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Why Churchill Matters New Book Should Wake up the Woke on Winston

By DAVID FREEMAN

French scholar Ralph Keysers has published his most recent collection of political cartoons from the Nazi era that targeted Winston Churchill, Churchill dans la press locale et régionale nazie (Broché, 17 July 2020). Keysers asked David Freeman, editor of the Churchill Bulletin, to write an introduction that explains how this study pertains to recent public demonstrations attacking Churchill. It follows here in both English and French.

Ralph Keysers has performed an unpleasant task—but an important one. Gathering and analyzing Nazi propaganda is not for the faint of heart. The material is crude and upsetting. Understandably, most people would prefer to leave it in the past where it can lie buried and forgotten. But we must not forget. Like the violent atrocities committed by the Nazis, even a record of their political cartoons must be preserved.

Churchill believed that governments had to respect the dignity of all human beings. This is why he was among the first to be alert to the Nazi danger. He understood that a system that respected dignity for only some people had no dignity at all and corrupted all those associated with it. For this reason, he became the primary object of attack by the supporters of Hitler as the illustrations in this book demonstrate.

Seventy-five years after the end of the Second World War, Winston Churchill has once again come under attack. This time, however, the crowds are not made up of young fanatics wearing armbands with swastikas and parading through the streets of Berlin. Today, mobs of young fanatics believing that they are the antithesis of the Nazis parade through the streets of London denouncing Churchill as a racist.

These displays of historical ignorance explain why Keysers’ work is more important than ever. Looking through these pages, we see that those who attack Churchill today have all too much in common with the Nazi propagandists of the past and show us how seemingly opposed political extremes can converge both in behavior and belief. History can repeat itself if we do not preserve the record. We must teach that record to each new generation even when it is distasteful to do so.

We study Ralph Keysers’ books so that we can save us from ourselves.

Professor Antoine Capet of the University Rouen and a member of the International Churchill Society’s Board of Academic Advisors has provided this translation of the introduction to the book, which is published in French.

Ralph Keysers a accompli une tâche ingrate – mais importante. Collationner et analyser la propagande nazie n’est pas pour les âmes sensibles. La matière est crue et dérangeante. On comprend pourquoi la plupart des gens préféreraient la reléguer dans le passé, où l’on peut l’oublier en l’enterrant. Mais nous n’avons pas le droit de l’oublier. De même que la violence des atrocités commises par les nazis, il faut conserver la mémoire de leurs caricatures politiques elles aussi.

Churchill était convaincu que les gouvernements se devaient de respecter la dignité de tous les êtres humains : c’est pourquoi il fut parmi les premiers à sonner l’alarme sur le danger nazi. Il avait compris qu’un régime qui ne respectait que la dignité de certains n’avait aucune dignité et qu’il corrompait tous ceux qui s’associaient à lui. C’est pour cela qu’il constitua la cible principale des attaques des suppôts d’Hitler, comme le montrent les illustrations du livre.

Soixante-quinze ans après la fin de la deuxième Guerre mondiale, Winston Churchill se retrouve sous le feu d’attaquants. Cependant, cette fois, les foules ne se composent pas de jeunes fanatiques porteurs de brassards à croix gammée qui défilent dans les rues de Berlin. Aujourd’hui, des bandes de jeunes fanatiques qui se croient l’antithèse des nazis défilent dans les rues de Londres en dénonçant le racisme de Churchill.

Ces manifestations d’ignorance de l’histoire expliquent pourquoi le travail de R. Keysers est plus important que jamais. En parcourant ces pages, l’on constate que ceux qui attaquent Churchill aujourd’hui n’ont que trop en commun avec les propagandistes nazis de jadis et qu’ils nous montrent à quel point des extrêmes en apparence opposés peuvent se rejoindre tant dans leur comportement que dans leurs convictions. L’histoire peut se répéter si nous n’en conservons pas la mémoire. Nous avons le devoir de transmettre cette mémoire à chaque nouvelle génération, même si c’est peu ragoûtant.

Nous étudions les livres de Ralph Keysers afin d’y trouver notre salut contre nous-mêmes.

 

 

 

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