Friday, July 20, 2007

The Churchill Series – July 20, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill,)

The 20th century’s two greatest evils were Bolshevism/Communism and Nazism.

Churchill’s early and fierce opposition to the Nazis is, of course, well-known; his similarly early and fierce opposition to the Bolsheviks/Communists is less well known. His official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, tells us something about it:

On 1 May 1920 Churchill set out his view of Bolshevik tyranny in a Cabinet memorandum. The Bolsheviks, he wrote, have “committed, and are committing unspeakable atrocities, and are maintaining themselves in power by a terrorism on an unprecedented scale, and by the denial of the most elementary rights of citizenship and freedom."

Churchill was never reconciled to the idea of negotiation with the Bolsheviks. Six months later, on 18 November 1920, the Cabinet decided that the Bolsheviks could pay for British exports with the gold which they had acquired after the revolution. Churchill was totally disturbed by this decision, which he opposed passionately. “He was quite pale,” Sir Maurice Hankey wrote in his diary, “and did not speak again during the meeting.”

That evening, Churchill left London for Oxford, where he made a vitriolic speech against the Bolsheviks. When, in April 1922, [Prime Minister] Lloyd George decided to recognize the Bolsheviks, the intensity of Churchill’s feelings had not diminished. He was only prevented from resigning [the two Cabinet offices he held - Secretary of State for Was and Secretary of State for Air - ] by a personal appeal from [his closest friend,] Lord Birkenhead.
Many of you are no doubt thinking Churchill worked closely during WW II in alliance with Stalin’s Communist government. But that was, as Churchill said at the time, akin to taking help from the devil which Churchill said he would gladly do to defeat Hitler.

I’ll say more in Monday’s post about Churchill and his feelings about the Bolshevik/Communists.

I hope you all have a nice weekend.

Martin Gilbert, The Stricken World: 1916-1922. (vol. IV of the Winston S. Churchill biography pub. by Houghton Mifflin, 1975) (p. 906)


Donald Douglas said...

After Germany's invastion of Russia in 1941, Churchill said, in pledging to help Moscow, "if Hitler invaded hell I would at least make a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons."

What a man - good thing he was on our side.