Summer 1938 (Age 63)

Throughout this whole period Churchill wrote incessantly on military and political affairs for the Daily Telegraph and the News of the World. Most of the articles would eventually be reprinted in Step by Step. His son Randolph was finishing the manuscript of his father’s previous speeches and articles. This volume was published under the title of Arms and the Covenant (While England Slept in USA), although Churchill preferred the title, The Locust Years.

In another article published in Collier’s entitled Dictators on Dynamite (Woods C393), Churchill presented his view of why the world faced the ferocious dictators, Hitler and Mussolini. He attributed the basic cause to the war, the changes wrought in their personal lives and the opportunity it brought them:

“Hitler is an instrument of destiny. He embodies the revolt of Germany against the hard fortune of war, the soul-compelling surge of a warrior nation against defeat, its passion for rehabilitation and revenge. He exemplifies and enshrines the will of Germany … Signor Mussolini is not the prisoner nor the instrument of forces outside himself. He follows no path but his own. He uses the events and circumstances of post-war Italy as he would have used those of any other clime and century.”

Despite the threat each of these dictators and their nations presented, Churchill was confident of ultimate victory: “Dictatorship nurses within itself the canker that must destroy it. The dictators wear out their countries. They demand permanently what men and women are only willing to give in an emergency. And in the end they kill those very qualities of leadership that make them redoubtable.”

Churchill and a team of researchers worked assiduously on the final volume of Marlborough which was published in September. He also pressed forward with A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. He had signed a contract for the work with Cassall and Company in 1932 and some of Britain’s best young historians were assisting him with the project: F.W. Deakin, G.M. Young, Keith Feiling and Maurice Ashley.

He believed fervently in promoting the common heritage of the peoples of Britain and the United States as a means of enhancing their friendship. In a News of the World article on The Union of the English-Speaking Peoples (Woods C380) he wrote of “the majestic edifice of Anglo-American friendship. “

Acknowledging the origins of America as a refuge from persecution in Britain and the disputes that had divided the two nations since the War of Independence, he argued that the past and future united them and required collaboration: “The great Republic of the West, no less than the British Empire, sprang from the loins of Shakespeare’s England. The beginnings of American history are to be found, not across the Atlantic, but where the Thames flows between green lawns and woodlands down to the grey sea … It is the English-Speaking nations who, almost alone, keep alight the torch of Freedom.”

The main threats to the torch were in Danzig and in Czechoslovakia.   In July Churchill and Lindenum met the Gauleiter of Danzig, Herr Foerster, who informed Churchill of his demand for reunification of his city with Germany and recommended that Churchill visit Hitler. Churchill replied that it would not be a useful conversation between an all-powerful Dictator and a private individual. Later Churchill recorded: “He replied that nobody in Germany was thinking of war; that they had immense social and cultural plans which it would take them years to work out; that the Party Meeting took place in September, and that there was no question of incidents or serious complications. Returning to this point later, his interpreter said the situation was similar to 1914, when no one in Germany thought of war, but everyone in England feared it. To this I replied that we had unfortunately been right.”

The Sudeten leader, Herr Henlein, had visited Churchill in May and impressed the British leader with the reasonableness of his proposals for dividing powers between the Prague Government and & German-speaking regions. However, under pressure from Hitler, Henlein did not keep his promises.

Churchill warned Germany that Czechoslovakia would not be left to fight alone. The Sudeten Germans, whom he called “the most pampered minority in Europe,” must be made to realize that they would be more secure inside a tolerant Czechoslovakia than “swallowed whole by Berlin and reduced to shapeless pulp by those close-grinding mandibles of the Gestapo.”

But the British Government did not honour Churchill’s promises. On 7 August the British Attaché in Berlin informed the Foreign Office that Hitler had decided to attack Czechoslovakia whatever concessions were made to the Sudetens. A critical Cabinet meeting on 30 August decided that no threats should be made and no attempts at international cooperation against Germany should be begun. The main objective was to deny Hitler any excuse for an attack on Czechoslovakia by persuading the President of Czechoslovakia to make enough concessions.

On 7 September The times gave overt support to the Nazi demands. It editorialized that by letting the Sudetens go to Germany, to which they are united by race, Czechoslovakia would thus become a more homogeneous state!

On 15 September Chamberlain flew to Germany to see Hitler at Berchtesgaden.

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