8

Darkest Hour

 

 

 

 

You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs—Victory in spite of all terror—Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.

Winston Churchill, May 13, 1940

The second Winston Churchill movie this year will appear in the US at Thanksgiving.  The first was a bigger bomb than any dropped by the RAF in World War II.  Go here to read British historian Andrew Robert’s scorching review.  However Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldham in the title role, looks magnificent.  It focuses on Churchill’s role in summoning the British people to fight on alone after the Fall of France.

 

If the English had negotiated peace with Nazi Germany in 1940, I have no doubt that Hitler would likely have conquered the Soviet Union in the next year.  In circa 1948-1952 the US might have faced Japan and a nuclear armed Nazi Germany, controlling Europe and the former Soviet Union, with missile technology, and the world may well have been a much darker place indeed after the rubble settled from such a conflict.  The resolution of one man, Churchill, likely changed history for the better, and no greater accolade can be given to any statesman.  I am looking forward to seeing this film with great anticipation.

 

 

 

 

 

2

Divisions

This event I believe occurred at the Fourth Moscow Conference in 1944:

 

In 1944, at a time when the Soviet Union bore the brunt of the struggle against Nazi Germany, it was important to convince Stalin that the Western democracies accepted him as an equal. “‘In the world of the future, for which our soldiers have shed their blood on countless fronts”, the British Prime Minister said in his bombastic style, “our three great democracies will demonstrate to all mankind that they, both in wartime and in peacetime, will remain true to the high principles of freedom, dignity, and happiness of the people. That’s why I attach such paramount importance to good neighbourly relations between a restored Poland and the Soviet Union. It was for the freedom and independence of Poland that Britain went into this war. The British feel a sense of moral responsibility to the Polish people, to their spiritual values. It’s also important that Poland is a Catholic country. We can’t allow internal developments there to complicate our relations with the Vatican…”

“How many divisions does the Pope of Rome have?” Stalin asked, suddenly interrupting Churchill’s line of reasoning.

Valentin Berezhkov, Stalin’s interpreter, in his memoirs recounted this.

 

The response of Pius XII I have been unable to source as to time and place, but it has become immortal:  “You can tell my son Joseph that he will meet my divisions in heaven.”

The divisions that Stalin put so much faith in are as dead and buried now as he is, as is his Communist State that lasted merely one long life time.  Dictators come and go, Christ remains. Continue Reading

2

Requiescat In Pace: Robert Hardy

As the war raged on I studied English at Oxford University, but my education was interrupted by my joining the RAF to train as a pilot. It was there that I got to meet Richard Burton – a navigator in the RAF – who would become so great a friend.

In 1949 I embarked on a career as an actor, and I was with Richard when I met Churchill for a second time in the early 1950s. We were appearing in Hamlet together at the Old Vic, with Richard as the Prince of Denmark. We knew Winston, who at this time was once again Prime Minister, was in the audience – he was unmissable sitting in the front row. 

After the performance we were in Richard’s dressing room when the mighty man burst in, cigar in hand, and, addressing Richard as if he was still in character, said, ‘Your Highness, I am in great need – do have you a lavatory?’

When he came out he complemented Richard on his ‘very forthright Hamlet’ before adding, ‘I’m astonished that such a man should wait so long to avenge his father!’ Needless to say, Richard and I dined out on that for weeks to come.

Robert Hardy

Sad news.  British actor Robert Hardy has died at 91.  Far too young for such a delightful man and talented actor.  At Oxford he studied English under CS Lewis and JRR Tokien, and he ever cherished that opportunity that fate handed him.  He became one of the foremost authorities on the English longbow.  (I have a book in my library that he wrote on the history of the longbow.)  He spoke and wrote in a most pellucid English, no doubt a tribute to his instruction from Lewis and Tolkien.  He of course is remembered for his acting.  To the younger generation he is Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic in the Harry Potter films.  Some may recall him as irascible, but good-hearted, veterinary Siegfried Farnon in the television series All Creatures Great and Small.  To me he will always be the definitive film Winston Churchill, a role that he played nine times. His longest portrayal was in the eight part miniseries The Wilderness Years, broadcast in the eighties, which may be found on You Tube.  Hail and farewell Mr. Hardy, may you have a joyous reunion with your two favorite professors in the world to come.

Continue Reading

4

Dunkirk

 

The film is getting magnificent reviews and I will be seeing it on the last Friday of the month with a full review to follow.  Operation Dynamo, the transport of British and French troops from surrounded Dunkirk, was a military miracle, aided by Hitler’s agreement with his generals for a temporary pause in operations, for rest and reorganization, from May 24-May 26 of the German Fourth Army around Dunkirk.  Initially it was thought that only some 45,000 men could be rescued, but instead 338,000 men were saved to fight many other days.  But for Dunkirk, the British would have had few trained troops to confront a Nazi invasion, if Hitler had attempted to roll the iron dice of war and risk Operation Sea Lion.

Today we recall the civilian craft of all types that voluntarily came out to rescue the British soldiers.  It was a demonstration that although the British military had suffered a stunning loss in France, along with their French allies, the spirit of the British people was far from broken.  Churchill summed up the Dunkirk Miracle well:

When, a week ago today, I asked the house to fix this afternoon as the occasion for a statement, I feared it would be my hard lot to announce the greatest military disaster in our long history. I thought – and some good judges agreed with me – that perhaps 20,000 or 30,000 men might be re-embarked. But it certainly seemed that the whole of the French First Army and the whole of the British Expeditionary Force north of the Amiens-Abbeville gap would be broken up in the open field or else would have to capitulate for lack of food and ammunition. These were the hard and heavy tidings for which I called upon the house and the nation to prepare themselves a week ago. The whole root and core and brain of the British Army, on which and around which we were to build, and are to build, the great British armies in the later years of the war, seemed about to perish upon the field or to be led into an ignominious and starving captivity.

After having described the Dunkirk evacuation Churchill said this and here he donned the mantle of a prophet: Continue Reading

2

Saints of Lent: Cardinal John Fisher

 

Where are now the kings and princes that once reigned over all the world, whose glory and triumph were lifted up above the earth? Where are now the innumerable company and power of Xerxes and Caesar? Where are the great victories of Alexander and Pompey? Where are now the great riches of Croesus and Crassus? But what shall we say of those who once were kings and governors of this realm?  Where are they now whom we have known and seen in our days in such great wealth and glory that it was thought by many they would never have died, never have been forgotten? They had all their pleasures at the full, both of delicious and good fare, of hawking, hunting, also of excellent horses and stallions, greyhounds and hounds for their entertainment, their palaces well and richly furnished, strongholds and towns without number. They had a great plenty of gold and silver, many servants, fine apparel for themselves and their lodgings. They had the power of the law to proscribe, to punish, to exalt and set forward their friends and loved ones, to put down and make low their enemies, and also to punish by temporal death rebels and traitors. Every man held with them, all were at their command. Every man was obedient to them, feared them, also honored and praised them, everywhere now? Are they not gone and wasted like smoke? Of them it is written in another place, mox ut honorificati fuerint et exaltati, dificientes quemadmodum fumus deficient (when they were in their utmost prosperity and fame, they soon failed and came to nothing, even as smoke does) (Ps. 36:2). St. James compares the vanity of this life to a vapor, and he says it shall perish and wither away as a flower in the hay season. (James 4:15).

Saint John Fisher

 

Lent is a grand time to confront evil, both that evil which stains our souls, and the evil external to us.  Throughout the history of the Church there have been saints who risked all to bravely confront the popular evils of their time.  This Lent on each Sunday we will be looking at some of those saints.  We began with Saint Athanasius.  Go here to read about him.  This week we will look at Saint John Fisher.

When he ascended to the throne of England Henry VIII was popularly known as the Golden Hope of England.  His father Henry VII had never been loved by the people of England:  a miser and a distinctly unheroic figure no matter what Shakespeare would write in Richard III.  He had brought the end of the War of the Roses and peace to England, but that was about as much credit as his subjects would give the grasping, unlovable Henry Tudor.  His son by contrast looked like an Adonis when young, strong and athletic.  He had a sharp mind and had been well-educated, intended, ironically, for a career in the Church before the death of his elder brother Arthur.  He was reputed, correctly, to be pious.  He had considerable charisma in his youth and knew how to make himself loved with a well timed laugh or smile, and loved he was, by the nobles, commons, his wife Katherine, and the Church.  Few reigns started more auspiciously than that of Henry, eighth of that name.

By the end of his reign he was widely despised by most his subjects.  Called a crowned monster behind his back, his reign had brought religious turmoil to England and domestic strife.  The best known symbols of his reign were the headman’s axe, the stake and the boiling pot in which he had some of the luckless individuals who roused his fury boiled to death.

It of course is small wonder for a Catholic to have little love for Henry VIII and his reign, but the distaste for Henry extends well beyond members of the Church.  Winston Churchill, the great English statesman and historian, in his magisterial History of the English Speaking Peoples, has this to say about the executions of Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher:

“The resistance of More and Fisher to the royal supremacy in Church government was a heroic stand.  They realised the defects of the existing Catholic system, but they hated and feared the aggressive nationalism which was destroying the unity of Christendom.  They saw that the break with Rome carried with it the risk of a despotism freed from every fetter.  More stood forth as the defender of all that was finest in the medieval outlook.  He represents to history its universality, its belief in spiritual values, and its instinctive sense of otherworldliness.  Henry VIII with cruel axe decapitated not only a wise and gifted counselor, but a system which, though it had failed to live up to its ideals in practice, had for long furnished mankind with its brightest dreams.”

Churchill himself was not noted for being a churchgoer.  When asked if he was a pillar of the Church of England, he quipped that perhaps he could be considered to be a flying butress of the Church, supporting it from outside.  Perhaps this helped give him a certain objectivity regarding Henry VIII.  Here is part of his summing up of Henry’s reign:

“Henry’s rule saw many advances in the growth and the character of the English state, but it is a hideous blot upon his record that the reign should be widely remembered for its executions.  Two Queens, two of the King’s chief Ministers, a saintly bishop, numerous abbots, monks and many ordinary folk who dared to resist the royal will were put to death.  Almost every member of the nobility in whom royal blood ran perished on the scaffold at Henry’s command.  Roman Catholic and Calvinist alike were burnt for heresy and religious treason.  These persecutions, inflicted in solemn manner by officers of the law, perhaps in the presence of the Council or even the King himself, form a brutal seqeul to the bright promise of the Renaissance.  The sufferings of devout men and women among the faggots, the use of torture, and the savage penalties imposed for even paltry crimes, stand in repellant contrast to the enlightened principles of humanism.” 

 

Born in 1469, John Fisher was noted for his great learning, the austerity of his life and his piety.  He was made Bishop of Rochester, the poorest diocese in England, at the personal insistence of Henry VIII in 1504.  Usually this was a stepping stone to ecclesiastical preferment, but Fisher stayed there for 31 years, doubtless because he had the courage to oppose the King whenever he was wrong, and so he did when Henry attempted to divorce Queen Katherine and when he broke with Rome.  Fisher made a strange champion to stand against a King.  He was noted as a scholar throughout Europe, a man of exceeding mildness and friendliness and someone clearly made for peace and contemplation and not for turmoil and strife in public life.  However for truth and the Faith Fisher was willing to stand virtually alone with a handful of others, including Saint Thomas More, against his terrifying Sovereign.

 

John Cardinal Fisher was made a Cardinal by Pope Paul III in May of 1535, King Henry stopped the cardinal’s hat from being brought into England, bellowing that he would send Fisher’s head to the Pope.  Tried by a kangaroo court and convicted, the only testimony brought against him was by Richard Rich, a specialist in lying men to the headman’s block.  Fisher was condemned to be hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn. Continue Reading

1

Video Clips That Bring Tears to My Eyes: Churchill and the Pilot

 

 

But the Consul’s brow was sad,
And the Consul’s speech was low,
And darkly looked he at the wall,
And darkly at the foe;
“Their van will be upon us
Before the bridge goes down;
And if they once may win the bridge,
What hope to save the town?”

Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the gate:
“To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his gods,

“And for the tender mother
Who dandled him to rest,
And for the wife who nurses
His baby at her breast,
And for the holy maidens
Who feed the eternal flame,—
To save them from false Sextus
That wrought the deed of shame?

“Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,
With all the speed ye may;
I, with two more to help me,
Will hold the foe in play.
In yon strait path a thousand
May well be stopped by three:
Now who will stand on either hand,
And keep the bridge with me?”

Horatius at the Bridge
Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay

1

Winston Churchill: July 4, 1918

churchill-great-war-375x500

A speech given by the half-American Winston Churchill at a celebration of the Fourth of July at the city of Westminster, England on July 4, 1918:

We are, as the Chairman has stated, met here to-day in the City of Westminster to celebrate the hundred and forty-second anniversary of American Independence. We are met also, as he has reminded you, as brothers in arms, facing together grave injuries and perils, and passing through a period of exceptional anxiety and suffering. Therefore we seek to draw from the past history of our race inspiration and encouragement which will cheer our hearts and fortify and purify our resolution and our comradeship. A great harmony exists between the Declaration of Independence and all we are fighting for now. A similar harmony exists between the principles of that Declaration and what the British Empire has wished to stand for and has at last achieved, not only here at home, but in the great self-governing Dominions through the world. The Declaration of Independence is not only an American document; it follows on Magna Charta and the Petition of Right as the third of the great title deeds on which the liberties of the English-speaking race are founded. By it we lost an Empire, but by it we also preserved an Empire. By applying these principles and learning this lesson we have maintained unbroken communion with those powerful Commonwealths which our children have founded and have developed beyond the seas, and which, in this time of stress, have rallied spontaneously to our aid. The political conceptions embodied in the Declaration of Independence are the same as those which were consistently expressed at the time by Lord Chatham and Mr. Burke and by many others who had in turn received them from John Hampden and Algernon Sidney. They spring from the same source; they come from the same well of practical truth, and that well, ladies and gentlemen, is here, by the banks of the Thames in this famous Island, which we have guarded all these years, and which is the birthplace and the cradle of the British and the American race. It is English wisdom, it is that peculiar political sagacity and sense of practical truth, which animates the great document in the minds of all Americans to-day. Wherever men seek to frame polities or constitutions which are intended to safeguard the citizen, be he rich or be he poor, on the one hand from the shame of despotism, on the other from the misery of anarchy, which are devised to combine personal liberty with respect for law and love of country — wherever these desires are sincerely before the makers of constitutions or laws, it is to this original inspiration, this inspiration which was the product of English soil, which was the outcome of the Anglo-Saxon mind, that they will inevitably be drawn. Continue Reading

4

Winston Churchill

The salvation of the common people of every race and of every land from war or servitude must be established on solid foundations and must be guarded by the readiness of all men and women to die rather than submit to tyranny.

Winston Churchill, September 19, 1946

 

 

I can never view the above scene from the movie Into the Storm (2009) without choking up.  The movie relates Winston Churchill’s time as Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II.  The anniversary of D-Day caused me to think of the man who will always be associated with Allied victory in that conflict   The half-American Churchill did more than any other single man to consign Hitler and his grisly gang of murderous thugs to the pages of history, and to have Hitler’s vaunted thousand year Reich die at twelve years in ashes and total defeat.  He kept his country going until America intervened after Pearl Harbor, a time when victory seemed all but hopeless.  However, Churchill remained confident that, as he had warned a Nazi official in the thirties, if need be Britain would lead the world against them to bring down their tyranny.

His apogee of course was during VE Day.  Hailed by his countrymen as the man who won the War, he told them that they had won the War, along with their Allies, and it had merely been his privilege to voice the roar of the British lion.

Then the British electorate promptly tossed him from power in the first post war elections in July of 1945.  Such is politics.  Continue Reading

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Winston Churchill and the Maccabees

ChurchillQuoteMay1940

 

 

Today is Trin­ity Sun­day. Cen­turies ago words were writ­ten to be a call and a spur to the faith­ful ser­vants of Truth and Jus­tice: “Arm your­selves, and be ye men of val­our, and be in readi­ness for the con­flict; for it is bet­ter for us to per­ish in bat­tle than to look upon the Out­rage of our nation and our altar. As the Will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be.

Winston Churchill, Radio Address, June 19, 1940.  Churchill was quoting, slightly altered by him, I Maccabees 3: 58-60

58. And Judas said, Arm your­selves, and be valiant men, and see that ye be in readi­ness against the morn­ing, that ye may fight with these nations, that are assem­bled together against us to destroy us and our sanc­tu­ary: 59. For it is bet­ter for us to die in bat­tle, than to behold the calami­ties of our peo­ple and our sanc­tu­ary. 60. Nev­er­the­less, as the will of God is in heaven, so let him do.

3

Captain of the Gate

 

Our homeschool readers might like to consider having their kids memorize this poem by Thomas Babington Macaulay.  Much that is great in Western Civilization, or was great in Western Civilization when the poem was being routinely taught to school kids, is contained in it:

Horatius

I

LARS Porsena of Clusium
By the Nine Gods he swore
That the great house of Tarquin
Should suffer wrong no more.
By the Nine Gods he swore it,
And named a trysting day,
And bade his messengers ride forth,
East and west and south and north,
To summon his array.

II

East and west and south and north
The messengers ride fast,
And tower and town and cottage
Have heard the trumpet’s blast.
Shame on the false Etruscan
Who lingers in his home,
When Porsena of Clusium
Is on the march for Rome.

III

The horsemen and the footmen
Are pouring in amain
From many a stately market-place;
From many a fruitful plain;
From many a lonely hamlet,
Which, hid by beech and pine,
Like an eagle’s nest, hangs on the crest
Of purple Apennine;

IV

From lordly Volaterræ,
Where scowls the far-famed hold
Piled by the hands of giants
For godlike kings of old;
From seagirt Populonia,
Whose sentinels descry
Sardinia’s snowy mountain-tops
Fringing the southern sky; Continue Reading

3

Sir Martin Gilbert: Requiescat in Pace

 

 

Sad news today.  The great biographer of Winston Churchill, Martin Gilbert, has died:

“ROME — Sir Martin Gilbert, a widely respected British-Jewish historian who strongly defended the wartime record of Venerable Pope Pius XII, died Tuesday at the age of 78. He had been suffering from cancer for some time.

“Sir Martin Gilbert was in inspiration to all of us who seek the truth,” said Gary Krupp, the Jewish founder of the Pave the Way Foundation, an organization that has sought to uncover the truth about Pius XII and his efforts to save Jews in World War II.

The official biographer of Sir Winston Churchill, Gilbert wrote the book The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust, which documented the action of the Church and Pope Pius XII in rescuing Jews from Nazi persecution.

He also wrote numerous books on the Holocaust, the First and Second World Wars and Jewish history. In the last years of his life, he became best known in Britain as a member of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War. The panel, which began in 2009, is investigating how U.K. forces came to participate in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the BBC.” Continue Reading

11

Churchill: The Indispensable Man

Gentlemen, you will never make peace with Napoleon! Napoleon cannot be master of the world until he has smashed us up, and believe me, gentlemen, he means to be master of the world! You cannot make peace with dictators. You have to destroy them, wipe them out!

Lord Horatio Nelson, That Hamilton Woman

 

 

Something for the weekend.  Heart of Oak from That Hamilton Woman (1941).  Sir Winston Churchill died 50 years ago today.  He loved that film, echoing as it did his own struggle against Hitler in the earlier stand of Great Britain against Napoleon, and would frequently show it to guests during the War.

 

When Churchill was born veterans of Trafalgar still lived, the same vintage as our current World War II veterans.  Churchill lived into the dawning of the Space Age.  He led a long and colorful life and he changed History.  The beginning of World War II seemed like the dawning of a new era:  the age of totalitarian empires.  The weak and disunited democracies seemed to be on their way out.  Churchill changed all this by keeping Britain fighting, even when victory seemed impossible, and gave his nation their finest hour.  Having reduced the Thousand Year Reich to rubble and ashes, he sounded the alarm against the Soviet Union in 1946.  Instead of the democracies ending up on the ash heap of history, it was the totalitarian empires who did so, ending like vanishing fever dreams at the dawn of a new day.  Churchill, although he battled depression his entire life, was ever an optimist about free peoples.  This was captured I think in his finest speech with this passage:

Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.

 

Churchill was the indispensable man of the last century for all those who cherish freedom, and this is a good day to recall him and why it is up to us to continue the fight he waged and to recall his warning if we ever tire of the struggle:

 

But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Continue Reading

20

Churchill Tribute

Lead out the pageant: sad and slow, 
As fits an universal woe, 
Let the long long procession go,        
And let the sorrowing crowd about it grow, 
And let the mournful martial music blow; 
The last great Englishman is low.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

 

 

Something for the weekend.  I Vow to Thee My Country set to scenes from the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill on January 30, 1965.  Hard to think that half a century now separates us from that sad event.  Churchill planned his own funeral and he made certain that all the great old hymns he so loved were well represented in the ceremonies.  When he was asked if he was a pillar of the church, Churchill, whose attendance at services was sparse, said he was a flying buttress of the church, supporting it from outside.   His beliefs about God were ambiguous, with contrary statements about religion being made about God and religion in the course of his life.  I think that like many of his European generation coming of age in the late nineteenth century that he initially embraced agnosticism.  Then, in battle he noticed that he was always praying for assistance, whatever his head thinking his heart obviously still believing in God!   As he grew older I think a belief in God began to grow in him as he became acutely aware during his very long life of the mysteries of life and death.  He sometimes spoke enviously of those who had religious faith untroubled with doubt, and perhaps at the end he joined their ranks. In a striking part of the funeral, two buglers played:  the first one Taps and the second one Reveille, a symbol of the Resurrection.

The greatest man in secular history of the last century,  Churchill wrenched the course of history and ensured that Hitler’s talk of a Thousand Year Reich would be remembered as a tyrant’s empty boast and not the beginning of a waking nightmare for all mankind.  Politicians are always with us, as ubiquitous as fleas on a dog and often about as useful.  A statesman like Churchill, who can see beyond present turmoil and disaster and point the way forward, is rare and precious indeed.  On V-E day in Great Britain Churchill was hailed as the man who won the war.  Churchill denied this and said that the victory belonged to the British people and it had merely been his privilege to give voice to the roar of the British lion.  He was then promptly tossed out by the British people at the general election, his task completed.  He would once again become prime minister in 1951, but it was anti-climactic, a mere epilogue to his career.  His great moment had been when he sustained British morale and kept his nation in the fight against Nazi Germany at a time when victory seemed hopeless and even mere survival doubtful, and thus gave his people their finest hour.

 

For that he deserves to be remembered and honored, and not just by the British, but by all free men and women everywhere. Continue Reading

6

The Old World in its Sunset Was Fair to See

 

Camille_Pissarro_007

 

Like many others, I often summon up in my memory the impression of those July days.  The world on the verge of its catastrophe was very brilliant.  Nations and Empires crowned with princes and potentates rose majestically on every side, lapped in the accumulated treasures of the long peace.  All were fitted and fastened—it seemed securely—into an immense cantilever.  The two mighty Europeans systems faced each other glittering and clanking in their panoply, but with a tranquil gaze.  A polite, discreet, pacific, and on the whole sincere diplomacy spread its web of connections over both.  A sentence in a dispatch, an observation by an ambassador, a cryptic phrase in a Parliament seemed sufficient to adjust from day to day the balance of the prodigious structure.  Words counted, and even whispers.  A nod could be made to tell.  Were we after all to achieve world security and universal peace by a marvelous system of combinations in equipoise and of armaments in equation, of checks and counter-checks on violent action ever more complex and more delicate?  Would Europe this marshaled, thus grouped, thus related, unite into one universal and glorious organism capable of receiving and enjoying in undreamed of abundance the bounty which nature and science stood hand in hand to give?  The old world in its sunset was fair to see.

Winston Churchill, The World Crisis

How quickly worlds can be shattered.  In this year of grace 2014 let us hope that future historians will not be putting down similar words about out age.  I doubt, in part, if they will, because the optimism that characterized Europe prior to the Great War is completely foreign to our time.  However, future historians dwelling upon the blindness of current leaders as we slide into another Great War, well, that would not surprise me at all.  Let us pray that my fears do not come to fruition.

6

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Winston Churchill

 winston-churchill-quotes-9

 

In this week in which we observe the 70th anniversary of D-Day it is appropriate to recall these words of the greatest statesman of the last century, Winston Churchill.  He spoke these words in 1949 at MIT and I think they speak directly to our time:

Our inheritance of well-founded slowly conceived codes of honour, morals and manners, the passionate convictions which so many hundreds of millions share together of the principles of freedom and justice, are far more precious to us than anything which scientific discoveries could bestow. Those whose minds are attracted or compelled to rigid and symmetrical systems of government should remember that logic, like science, must be the servant and not the master of man. Human beings and human societies are not structures that are built or machines that are forged. They are plants that grow and must be tended as such. Life is a test and this world a place of trial. Always the problems or it may be the same problem will be presented to every generation in different forms. The problems of victory may be even more baffling than those of defeat. However much the conditions change, the supreme question is how we live and grow and bloom and die, and how far each life conforms to standards which are not wholly related to space or time. 

 

 Here I speak not only to those who enjoy the blessings and consolation of revealed religion but also to those who face the mysteries of human destiny alone. The flame of Christian ethics is still our highest guide. To guard and cherish it is our first interest, both spiritually and materially. The fulfilment of Spiritual duty in our daily life is vital to our survival. Only by bringing it into perfect application can we hope to solve for ourselves the problems of this world and not of this world alone.

**********************

Let us then move forward together in discharge of our mission and our duty, fearing God and nothing else. Continue Reading

9

November 16, 1934: Winston Churchill Warns of Nazi Germany

The things that you find on Youtube!  Churchill warning in a radio broadcast during the second year of Nazi rule of the threat posed by them to the peace of Europe.  Churchill tells a very old truth:  one side of a dispute embracing functional pacifism, short of abject surrender, will not make war less likely, but rather ensure the coming of war.

Bonus:  The actor Robert Hardy in 1986 gave a ninety minute presentation on Churchill.  In the below excerpt he talks about socialism and the impossibility of isolationism as a foreign policy for the United States: Continue Reading

24

December 11, 1941: Germany and Italy Declare War on the US

Franklin_Roosevelt_signing_declaration_of_war_against_Germany

 

 

In a marathon speech before the German Reichstag on December 11, 1941, Chancellor Adolf Hitler declared war on America.  The tone of the speech is indicated in its closing paragraphs:

Ever since my last peace proposal of July 1940 was rejected, we have realized that this struggle has to be fought out to its last implications. That the Anglo-Saxon-Jewish-Capitalist World finds itself now in one and the same Front with Bolshevism does not surprise us National Socialists: we have always found them in company. We have concluded the struggle successfully inside Germany and have destroyed our adversaries after 16 years struggle for power. When, 23 years ago, I decided to enter political life and to lift this nation out of its decline, I was a nameless, unknown soldier. Many among you know how difficult were the first few years of this struggle. From the time when the Movement consisted of seven men, until we took over power in January 1933, the path was so miraculous that only Providence itself with its blessing could have made this possible.

 

Today I am at the head of the strongest Army in the world, the most gigantic Air Force and of a proud Navy. Behind and around me stands the Party with which I became great and which has become great through me. The enemies I see before me are the same enemies as 20 years ago, but the path along which I look forward cannot be compared with that on which I look back. The German people recognizes the decisive hour of its existence millions of soldiers do their duty, millions of German peasants and workers, women and girls, produce bread for the home country and arms for the Front. We are allied with strong peoples, who in the same need are faced with the same enemies. The American President and his Plutocratic clique have mocked us as the Have-nots-that is true, but the Have-nots will see to it that they are not robbed of the little they have.

 

You, my fellow party members, know my unalterable determination to carry a fight once begun to its successful conclusion. You know my determination in such a struggle to be deterred by nothing, to break every resistance which must be broken. In September 1939 I assured you that neither force nor arms nor time would overcome Germany. I will assure my enemies that neither force of arms nor time nor any internal doubts, can make us waver in the performance of our duty. When we think of the sacrifices of our soldiers, any sacrifice made by the Home Front is completely unimportant. When we think of those who in past centuries have fallen for the Reich, then we realize the greatness of our duty. But anybody who tries to evade this duty has no claim to be regarded in our midst as a fellow German. Just as we were unmercifully hard in our struggle for power we shall be unmercifully hard in the struggle to maintain our nation. At a time when thousands of our best men are dying nobody must expect to live who tries to depreciate the sacrifices made at the Front. Immaterial under what camouflage he tries to disturb this German Front, to undermine the resistance of our people, to weaken the authority of the regime, to sabotage the achievements of the Home Front, he shall die for it! But with the difference that this sacrifice brings the highest honour to the soldier at the Front, whereas the other dies dishonoured and disgraced. Our enemies must not deceive themselves-in the 2,000 years of German history known to us, our people have never been more united than today. The Lord of the Universe has treated us so well in the past years that we bow in gratitude to a providence which has allowed us to be members of such a great nation. We thank Him that we also can be entered with honour into the ever-lasting book of German history!

FDR might have been able to convince Congress to declare War on Germany eventually, but Hitler acting first relieved him of the necessity.  Congress declared War on Germany within hours after the news reached the US of the German Declaration of war:

Joint Resolution Declaring That a State of War Exists Between The Government of Germany and the Government and the People of the United States and Making Provisions To Prosecute The Same

Whereas the Government of Germany has formally declared war against the Government and the people of the United States of America:

Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the state of war between the United States and the Government of Germany which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Government of Germany; and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.

(Signed) Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House of Representatives

(Signed) H. A. Wallace, Vice President of the United States and President of the Senate

Approved December 11, 1941 3:05 PM E.S.T.

(Signed) Franklin D. Roosevelt Continue Reading

25

Appeasement Back in Fashion

I do not grudge our loyal, brave people, who were ready to do their duty no matter what the cost, who never flinched under the strain of last week – I do not grudge them the natural, spontaneous outburst of joy and relief when they learned that the hard ordeal would no longer be required of them at the moment; but they should know the truth. They should know that there has been gross neglect and deficiency in our defences; they should know that we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road; they should know that we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies:

“Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.”

And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.

Winston Churchill, conclusion of speech condemning the Munich Agreement, October 5, 1938

 

Well, well, well, appeasement is back in fashion judging from a stunningly wrongheaded article at Slate by Nick Baumann defending the Munich agreement of 1938, on its 75th anniversary, by which British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain sold Czechoslovakia into Nazi slavery for a worthless promise from Hitler of “peace in our time”.  “Our time” turned out to be very short with the Nazis commencing World War II with the invasion of Poland less than a year later in September 1939.  Go here to read the article.

Baumann defends Chamberlain on the following grounds.  I will respond to each in turn.

1.  Britain Militarily UnreadyFirst, a look at the military situation. Most historians agree that the British army was not ready for war with Germany in September 1938. If war had broken out over the Czechoslovak crisis, Britain would only have been able to send two divisions to the continent—and ill-equipped divisions, at that. Between 1919 and March 1932, Britain had based its military planning on a “10-year rule,” which assumed Britain would face no major war in the next decade. Rearmament only began in 1934—and only on a limited basis. The British army, as it existed in September 1938, was simply not intended for continental warfare. Nor was the rearmament of the Navy or the Royal Air Force complete. British naval rearmament had recommenced in 1936 as part of a five-year program. And although Hitler’s Luftwaffe had repeatedly doubled in size in the late 1930s, it wasn’t until April 1938 that the British government decided that its air force could purchase as many aircraft as could be produced.

Response:  Britain was certainly in a sorry state for war in September 1938.  Churchill had been sounding the tocsin that Britain was militarily unprepared throughout most of the decade.  The dominant faction in his own party, the Conservatives, bitterly fought his calls for rearmament in the face of the rising Nazi threat, and preferred to engage in wishful thinking that the Nazis were bluffing and that deals to preserve the peace could be cut with Hitler.  Chamberlain’s appeasement policy arose out of a desire to avoid the cost of rearmament and an inexcusable misreading of what Hitler was all about, inexcusable since Hitler had made his ambitions for conquest quite clear in Mein Kampf.

Selling out Czechoslovakia made Great Britain much more militarily weak when war came.  It deprived the Allies of the well trained and equipped Czechoslovakian army, allowed Hitler to strengthen his forces with Czech armaments, especially their superb light 35(t) tanks, and gave him control of the huge Skoda armament factories which were a mainstay of German arms production throughout the War.  Militarily the Munich agreement was a disaster for the Allies. Continue Reading

22

Winston Churchill: Thanksgiving 1944

We must never cease to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English-speaking world and which through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and the English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.

Sir Winston Churchill

America has had fewer firmer friends among foreign leaders than the Great Commoner, Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister who heroically led Great Britain to victory in World War II.  Half American courtesy of his mother, Churchill was often regarded as having a brash American style according to more staid English politicians.   The first person to be granted honorary American citizenship by an Act of Congress, Churchill had a life long fondness for his maternal native land.  During World War II he was ever grateful for America as an ally which saved Great Britain.  Here is what he wrote about his reaction to the news of Pearl Harbor: Continue Reading

6

The Last of the Few

The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill

The last of the few who helped save Western Civilization in the Battle of Britain 72 years ago has died.

Flight Lieutenant William Walker, who has died aged 99, was shot down in his Spitfire during the Battle of Britain and wounded. Late in his life, having become the oldest surviving pilot of the Battle, he wrote poetry in memory of his fellow aircrew.

 

1

Prayer for the Pope in Cuba

 

“There is not one single social or economic principle or concept in the philosophy of the Russian Bolshevik, which has not been realised, carried into action, and enshrined in immutable laws a million years ago by the White Ant.”

                                                              Winston Churchill

Let us pray today for Pope Benedict while he is in Cuba that, like Moses, he may help lead a people in bitter bondage out of slavery.  Pope Benedict XV named Our Lady of Charity patroness of Cuba in 1916, and therefore we will beseech her aid:

Our Lady of Charity, we humbly ask you to intercede with Our Lord, Your Son, for your suffering people in Cuba.  Inspire the hearts of your people to turn to God and pray for their deliverance from sin and from the tyranny that has deprived them of their freedom for more than five decades.  Strengthen Pope Benedict as he brings the truth of Christ to your people of Cuba longing for that truth and for spiritual and temporal freedom.  Let this year O Lady, if it be the will of God, be a year of Jubilee and Freedom for all Cubans.  We ask this in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

 

2

Socialism in Art and Life

“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

Winston Churchill

Those of us of a certain vintage may recall Rocky IV where Rocky fought a Soviet Superman, Captain Ivan Drago, portrayed with robotic efficiency and inhumanity by Dolph Lundgren.  I therefore found it interesting to come across the interview below in which Dolph Lundgren relates why his father advised him to come to America: Continue Reading

34

If it Had Not Been

The Guardian is a singularly obtuse Left-Wing tabloid in Great Britain, but they outdid themselves in a story about the most overrated people in history.

In regard to Winston Churchill, this gem was delivered in the story:

Quite a few of his Tory colleagues might have concurred with Lee’s view of Churchill’s hopeless judgment and over-zealous use of the military, at least right up until the summer of 1940. “If it had not been for the fact that he led Britain to victory in the second world war we would have scant memory of [him],” Lee reckons.

Yeah, that whole leading Great Britain to victory in World War II does seem to spoil the meme that the story is pushing doesn’t it?  Let’s see figures we could say were overrated from American history based upon this “standard’. Continue Reading

3

To Awaken A Sleeping Giant

i-fear-all-we-have-done-is-to-awaken-a-sleeping-giant

 

At the end of the epic movie Tora, Tora, Tora, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the head of the combined Japanese fleet, after the successful attack on Pearl Harbor, refuses to join in the elation of his staff, and makes this haunting observation: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”  The line is almost certainly apocryphal.  The director of the film, Elmo Williams, claimed that Larry Forester, the film’s screenwriter, had found the line in a 1943 letter written by Yamamoto.   However, he has been unable to produce the letter, and there is no other evidence that such a letter exists.

However, there is no doubt that Yamamoto would fully have endorsed the sentiment that the line contained.  He had studied at Harvard in 1919-1921, and served two tours as a naval attache at the Japanese embassy in Washington DC.  He spoke fluent English, and his stays in the US had convinced him of that nation’s vast wealth and industrial power.  He had also developed a fondness for both America and Americans.

In the 1930’s Yamamoto spoke out against Japan allying with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, fearing that such an alliance would lead inevitably to a war with the US that Japan would lose.  He received frequent death threats as a result from fanatical Japanese nationalists.  These were not idle threats, as such nationalists did assassinate a fair number of Japanese politicians and military men during the Thirties who were against war with the US.  Yamamoto ignored the threats with studied contempt, viewing it as his duty to the Emperor and Japan to speak out against a disastrous course.  Yamamoto wrote in a letter to one nationalist:

Should hostilities once break out between Japan and the United States, it would not be enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. To make victory certain, we would have to march into Washington and dictate the terms of peace in the White House. I wonder if our politicians (who speak so lightly of a Japanese-American war) have confidence as to the final outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices. Continue Reading

1

We Shall Never Surrender

“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old. “

Seventy-one years ago today, on June 4, 1940, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill rallied Great Britain to the coming Battle of Britain with his “We Shall Never Surrender” speech.  In the face of an overwhelming  defeat in France, Churchill gave no thought of peace with Hitler, but rather called his people to a hard uphill fight against evil.  It is simple to call a nation to take an easy, expedient, at least for the short term, path.  It is difficult to call a nation to a path filled with danger, and with the issue of the struggle quite in doubt, in order to defeat a great evil.  Any politician can do the former;  only a statesman can do the latter.  Here is the text of the speech: Continue Reading

19

69 Years Ago

My sainted father was 8 years old on December 7, 1941.  He told me how the next day men and older boys, ranging in age from 60-16, gathered in long lines in front of the recruiting offices in Paris, Illinois to sign up to fight.  I think those of us who weren’t alive at that time have difficulty grasping the impact Pearl Harbor had on the nation, as it launched the country on a crusade to break the power of the Empire of Japan and Nazi Germany. Continue Reading

7

Their Finest Hour

Yesterday, June 18, marked the 70th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s “Finest Hour” speech to Parliament,  as he alerted Great Britain to the coming Battle of Britain.  Churchill did not sugar coat the situation for his listeners.  Britain faced a formidable enemy and the odds were against them.  However, rather than a call for negotiations or surrender, Churchill called for defiance and victory.  He starkly reminded his listeners that a victory for Nazi Germany would mark the end of Christian civilization.  Churchill was not speaking in hyperbolic terms.  He was a careful student of history, as well as writing and making it, and other than politics, history was his ruling intellectual passion throughout his long life.  He realized that the menace of Nazi Germany was sui generis and could not be lulled by appeasement or a meaningless negotiated peace that Hitler would violate with impunity, but that rather the Nazis must be resisted implacably with all the force that the Brits could muster.  Everyone who cherishes freedom is in the debt of Churchill for the words that he spoke on June 18 and his leadership at a time when the fate of the world truly hang in the balance.  This was the finest hour indeed for him and the nation he led, and no leader can have a finer accolade. Continue Reading

12

Brits Forgetting Winston Churchill

Hattip to Allahpundit at Hot Air.  One in five British adults were unable to identify a picture of Winston Churchill in a recent survey.

As part of the survey, carried out to mark this week’s 70th anniversary of Churchill’s prime ministerial tenure, more than 1,136 people were asked to identify three prominent 20th century PMs including Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.

One in five (19%) adults failed to name Churchill, with the figure rising to 32% of 25 to 34-year-olds and 44% of those aged 16 to 24.

Following the pattern, researchers projected the rough date when the leaders would no longer be recognised, with Churchill’s demise predicted in 80 years’ time…

The survey, which involved people naming black and white headshot photos of the prime ministers, saw Churchill mistaken for Stephen Fry, Robert Hardy, Michael Gambon, Charlie Chaplin, Oliver Hardy, John Betjeman and Roy Hattersley, the Royal Mint said…

Kevin Clancy, head of Historical Services at the Royal Mint, added: “It’s shocking that one of our greatest statesmen runs the risk of potentially being forgotten.

Continue Reading

20

Churchill-Finest Hour

On the anniversary of the beginning of World War II, I recall this speech of Churchill, and his presentation, before the beginning of the Battle of Britain in 1940, of alternative futures for mankind based upon how the war came out.  For all our problems since the Allied victory in that war, the mind recoils from what the world would have been like after an Axis victory.