By BRIAN KRAPF
At first blush, one could not imagine a more unlikely couple to be featured on a wartime badge. This little survivor, however, is a true piece of history with an interesting story to share. Featuring the unusual combination of Churchill and Stalin along with the slogan “All Aid to Russia,” the badge dates to the 1941 invasion of Russia by Germany and the all-out, British-led allied effort to provide military, technical, and economic assistance to the Soviet Union.
Germany attacked and invaded Russia in the early morning hours of 22 June 1941. Later that day, Prime Minister Churchill made a public address calling the invasion the fourth “climacteric” of the war thus far. In his address, the Prime Minister noted that although a nonaggression pact existed between the two countries, Germany’s attack and invasion was unprovoked and large scale, utilizing every aspect of the German war machine. Churchill further stated:
Hitler is a monster of wickedness, insatiable in his lust for blood and plunder. Not content with having all Europe under his heel, or else terrorized into various forms of abject submission, he must now carry his work of butchery and desolation among the vast multitudes of Russia and of Asia. The terrible military machine, which we and the rest of the civilized world so foolishly, so supinely, so insensately allowed the Nazi gangsters to build up year by year from almost nothing, cannot stand idle lest it rust or fall to pieces. It must be in continual motion, grinding up human lives and trampling down the homes and the rights of hundreds of millions of men. Moreover it must be fed, not only with flesh but with oil.
Churchill ended this address by pledging aid to Russia, whether it be military, technical, or humanitarian. He assured Britain—and the world—that Germany’s attack and invasion of Russia only strengthened his resolve to defeat Hitler and his armies.
This little badge was a recent discovery and, thus far, the only one known to be in private hands. For such a small item, it packs a significant amount of history and serves as a reminder of Churchill’s commitment to Russia at a significant time in history.
Brian Krapf’s book We Want Winston!—A Treasury of Churchill Memorabilia will be published by Pen and Sword later this year.