Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 30

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Book Review: Churchill: Walking with Destiny
Continued from page 29
had achieved "peace for our time." Churchill's response was, "You
were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose
dishonour, and you will have war."
After becoming Prime Minister, he appointed himself
Minister of Defense. Churchill had vast interest in new
technologies and weaponry. He was a creative thinker who was
constantly proposing various schemes to help the war effort
such as disrupting German commerce by dropping mines into
the rivers of Europe. He was highly engaged in formulating
suggestions as to where and how his forces should fight. General
Alan Brooke distinguished himself in the early fighting in
France, including playing a key role in contracting the defenses
toward the sea in significant measure enabling the Miracle of
Dunkirk to occur. He became Chief of the Imperial General
Staff through the duration of the war.
Brooke, and many other Generals who had direct contact
with Churchill, complained incessantly to each other, and
in their respective diaries, about Churchill's interference
with matters military. By war's end, however, virtually all
acknowledged that when the officers believed strongly that a
course suggested by Churchill should not be followed, Churchill
always acquiesced. As in so many situations, the truth probably
is that Churchill attempted to interfere more frequently than he
would admit, and the generals, for their part, over exaggerated
the extent of Churchill's "meddling." It seems, in the end, all
acknowledged that he had the overall strategy correct from the
outset. After the war, Brooke said, "I thank God that I was
given an opportunity of working alongside such a man..." seeing
"...that occasionally such supermen exist on this earth."
Churchill's triumph was the uniting of the ordinary citizens
during these dark days. The greatest orator of his era, and
certainly one of the greatest of all time, his command of the
language and its use caused people to overwhelmingly support
him during the course of the war, even through severe setbacks.
His first speech to the House of Commons after becoming
Prime Minister was the famous "...blood, toil, tears and
sweat..." speech which roused the membership. Likewise, in his
first broadcast to his people as Prime Minister, he made clear his
resolve, which overwhelmingly became the resolve of the entire
population. "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the
landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we
shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender."
Yet Churchill's greatest achievement, which is nicely
illustrated by Roberts, was that he may have almost singlehandedly kept Britain from accepting an early settlement of the
war. Hitler was not possessed of a great enmity for the British
Empire. Indeed, he admired it. Many of the actions he took
early on, for example, holding up the offensive around Dunkirk
for several days which had the practical effect of allowing the
30 | Berks Barrister

British Expeditionary Force to escape, may have been intended
by Hitler as gestures to foster peace negotiations. Roberts
demonstrates that much of the leadership of the Conservative
Party, which had a strong majority in government, wanted to
pursue such a course, at least to see what might be possible.
Churchill and a handful of likeminded Conservative followers
prevented that from happening.
Indeed, even before Churchill was taken into the government
by Chamberlain, Hitler railed against Churchill in speeches,
calling him a warmonger. Churchill's speeches to Parliament
and the general public possibly may have prevented the
Conservative-led government from making peace with Hitler on
what proponents believed would be favorable terms. Ironically,
the reason that they may well have considered such terms
favorable is because of the ultimate recognition, almost too late,
that they were ill-prepared for a struggle, and lacked much of the
material that is required to carry on the fight.
It can be seen that Churchill was prophetic. He was the first
to raise the alarm against German fascism in the early 1930s.
He was also the first to recognize the Soviet Communists for
what they were and became. At the time, he was vilified by
his political opponents as well as by Nazi and Communist
sympathizers. History, has, of course, proven him to be correct
on both counts.
This makes it all the more difficult to understand the British
by-elections in the spring of 1945. With the war apparently
about to be won (the Germans capitulated in May), Churchill's
party suffered a devastating defeat receiving only slightly over
half of the support it had received in the 1935 elections. In the
general Parliamentary elections which were held in July, the
Labor Party captured almost twice the number of seats that the
Conservatives did.
The elections took place in early July, but several weeks
were needed for the tabulation of the vote because of all the
armed services members. Meanwhile, the Potsdam Conference
of Stalin, Truman, and Churchill was set for July 17 through
August 2. Thus, the election results became clear, and Churchill
was no longer Prime Minister for the last few days of the
conference.
He railed against the earliest examples of political
correctness, which he labeled "Socialist jargon." Poor people
were the "lower income group." Wage freezes transformed into
"arresting increases in personal income." Homes and houses were
"accommodation units." He hoped "to live to see the British
democracy spit all this rubbish from their lips."
Unlike most of his contemporaries, he was a Zionist rather
than Arabist. Before the turn of the last century, he recognized,
and warned against the peril of Islamist extremists. They "...
stimulate a wild and merciless fanaticism...as dangerous and as


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Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019

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