Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014
Compiled By Editors
What to Do?, 5 October
LONDON—A meeting at Brendan Bracken’s house to decide what we are going to do. Are we to vote against the government or are we to abstain? We agree that the effect of our action would depend upon its joint character. It would be a pity if some of us voted against, and some abstained. It would be far more effective (since there is little hope of many voting against), if we all abstained. Winston says he refuses to abstain, since that would mean that he half agreed with Government policy. We decide that we must all do what we think best. [Thirty abstained, including WSC.]
—HAROLD NICOLSON, MP (DIARY)
Winston Not, 5 October
LONDON—The reconstruction of the Government is urgent. I do not believe that there is any basis of a working agreement between Winston and ourselves. But as to Anthony [Eden], I would get him back if and when you can. —Samuel Hoare, Home Secretary
Weaker Brethren, 9 October
LONDON— I had to fight all the time against the defection of weaker brethren and Winston was carrying on a regular campaign against me…. I tried occasionally to take an antidote to the poison gas by reading a few of the countless letters and telegrams which continued to pour in expressing in most moving accents the writers’ heartfelt relief and gratitude. All the world seemed to be full of my praises except the House of Commons….
—Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister
Ought to Be interned, 11 October
NEW DELHI—Why, when there is a crisis, does Mr. Winston Churchill go to 10 Downing Street? Is he invited? I have got the greatest possible admiration for Mr. Churchill’s Parliamentary powers, and his artistic powers, but I have always felt that in a crisis he is one of the first people who ought to be interned.
—Lord Zetland, Secretary of State for India
Beautiful Speech, 23 October
NEW DELHI—What a beautiful speech that was of Winston’s….Lady Astor’s interpellations singularly inept! It must surely be true that those countries will, one after another, be drawn into this vast system of power politics….[Many] dread the power of Nazi Germany and of our becoming dependent upon their good will and pleasure. I can “arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” Grand words…coming as they do from Winston—I never shall understand why we can’t have him in the Government.
—P.J. Grigg, Chairman, Inland revenue
The Last Seven Years, 26 October
TIDWORTH, WILTS.— The Government are blaming their failure to rearm in public on the Labour Party and in private on Lord Baldwin.…Neither are blameless, Baldwin more probably more culpable than any other individual BUT the big 4 [Chamberlain, Hoare, Halifax, Simon] have all held high office in British Cabinet for at least a year longer than Hitler has been Chancellor. Three of them date back to ’31 and Halifax to ’32….From every point of view I’m sure it is advisable to shift criticism from the events of September to those of the last 7 years.
—Randolph Churchill, Army Officer
Idiocy and Stupidity, 6 November
WEIMAR— Mr. Churchill has declared openly that in his opinion the present regime in Germany should be abolished in cooperation with internal German forces who would put themselves gratefully at his disposal for the purpose. If Mr. Churchill had less to do with emigres, that is to say exiled foreign paid traitors, and more to do with Germans, then he would see the whole idiocy and stupidity of what he says. I can only assure this gentleman that there is in Germany no such power as could set itself against the present regime.
—Adolf Hitler, Chancellor and Führer
Churchill replied: “I am surprised that the head of a great State should set himself to attack British Members of Parliament, who hold no official position, and who are not even the leaders of parties…. Since he has been good enough to give me his advice I venture to return the compliment. Herr Hitler also showed himself unduly sensitive about suggestions that there may be other opinions in Germany besides his own. It would be indeed astonishing if among eighty millions of people so varying in origin, creed, interest and condition, there should be only one pattern of thought. It would not be natural. It is incredible. That he has the power, and alas the will, to suppress all inconvenient opinions is no doubt true. It would be much wiser to relax a little, and not try to frighten people out of their wits for expressing honest doubts and divergences.
Warmongers, 13 November
LONDON— There is a deliberate German campaign to represent Anthony Eden, Winston, etc as warmongers so as to debar their return to power, as it is felt in Germany that they are the only people who understand the danger and would be able to rouse this country to take appropriate action.
—Oliver Harvey, Diplomat
From: Sir Martin Gilbert, The Churchill Documents, vol. 13 (Hillsdale College Press).