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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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:
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 Unready–First, 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
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
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.
“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.”
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.
“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
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
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
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
“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
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
From Churchill’s speech to Congress on December 26, 1941. A great leader and a great orator. Sadly, our times have a lack of both. Continue reading