use. This was Churchill’s first public declaration of the Cold War, in which he warned the western world about the ‘iron curtain’ that was descending over Europe, drawn down by the Russians, and called for greater Anglo-US cooperation, in what he called a ‘special relationship’, in the battle against Soviet expansionism. Click here to see Churchill give this speech in the presence of US President Harry S. Truman.

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The Battle of Britain The Royal Air Force battles the German Luftwaffe

On 18 June, Churchill warned the British people that the ‘battle of France’ was over and the ‘battle of Britain’ was about to begin. His words were proved right. As early summer gave way to July and August, the threat of invasion loomed over Britain.

If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each one of us lies, choking in his own blood upon the ground.
Churchill, as quoted in Hugh Dalton’s Second World War Diary, entry for 28 May 1940

Churchill, seeing that control of the skies was vital, put businessman Lord Beaverbrook in charge of Aircraft Production (as Minister) and encouraged British scientists to improve radar defences and counter German technology. In August, the Royal Air Force managed to inflict heavy casualties on the German Luftwaffe and, in September, the German pilots transferred their attention from the coastal airfields and those in south-west England to London, allowing the fighter bases respite from attack but putting British people in the city at much greater risk. In early September a massive series of raids involving nearly four hundred German bombers and more than six hundred fighters targeted docks in London’s East End almost continuously, day and night.

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THE FULTON REPORT – From the National Churchill Museum A Note, or Two Notes, to Pamela Plowden

Finest Hour 175, Winter 2017 Page 38 A Note, or Two Notes, to Pamela Plowden Following the tragic death of their two-year-old daughter Marigold in 1921, Winston and Clementine Churchill received numerous letters of sympathy. One letter of condolence arrived from Pamela Plowden (see p. 15), to whom Winston had proposed marriage in 1899. She […]

Books, Arts, & Curiosities – Double Indemnity

Finest Hour 174, Autumn 2016 Page 43 Alan Watson, Churchill’s Legacy: Two Speeches to Save the World, Bloomsbury, 2016, 204 pages, $25/£16.99. 978–1408880210 Review by Peter Clarke Peter Clarke’s new book, The Locomotive of War: Money, Empire, Power and Guilt, will be published in February by Bloomsbury in London and New York. Winston Churchill, like […]

Riddles, Mysteries, Enigmas – “Let Europe Arise!”

Finest Hour 173, Summer 2016 Page 50 Seventy years ago at Zurich University Winston Churchill delivered one of his most important post-war speeches (see pages 7, 31, and 41). Although given the somber title “The Tragedy of Europe,” Churchill’s remarks set out a plan for rebuilding the war-torn continent. Proposing “a kind of United States […]

Churchill: A Study in Oratory

Seven Lessons in Speechmaking From One of the Greatest Orators of All Time

By Thomas Montalbo, DTM
Finest Hour 69

He wasn’t a natural orator, not at all. His voice was raspy. A stammer and a lisp often marred many of his speeches. Nor was his appearance attractive. A snub nose and a jutting lower lip made him look like a bulldog. Short and fat, he was also stoop-shouldered.

Yet this man—Sir Winston Churchill—became probably the greatest orator of our time and won the Nobel Prize for his writings and “brilliant oratory.” How did he do it? And what lessons can all Toastmasters learn from him to help them make better speeches?

In school, Winston Churchill was a backward student. But he wasn’t stupid. He later explained, “Where my reason, imagination or interest were not engaged, I would not or I could not learn.” But the English language fascinated him. He was the best in his class.

Macaulay and Gibbon, two of England’s most famous historians, dazzled him with their styles of writing. The impact these authors made on his mind stayed with him for life, as his speeches show. Because their styles were markedly different and yet both charmed him, he believed this showed, as he put it, “What a fine language English is. . .”

His English teacher once said, “I do not believe that I have ever seen in a boy of 14 such a veneration for the English language.” Churchill called the English sentence “a noble thing” and said, “The only thing I would whip boys for is not knowing English. I would whip them hard for that.” Lord Moran, his physician and intimate friend, wrote:

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Boris Johnson Presents to Sold Out Conference

Watch Boris Johnson’s ‘Churchill Factor’ Presentation at the 32nd International Churchill Conference in Oxfordshire

The Hon Boris Johnson MP and Mayor of London, was introduced to the speeches of Sir Winston Churchill from a very early age. He recalls his father reciting Churchill’s speeches and used this as inspiration to write his recent book on Sir Winston Churchill. He identified what made Churchill great as the ‘Churchill Factor’.

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Boris Johnson Presents to Annual Churchill Conference

Watch Boris Johnson’s ‘Churchill Factor’ Presentation at the 32nd International Churchill Conference

The Hon Boris Johnson MP and Mayor of London, was introduced to the speeches of Sir Winston Churchill from a very early age. He recalls his father reciting Churchill’s speeches and used this as inspiration to write his recent book on Sir Winston Churchill. He identified what made Churchill great as the ‘Churchill Factor’.

VE Day The end of WWII

Victory in Europe (VE) Day, on 8 May 1945, officially celebrated the end of the WWII in Europe.

Following Hitler’s suicide on 30 April 1945, Admiral Dönitz, who’d been President of the Third Reich for only a week, authorised General Jodl to sign the unconditional surrender of German forces to the Allies on 7 May 1945, in the presence of senior officers from Britain, America, Soviet Russia and France. (The Soviets insisted on a second ceremony in Berlin on 8 May, which is why Russia still celebrates VE Day on 9 May).

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University of Leiden, 10 May 1946

Finest Hour 161, Winter 2013-14

Page 36

“THE RECTOR HAS EXPLAINED HOW RARELY THIS DISTINCTION IS GIVEN, AND ESPECIALLY IN CASES LIKE MINE.”


The decision to make me a Doctor of Laws is deeply valued by me. The Rector has explained how rarely this distinction is given, and especially in cases like mine. It has to be proved that the recipient, by his moral qualities, his attitude, and character has influenced the course of history in a favourable sense.

I felt this might be a rather difficult task for the promoter to prove, but the promoter’s reasoning with his logic and deduction seems to be very good. As he proceeded my natural modesty was undermined, and I will confess to this august assembly that I allowed myself to be convinced by him. [Laughter.]
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Churchill’s 1950 Newsreel Outtakes

Humorous behind the scenes footage of Churchill in January 1950 preparing a newsreel for the upcoming British General Election

In this election Churchill’s efforts came to naught as the Labour Party returned with a narrow majority of only six seats. But Labour had lost 78 seats while the Conservatives had gained 85 seats, thereby laying a foundation for another election in the near future, one Churchill privately predicted would come within the year. “One more heave before the year is out,” he wrote to a friend. But the heave was not to come until October, 1951.

City of London Honours Churchill

A statue of Churchill was unveiled on 27 June 1955

In 1955 the Lord Mayor of London unveiled a status of Sir Winston Churchill in the Guildhall in London. Rarely is a statue dedicated during the lifetime of a person being honoured. Some of the most iconic statues and busts of Churchill, including this one, were created by the prolific artist Oscar Nemon.

Winston Churchill Resigns as Prime Minister

Churchill resigns on the 4th of April 1955

Winston Churchill became Prime Minster for the first time during the Second World War and in 1950 he was asked by the King to form a government for the second time. In April in 1955 he resigned for the final time as Prime Minister.

MIT Mid-Century Convocation

March 31, 1949.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston, Massachusetts

churchill mit1949I am honoured by your wish that I should take part in the discussions of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We have suffered in Great Britain by the lack of colleges of University rank in which engineering and the allied subjects are taught. Industrial production depends on technology and it is because the Americans, like the prewar Germans, have realized this and created institutions for the advanced training of large numbers of high-grade engineers to translate the advances of pure science into industrial technique, that their output per head and consequent standard of life are so high. It is surprising that England, which was the first country to be industrialized, has nothing of comparable stature. If tonight I strike other notes than those of material progress, it implies no want of admiration for all the work you have done and are doing. My aim, like yours, is to be guided by balance and proportion. Read More >

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WinstonChurchill.org

The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

At a time when leadership is challenged at every turn, that legacy looms larger and remains more relevant than ever.