It is perhaps an appropriate occasion (as a follow-up to yesterday’s post) to mention the fifty-year anniversary today of the death of Winston Churchill. Voted in 2002 (thirty-seven years after his death) the Greatest Briton, Churchill topped a list that included the names of William Wilberforce, J. R. R. Tolkien, Jane Austen, William Blake, William Shakespeare and a host of British monarchs.
(The list didn’t include C. S. Lewis, I’m sorry to say, though technically his birth in Ireland might have disqualified him? Not sure.)
Born in 1874, Churchill became a bigger-than-life presence and a pivotal figure during a critical time on the world stage. He may have endured (during his lifetime) more critics than admirers and history seems to reflect he suffered many defeats and discouragements. But his legacy cannot be ignored.
Given how Hitler’s invasion forces swept through Europe like lightning in mid-1940, a number of Brits believed a negotiated peace with Germany was the preferred path. (We can reason with Hitler … set ourselves in important positions and do business with his expanding war machine. We’ll make millions!)
As Prime Minister, Churchill chose the harder road, a path he knew would lead to outright war (Churchill’s predecessor had already declared war in September of 1939) – and less certain – his choice might eventually lead to a hoped-for victory.
Considering Churchill’s stubborn refusal to surrender to Hitler, the Luftwaffe engaged an eight-month bombing campaign of strategic sites and facilities (during which London alone suffered fifty-seven consecutive nighttime raids) which was surely enough for some Brits to think peace at any cost was preferable. Continue Reading →