Saints of Lent: Cardinal John Fisher

Sunday, March 12, AD 2017


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.

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2 Responses to Saints of Lent: Cardinal John Fisher

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  • The king took John Cardinal Fisher’s life, but not his soul. The comment from Winston Churchill: “The resistance of More and Fisher to the royal supremacy in Church government was a heroic stand. They realized the defects of the existing Catholic system, but they hated and feared the aggressive nationalism which was destroying the unity of Christendom. Very little has changed, from then until now.

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

Monday, December 26, AD 2016



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

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

Winston Churchill: July 4, 1918

Wednesday, July 6, AD 2016


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.

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One Response to Winston Churchill: July 4, 1918

  • I just read your lengthy July 4 retrospective from Winston Churchill. Fantastic. A timely reminder from this great man of the now distant past that the issues that matter, you can’t see, measure or quantify; but are crucially important. They are the spiritual essence of what makes Western Civilization better than any other on the planet. Lose them; you’ve lost everything. And he ably identifies our mortal enemy; the same then as now. Then, it was “scientific barbarism”. Now, it is “liberalism”. And it must be crushed now, as then. Either way, conflict is coming.

    “But this war has become an open conflict between Christian civilization and scientific barbarism. The line is clearly drawn between the nations where the peoples own the governments and the nations where the governments own the peoples. Our struggle is between systems which faithfully endeavor to quell and quench the brutish, treacherous, predatory promptings of human nature, and a system which has deliberately fostered, organized, armed, and exploited these promptings to its own base aggrandizement.”

    What a pleasure to read that dose of reason and truth and love of Country, after all the lies of the day. I acknowledge that Trump may never make the case as well as Churchill, but if he makes the attempt and starts us down that same path, for similarly good-hearted reasons, that is a very good thing. Others will surely follow. Someone has to take the first step. Maybe that man is Trump.

Winston Churchill

Tuesday, June 7, AD 2016

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. 

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4 Responses to Winston Churchill

  • The men and women like Sir Winston Churchill – Lady Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan come to mind – are no longer welcome to serve in western society, either Europe or North America. Even religious leaders like Pius XII, JP II and B XVI are no longer welcome. In liberal progressivism and radical Islam we are facing a catastrophe greater than the twin threats of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and we have no leader.

  • That the free peoples of our planet found such a leader in their time of need strikes me as a working of Providence.

  • Indeed Dale, especially considering how Churchill looked like roadkill in British politics throughout most of the thirties, viewed as a man of the past, distrusted by most of his party and ridiculed as an alarmist at best, a warmonger at worst.

  • How ashamed we should feel when history looks at the people we’ve turned to in our current hour of need! They’ll sigh and say that human nature is always like this, willing to follow the scoundrel and the bully. I hope they judge us harsher than that. But is that a form of vanity too, asking to be held to a higher standard? I don’t know, but we didn’t have to be like this.

One Response to January 30, 1965: Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill

  • I was only just starting elementary school, but remembered when Churchill died, largely from the National Geographic magazine our family had received on the funeral. I definitely had a sense as if historical reason itself had died. The JFK assassination had made a major impression on me (my cartoons were pre-empted, and my mother’s reaction when I told her would stay in my memory forever), but it has seemed only a blip, a downturn that would be remedied by our faithfulness to our civilization. There would be no remedy for Churchill’s death.

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Winston Churchill and the Maccabees

Saturday, November 14, AD 2015




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.

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Captain of the Gate

Monday, July 20, AD 2015


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:



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.


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.


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;


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;

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3 Responses to Captain of the Gate

  • Is great seems to be becoming was great.
    Tales of great virtues, such as this with Horatius bravely doing his work, with reasons (vv. 27, 28, & 32) enumerated in his thoughts (prayer in vv. 58 & 59) during his actions at the collapse of the bridge speak to contemporary collapse of family and higher love.
    The name of the traitor is sort of ironic in that contemporary man’s fall is all around that one thing bringing imbalance of priorities to the degree that virtue is denigrated.
    Sad that the name of the false one has to be noticed due to its relevance to current events.

    Fast by the royal standard,
    O’erlooking all the war,
    Lars Porsena of Clusium
    Sat in his ivory car.
    By the right wheel rode Mamilius,
    Prince of the Latian name;
    And by the left false Sextus,
    That wrought the deed of shame.


    But when the face of Sextus
    Was seen among the foes,
    A yell that rent the firmament
    From all the town arose.
    On the house-tops was no woman
    But spat towards him and hissed,
    No child but screamed out curses,
    And shook its little fist.


    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?

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  • Only this very week a lady whom we know, aged over ninety, recited by heart the whole of this poem. She could recite, too, the kings and queens of England, in order, the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost and the twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost.

    Learning by heart is important in education. At least some of this poem could be learned by heart: rhymed verse, like this, with a strong rhythm is easy to learn.

    The great Dr Arnold, head master of Rugby School here in England, said that he could not imagine that Almighty God had given boys such good memories for them to remain empty.

Sir Martin Gilbert: Requiescat in Pace

Wednesday, February 4, AD 2015



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.”

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3 Responses to Sir Martin Gilbert: Requiescat in Pace

Churchill: The Indispensable Man

Saturday, January 24, AD 2015

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.

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11 Responses to Churchill: The Indispensable Man

  • How timely. If there ever was a time for people, abandoning the term “grassroots”, and realizing their manhood against the deceits of the Satan and Lucifer, the time is now. Secular humanism is for the secular humanist. Real men, free men bleed out for Truth, Justice and Freedom.
    After evolution, Mother Nature lays prostrate before the King of heaven and earth, the true God of the Universe and His Son, Jesus Christ Who bled out for man. Viva Christo Rey.

  • When Churchill was born veterans of Trafalgar still lived, the same vintage as our current World War II veterans.”

    The span of human memory and the overlapping of generations is a remarkable thing.

    In 1956, aged 11, I met a brother and sister, both in their 80s, who had lived all their lives in Bl John Henry Newman’s old parish of Edgbaston in Birmingham; they both remembered him well.

    Now, Newman was born in 1801 and died in 1890. He would have been a 14-year old schoolboy when he heard the news of Waterloo and he recounted, as one of his earliest recollections, his family talking of the death of the Cardinal Duke of York, the brother of Bonnie Prince Charlie, in 1807. Newman had no idea, at the time, who the Cardinal Duke of York was, but the name intrigued him and stuck in his memory.

  • I love Sir Winston Churchill, a true man.

  • I apologize for not posting this sooner… Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., the site of the “Iron Curtain” speech and of the National Churchill Museum, had a live-streamed 50th anniversary Churchill memorial service this morning. I suspect they will have a video recording of it posted after the fact, but even if they don’t, there’s a lot of interesting stuff at this link:

  • More from the Westminster College website:

    “Sir Peter Westmacott, British Ambassador to the United States, will speak during the service which is based on the 1965 service held at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England.

    “Churchill’s granddaughter, Edwina Sandys, and great grandson, Duncan Sandys, will be attending the service, along with Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.”

    I’m sure we all noticed who WASN’T there…

  • Elaine Krewer. “I’m sure we noticed who WASN’T there…”

    Thank God he wasn’t. He would have ruined the tribute. After all, it’s not inexpensive to have to fumigate Westminster College after himself has departed. Better to save the money.

  • I’m sure we all noticed who WASN’T there…

    Of course we noticed. If he had been there, there would have been one of his hideously bloated motorcades tying up traffic all over the state capital, everyone would have been manhandled and then put under lockdown by his ant heap of bodyguards, and the whole event would have been obscured by Himself running his self-referential mouth.

  • I love Sir Winston Churchill, a true man.

    You’ll notice which bust BO mailed back to the donor.

  • “Thank God he wasn’t. He would have ruined the tribute”

    Of course he would have, and ultimately it’s better that he didn’t show up. Still, it would have been nice to have had someone of comparable status to the British ambassador there. I suspect that if Reagan or either Bush were still in office, they would have found a way to attend, if only to send a message to the world about what kind of leadership they sought to emulate.

    “If he had been there, there would have been one of his hideously bloated motorcades tying up traffic all over the state capital, everyone would have been manhandled and then put under lockdown by his ant heap of bodyguards, and the whole event would have been obscured by Himself running his self-referential mouth.”

    That would go with the territory anytime a president attends an event like this, I would think. I attended Eureka College in Illinois while Reagan was president, and as much as my family and I liked and admired him, we all hoped and prayed he would NOT decide to speak at my graduation because of all the security hoops that we would have to jump through if he did. On the plus side, a Reagan commencement speech would certainly have been memorable (I can’t remember a thing our actual commencement speaker said or who he was) and probably not a “self-referential” screed such as “Himself” would deliver.

    Speaking of Reagan, there are some who consider his 1982 Eureka College commencement speech in which he announced the START talks to be a sort of bookend to the Iron Curtain speech — the latter marking the beginning of the Cold War and the former the beginning of the end of the Cold War. Both campuses, by the way, also have chunks of the Berlin Wall on their grounds.

  • Here’s some local news coverage of the Churchill memorial:

    And here’s an interview with the last surviving member of Churchill’s government, Lord Carington, who also has some interesting things to say about contemporary world leaders:

  • Art Deco: “…’His’ antheap of bodyguards. .”

    I am ever intrigued by the obsessive need of despots for innumerable armed guards, the same despots who would like to pry our own few self-defensive-type arms out of our not – yet – quite cold hands.

Churchill Tribute

Saturday, January 3, AD 2015

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.

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20 Responses to Churchill Tribute

  • I rank Reagan with Churchill as the greatest men in secular history of the 20th century, but that in no way diminishes Churchill and his accomplishments.

  • I agree with Penguins Fan. There are no more great statesmen like Churchilll and Reagan.

  • I would hope and pray that providence would supply the statesmen and commander’s needed to defend our homeland if a third world war broke out.
    Hope and prayers would most definitely be needed due to our lack of Christianity in many of our gov’t. institutions and immoral laws that prevail in a once prevalent nation under God.

    We will reap what we sow…a nation that believes in the freedom to worship many God’s…even Satan himself. Ask the Bishop of Anchorage AK. how the attacks on the Dominican Fathers and friars are going,…and let’s not forget the recent arson on the premises.

    God help us. Please.

  • As I recall, early in his first term President Obama returned to the British
    government the bust of Winston Churchill which had been displayed in the oval
    office through the Bush presidency.

  • Clinton, the Narcissist President has no respect for a true statesman.

  • Currently reading the Last Lion, Winston Spencer Churchill, Alone 1932-1940 by William Manchester. It is a companion volume to the first volume that is a biography of sorts of Churchill’s earlier years. Good stuff! Makes my heart pound just reading it!

  • I must confess to finding Chuchill’s deadly accurate description of another great statesman, Charles de Gaulle, rather amusing – “He looks like a female llama who has just been surprised in her bath.”

  • Also worth noting that Churchill, having been born in 1874, was in his late 60s when he led Britain through WWII and 70 when he left office as PM. Goes to show that you don’t have to be young to be heroic….

  • I was interested to learn Churchill and his family estate were deep in debt before the war. One named Natty Rothchild worked out a deal with him to forgive some of the total debt, … in return for what I wonder.

  • Churchill earned huge sums as a writer. His main problem was the confiscatory tax system he helped install as Chancellor of the Exchequer. A great book on the subject is Mr. Churchill’s Profession:

    There is absolutely no evidence that any of Churchill’s business dealings influenced him in the slightest when he held Cabinet Office.

  • Rick

    “Churchill and his family estate were deep in debt.”

    What “family estate”? Churchill’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill was the 3rd son of the 7th Duke of Marleborough. His cousin Charles, the 9th Duke married the enormously wealthy Consuelo Vanderbilt.

  • Although just about eight weeks short of my fifth birthday, I recall being perplexed by Churchill being thrown over for Attlee after all he did for his country. Not that I was all that precocious but that it was such a glaring example of ingratitude that even a child could see it.

  • Yes he was very impressive! …an artist with line and paint as well as with words.
    A lover of justice, but still- did his patriotism stop him making more headway in the pursuit of justice for the Irish and (even though he was very young) the Armenians. A great man for England and for her allies.

  • Actually Anzlyne he fought vigorously against the Irish Nationalists, but also was instrumental in hammering out the peace treaty which ended the war and recognized the independence of the Irish Free State. He and Michael Collins became the most unlikely of allies during this process and gained a grudging respect for each other as a result.

    Great Britain was at War against Turkey at the time of the Armenian massacres and lacked the power to help the Armenians. Here is Churchill’s description of what happened to the Armenians after World War I:

    “On March 12, 1920, the Supreme Council offered the mandate to the League of Nations. But the League, unsupported by men or money, promptly and with prudence declined. There remained the Treaty of Sèvres. On August 10 the Powers compelled the Constantinople Government to recognize an as yet undetermined Armenia as a free and independent State. Article 89 prescribed that Turkey must submit to ‘the arbitration of the President of the United States of America the question of the frontier to be fixed between Turkey and Armenia in the vilayets of Erzeroum, Trebizond, Van and Bitlis, and to accept his decision thereupon, as well as any stipulation he may prescribe as to access of Armenia to the sea.’ It was not until December 1920 that President Wilson completed the discharge of this high function. The frontier he defined gave Armenia virtually all the Turkish territory which had been occupied by Russian troops until they disbanded themselves under the influence of the Revolution; and era which, added to the Republic of Erivan, made an Armenian national homeland of nearly sixty thousand square miles.
    So generous was the recognition in theory of Armenian claims that the Armenian and Greek population of the new State was actually outnumbered by Moslem inhabitants. Here was justice and much more. It existed however upon paper only. Already nearly a year before, in January 1920, the Turks had attacked the French in Cilicia, driven them out of the Marash district and massacred nearly fifty thousand Armenian inhabitants. In May Bolshevik troops invaded and subjugated the Republic of Erivan. In September, by collusion between the Bolsheviks and Turks, Erivan was delivered to the Turkish Nationalists; and as in Cilicia, another extensive massacre of Armenians accompanied the military operations. Even the hope that a small autonomous Armenian province might eventually be established in Cilicia under French protection was destroyed. In October France, by the Agreement of Angora, undertook to evacuate Cilicia completely. In the Treaty of Lausanne, which registered the final peace between Turkey and the Great Powers, history will search in vain for the word « Armenia ».” (Winston Churchill , The World Crisis, vol. 5, « The Aftermath » 1929).

  • From 1915 through 1922, as few as 1.2 to as many as 1.5 million Armenians were massacred in Turkey. A century later, we see the same horror beginning in Iraq and Syria. ISIS is conducting the first genocide of the Twenty First Century. We stand by and watch.

  • Yes I remember that Michael Collins thought highly of him. I do appreciate Churchill, but my heart still breaks! As I read the history it seems that good well intentioned people plainly got tired of the continuous struggle. Some of that magnificent bulldog like tenacity to solve the problems could have been helpful.
    If Winston Churchill could’ve would’ve made the decision for the Faith personally, how might the flow of history right up through the 60’s and 70’s have been altered.
    Even in the statement you quote above, about Armenia, there seems an undercurrent of dithering that I think comes from not having the understaning of the difference between Christianity and Islam…wanting to treat these apples and oranges ( or more distinct :apples and croquet balls) as equal- is a huge mistake that still is stopping the Great Powers from decisive action for the side of Good. First you have to be able to see the difference.

  • Oh, Churchill understood Islam, and from quite a young age:

    “How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die: but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.”

    Winston Churchill, The River War, 1899

  • Yes he did! my attempt at a point was about the great man not bringing himself to real knowledge and acceptance of the Faith. Perhaps his misunderstanding of Catholicism’s relationship with science contributed to his reluctance…. “the science against which it had vainly struggled ”
    Donald McClarey you are a great blessing to me and to all of us who regularly learn so much at this blog. Like you, I am inspired by Winston Churchill– my comment was just a little “yeah,but” which I admit to be too audacious coming from a person so far out of the realm of Churchill’s global impact.

  • “it was such a glaring example of ingratitude that even a child could see it.”

    Is it possible that Churchill’s defeat in 1945 was not so much due to ingratitude as simply a desire (albeit misguided) on the part of the British people to put the war behind them and start fresh?

  • The Conservatives had been in power for a very long time. I would have been surprised if they had won the election. I would note that Labor did not retain power long, but long enough to fasten on to Britain socialist apparatus that had a debilitating impact on the UK until Thatcher.

The Old World in its Sunset Was Fair to See

Wednesday, July 30, AD 2014




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.

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6 Responses to The Old World in its Sunset Was Fair to See

  • ‘ …Nations and Empires … A polite, discreet, pacific, and on the whole sincere diplomacy spread its web of connections over both. … ‘

    Politeness, discretion, and intellect are victims of an abortion – practically abandoned by art, education, entertainment, journalism, public service leaders, and most with forms of communication.

  • Maybe the sun hasn’t completely set on the old Catholic world… France is offering refuge to Iraqi Christians. Maybe the eldest daughter of the Church still has some of the old feeling.

  • Anzlyne

    The proud boast – La France, pays d’asile [France, the country of asylum] is not an empty one; that it is a matter of pride is in stark contrast to German (and British) attitudes.

  • I didn’t know they claimed that appellation, but I did know that the south of France is where some 1st century Jews become Christians fled to in escaping persecution. Mary Magdalena for one

  • Ironically, there are some roughly similar passages in “The Crisis” by Winston Churchill — not the Churchill mentioned above but a popular American historical novelist of the early 20th century (go here to read about him: Internet searches for this novel about the advent of the Civil War often turn up results for the British Churchill’s “World Crisis” due to the similarity of the titles and authors.

    In this passage the American Churchill describes the grand estate of a (fictional) St. Louis society family and the glittering party they hosted in the fall of 1860, just before Abraham Lincoln was elected president and the Civil War broke out:

    “An era of charity, of golden simplicity, was passing on that October night of Anne Brinsmade’s ball. Those who made merry there were soon to be driven and scattered before the winds of war; to die at Wilson’s Creek, or Shiloh, or to be spared for heroes of the Wilderness. Some were to eke out a life of widowhood in poverty. All were to live soberly, chastened by what they had seen. A fear knocked at Colonel Carvel’s heart as he stood watching the bright figures.

    “Brinsmade,” he said, “do you remember this room in May, ’46?”

    Mr. Brinsmade, startled, turned upon him quickly.

    “Why, Colonel, you have read my very thoughts,” he said. “Some of those who were here then are—are still in Mexico.”

    “And some who came home, Brinsmade, blamed God because they had not fallen,” said the Colonel. (The Colonel’s wife had died while he was away fighting in Mexico.)

    “Hush, Comyn, His will be done,” he answered; “He has left a daughter to comfort you.”

  • Maybe France is waking up, in some small way.

    Hot Air has a piece about the vicious anti-Semitic protests that have taken place in Germany and Italy. Conspicuous by is absence is….Poland. Poland, where so much carnage from both World Wars took place, where the SS built and operated so many death camps….

    Poland really does not have the economic means to accept hundreds of thousands of refugees – they haven’t allowed the descendants of Poles deported by Stalin to return (and I think they should) – but you are not seeing or hearing of any of that garbage there.

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Winston Churchill

Sunday, June 1, AD 2014



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.

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6 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: Winston Churchill

  • I just read the speech and its context was important so as to comprehend the gravity of those times…..and these times. Churchill’s words are clarifying and timeless.

  • Churchill was a master of the use of the English language. Churchill had an uncanny knack for clarifying almost anything and putting it in a way that could not be contested.

    It was in 1938 during a meeting with von Ribbentrop that he warned the Nazi foreign minister that England would not be defeated in the event of a war against Germany.

    I only remember this from some other source that I can’t remember, but I read that Eleanor Roosevelt used to be driven crazy by Churchill’s White House visits. Churchill used to stay up late, smoking cigars and drinking brandy and telling stories. Mrs. Roosevelt encountered Churchill after he stepped out of the shower. “Mrs. Roosevelt, please be advised that Great Britain has nothing to hide in its relationship to the United States” (I paraphrase) was Churchill’s response.

    My favorite quote – a woman who was not a fan of Churchill told him, “Sir, if you were my husband, I would give you poison.” Churchill’s response was “Madam, if I were your husband, I would drink it.”

    Apparently the Prime Minister of Great Britain took a leak in the Rhine River after the Allies gained possession of it.

  • To Churchill’s credit, he repudiated the burdensome excesses of the Treaty of Versailles and recognized that a valuable opportunity to crush Soviet Bolshevism had been lost when the terms of surrender were drawn for WWI (see, min. 30.26).
    These two pivotal errors cost millions of lives in the ensuing decades. His advocacy for the peace-keeping aspirations of the League of Nations, despite its subsequent failure, gave rise to the United Nations. The success of which is still to be determined.

  • Penguins Fan wrote, “a woman who was not a fan of Churchill…”
    The woman was Lady Nancy Astor, (née Langhorne of Danville, Virginia), the first woman MP to take her seat in the House of Commons in 1919, as member for Plymouth Sutton. The first woman elected had been Constance Countess Markievicz, elected for Dublin St Patricks. Owing to the abstentionist policy of Sinn Féin, she did not take her seat.
    Astor was a notable supporter of the Temperance Movement and, when Churchill once asked her what disguise he should wear to a masquerade ball, she asked, “Why don’t you come sober?”

  • While a great man, Churchill was not above blather and bathos when it came to
    gassing over his own role, in bringing about the sorry pass that the Europeans found themselves in, during that period. There was a book published by the Russians that detailed the back and forth telegrams between Churchill and Stalin. Ever the effusive drunk, Churchill with no thought at all about the cost of telegrams goes on and on about troop movements and historic events and the deathless bravery of the Soviets, while Stalin was laconic to the point of rudeness. Those who were underwhelmed by Churchill, the one time anti-Bolshevik had their reasons.

  • “Those who were underwhelmed by Churchill, the one time anti-Bolshevik had their reasons.”

    Incorrect reasons. Churchill had zero illusions about Stalin as he demonstrated time and again by his actions as the War went on. If anyone had illusions about Stalin it was FDR who, at least until his last months in ’45, thought that he could charm Stalin into acting like a civilized leader through personal diplomacy.

November 16, 1934: Winston Churchill Warns of Nazi Germany

Sunday, February 16, AD 2014

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:

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9 Responses to November 16, 1934: Winston Churchill Warns of Nazi Germany

  • Into the Storm is the title of one of our families DVD’s. A brief story of this man made for the times he lived in, Mr. Churchill.

    He mentions the strength in numbers.

    Christian unity in our time is essential in my poor humble opinion.

  • The only proper response to an evil like Hitler’s is the response that the Maccabean brothers gave to the evil that was Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The evil that is Barack Hussein Obama’s is the same in like and kind: a murderer of innocents, a promoter of filth, a thief of the public’s treasury and trust, and each of these did thus under the pretext of hope and change.

  • I’m telling you, the Allies lost World War 2, and then some time in the future a time traveller came back to make history better. It’s the only way to explain the presence of that man at that moment.

  • Brilliant. Profound. It would be wonderful to hear statesmen today treat listeners with a respect for their intelligence and be willing to go into depth and really say Something! so many time now so called “leaders” are avoiding actually saying anything.
    Wouldn’t it be great to run Churchill on some channel opposite the “state of the union”– and let people see and hear and think.
    God bless us with leaders, Please.

  • The same stuff could happen again.

    Look at how they (the pacifists) are letting the evil Iranian regime get the bomb.

    The more things change…the more they stay the same.

  • I am not the accomplished reader that Mr. McClarey is, but I consider Winston Churchill to be the true master of the English language in modern times. Calling Churchill eloquent doesn’t begin to describe Churchill. Churchill was a visionary. He saw what was coming and put it into words in a way that nobody else ever could.

    Churchill was not alone in his foreboding view of the Nazi dictatorship Pilsudski of Poland wanted to join with France and invade Nazi Germany in 1934. The two of them could have pulled it off. Granted, Poland could not have gone it alone – Poland has never been as big as Germany, but both nations could have taken Hitler and his boys out.

  • “armaments are not necessarily a cause of war and that the want of them has been no guarantee of peace. If, for instance, all the explosives all over the world could, by a wave of a magic wand be robbed of their power and made harmless, so that not a cannon nor a rifle could fire ……..would it insure peace? That is the question. On the contrary, in my belief, war would begin almost the next day when enormous masses of fierce men armed with picks, spades, or with clubs and spears, would pour over the frontiers into the lands they covet”.
    Churchill was a realist. He recognized that as Cato (or maybe it was Cicero) said, “Fury will find its weapon”. This is true of nations and of persons. The incidence of crime is less in states having less infringement of the right to keep and bear arms. A strong nation and an armed citizenry are expressions and protectors of the right to life. Those who argue otherwise bring the culture of death in their train.

  • Penquins Fan. You are Polish. God bless.

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

Wednesday, December 11, AD 2013




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

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

  • Yes Churchill was probably thankful; he Embroiled GB in a war with Germany that should have never been and now he was rescued, not by Japan but by FDR who had declared an unofficial war on Germany years before. FDR used lies and propaganda to whip up the American people into fearing Germany, when fear was not justified.
    List the wars that USA presidents have unnecessarily involved the USA in and it is sickening. From Lincoln to Bush it is a constant parade of wars, all for nothing.
    The USA would have been much better off if GB had never entered the war and Germany was allowed to defeat Russia, if it was able. Germany would have been much easier to deal with than the USSR.
    We were drawn into the war because GB could not accept Germany being more powerful than GB. Of course now GB is a basket case and Germany is the most powerful country in Western Europe.

  • “he Embroiled GB in a war with Germany that should have never been”

    Complete rubbish, unless you think that Great Britain should have stood by idle as the Nazis dominated Europe. Additionally Churchill was not in the Chamberlain government when it declared war on Germany.

    “who had declared an unofficial war on Germany years before”

    Every step that FDR took against Nazi Germany was supported by a majority of the American people who recognized the threat posed to the world by the Third Reich.

    “FDR used lies and propaganda to whip up the American people into fearing Germany,”

    Rubbish. No lies or propaganda were needed as the truth about the Third Reich was nightmarish enough.

    “From Lincoln to Bush it is a constant parade of wars, all for nothing.”
    Preserving the Union and ending slavery was nothing? Pursuing justice against the perpetrators of 9-11 was nothing? What a truly warped view of American history you possess.

    “Germany would have been much easier to deal with than the USSR.”

    Yes, I can imagine how reasonable Hilter would have been with nuclear armed ICBMs at his disposal.

  • Yet another disciple of Thomas Woods, I’m afraid.

  • To: Donald R. McClarey
    A book that helped me understand Germany and the 500 years of history preceding WWII is Christopher Clark’s “Iron Kingdom”; which is about the history of Prussia (and Germany). The book helped understand what was happening in Germany in WWI and WWII.
    Another book that helped me understand what was going on in the USA before WWI and WWII and the part that FDR played in getting us into WWII is “The Jewish Threat; Anti-Semitic Politics of the U. S. Army” by Joseph W. Bendersky.
    To: Mike
    I have never heard of Thomas Woods.

  • Randy you could have read a million books and the points you were trying to make would still be without historical validity. Nazi Germany was an extremely aggressive state with a horrific agenda for the world. It had to be stopped and thanks to men like Churchill, FDR and tens of millions of others it was.

  • Donald, actually I was recommending the books for you to read.

  • Sure, FDR manipulated the press to get what he wanted. That was just the way things were done back then. Had FDR decided that the US should sit the war out, it’s unlikely that the machinations he would have used with regard to the press would have been any more honest. So I am not sure why that point is particularly relevant.


    That being said, I am sympathetic to the question of what it was all for, ultimately. For example, if Hitler had been allowed to prevail, and had succeeded in his early designs to exile all the Reich’s Jews to Madagascar, or someplace like that, we would consider it today a horrific act of injustice, and there would be no end to the hand-wringing over how we could have allowed such an atrocity to be perpetrated. But how much better that would have been, in hindsight, than the 6 million Jewish corpses (not to mention the tens of millions of Gentiles, as if their deaths were any less of a loss) we were left with instead.


    In any case, it was the Axis that attacked the US at Pearl Harbor, the previous Sunday. Any president who would have let an attack on American soil go unanswered is a work of libertarian fiction. Griping about FDR and what he did to pull the nation into war, without once mentioning Tojo — really, what kind of an argument is that?

  • “Donald, actually I was recommending the books for you to read.”

    I guess I could add them to my list of the dozens of history I have read of Germany and Prussia and the thirty or so studies of anti-Semitism in America I have read, but the books as described do not advance the argument you were making.

  • “if Hitler had been allowed to prevail, and had succeeded in his early designs to exile all the Reich’s Jews to Madagascar,”

    Never would have happened HA. Hitler viewed Jews as a plague bacillus quite literally, and he wanted them all dead. During the War of course the term “resettlement” was used as a euphemism for Jews marked for transport to death camps. The Holocaust involved huge transport at a time when the Reich needed every ounce of transport for military use and to keep civilian industries supplied. The Holocaust hurt the German war effort, but it occurred because killing Jews quite simply was Hitler’s highest priority. The War gave Hitler an excuse to carry out his heart’s desire.

    In Hitler’s last testament he obliquely referred to what he had accomplished:

    “Three days before the outbreak of the German-Polish war I again proposed to the British ambassador in Berlin a solution to the German-Polish problem — similar to that in the case of the Saar district, under international control. This offer also cannot be denied. It was only rejected because the leading circles in English politics wanted the war, partly on account of the business hoped for and partly under influence of propaganda organized by international Jewry.

    I have also made it quite plain that, if the nations of Europe are again to be regarded as mere shares to be bought and sold by these international conspirators in money and finance, then that race, Jewry, which is the real criminal of this murderous struggle, will be saddled with the responsibility. I further left no one in doubt that this time not only would millions of children of Europe’s Aryan peoples die of hunger, not only would millions of grown men suffer death, and not only hundreds of thousands of women and children be burnt and bombed to death in the towns, without the real criminal having to atone for this guilt, even if by more humane means.”

  • However vile and lethal Hitler’s plans for German Jewry, I suspect most historians would agree that they became progressively more murderous and pressing as time went on. You are free to speculate as to how little the Final Solution would have been altered, had Hitler decided to focus on other matters first, or to start with exile. I am speculating as well. But to pretend any inevitability on that matter amidst all that chaos is as unconvincing as Randy’s selective omissions. Obviously, there is no realistic scenario in which the Jews would have fared well, but even if they had endured the war with, say, a million dead, what a perversely happy atrocity that would have been in comparison with what actually transpired. Then again, there were 12 million other Jews in Europe that Hitler did not reach, but possibly might have done in some alternate scenario, and that, too, should be taken into account.

  • I find two kinds of people on the internet very annoying. One kind are internet atheists. Internet atheists have a peculiar quality in making themselves obnoxious. They blame all of the world’s problems and faults on religion. Atheist regimes liquidated over 100 million people but they are oblivious to it.

    The other group I find very annoying are those that blame Jews for everything. In that group is a subset of libertarian isolationists who blame Churchill, FDR and Poland for WWII and blame everybody but Germany for WWI. Buchananites and devotees of Lew Rockwell frequent that subset. The world would be a better place if that bunch kept their opinions to themselves.

    Hitler was a madman who wanted Jews dead and hated Poland for 1) throwing Germans out of Greater Poland in 1918-19, 2) Poland had use of Gdansk (Danzig) as an international city and 3) Poland wasn’t about to give Hitler a corridor to Prussia, which was Polish territory in centuries past.

  • FDR used lies and propaganda to whip up the American people into fearing Germany, when fear was not justified.

    …Right, the guys killing their own people and making lady’s gloves of their skin were totally nothing to worry about. (One of the risks of letting a 13 year old run around the library at will is that she might actually read some of the books, especially if there are a lot of odd, old pictures.)


    And the Japanese were just misunderstood, I suppose?


    However vile and lethal Hitler’s plans for German Jewry, I suspect most historians would agree that they became progressively more murderous and pressing as time went on.

    I seem to remember that the killing of the disabled started as quickly as they could manage; does that account for ramping up time?

  • I seem to remember that the killing of the disabled started as quickly as they could manage; does that account for ramping up time?


    Pretty much. We (i.e. “civilized never-again West”) has had legalized abortion for several decades, and have since moved on to killing certain sick people. That did not happen overnight. People generally have to be conditioned into murdering their countrymen, and the transformation is not instantaneous. If tomorrow, or in 50 years, we move on to killing unwanted minority groups, or with even more certainty, newborns who are officially stamped as ‘flawed’, there will no doubt be people yelling “Called it!” and claiming that was the plan along, but the world is simply not that predictable or inevitable, no matter what the conspiracy theorists and the truthers claim. Moreover, the specific trajectory towards that Armageddon will matter, and will be worth fighting over.


    The was a fairly detailed operation. Those who claim that it was always just a euphemism or way-station to the Holocaust are gifted with nothing as much as 20/20 hindsight. Was it always in the back of Hitler’s mind if plan A did not pan out? Quite possibly. But then, was Hitler somehow destined to survive Stauffenberg’s bomb? Was Operation Barbarossa’s bull’s eye trajectory into the Russian winter an inevitability? History does not work that way. The fact is, the outcome of a world war – especially one instigated by the minds of madmen – is a chaotic affair, and sorting out what happened is hard enough. Sorting out what might have happened is harder still.

  • I have been reading all the good comments and I will add one more comment, based on the comments I have read. This is a good site, as the comments are a little different than the Breitbart comments.
    I have been reading this site every day for over a year and have enjoyed it very much.
    I believe the WWII generation and the next generation are still in the afterglow of beliefs popular during WWII. With the passage of time, Germany from 1900-1945 can be assessed in a colder light. I believe this is important for one reason; if we make Germany the “other” there is a danger that we in the USA will not recognize the similarities between Germany and the USA. If Germans and Hitler were “crazy”, then we are not obliged to look at our behavior that is similar or even worse.
    The movie “Expelled” has a saying from a Jew Professor; “it always starts the same way”. The road to the dark side always starts the same way, I think was his meaning.
    We live in a country that has murdered over fifty million of our unborn children. Hitler never did anything close to that. Which country is worse?
    Nazi Germany was evil in many ways, but not in ways that were markedly different from previous wars in the history of Mankind. Germany had been fighting for survival since the sixteenth century; it was attacked by its neighbors repeatedly for four-hundred years. It was fearful of Russia, was concurred by Napoleon, fearful of a more powerful Austria, etc. Read the book “The Iron Kingdom” for a good history review of Prussia. Prussia was the heart of Germany, with Berlin, as the most important city of the Kingdom. Much of our modern world ideas came from Prussia; Prussia was not warlike or backwards, but advanced and modern.
    Germany was defeated in WWI and laid in ruin, the people were starving. Hitler offered a way forward. Hitler made many mistakes and did evil things, but no more evil than what the allies did during the war.
    The war was not about right and wrong, but about who would end up with the power. In this the USA was complicit. Just as Lincoln did during his war, FDR excited the USA citizens and raised the fears of the USA by painting the Germans as the bad guys; just as every president has done in the USA, in time of war.
    My point is that we should look at our actions and not backwards at Nazi Germany, twisting the actions of Nazi Germany to make ourselves look better, in our own eyes.

  • “We live in a country that has murdered over fifty million of our unborn children. Hitler never did anything close to that. Which country is worse?”

    Actually Hitler was in favor of abortion for non-Aryans.

    Here is what he said about abortion in the conquered Eastern territories:

    “They may use contraceptives or practice abortion–the more the better. In view of the large families of the native population, it could only suit us if girls and women there had as many abortions as possible. Active trade in contraceptives ought to be actually encouraged in the Eastern territories, as we could not possibly have the slightest interest in increasing the non-Germanic population.”

    In the concentration camps pregnant women were often forcibly aborted. Women arriving with infants were always sent to the gas chambers. Of course Hitler was in favor of euthanasia for the “unfit”, Aryan and non-Aryan. Bishop Von Galen, the Lion of Munster, spoke out about this:

  • “Nazi Germany was evil in many ways, but not in ways that were markedly different from previous wars in the history of Mankind”

    Wrong, the industrial genocide in cold blood of Nazi Germany was something new to human history, especially perpetrated by a nation that held itself to be the most civilized and cultured in Europe. The Nazis were not barbarians off the steppe, but the products of an advanced society that decided to adopt mass murder against helpless individuals as a strategic policy. Hitler viewed race as the fulcrum of civilization and he was determined to eradicate those he deemed to be inferior or threatening.

  • “Hitler made many mistakes and did evil things, but no more evil than what the allies did during the war.”
    The Western Allies ran no death camps and after the War put West Germany on the road to democracy and prosperity. We know from his musings what Hitler intended if he had won the war: a nightmare without end for the vanquished except in mass death.

  • “by painting the Germans as the bad guys;”

    The Nazis were the “bad guys”, and if you do not understand that, you need to take a very long look in the mirror. Any more comments attempting to argue that Hitler and the Nazis were not so bad will be deleted by me, and you will be banned from this site. First and last warning.

  • Good on you, Don. Sure the US is imperfect and the scourge of abortion is scandalous, but I’ve heard and read about all I can stand of the old and sophomoric moral equivalency excuse.

  • Hitler made many mistakes and did evil things, but no more evil than what the allies did during the war.


    Yeah, I was set to give you the benefit of the doubt, but you lost me there. Mistakes were made and evil things were done? Is that really the best you can do?


    For what it’s worth, I do understand the need to second-guess the past. I think it takes a psychotic amount of smugness and self-satisfaction to reflect on the tens of millions who died in WII and not wonder, “was there no other way to come through this?” But as noted previously, the path-not-taken approach to WWII has been corrupted by that treacherous and deceitful race of people who have for centuries stirred up dissension and enmity among any who were unfortunate enough to be in their presence. I am speaking, of course, about anti-Semites. You have apparently lost sight of that. In any case, I know a fair bit about the rapes and massacres of Germans and their collaborators by the victors, and the fact that a number of survivors of the Nazi camps committed suicide only when they learned they would be sent to the Soviet Union’s gulags, which makes you wonder which camps were worse. If you want to argue that Stalin (or the revenge-berserking Allied vets or partisans raping pillaging their way through Alsace and Germany) were just as bad as Hitler, I think you could make a compelling case. But you should also remember it was Hitler that turned the Soviets into Allies, just as it was Tojo that brought the US into the war. More importantly, that moral equivalence net only stretches so far.

  • The fact is that by 1900 or so, governments were experimenting and progressive measures were being implemented in all those countries. But Hitler stands out for his murderous rage and sectarian monstrosities. In terms of numbers, I think we can safely say a couple of other leaders exceeded him in their number of killings. But history is not taught in a vacuum. Westerners teach a value-laden history that leans in the direction they see as ‘the wave of the future’. Hitler’s version seemed the most barbaric and reactionary, and I think that’s why he remains the most hated. He wasn’t the only heartless ‘engineer’ of the twentieth century, however.

  • I survived the horrible change of teaching History in school to Social Studies. I was decieved on a ton of information. Including the understanding of NAZI Germany being a Socialist Party. I left school believing they were a pro-capitalist movement. How is that? I received more education as time wnet on and had the ability to read on my own… Consequently I came back to the Church and needed a new lesson in my religion as well. – still learning thanks for the information above.

  • To Robert’s point: yes, isn’t it funny how people overlook the glaring “Socialist” right smack dab in the middle of the NAZI party’s title.

Appeasement Back in Fashion

Tuesday, October 1, AD 2013

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.

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25 Responses to Appeasement Back in Fashion

  • “the desire of two peoples never to go to war again.” “the desire” was left unfulfilled. Every Allied troop had “the desire”, even while shooting at the aggressor.

  • @3:01″Where a business man or small shop keeper ruins his competitor by telling tales about his private opinion.” compare with the HHS Mandate, the lawsuits of gays for power over another’s conscience.

  • As Winston Churchill is quoted, An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last. World War II was a war that all objective observers should have realized was inevitable, long before September 1939. What if Britain and France had stood up to the Nazis over the remilitarization of the Rhineland? The Munich agreement was not the first piece of paper that Hitler tore up – think Versailles.

  • If the Brits and the French had stood up to Hitler at the Rhineland Nathan, I suspect that he would have been toppled by a military coup.

  • Pingback: The Heart of Bergoglio -
  • 2. Lack of support from the Dominions: In World War I, Britain’s declaration of war had automatically brought Canada, Australia, and New Zealand into the fight. But the constitutional status of those Commonwealth countries had changed in the interwar period. According to the British archives, it was far from clear that Chamberlain could count on the backing of these countries if war broke out with Germany over Czechoslovakia.

    Your reference to this is correct -Rubbish. In those days, many Kiwis and some Aussies still looked on Great Britain as the “mother country”, and I would guess many Canadians felt the same. This part article from Wikipedia pretty well sums it up.

    New Zealand entered the Second World War by declaring war on Germany as of 9.30 pm 3 September 1939 (NZT). Politically, New Zealand had been a vocal opponent of European fascism and also the appeasement of those dictatorships, national sentiment for a strong show of force was generally supported. Economic and defensive considerations also motivated the New Zealand involvement; reliance on Britain meant that if she were threatened, New Zealand would be too in terms of economic and defensive ties. There was also a strong sentimental link between the former British colony and the United Kingdom, with many seeing Britain as the “mother country” or “Home”. Prime Minister of the time Michael Joseph Savage summed this up at the outbreak of war with a quote that would become a popular cry in New Zealand during the war;:”Where Britain goes, we go! Where she stands, we stand!”[2]

    New Zealand provided personnel for service in the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, the Royal New Zealand Navy was placed at the Admiralty’s disposal and new medium bombers waiting in the United Kingdom to be shipped to New Zealand were made available to the RAF. The New Zealand Army contributed the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF). In total, around 140,000 New Zealand personnel served overseas for the Allied war effort, and an additional 100,000 men were armed for Home Guard duty. At its peak in July 1942, New Zealand had 154,549 men and women under arms (excluding the Home Guard) and by the war’s end a total of 194,000 men and 10,000 women had served in the armed forces at home and overseas. The costs for the country were high – 11,625 killed, a ratio of 6684 dead per million in the population which was the highest rate in the Commonwealth (Britain suffered 5123 and Australia 3232 per million population)”
    NZ had received Polish immigrants from before the war, partly because of the Jewish pogroms, and oppression of Poles in the Sudetanland, and was well aware of the situation in Europe.

  • To suggest that there was no popular support in Britain for a war against Hitler overlooks the fact that for many, especially in the working class movements, the war against fascism began, not on September 3rd 1939, but, as every Scottish school child knows, on July 17th 1936.

    The largest war memorial in Glasgow is the statue on the Broomielaw, commemorating the International Brigade, with its inscription, “better to die on your feet than live forever on your knees” and “¡No pasarán!” – They shall not pass!

  • Would America’s participation in the League of Nations have forestalled WW2.

  • Not along the lines the League developed.

  • “The largest war memorial in Glasgow is the statue on the Broomielaw, commemorating the International Brigade, with its inscription, “better to die on your feet than live forever on your knees” and “¡No pasarán!” – They shall not pass!”

    Ah, Scotland, land of some of my ancestors, where people who are killing Catholics always will get a friendly nod from some of the population! No doubt many of the same people turned violently against war after the Nazi-Soviet pact and violently pro-war after “the homeland of the proletariat” was invaded in June of 1941.

  • @Richard: “Would America’s participation in the League of Nations have forestalled WW2.?” It is my guess America’s participation in the League of Nations would have brought America into the war before Pearl Harbor. Has America’s participation in the United Nations forestalled any police or military action?

    It was the intent of both Hitler’s Germany and Japan to conquer America. The rest of the world was stepping stones.

  • The fact about the Rhineland is that the British and the French knew that they not only had Hitler to deal with, but Mussolini too. Two years before, Mussolini had practically stopped Hitler annexating Austria single-handed, when Hitler had had his Austrian thugs murder Mussolini’s ally Dollfuss and stage a coup; but since then Mussolini had become convinced that the Allies were old and weak and would not fight – especially since the most determined French enemy of Hitler, Barthou, had been accidentally killed in 1934 and replaced by the ambiguous Laval – and had opted for Hitler. The signal of his decision was the invasion of Ethiopia, which was a direct hit at French and British interests and put the issue of the ownership of the Suez Canal – strategically essential to Italy but owned by Britain and France – very much into play. France informed Britain that it would not oppose Hitler unless Britain guaranteed to support it in case Italy entered the coming war; Britain told them they would not; and that was it. Neither country would act alone against both Germany and Italy. The power of Italy, of course, was overrated, and even more so the competence of their generals – Mussolini had a gift for promoting the worst and repressing the best, which was reflected in the country’s performance in the actual war – but in 1936 the two remaining democratic governments in Europe had to consider such things.

  • Read with what despair the great Czech writer Karel Capek met the Munich Agreement. You will never such revision is horrific.

  • The Rhineland militarization was a violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Breaking that treaty was enough of a casus belli.

    As I tell my friends who visit France, don’t sign any treaties at Versailles.

  • Fabio P Barbieri

    The problem in France was that many people believed that either Fascism of Communism were the only live options and, of the two, they preferred Fascism

    This was complicated by the religious question: the open hostility of most Catholics to the Republic neatly matched the anti-clericalism of the bouffeurs de curé.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour:
    that is only partially significant, and it really only became decisive when the game was already lost. After all, the Church-State conflict in the twenties and thirties (setting aside the Front Populaire period) was nothing compared with what had happened in the Combes period, before World War One, when the government had pretended to legislate the Church out of existence with its new model elected Bishops and had sent troops to occupy monasteries; but that had not prevented the arch-anticlerical Clemenceau to promote to supreme command the devout Catholic Foch, and, in spite of their mutual personal and political detestation, it had not prevented them from collaborating – not only during but after the war – so closely for the good of France that the world was completely deceived, and was stunned and saddened when Foch’s posthumous memoirs blasted Clemenceau and received an equally vicious response from the still living Father of Victory.

    The fact is that by 1934 the French had good reason to hate and fear the British almost as much as the Germans, In every crisis and conflict from 1919 to the present, Britain had consistently supported Germany; in 1923, it had used language that seemed to threaten war. After 1921, and increasingly, a majority of English opinion makers (the public tending to believe what they were told) had taken an increasingly pathological attitude against France, treating it (in a world where Germany, Italy and Russia were competing, even before Hitler, at who made the most trouble) as the one menace to peace. This is almost impossible to believe today, but it really was the case that all three English parties were practically unanimous in treating the French as the aggressors and everyone else as reasonable gentlemen with reasonable grievances – a situation bizarrely similar to that of Israel today. Chesterton was disgusted:


    Oh, how I love Humanity,
    With love so pure and pringlish,
    And how I hate the horrid French,
    Who never will be English!

    The International Idea,
    The largest and the clearest,
    Is welding all the nations now,
    Except the one that’s nearest.

    This compromise has long been known,
    This scheme of partial pardons,
    In ethical societies
    And small suburban gardens—

    The villas and the chapels where
    I learned with little labour
    The way to love my fellow-man
    And hate my next-door neighbour.

    (There is some pointed language here, that may not be understood by those unfamiliar with thirties Britain. “Ethical Societies” were a whole class of agnostic-atheist local groups, almost in the nature of the parish structure of a national church of atheism; they have largely died out. “Chapels” refers to non-Anglican Protestant bodies, which Chesterton – who came from one – regarded as similar in spirit to the Ethical Societies in their narrowness, provinciality and delusional notions of idealism. And it is because of his rage at this provincial smugness and hostility that he associates suburbia and suburban villas to his curse.)

    Essentially, in 1939 the French did not trust the British any further than they could see them, and with some reason. And at that point a second disaster came and multiplied the effect of the disastrous mutual distaste of France and Britain. Stalin, reversing two decades of opposition to what he used to call “Social-Fascists”, ordered the Popular Front. In Spain, this led directly to civil war; in France, to something almost like it. Insanely, while the German danger grew visibly greater, the governing majority promoted social conflict across the board, with strikes everywhere and the industry – including the defence sector – seizing up just as, across the border, Germans worked twenty-four hours a day with no shifts building planes and tanks. it was under the pressure of the Popular Front that political struggle in France became so embittered that the first outright Hitler-boosters appeared. Even so, most of the historical hard right remained as anti-German as it had always been. As late as 1939 old Charles Maurras was still cursing the Nazis and calling for “France above all”. At any rate, the Right had always been a minority in France; the last free elections before the catastrophe, and the first free elections after the liberation, both brought centre-left majorities.

    So what brought the majority of the French Right (never all of it; Maurras’ former secretary broke with him, and when someone suggested to him that a “rapprochement” with the Germans was desirable, answered: “To the best of my knowledge, the Germans are in Melun. Si ca n’est pas assez proche…!“).It was the classic decision made in haste and repented at leisure. In June 1940 nobody believed in France that Britain would ever have fought on. With her empire still intact, and France knocked out, they expected London to make a deal with Berlin. Their only choice was to make one first, themselves, and at the best possible price. Or so they thought. That Petain himself, who next to Foch had been the most prestigious and beloved French military leader in the previous slaughter, took this view, just shows how natural it felt to the average French conservative. Of course, in the end, it trapped them in an increasingly pressured and subservient condition, compromising with the lowest elements in the state – beginning with Laval – and having Hitler, as he always did, continuously rewrite the deal to his own advantage. They simply had not understood the enormous significance, akin to a revolution, of Churchill coming to power with Labour votes and against the will of the entire British ruling class.

  • There are some ridiculous typos in there:
    … but that had not prevented the arch-anticlerical Clemenceau from promoting to supreme command the devout Catholic Foch….
    …across the border, Germans worked twenty-four hours a day in shifts building planes and tanks…

  • Fabio P Barbieri

    I was thinking of the ‘30s, when one had l’Action française, whose thugs, the Camelots du roi, beat up Léon Blum in the street, not to mention La Cagoule and its assassinations, bombings and sabotage. The country could not have been more polarised, especially, after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, as you rightly note.

    British fear and suspicion of France was real enough. Many believed that terms insisted upon by France at the Versailles Treaty had sown the seeds of future conflicts and her occupation of the Ruhr, especially with colonial troops (whom the English regarded as savages), shocked the conscience of the nation.

  • Churchill talked a good game and wrote a famous history, quite apart from being the legendary wartime leader, so he remains the big bossy cat at the milk plate. But the reason why the British did not fight is that they could not. They had all of two pitiful divisions in Europe at that time and the French were distracted in Spain. The situation hardly changed when the invasion of Poland came. There were interlocking considerations; Stalin with reason suspected that the whole game plan of the British and French was to direct the Nazis to the East. It was not Churchill who built up the RAF and radar defences that kept Britain afloat, that was the work of Baldwin and Chamberlain. Churchill’s own military ability (as opposed to his courage and pugnacity) left a lot to be desired. Under the influence of his well-nigh useless science advisor Lindemann, he tended to stupid decisions. Chamberlain was not some Lord Blandings character, he too came from a family of distinguished soldiers and was able to read the forces at play. For example after the invasion of Poland he wrote:

    To my mind the lesson of the Polish campaign is the power of the Air Force, when it has obtained complete mastery in the air, to paralyse the operations of the land forces. The effects in this direction seem to have gone much beyond anything that we were led to expect by our Military Advisers

  • Baldwin and Chamberlain resisted for as long as they could Churchill’s calls to rearm, with their backbencher sycophants continually attacking Churchill as a warmonger. They attempted to have him rejected by his constituency. As for Chamberlain, that patron saint of useful idiots in every time and place for aggressors, this statement at the time of the Munich crisis, says it all:

    “How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing. It seems still more impossible that a quarrel which has already been settled in principle should be the subject of war.”

  • The Chamberlains were not “distinguished military leaders”, they were businessmen. I thought everybody knew that? And there is something strangely bewildered about attacking Churchill for having no part in the British rearmament when he was excluded from Government and pretty nearly from Parliament – before 1938, Chamberlain actually tried to have him deselected as a parliamentary candidate – while admitting that the heroic efforts of Baldwin and Chamberlain had produced no more than two divisions ready to fight (and, one might add, a RAF which, even after a year of wartime production, barely proved equal to the task of defending the home territory). Sorry, sometimes revisionism is not worth trying.

  • @Donald,
    At one time our man Churchill too was smitten by Hitler:

    One may dislike Hitler’s system and yet admire his patriotic achievement. If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as indomitable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations.

    I was mistaken. I thought he had a connection to a famous Chamberlain military family from the 19th century.

  • That was from an article which appeared in The Strand Magazine in 1935.

    Go to the link above to read the entire article which is very negative about Hitler overall.

  • Thanks for the link, I stand corrected. And I must say it is a penetrating, prescient article. With our man Churchill words are weapons and this article clarifies many things about Churchill for me.

  • Big of you to say so Ivan. Well done!

Winston Churchill: Thanksgiving 1944

Friday, November 23, AD 2012

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:

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22 Responses to Winston Churchill: Thanksgiving 1944

  • I wish Sir Winston Churchill’s last paragraph were still true.

  • Would that Sir Winston’s love of country had extended to Ireland . . .

  • Considering that Ireland wasn’t his country I don’t know why it should have. Further considering that he and Michael Collins negotiated the peace that brought about an independent Ireland, I think he did the Irish a fairly good turn on that occasion, as did Collins. In 1929 Churchill wrote this about Collins:

    “Successor to a sinister inheritance, reared among fierce conditions and moving through ferocious times, he supplied those qualities of action and personality without which the foundation of Irish nationhood would not have been re-established.”

  • I would have thought what Sandy did, not knowing history myself. Glad to learn about how Chuchill regarded Ireland, Donald! Whether it’s history or nuclear energy (or any topic, for that matter), it’s important to always get the facts (something I do poorly outside of my field of expertise). I know little about the former, so thanks!

  • Thank you for that Churchill speech. I’ve long had a keen interest in all things about WWII, but I know little about Churchill and England’s part in it. I wonder, would you have any book recommendations about him and/or England in the war? I know there’s so much out there to pick from but would rather have a recommendation or two from someone like you!

    Thanks for a great site.

    God bless.

  • It is good and edifying to read about the powerful speeches of Winston Churchill during the Second World War. At every turn of events in human history, God appoints someone to be His instrument of saving humankind from physical annihilation, coupled with freeing humans from Satan-instigated bondage. Winston Churchill was the person at that time; and he appropriately enlisted the support of Roosevelt. Thank Heavens that Satan and his Axis of Evil were defeated in that war. But Satan continues to try! Satan’s present try is to employ and mobilize Islam to unleash another Armageddon. It appears that the West and other members of the free world are taking Islam’s threat with levity. History abounds on how Islam had tried to annihilate the free world and spread the horrible horrors of the Islamic religion on humankind. If the rest of the world thinks it could stand behind the rules of human rights to allow Islam to continue gaining its spread in those places, then the world would hold itself to blame. Islam must be made to exist only in countries it holds sway over at the moment. The conduct of different Islamic sects all over the world must warn other nations to beware in allowing this religion to have any foothold in their territories. Islam cannot cohabit with any other religion. This is just the truth. This is just the rational and objective truth. Don’t bother about the rules of human rights for Islam itself is no respecter of human rights.

  • 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 HHS Mandate: no freedom of conscience, laws inveighing against the virtue of CHARITY, the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, imposition of cruel and unusual punishment, crushing penalties) the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, (NDAA National Defense Authorization Act: no trial by jury, indefinite imprisonment without charges, no Habeas Corpus for American citizens), and the English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.

    Sir Winston Churchill

    [“The TRUTH is whatever I say the TRUTH is”
    President Barak Obama

    The American citizen is a sovereign person confirmed in self-control, created and endowed by “their Creator” with unalienable rights.
    parentheses added]

  • @Chi,
    Not sure Islam was Mr. McClarey’s topic, but you may find comfort in study of the ejection of Islam from Europe. There was a reason for it. Spain, for example, threw out every Muslim they could find, and this after 700+ years of Muslims in Spain. There was a reason for that, too. All this is well-documented, although not widely known or taught in the US.

    @ Elizabeth,
    Churchill wrote an excellent 6-volume history of WWII from his central position. If you want to go easier on yourself, there is an abridged version in a single volume. That would allow you to read the 6 volumes of you so choose.

  • Donald, Of course, Ireland was not his country, although he lived there for a time as a youth. Nor was America his country. Your comment that his negotiation with Collins led to an independent Ireland ignores the 1916 Rising, the Irish Civil War, the manner of the creation of Eire, and the fact that Ireland is still today not united. I have great admiration for Winston Churchill as one of the brightest lights of our lifetime, whose leadership in WWII is unquestionable, remarkable and astounding. He is a giant of western history. However, the fact that he is a giant in leading England in WWII does not mean that he was right in everything he did. Mr.Churchill’s policy on Ireland was a part of the overall English policy of oppression that led to a partitioned Ireland and, eventually, to the Troubles. See Black and Tans, for an example. I don’t think anyone can seriously dispute England’s tyranny and subjugation of Ireland for centuries. Churchill was in the flow of this policy and he was unhelpful, to say the least, in the cause of Irish freedom.



  • Well Sandy, anyone who runs a search on this blog in regard to Ireland will quickly learn what I think about the subjugation of Ireland over the centuries by the English! However, I think it is clearly a historical fact that the peace negotiations led by Collins and Churchill did lead to the creation of an Independent Irish state. All of Ireland? No. With the Ulster Protestant population that would not have happened without an enormous civil war that the Republican forces simply lacked the military strength to win. Collins got the best deal that he could get under the circumstances and Churchill was smart enough to realize that the time had come for the English to stop pretending that they could hold onto most of Ireland forever. Prior to World War I Churchill was a vigorous supporter of Home Rule for Ireland, one of the few times he turned his back on a political principle, anti-Home Rule, espoused by his late father Lord Randolph Churchill.

  • John2: Thanks for the recommendation! Looking at reviews on Amazon of both the 6-volume set and the abridged, I’ll be honest and say that I’ll start with the abridged.

  • A good companion volume is David Reynolds’ In Command of History which is a masterful look at Churchill’s writing of his history of the Second Wordl War:

  • Thanks, Donald! Added to my WishList.

  • Sir Winston, for all his failings and what we would now call bigotry was essentially a chivalric gentleman; a quality that shines through from his earliest writings in The River War ( . Unlike other leaders of his era, he had little of their guile or calculating deviousness (I exclude Hitler and Stalin from consideration as they clearly were of the Devil). For these reasons, it is always possible to have affection for him whatever criticisms we have of particular actions or policies he undertook or espoused.

  • Churchill is not a popular figure with the Northern Ireland Unionists. In the first place, when in 1913 there was a threat of armed Protestant resistance to Home Rule, he (as First Lord of the Admiralty) threatened naval action – “If Belfast shows fight I will reduce it to rubble in twenty-four hours”. In the Second World War he considered giving NI to deValera in return for use of the southern ports (which had been given up only a few years previously).

    Britain and the USA were not the easiest of allies in WW II, and there was fault on both sides. Churchill was rightly suspicious of FDR’s naive trust of Stalin and his (to us incomprehensible) belief that the greatest threat to world peace in the post-war years would be the British Empire. Having pooled our resources in the Manhattan project the Brits were understandably miffed when Congress passed the McMahon Act, which meant that the UK was on its own in developing a nuclear capability. In those cash-strapped years we did pretty well, producing the A-bomb in 1952 and the H-bomb in 1957.

    However, the US underpinning of NATO and the eventual defeat of the ‘evil empire’ was the greatest achievement of the Pax Americana. Had Churchill lived to see it, he would have felt both gratified and vindicated.

  • That video clip was great. So inspiring ~ they all seemed to love him. Can you tell me who the men are sitting around and above him?

  • This was an address to a joint session of Congress. The two men seated above Churchill were Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn (D.TX) and Vice President Henry Wallace (D. Moscow). I am not sure of the identities of the men seated beside Churchill.

  • …Henry Wallace (D.Moscow)…, now that’s funny.

  • Ivan it’s true. Wallace was almost a Communist. Churchill was mystified and baffled at FDR’s thoughts, words and deeds vis a vis Stalin.

    Another facet of Churchill was his adept and skilled use of the English language. I can think of none who were better.

  • Churchill’s almost instinctive resonance with history is exemplified in his most famous speech, when he was confident “that the New World, with all its power and might, will step forth for the liberation of the Old”. This echoes George Canning’s speech as Foreign Secretary in 1826 when he endorsed the Monroe Doctrine: “I called the New World into existence to redress the balance of the Old”.

  • Penguin Fan, I agree. The US President scrapes through as a fool instead of a knave when it came to Stalin. His close associates on the other hand seem to have been willing dupes. What I know of Henry Wallace, I read from by Tim Tzouliadis, which builds around the terrible fate of thousand of naive Americans who went to the Soviet Union in search of work in the 1930s, a compelling narative of the inner workings of Stalinism.

The Last of the Few

Thursday, November 1, AD 2012

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.


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6 Responses to The Last of the Few

  • The end of an era – perhaps an age.
    When I was young back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, I knew a number of guys who had flown in WW 2. Noel James, a neighbour whose son and I were good friends – Noel had flown Grumman TBFs in the Pacific theatre – was a Squadron Leader.
    Also Joe Bell – Joe flew Corsairs in the Pacific, and had a fascinating tale to tell, which I will repeat at some other time – just to name a few.
    But the guy who flew with the RAF in England was Tommy (Titch) Austin; Tom was a builder and a friend of dad’s and was a customer of dad’s in his joinery factory, where I worked until 1968 when dad sold the business. I had a lot to do with Tommy, and he used to tell some humorous stories – with hindsight, I think, to disguise the stress from the danger they faced only 20 odd years before, and which still was real to him. I don’t think Tommy flew in the Battle ofBritain, but he did fly with the RAF before the RNZAF squadrons were formed. He flew Hurricanes, then Spitfires, and later Hawker Tempests (or Typhoons – can’t recall which). He must have had a fairly charmed life, having had I think 18 or 20 personal kills, and was Mentioned in Despatches for bravery and his success.
    He was only a little guy – stood about 5’6″ and about 140 lbs wringing wet. His size was very suited to flying in these fighter aircraft, which were quite tight and small,(except for the Tempests) and perormed better with a lighter pilot. He was a local house builder, and was quite innovative in his designs. He recounted the only mishap he had – he was ordered to taxi an Avro Anson twin enginged plane from the tarmac where it was parked to a hangar some distance away because of an approaching storm. He decided to take a longer route around the perimeter of the airfield, instead of the direct route to the hangar. He decided to open the throttles a bit more than taxi speed, and was hit by a gust of wind – he flipped the plane onto its back and severely damaged it. He was put ‘on the mat’, but not stood down from flying ops because of his experience.
    I believe he died about 15 years ago – one of the heroic few.

  • “The end of an era – perhaps an age.”

    Indeed Don, although in a larger sense I hope not. In our hour of need may we always have heroes willing to fight against the odds for a great cause, in spite of Death and the other weaknesses to which Man is heir to.

  • Thank you for posting, Don. I cannot help but be amazed that in calling these brave airmen “the few,” Winston Churchill was echoing Shakespeare’s Henry V: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.”

  • God Grant him Eternal Rest. May we never fail to be grateful for the sacrifices these men made.

  • “I cannot help but be amazed that in calling these brave airmen “the few,” Winston Churchill was echoing Shakespeare’s Henry V: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers”

    Nathan, Churchill had the English language in his bones. It is fun to read his speeches and catch his borrowings and riffs on other masters of the tongue.

  • This was back when most men were made with steel in their spines and gold in their hearts.