May 7, 2015

Finest Hour 111, Summer 2001

Page 05


“We have arrived at a new time. Let us realize it. And with that new time strange methods, nuge forces, large combinations—a Titanic world—have sprung up around us. The foundations of our power are changing….We must go forward…into a way of life more scientifically organised, more consciously national, than any we have known.”


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No Pigeonholes Available

PESCADERO, CALIF.—A contributing member of The Churchill Center sent with his annual contribution a note of concern that the makeup of the Center seemed to be mainly “aging conservatives with outmoded ideas, thinking about the past rather than adapting to the future.” We have no idea of the political makeup of our members, other than that it is pretty wide, ranging from world federalists to nationalists and isolationists (issues on which both sides draw supporting quotes from WSC). Conservatives seem to gravitate to Churchill for his wartime leadership, forgetting that he was a cutting edge liberal on many issues, and not just in his youth. Churchill cannot be pigeonholed.

The good news is that our membership is not aging; in fact, the opposite. Average age of USA members is around 48 and, because most new members hear of us from our website, the average age of new members is 44.

We would probably not have survived this long had we become embroiled in contemporary politics, outmoded ideas, and thinking about the past. Indeed Churchill’s ideas about liberty, fraternal association among the great democracies, and collegiality and honesty among politicians need more emphasis than ever today. If they got it, people might be less cynical about politics. Whether civilization will survive without a ready knowledge of history is a question. We are grateful, as always, for these gentle reminders, and are always glad to have the thoughts of our contributing members.

Dresden P.S.

Anent the Bombing of Dresden (this column last issue), Jonathan Hayes reminds us: “At the Churchill conference in Alaska last year, Sir Martin Gilbert presented a discussion on Dresden as part of the Bletchley decrypts. It seems that Bletchley had picked up evidence that the Germans were moving several armored divisions toward the Eastern Front and they would be going through the Dresden rail junction. The Russians were very insistent that Dresden be bombed—they had no aircraft of their own that could do the job— and even moved the bomb line to the east temporarily to allow the British to do the job (very unprecedented, and very un-Russian).

D-Day +57: Lest We Forget

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA, JUNE 6TH— Churchill is mentioned a number of times in The Diary of Anne Frank (“our beloved Winston Churchill”), a testament to his figure as a symbol of hope and strength, not only to Anne and the other residents of the Annex, but to millions trapped in Hitler’s captured lands who heard his words, or heard of them. Reading or hearing his radio addresses, one is certainly impressed and inspired, but another level of meaning is added when you can glimpse what his words and his leadership meant to those who were gathered round their clandestine radios at the time.

Anne Frank was clearly thrilled with news of D-Day, which she and her family received around noon 57 years ago today. She later comments with pride and envy of the fearlessness of his desire to take part in the landing personally, and hoping to take a pop at the German shore positions.

Canadians take pride this anniversary in their forebears who stormed ashore at Juno Beach. A year from today, the Juno Beach Centre will open at Courselles, France.

For the Juno Beach story see this website:
—Mike Campbell

“You’re Drunk…You’re Ugly!”

SUFFOLK, UK, SEPTEMBER 28TH— J. Brian Blacklock claimed in the Daily Telegraph that the exchange between Bessie Braddock MP (Lab., Liverpool) and Churchill (Cons., Woodford) in 1946 (“Winston, you’re drunk!”… “Bessie, you’re ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober and you shall still be ugly.”) is a myth: “This was first recorded, word for word, in the mid-18th century in a London theatre between a bibulous latecomer and a lady whose enjoyment of the play had been disturbed.’

We don’t dispute the origins, but bodyguard Ronald Golding said he was standing next to Churchill and heard the remark. Having found Golding a sincere individual, we accept his story until it is disproved. Churchill may have read the theatre exchange and housed it in his capacious memory. His uncharacteristically ungallant response to a lady came, Golding believed, because Churchill was manifestly not drunk, just tired and wobbly. See Lord Carrington, p. 19, for another Churchill remark re Mrs. Braddock. —Ed.

” Tupenny-Ha’penny”

LONDON, MAY 1ST— The UK Reader’s Digest recapped WSC’s famous loathing for television: He “laughed at the idea that television would have any part to play in politics. ‘It’s just a tuppennyha’penny Punch and Judy show,’ said Churchill, when he returned to power in 1951.” But during his final term the television audience rose to over 12 million and WSC reluctantly arranged a screen test: “His contempt for the medium comes over clearly. ‘I’m sorry to have to descend to this level,’ he growls. It’s as if television is some malignant virus. The old man hated his screen test and ordered it to be destroyed; happily for us he was disobeyed.” (Why “happily”? So that sophisticated voyeurs five decades hence could laugh at heroes? “Malignant virus” accurately describes much on TV.) Macmillan, the Digest went on, was the first Prime Minister who came to terms with the tube, though he described a TV studio as “a 20th century torture chamber.”

Hitler Edges Out WSC

NEW YORK, MAY 14TH— Somebody has finally published some nice things about Hitler (we can’t tell you how avidly we’ve awaited this development); actually it’s an interesting article. Writing in The New York Times, Doug Harvey compared the painting styles of those three World War II artist-warriors, Hitler, Eisenhower and Churchill, concluding that Hitler was the best of the lot (but not for aesthetic reasons):

“Hitler’s most common subject was architecture—careful renderings of old town squares, churches and the like, on top of delicate washy watercolor backgrounds. Heavily influenced by the 19th-century Austrian watercolorist Rudolph van Alt, Hitler adopted many of that artist’s stylistic tropes, particularly his dramatic skies….He had a marked soft spot for artistic types like the filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl and the architect Albert Speer, and went out of his way to champion art that met his standards and vilify art that did not, as in the famous ‘Degenerate Art’ exhibit of 1937. He spent much effort to collect his own work for a museum he planned for in his hometown in Austria, once the Third Reich had triumphed.

“Of course, thanks to the efforts of those other renowned painters, Winston Churchill and Dwight D. Eisenhower, Hitler’s dream never materialized. But what if the war had been decided on artistic merit? Eisenhower doesn’t really count, because he only began painting after the war, at Churchill’s urging, and never became very good. Churchill is another story. Though he never made his living as an artist, Churchill maintained a lifelong passion for painting, even publishing a book extolling its therapeutic value.

“Churchill was drawn to nature studies and to a more expressive palette. But in terms of formal accomplishment, it’s a tossup. Both politicians understood ‘good’ painting to be limited to the representation of ‘nice’ views— art was a hothouse vocation not to be despoiled by the full spectrum of human psychological content. Both artists’ works reflect this unambitious aesthetic. In the end, though, it is Hitler’s insistence on the importance of art and his place in it—as opposed to Churchill’s amateur pursuits—that give him the edge.

“The Nazi Party’s allure for the German people was, to some extent, due to the aesthetic power of its symbols and public displays its rituals, propaganda, even its uniforms. The Nazis helped invent the politics of image that we all live with today. In making politics his sordid canvas, Hitler was redefining the limits of art-making.” This is a point we made last issue while touring the Kenneth Rendell Museum of World War II.

Costner Outed?

LONDON, MARCH 22ND— “Not content with distorting the Second World War on screen, Hollywood stars have resorted to blackening its heroes’ reputations,” says “Londoner’s Diary” in the Evening Standard. Kevin Costner, who aroused controversy with both “JFK” and “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” told The Guardian, “…we’ve grown cynical. And look at what we do to all our heroes: Churchill, FDR, Kennedy, they all had affairs.” Re Churchill, this was hotly denied by historian Andrew Roberts (“another striking example of Hollywood injustice. He should look to the inaccuracies in his own movies…”) and Allen Packwood of the Churchill Archives Centre (“no evidence within the Churchill papers to substantiate… I’ve never heard this before.”) On all of which a couple of observations:

1) The far-out scenario of “JFK” aside, it doesn’t appear to us that anyone who admires Kennedy, as Costner does, would cite him as a flawed hero; possibly Costner meant to defend those whom modern society tries to knock off their pedestals.

2) We have heard this whisper before. The previous Marquess of Bath maintained that Churchill had been unfaithful with one woman, Maineborn actress Maxine Elliott (formerly Jessie Dermot). On several occasions in 1934-38, WSC visited Elliott at her villa, Chateau de L’Horizon, Golfe Juan, south of France. She was then 6670, but Churchill had known her since before the Great War. But Lord Bath never offered evidence and the theory, as far as we know, died with him.

Oldham 2001: Editorial

May’s violence between Asians and whites in Winston Churchill’s old constituency of Oldham, Lancashire— where he first came face to face with poverty and resolved to do something about it—was a sad reminder of just how bad relations are between certain groups among the English-speaking peoples Churchill loved. Unfortunately, our societies themselves fan the flames.

In May after a two-month search I found a cheap set of Churchill’s Marlborough for one of our academic advisers who wanted it for his coursework, and sent it along with a bill for $54. A few weeks later I received a five-foot-long fax from his university’s purchasing department asking for a truckload of “financial disclosure” and other information, including a federal form, to become a “vendor” and to receive my $54. Since I was not interested either in becoming a vendor or answering impertinent questions about the color of my skin, I wrote him asking for a check, which he duly sent, informing me that the purchasing department had denied sending me the documents.

As I bunged the fax into an envelope, I noticed that the person who sent it had a name clearly not derived from one of the “ethnic groups” the university was seeking as vendors: “Asian-Pacific American, Black American, Subcontinent Asian (Asian-Indian American), Hispanic American or Native American.” How can she face herself in the morning? Perhaps being a female excuses her, for lo, there is also a box on her form to check if your business is “at least 51% owned by a woman or women.” I looked in vain on the form for “Latvian Americans,” whose relatives were just as dispossessed as certain Native Americans in the past.

The balkanization of the English-speaking peoples into ethnic Bantustans is a cancer growing on our societies. Our Judeo-Christian heritage prompts us to be generous to the disadvantaged; if we exercised generosity to the needy based upon need, there would be fewer antagonisms of the kind which produce riots in Oldham.

Actress Whoopi Goldberg returned from a visit to Africa saying, “I’m not an African-American, I’m an American —nothing there relates to America,” or words to that effect. Randolph Churchill, filling out a landing card approaching Johannesburg in the Sixties, was asked to declare his race. He filled in “human,” and was promptly sent packing by their immigration authorities. He was, of course, delighted.

Churchill said of Britain, America, Canada, Australia and like nations that we have the worst system of government, except for all the other systems. By and large we have a good thing going in these lands, and nobody is more generous toward the disadvantaged than we are, which is why so many disadvantaged people are eager to get in. The word “immigration” should be replaced by “assimilation” and efforts should turn to blending “minorities” into the societies that have served us well for centuries. Instead we have educators, politicians and administrators who patronize ethnic groups in an effort to play them off against each other for their own gain. The motto of the United States is “e pluribus unum,” which means “from many, one,” not the opposite. People may take pride in their heritage without being made to appear foreign in their own lands. The saddest thing is that we have grown so used to this racial profiling that we simply accept it. RML

Local & National


ALEXANDRIA, VA., AUGUST 5TH— The Washington Society for Churchill (WSC) held its annual picnic and book seminar. The topic of the evening was “Dealing with Disaster: Churchill and Gallipoli,” and suggested reading was the first two chapters of Robert Rhodes James’s Churchill: A Study in Failure, a widely-available 1970 analysis by the editor of Churchill’s speeches. Two academic advisers to The Churchill Center led the discussion: Chris Harmon, and Jeffrey Wallin, author of the book By Ships Alone: Churchill and the Dardanelles. For future events please contact Caroline Hartzler, (703) 503-9226.

New England

HOPKINTON, N.H., AUGUST 11TH— Taking a leaf from the Washington Society’s book, New England Churchillians today held their first summer picnic and book discussion at Putney House, home of Barbara and Richard Langworth, where Richard led a discussion of William Manchester’s two volumes of Churchill biography, The Last Lion. On hand was a mountainous manuscript for Manchester’s Volume II, sent to Richard for proofing prior to publication. “It has been repeatedly pointed out to me that I didn’t catch all the mistakes,” he said, “though I did manage to pick about 600 nits.” It was the consensus that Manchester is a brilliant stylist who has brought thousands to Churchill through his soaring prose, particularly his prologues.

Next up is a black tie dinner marking Winston Churchill’s 127th birthday on November 30th at Kenneth Rendell’s private museum of World War II in Natick, Massachusetts. Mailers will be sent to local members. Contact: Suzanne Sigman, (617) 696-1833.

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