Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014
Winston S. Churchill to Paul Reynaud
French Minister of Finance, later Prime Minister
(Churchill papers: 2/332)
Published by Sir Martin Gilbert in 1982, this poignant letter reveals WSC’s depth of despair.
10 October 1938
I feel deeply concerned about the position of France, and about our own course. I cannot see what foreign policy is now open to the French Republic. No minor State will risk its future upon the guarantee of France. I am indulging in no pretensions upon our own account. You have been infected by our weakness, without being fortified by our strength.
The politicians have broken the spirit of both countries successively. In the end England was ready to be better than her word. But it was too late.The magnitude of the disaster leaves me groping in the dark. Not since the loss of the American Colonies has England suffered so deep an injury. France is back to the morrow of 1870. What are we to do? I cannot tell what are the forces now governing French action. Flandin is surely only typical of very large interests and moods which are at work beneath the surface of French politics.
The question now presenting itself is: Can we make head against the Nazi domination, or ought we severally to make the best terms possible with it—while trying to rearm? Or is a common effort still possible?
For thirty years I have consistently worked with France. I make no defence of my own country; but I do not know on what to rest to-day.
Please show this letter to Monsieur Mandel: but keep it otherwise to yourself.