April 4, 2015

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 49

I am a student in Taiwan doing a mock trial. The accusation is: “Is George Orwell guilty of misanthropy?” One of our witnesses is Winston Churchill. Do you know any information about how Churchill influenced Orwell? —Kenta Lin

Dear Kenta Lin:
First, enter “Orwell” into our website search engine. You will get five references, some of which may be of use. Second, I checked for Orwell references in the official biography, Winston S. Churchill, by Martin Gilbert, vol. VIII, published London: Heinemann, 1988. There is only one, on page 801:

“On February 19 [1953] Churchill’s doctor found him reading George Orwell’s 1984. ‘Have you read it, Charles?’ he asked. ‘Oh, you must. I’m reading it for a second time. It is a very remarkable book.'”

I think you might argue that Churchill would testify for the defense in your mock trial of Orwell for misanthropy. Churchill would have not seen hate for humanity, but perhaps rather despair for it, in Orwell’s 1984. Also, Churchill himself was an optimist—anything but a misanthrope. He would certainly have looked upon Orwell as a prophet of things to come, if proper precautions were not taken to safeguard liberty.

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Reading the exchange of correspondence on the thesis M. Etienne Marchal is preparing {FH 127:29), I regret that the actions of the personnel of Bomber Command of the RAF and U. S. Army Air Force continue to be called into question in isolation.

Whatever the suffering of the Kriegskinder and their families, it is a fact that within three years of the end of the war in Europe former Bomber Command aircrews redeemed themselves under testing conditions by participating in the breaking of the Soviet blockade of Berlin.

In 1948-49, the sound of Merlin engines that hitherto had struck terror in Germany became music to the ears of 2.25 million Berliners. Their sole resource was drinking water; every other need—food, water, coal, fuel oil, generators, etc.—had to be carried in by air. A large proportion of the Allied contingent in the Berlin Airlift were decorated former heavy bomber and pathfinder crews.

With the same sense of duty that motivated them through the war, these men frustrated the Soviet aim to occupy the whole of Berlin by starving the Allied garrisons into submission. Had the Allies failed, and events taken a different turn, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Europe up to the Rhine could have been under Russian occupation, with untold repercussions to the governments of Italy and France—to say nothing of the humiliation of Britain and America in the eyes of the world.

In December 1948 Churchill, as Leader of the Opposition, made a speech in which he congratulated Ernest Bevin (British Foreign Secretary) and his colleagues upon the success, surpassing expectation, of the prodigious airlift to feed the people of Berlin. The airlift taught the people of Germany on the other side of the Iron Curtain—in a way which no speeches, arguments or promises could do—that their future lay in ever closer association with the western world. (See the official biography, vol. 8, “Never Despair”hy Martin Gilbert, page 448).

Unlike America and Australia, Britain has never seen fit to recognise officially the part played by her personnel in this pivotal event in the history of Europe: an air supply operation unsurpassed to this day in magnitude, duration and intensity.

Whatever Etienne’s findings, I hope he will feel able to conclude his thesis by indicating that air supremacy need not be destructive and that it can be a powerful weapon in resolving differences without resorting to arms.
—Norman H.G. Hurst, Surrey, UK $

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