Greetings from aboard USS Winston S. Churchill, in the Western Approaches of the English Channel. We have calm seas, the sun is shining and we are engaged in a training exercise with the Royal Navy. We are 48 hours out of Portsmouth, where the ship had a rapturous welcome—the lines of people waiting to come aboard were three hours long! She was the star of the Festival of the Sea. We are about to arrive in Plymouth, the home port of Sir Francis Drake. She is a great ship, with a fine Commander, Mike Franken, and a magnificent crew. As you can imagine, I am loving every minute and, dare I say it, bursting with pride that such a fine ship should bear my Grandfather’s name.
WINSTON S. CHURCHILL, 27AUG01
In FH 110:4, F. Y. Gabriel asks why Churchill didn’t protest against the mass slaughter of Jews by the White Russians in 1919. The short answer to that question may be found in two paragraphs in my article, “Churchill and the Jews,” published in the May/June 1999 issue of Midstream, bimonthly of the Theodor Herzl Foundation. More details are in Martin Gilbert’s Winston S. Churchill, Vol. IV, pages 338-44.
DR. M. DONALD COLEMAN, MAMARONECK, NY
Spearheading Britain’s near state of war against the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, Churchill saw the Reds as largely led by bloodthirsty Jews, who, in their revenge for past antisemitism, aimed to destroy all civil society. Bolshevik brutality was undeniable, and while the Bolsheviks certainly were not all Jews, a disproportionate number were. Among White Russians, virulent antisemitism needed little real cause to descend to brutal pogroms. In southern Russia, it is believed that over 100,000 Jews perished following the White Russian advance.
Some of Churchill’s utterances crossed over into an antisemitic vein: “The Bolsheviks are not fools. Whoever said they were? These Semitic conspirators are among the highest political intelligence in the world and implacably devoted to its destruction.” He also referred to the Soviet government as “the tyrannic Government of these Jew Commissars.”
But despite Churchill’s intense feelings in which “Bolshevik” and “Jew” became almost interchangeable, he warned White Russian general Deniken to prevent pogroms against “innocent Jews” or else he would lose British backing. Churchill’s Bolshevik-Jew conflation during this period fell away when his responsibilities as minister for war ended in 1921. He did not follow the path of many others who permitted observations about Jews and their over-representation in the Communist movement to feed into preexisting personal prejudices. For Churchill, the basic foundation for this prejudice did not exist.
WSC to Gen. Harington, Deputy Chief, Imperial General Staff, 2 June 1919:
“Any force wh we support even indirectly must proceed according to the laws & customs of war & be guided by humane considerations….Wholesale executions are unpardonable on political as well as on moral grounds.” (293)
WSC to Gen. Gough, Commander, British military mission to the Baltic, 6June 1919:
Excesses by anti-Bolsheviks if they are victorious will alienate sympathies British nation and render continuance of support most difficult….You should press for fair public trial of all culprits and stringent orders against terrorism and indiscriminate shooting.” (293)
WSC to Gen. Holman, Commander, military mission to South Russia, 18 September 1919:
“[Urge Gen. Deniken] to do everything in his power to prevent a massacre of the Jews in the liberated districts [and to issue] a proclamation against antisemitism.” (330)
WSC to Lloyd George, 20 October 1919:
“There is very bitter feeling throughout Russia against the Jews, who are regarded as being the main instigators of the ruin of the [Russian] Empire, and who, certainly, have played a leading part in Bolshevik atrocities….This feeling is shared by the Volunteer Army and the Army of the Don under General Deniken….I have repeatedly urged him to make my task easier by proving his capacity to restrain his troops and have received from him solemn assurances….By continuing to supply General Deniken we shall be constantly in a position to exercise a modifying influence upon what are, after all, some of the most terrible hatreds which have ever afflicted mankind. By cutting ourselves adrift we should lose all power to influence events either in the direction of mercy or democracy.” (Companion Part 2: 912)
WSC to Gen. Deniken, 20 October 1919:
“Your Excellency, I know, will realise the vital importance at this time, when such brilliant results are being secured, of preventing by every possible means the ill-treatment of the innocent Jewish population.” (343)
WSC to the Cabinet, 21 October 1919:
(Memo to British military mission commander)
“Everything will be done by Gen. Haking to prevent indiscriminate or wholesale executions. Even the worst criminals are entitled to a trial. Above all, anything in the nature of a Jewish pogrom would do immense harm to the Russian cause. All the influence of the British representative will be used in securing the safety of innocent Jews….” (Companion Part 2: 934)
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