August 20, 2013

Finest Hour 110, Spring 2001

Page 05

QUOTE OF THE SEASON

“They combine in the most deadly manner the qualities or the warrior and the slave. They do not value freedom themselves, and the spectacle or it in others is hateful to them. Whenever they become strong they seek their prey, and they will follow with an iron discipline anyone who will lead tnem to it.”
—WSC (who was not then speaking of China), HOUSE OF COMMONS, 21 SEPTEMBER 1943


WSC SURVIVES BLITZ OF ’01

LONDON, MAY 1ST— Understandably reluctant to expend taxpayer funds cleaning up the messes of “pro-environment activists,” who celebrated last May Day by desecrating the Churchill statue and other London shrines, authorities built a protective box around the statue. The memorial was untouched, despite numerous May Day citizens celebrating human rights by attacking the rights of other human beings.

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APOLOGIES FOR LATENESS

We are late with this Spring number, and we know it. My involvement in two major events, the commissioning of USS Churchill in March and the Churchill Lecture in April, plus two Chartwell Bulletins, two fundraising projects, and working with Curt Zoller on his (great) new bibliography of works about Churchill, combined to clobber my schedule. Please be assured that normal frequency will be regained and that you will receive your full ration of four FHs per year and on time. That means a summer and autumn on time, and the first issue of 2002 (winter), shortly after the New Year. My apologies for the inconvenience. RML

EPSTEIN TO OVAL OFFICE


LONDON, MARCH 28TH— In a highly unusual diplomatic gesture, one of only six Epstein busts of Sir Winston Churchill is being sent to Washington, for loan to President Bush in the Oval Office. The idea of loaning the work, from the Government’s art collection, came to British officials during Prime Minister Tony Blair’s visit to Washington in February. Two years ago both George W. Bush and John McCain, his rival for the nomination, named Churchill as the most important figure of the 20th century, Bush describing Sir Winston as “the best example of how individuals can shape history.” Downing Street said that the loan, which is expected to last as long as President Bush wants it, was exceptional and that no similar gesture was made to Mr. Clinton, despite his close personal relationship with Mr. Blair. “Winston Churchill was a great friend of the United States,” said Sir Christopher Meyer, British Ambassador to Washington. “What better place for his bust to sit than in the Oval Office?”

Sir Jacob Epstein, son of Jewish immigrants, was born in America but moved to London and took up British citizenship. He was commissioned to produce several portraits of important figures during the war, although his best-known works are probably his memorial tomb to Oscar Wilde, in the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, and his nudes at the British Medical Association’s headquarters in London.

Churchill could not spare the time to sit for the artist during the war, so the bust was sculpted and cast in 1946, during six “restless” sittings at Hyde Park Gate and Chartwell. In his autobiography Epstein recalls how during the first session Churchill sat down, dismissed his plain-clothes bodyguard, had his secretary sit nearby for dictation and then lit one of his favourite Cuban cigars. “[Churchill] was at all times extremely genial and a most hospitable host,” Epstein said. “He showed me his paintings about which I found him modest to the extreme, laying no claim to professional status. His library, as I saw it, seemed to consist of books on Napoleon and his celebrated ancestor the first Duke of Marlborough.”

2002 CHURCHILL CRUISE

The 2002 International Churchill Conference will be hosted by ICS (UK), and will take the form of a Churchill cruise of the Mediterranean. Details are not yet available but the tentative schedule is to depart Barcelona in early October, when the hot Mediterranean weather will have moderated, stopping at Monte Carlo, Rome, Sorrento, Malta, Santorini and Athens. We will see Malta, Monaco, Italy and Greece, all of which figure prominently in the Churchill saga. WSC paid minor visits to all the other places, including Santorini, where he stopped briefly during one of his cruises aboard Aristotle Onassis’s yacht Christina. More details as available. Meanwhile, hold the dates and watch Finest Hour!

SAMPSON NOMINATED

WASHINGTON, MARCH 19TH— The White House announced today the nomination of David A. Sampson, President and CEO of the Arlington, Texas Chamber of Commerce, as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “I am humbled and deeply honored by the Presidents confidence and if confirmed by the Senate will work diligently to promote economic development and opportunity in every region of the country,” Mr. Sampson said.

David Sampson chaired the first major Churchill Conference, in Dallas in 1987, hosting Wendy Reves, Congressman James Courter, and longtime Churchill secretary and Chartwell administrator Grace Hamblin. The conference produced our first set of Churchill Proceedings and set the tone for succeeding conferences at Bretton Woods in 1988, London in 1989 and San Francisco 1990. Those of us who have worked with David Sampson are proud to congratulate him on his appointment.

COMMERCIAL WILDERNESS

No sooner did we mention our remastered videos of the famous “Wilderness Years” video starring Robert Hardy as Churchill than we learned that, at last, the tapes have been commercially reproduced. The cost is $69.95 for a four VHS cassette set. Details are in the current Churchill Stores catalog. Call Gail Greenly at 603-746-3452. These tapes are sold with a small margin to benefit the Churchill Center and, we appreciate your ordering from us.

WILDERNESS YEARS II?

LONDON, MARCH 5TH— Ridley Scott, director of “Gladiator” and horror movie “Hannibal,” is to make a £5 million film about Winston Churchill for the BBC. Entitled “The Lonely War,” it will focus on the 1930s, when Churchill was out of power and fighting an isolated campaign to persuade Britain of the threat posed by Nazi Germany. Actors Albert Finney (nominated for a “best supporting actor” Oscar for his part in “Erin Brockovich”) and Michael Gambon have been approached to play the lead role. Gambon played lead in last year’s successful West End revival of Harold Pinter’s “The Caretaker.” He will also appear later this year in Mel Smith’s feature film “High Heels and Low Life.”

The 90-minute drama is to be made by the production company Scott runs with his brother, director Tony Scott. “Hannibal,” a sequel to “Silence of the Lambs,” has made millions worldwide, despite criticism that it glorifies violence. “The Lonely War” will be broadcast on BBC1 in Britain early next year, and the BBC and the Scott brothers hope that it will also be shown overseas in cinemas.

David Thompson, head of BBC Films, which is co-financing the venture, said that the drama emphasised the human side of Britain’s wartime leader, by focusing on his relationship with his wife, Clementine, and his love for Chartwell, the house near Westerham, Kent, that they shared. It will also feature Churchill’s great rival at the time, Neville Chamberlain. Instead of being portrayed as the weak appeaser many view him as today, he will be shown as a dynamic and intelligent prime minister. The script was written by Hugh Whitemore, who has produced a number of historical dramas, including “A Letter of Resignation,” about the Profumo scandal, and “Breaking the Code,” about the computer genius Alan Turing. “The sense of history informs everything I really enjoy doing,” Whitemore says. “It has to do with making sense of the passage of time, whether it is a lifetime or an age or a century.” —Oliver Poole

Editor’s note: It will be interesting to compare this production with the Robert Hardy “Wilderness Years,” which will be hard to top, despite the loose portrayal of Clementine by actress Sean Phillips (FH 38). Whenever film makers say they will show us “the human side” we think in terms of ambushes like BBC’s “The Churchills” a few years ago, in which human failings are built up to epic proportions and the big things are missed or misrepresented. “The sense of history” also no doubt informs Oliver Stone….We live in hope.

SPEAKING OF WHICH…

LONDON, FEBRUARY 20TH— BBC Radio 4 produced an interesting program documenting Churchill’s approach to European Union, which may still be available on BBC’s audio-video site. On Churchill’s view of European Union after the war, the words “visionary” and “practical” were frequently repeated, and many were pleased to hear the voice of Sir John Colville. This very good account was inevitably touched by BBC’s pro-Europe viewpoint. Churchill is “prescient” when he proclaims the need for united Europe, but he is a Victorian throwback when he says Britain has her own dream. His 1946-50 speeches on united Europe are presented with few qualifications, while his post-1950 reservations about British integration are blamed on his Victorian upbringing. The program accurately described Churchill’s “radical” call for rapprochement between France and Germany after the war, pointing up the ironies (postwar Labour wished that he would shut up, today’s Labour is pro-integration: Churchill urged unity, Margaret Thatcher didn’t). But the program missed the at least equivalent irony that Britain has spent the last 400 years striving to create a balance of power on the continent, which has united sufficiently to absorb Britain.

Like much of Churchill’s thought, his views on Europe were more complex than can be related in half an hour—or, we fear, represented evenly. FH welcomes a review of this program by a qualified scholar. Our quibbles aside, it is definitely worth hearing.

FIREBOMBING DRESDEN

It is oft repeated that Churchill “ordered” the firebombing of Dresden as a “vicious payback” for the German bombing of Coventry (which Churchill is often accused of allowing to burn rather than reveal his access to the German codes—see FH 35). Who’s right about Dresden? Before we get into that, let us remember that there was a war on, and who the enemy was. Had he the means, Hitler would cheerfully have flattened London and everyone in it.

Apropos Dresden, we referred to Dr. Chris Harmon, a CC academic adviser and professor at the Marine Corps University, Quantico, Virginia, author of the 1991 monograph “Are We Beasts?” Churchill on the Moral Question of World War II Area Bombing. The Naval War College Review office in Newport Rhode Island offers free copies. See their website (www.nwc.navy.mil) or contact Ms. Pat Goodrich, tel. (401) 841-6583 ([email protected]).

Dr. Harmon writes: “Since writing Are We Beasts? I’ve had a chance to read a few new things on the bombing, and much more on the war. And for what it’s worth, I’ve never been told there’s anything wrong with what I’ve published. So I’ll summarize what I know. “Churchill did not think well of area bombing but began to believe it could be a grim necessity after (1) he watched devastating German air attacks on Warsaw, Rotterdam, and other places full of noncombatants; and (2) he could see precious few ideas for hitting back. In the ever-lengthening build-up to Normandy, the bomber offensive was about the best he had to hurt the Germans and their industrial war effort. Later, when he saw France liberated, Germany’s defensive lines being pierced, and the war being won, he quickly lost taste for it.

“Churchill’s head of Bomber Command, Air Marshal Harris, seemed to think German morale might still be broken by bombing, but Churchill rebuked him after Dresden, and again, just as strongly for bombing Potsdam shortly thereafter. His mind had already turned to how the Allies would govern and occupy Germany; the time for destroying it was passing.

“Harris had none of Churchill’s moral qualms about the strategic bombing campaign, or if he did, he hid them well. He created a list of some fifty major target cities, usually selected for their size, war production, or critical location on transportation routes. Harris was grimly working through the list, complaining when the Combined Chiefs ‘distracted’ him with special targets related to ground campaigns or special interests like oil or U-boat pens.

“Dresden was on another list at Bomber Command—a short list of early 1945 targets that should be flattened to aid the Russian offensive. Churchill had frequently pressed Harris to use his bombers to aid the Russians, but they never talked about Dresden particularly, to my knowledge. It was one of several towns at the right time and place whose bombing would help the Red Army’s advance in that sector. Also, John Colville’s memoirs record, there had been a report that Axis armor was moving through the town. In short, Dresden was not a vengeance target, but a military one, and one more ‘built up area’ that was to be destroyed like the others in Germany.”

GIVING AWAY MARIGOLD

LONDON, MARCH 25TH— The Sunday Telegraph reported that Clementine Churchill offered in 1918 to give Marigold, the Churchill’s fourth child, to the family of General Sir Ian Hamilton (he of Gallipoli fame), who had been unable to have a child. There is no suggestion that Winston Churchill even knew of the offer. The information came from Mrs. Hamilton’s diaries, recently uncovered by Celia Lee, the wife of John Lee, who has just published a biography of Hamilton. Apparently, there is also an article by Andrew Roberts on the Churchills’ financial difficulties, and how this may have contributed to the offer. –Robert Courts

IF SHAKESPEARE, WHY NOT CHURCHILL? HOW ABOUT THIS, SCHOLARS?

NEW YORK, MARCH 5TH— “Tradition recommends that one study the Talmud not in private, but with a teacher-companion at one’s side,” writes Michael Potemra in National Review. “A similar tradition has evolved with respect to the central works of the Western secular canon.” Potemra describes the latest addition to this genre on Shakespeare, to stand alongside Mark Van Doren’s edition of Shakespeare: It is W.H. Auden’s Lectures on Shakespeare (Princeton, 398 pp., $29.95). This is a reconstruction, “from notes taken by students and amanuenses—of a course of twenty-eight lectures given by the great British poet in 1946-47 at New York’s New School for Social Research. Auden examines Shakespeare’s texts from the point of view of a working poet, and this keeps his erudition from succumbing to pedantry….Auden’s lectures can be read with profit not just as a commentary, but as an anthology of the most revelatory passages of Shakespeare. A 15-page appendix lists all the passages Auden underlined in his copy of Shakespeare’s complete works; to read through the under-linings of an insightful reader is an excellent way to deepen one’s own second reading of a text.”

What a boon such an approach would be to Churchill! Imagine the limitless profit of being able to read what Leo Strauss had to say about Churchill’s Marlborough to his students at the University of Chicago, alongside underlined passages from Strauss’s own copy; or Martin Gilbert on the “Wilderness Years,” coupled to his favorite passages from Arms and the Covenant; or Manfred Weidhorn’s ruminations on just about any Churchill title, with his underlinings from his copy.

If anyone would like to try something like this for Finest Hour, they would have the editor’s instant attention and enthusiasm.

LOCAL AND NATIONAL

LONDON

FEBRUARY 14TH— One hundred years ago today the newly elected Member for Oldham first took his seat in Parliament. The centenary of this milestone was marked by the International Churchill Society (UK) on 15th February 2001 with a reception in the Churchill Room at the House of Commons. Over 100 Society members and their guests attended, including Lady Soames, the Duke of Marlborough, the Hon Nicholas Soames MP, and the Hon Celia Sandys. Also at the reception were Lord Jenkin of Roding who, as Patrick Jenkin, became MP for Wanstead and Woodford in 1964 on Churchill’s retirement and rose to become a Cabinet minister; and ICS (UK) member Eleanor Laing, MP for Epping Forest, the new name for Sir Winston’s old seat. Another guest was Piers Brendon, who retired in March from the post of Keeper of the Churchill Archives Centre at Churchill College, Cambridge.

Historian Andrew Roberts, an ICS (UK) member, gave a short talk on Churchill’s election in October 1900, and went on to describe WSC’s maiden speech, delivered four days after taking his seat, with some of the reactions to it. Mr. Roberts is author of Eminent Churchillians (FH 85, p. 38, FH 95, p. 4) along with biographies of Halifax (The Holy Fox) and Salisbury (Victorian Titan).

KENTUCKY

LOUISVILLE, MARCH 29-30TH—In cooperation with The Churchill Center and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the McConnell Center for Political Leadership sponsored a Churchill mini-conference at the University of Louisville. Speakers on March 29th were John Lukacs (“Churchill and the Historical Problem of Vision and Character”) and James W. Muller (“Winston Churchill as Writer”). A seminar discussion on Churchill’s leadership was then held by Lukacs, Muller and Stephen Hayward, author of Churchill on Leadership. The next day, Prof. Muller conducted a seminar on “The Education of Winston Churchill,” followed by a luncheon at which Mr. Hayward spoke on “Churchill’s Lengthening Shadow: The Permanent Traits of Leadership.”

“Developing our own leadership skills is, in part, about following the ‘glow worms’ of the past—those extraordinary leaders who in their actions and words teach timeless lessons of leadership,” stated the McConnell Center program. “As Churchill himself put it, ‘The longer you look back, the further you can look forward.’ Commemorating the 100th anniversary of Winston Churchill first taking a seat in Parliament, the McConnell Center is pleased to present this small conference revisiting the life, thought, and actions of this sage thinker, prolific author, accomplished artist, and extraordinary wartime leader…who may have saved Western Civilization.” Events like this are what The Churchill Center is all about, and we were pleased to be a partner in this excellent event.

HAVENGORE NEWS

LONDON, MARCH 10TH— Progress continues on the restoration of Havengore, the City of London vessel which bore Sir Winston’s coffin in 1965, now being refurbished by a trust for educational purposes. Early last year, as interior work proceeded, we requested suggestions for names of Havengore’s two aft cabins. Many very good suggestions were submitted, including Walmer, Winston, Spencer, Marlborough, Malakand, Bladon and Spitfire. Chartwell and Blenheim were the most popular suggestions and the two aft cabins of Havengore will be named in honor of these family and ancestral homes.

A founding member of The Havengore Club and ICS (UK) member James Glibbery has very kindly offered to donate the brass nameplates for the cabin doors. Also, we are pleased to announce that the long anticipated hotel next to Havengore’s berth has now opened and, as promised, the restaurant is called “Havengore.” A series of photographs about Havengore and tributes to Sir Winston Churchill will soon adorn this popular and stylish establishment. —Sally Browne, The Havengore Trust (unvw.havengore.com)

NORTH TEXAS

DALLAS, MARCH 3RD— Churchillians held a dinner for about 25 people at the Lakewood Country Club tonight. Finest Hour contributor Chris Hanger spoke on the suspenseful five-day period in May 1940 covered by Prof. John Lukacs in his recent book, Five Days in London, May 1940. Lukacs ably recounts the days when Winston Churchill, as prime minister, convinced his cabinet colleagues to continue the war against Germany. His principal opponent was Lord Halifax, who favored contacting Germany regarding terms for cessation of hostilities. Mr. Hanger adapted Lukacs’s findings with other material he had researched, following a chronology to show the increasing tension between Churchill and Halifax, which reached a crescendo on May 28th, when Churchill prevailed. Chris also commented on the lack of “press leaks” of the question being debated, something that might be considerably harder to prevent today. A spirited comment session followed.

AUSTIN, APRIL 11TH— Building a head of steam, Chris Hanger spent today at McNeil High School, teaching three classes to seniors on the Battle of Britain and the life of Winston Churchill. McNeil is a nationally recognized facility, part of the Round Rock Independent School District. Over sixty students attended the three lectures, which began with a short video tape presentation. Chris then picked up the story by detailing the strategy of the battle, its several phases, and the aircraft involved, explaining the relevance of the outcome to the Second World War.

The Battle of Britain portion of the lecture began with a PowerPoint presentation that combined period British newspapers with photographs and other material. The second part of the presentation explained the highlights of Sir Winston’s life, his excellence as a leader and historian, and ended with a discussion of his state funeral. The recent commissioning of USS Winston S. Churchill was also described, along with other information concerning The Churchill Center. The students, who asked numerous good questions, were given two magazine articles on Churchill’s life, and a CC “Study History” poster was presented to their teacher for use in future classes.

NORTH TEXAS: BELATED REPORT

AUSTIN, JUNE 21ST, 2000— William S. Livingston, Professor Emeritus and Senior Vice President of The University of Texas at Austin, spoke today about “The Politics and Wit of Sir Winston Churchill” at the Ex-Students Association. The audience comprised 150 former students and was part of the annual Campus Update program. The lecture began with a short history of Churchill’s early years, family history, military experience and entry into journalism. It explored WSC’s ability to inject humor into conversation and debate; Prof. Livingston also covered WSC’s extraordinary career as author and journalist, from his early war correspondent days in India, the Sudan and South Africa, to his biographies, war memoirs and histories.

A member of the faculty since 1949, Prof. Livingston has held many academic and administrative positions at the University. During the 1960s, he was chairman of the Government Department. with a teaching emphasis on British government and politics. His engaging and clear lecture style made for a most enjoyable talk.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

MARCH 18TH— Southern California Churchillians were joined at a Sunday brunch by members from San Francisco, San Diego and as far away as Toronto, the latter represented by John and Ruth Plumpton. John, President of The Churchill Center, gave a preview of the exciting events being planned as far ahead as 2005. Judy Kambestad, who directs the local organization for the upcoming International Churchill Conference in San Diego this November, told of the exciting activities planned for the affair. She thanked the many members who are assisting.

The highlight of the gathering was a presentation by Professor David Freeman entitled “Winston Churchill and Leo Amery.” He discussed the joint activities of the two politicians, both graduates of Harrow, where Amery excelled in his studies while Churchill tried to convince us, in his My Early Life, that he himself was a poor student. Both went to South Africa as correspondents during the Boer War, Amery for The Times and Churchill for the Morning Post. Both planned to be aboard on the fateful journey of the armoured train but, while Churchill boarded, Amery overslept and missed it. Both entered Parliament: Churchill in 1900, Amery in 1910. Amery supported Joseph Chamberlain’s “Imperial Preference” while Churchill supported Free Trade. Amery joined Lord Milner in the Colonial Office. After Milner left and Churchill headed the Colonial Office, Amery worked for WSC.

Dr. Freeman discussed the difference in the two statesmen’s attitudes towards India and their parallels in warning England about the Nazi menace. Like Churchill, Amery opposed Neville Chamberlain’s Munich appeasement policy and powerfully backed Churchill for the leadership.

After the evacuation of Trondheim, Norway, by the British, and during the Parliamentary debate of 7 May 1940, Amery quoted Oliver Cromwell in addressing Chamberlain: “You have sat here too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

Tragically for Leo Amery, his son John became enamored of the Hitler regime and stayed in Germany during the war, broadcasting propaganda speeches. After the war he was convicted as a traitor and hanged in December 1945. Leo Amery never really recovered from this family tragedy. He lost his seat in 1945 and died in 1955.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

OAKLAND, MARCH 31ST— Michael Jacquemet-Barrington brought a large number of Churchillians together today to discuss plans for future activities in the Bay Area. He also contributed a discussion on “Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill: An Unlikely Wartime Alliance,” which will eventually be published in Finest Hour or Churchill Proceedings. One of the most extraordinary aspects of World War II, Michael said, “was the high degree of cooperation between Great Britain and the United States, a relationship born out of friendship and necessity. As more and more of the documents of the period become available it becomes increasingly clear that this unique instance of cooperation resulted from the accident of history that brought Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Spencer Churchill into prominence.” He went on to comment on an even more remarkable addition to the alliance, Marshal Stalin. Future meetings are planned. Contact: Michael Jacquemet-Barrington ([email protected]) 34263 Eucalyptus Terrace, Fremont CA 94555, telephone (510) 791-2305.

CHICAGO

APRIL 24TH— CC Vice President Bill Ives was the speaker at the Spring meeting of Chicago area Churchillians. Also present was CC Trustee and longtime chairman of the Council of Churchill Organizations, Ambassador Paul H. Robinson, just back from Norfolk, where he had received the Churchill Center Blenheim Award. Bill Ives discussed the forthcoming San Diego conference, and answered numerous questions about the goals and projects of the Churchill Center. He was even able to inform several present that The Churchill Center succeeded ICS USA five years ago, and the reasons why it did: mainly because of our greatly expanded scope and our educational programs. Future Chicago meetings are planned. Contact Phil or Susan Larson, email [email protected] or telephone (708) 352-6825.

JAIPUR, INDIA

Lecturing Indians on the qualities of Winston Churchill is a task comparable to lecturing Americans on the greatness of George III. But Inder Dan Ratnu pursues his quest tenaciously. The author of two unique books, Layman’s Questions about Churchill and Alternative to Churchill (reviewed in FH 106, available from the CC New Book Service), he has been giving his lecture, “Churchill and Freedom” to young people, where he reports progress:

“At one address to about 150 students, my listeners were very young indeed, 4th and 5th standard; but this turned out to be a very special occasion. I began by asking if anyone had heard the name of Churchill. Only one raised his hand, and couldn’t say who Churchill was. When I asked if they had heard about Hitler, nearly 70% responded! This made me realise how important it was to keep talking….

“It was a good academic-social experiment to realise where I stood in respect to this work. Following my speech I was surprised when four very young kids came forward and purchased Layman books. None of the schools had ever purchased more than one copy before Now, wherever I go, I make it a point to speak in part or at important junctures in Hindi, even if the school standard is English. This helps develop better understanding. At Hindi schools I give the entire speech in Hindi, except for the recitation of Churchill’s original words. In the near future I will take my talk to rural areas as well as urban centers, and to other cities and other states including Gujarat, the home state of Mahatma Gandhi himself.”

Mr. Ratnu welcomes mail and email from fellow Churchillians, and offers many interesting perspectives (see article for his addresses, and an example of what he’s up against).

NEW ENGLAND

NATICK, MASS., APRIL 28TH— Over sixty members and friends today enjoyed a combination of Kenneth Rendell’s incomparable museum of World War II and a lecture by Dr. John Mather, CC Associate and Governor, on myths surrounding Winston Churchill’s health.

Dr. Mather deftly put to rest numerous canards, including the date of Churchill’s first stroke (later than you think), and his alcoholic consumption (much less than people imagine).

Ken Rendell, the eminent autograph dealer, has been collecting artifacts from World War II—German, Japanese, American, French, British—for forty years. But until his private museum opened last November, no one knew the extraordinary depth of his holdings, or of the impression they make on exhibit. Their extent is phenomenal, and the effect—especially of the Third Reich material—is colossal. In design and impact, the Nazi paraphernalia, from Hitler’s personal chinaware, pocket watch and spectacles to patriotic posters, banners and even toys, the material offers mute testimony to Nazi skill in what Rendell calls “the merchandising of a war.” In the beginning, racism is not in evidence; instead smiling Germans are exhorted to help a fatherly Fiihrer build a new, prosperous Germany. The evil rises gradually, building to the crescendo of 1939.

Being private, the museum is not held to any standards of public display; some passageways are narrow, most of the items are out in the open. Children are discouraged from visiting, lest they begin playing with swastika-emblazoned toy tanks, planes and submarines, like the Hitler Jugend did in the 1930s, all according to the Nazi plan of saturation-propaganda. You wander along, microphones quietly providing background: The Horst Wessel Song and Hitler’s orations; the wail of sirens and Churchill’s speeches of defiance; the bombs at Pearl Harbor and Roosevelt’s declaration; Eisenhower announcing the Normandy invasion; air crew discussing what they had just dropped on Hiroshima. Here, as nowhere else, the greatest convulsion in history comes frighteningly alive.

Anyone able to be in Natick (outside Boston) on November 30th may like to save the date. We will gather here again that evening at a black tie banquet celebrating Sir Winston Churchill’s 127th birthday. Our thanks to John Mather, to Ken Rendell and his staff, and to Suzanne Sigman, our New England organizer. Can you help organize future events? Email [email protected] or phone (617) 696-1833.

“MESSAGE, PASSION, SPONTANEITY”: CHRIS MATTHEWS’S CHURCHILL LECTURE

WASHINGTON, APRIL 19TH— Christopher Matthews, host of “Hardball” on MSNBC and CNBC and a nationally syndicated columnist, delivered the Second Churchill Lecture to an overflow audience of George Washington University students at GW’s new Media and Public Affairs building.

The lecture was broadcast live by C-Span and twice repeated over the weekend. Video #163799 may be ordered from their website at $52 postpaid; Churchill Stores will be selling them for much less if you don’t mind waiting a few weeks. So far as we know this was the first time a Churchill Center event has been broadcast to a live national television audience.

University Marshal Jill Kasle introduced our good friend Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, President of the University, who had approved our proposal and set plans in motion.

Finest Hour editor Richard Langworth introduced our speaker: “Personally I find it fascinating to hear the thoughts of someone who happens to speak to five million people a night. Anyone who watches ‘Hardball’ will know Chris’s style, which is more or less like Churchill’s on the floor of the House—that is to say: in your face. James Carville famously defied him: ‘If you don’t shut up and let me answer your questions I’m just going to sit here saying nothing, so then where’s your interview?’ Chris survives encounters like that by adopting Churchill’s cool philosophy: ‘In war you can only be killed once—but in politics, many times.'”

Matthews held his audience for 25 minutes with a journalist’s appreciation of Churchill, emphasizing WSC’s never-give-in philosophy and devotion to principle, contrasting the Churchill saga with his own political experiences: “Maine Senator Edmund Muskie, for whom I once worked, told me that there is only one reason to be in politics: ‘In order to be proven right about something when everyone thought you were wrong.’ That was Churchill’s experience.”

After the lecture Matthews was engaged by his student audience, who fired a battery of challenging questions ranging from the sinking of the Lusitania (did Churchill set the ship up? answer: no), to whether today’s China is reminiscent of yesteryear’s Germany. Much discussion centered around the lack of Churchills today.

One student complained about his congressman. “What’s his name?” Matthews asked. The student didn’t remember. “Well, if you can’t remember his name he can’t be worth much. Why don’t you run?” “Who, me?” asked the young man. “Why not?” Matthews replied. “If you want to make a difference you must be in the fight. You might not win the first time; the second you’ll come closer; the third time you’ll beat him. That was Churchill’s great quality—he never quit.”

The purpose of the Churchill Lecture is to illustrate Churchill’s example of leadership, statesmanship and citizenship to a student audience. Lecturers are expected to discuss aspects of Churchill’s life, times, failures and successes, but are encouraged to speak predominantly on modern themes, against the background of Churchill’s wisdom and experience. They may discuss Churchill’s views on any subject, but may not speculate as to how Churchill would view a specific modern issue.

The First Churchill Lecture was delivered by former U.S. Ambassador to Britain Raymond Seitz, before an audience of students from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1998. (See FH 102). 

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