How Winston Churchill saved Western Civilizaton

 

 

In the darkest days of World War II, before America entered the war in 1940 and ‘41, England was pretty much on its own holding off the Nazi war machine which by that time had either swallowed up Western Europe or had fascist allies everywhere else. For a clean sweep and consolidation of his gains Hitler only needed to neutralize Great Britain.

And, it might have happened except for Winston Churchill and the courageous English people that responded to his leadership with a determination to win at all costs. They just would not go down without a fight—a fierce fight.

Churchill rallied his people to stand against Nazi Germany, never to give up, and never to give in and that was for one reason only. He was determined to save Great Britain no matter what the cost. Churchill was aware of what was at stake. England was the only remnant standing between European democratic tradition and the darkness of National Socialism.

Starting with the dismal showing in Norway at the beginning of April 1940, the fall of Narvik which was a strategic asset to both Germany and the Allies, was the first sign that Germany would be harder to contain than was first thought. The Nazi invasion of France came next on May 10th 1940, the same day that Neville Chamberlain resigned and Churchill ascended to Prime Minister.

That first week the Germans seemed unstoppable. They drove across the French countryside, taking town and after town with lightning speed and devastating results. French and British forces were unable to even slow them down.

The unthinkable began to be thought about. Could France actually fall into Nazi hands?  Churchill seeing the writing on the wall gave a speech to Parliament on May 13th only three days after the Nazis began their advance.

I would say to the House as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs—Victory in spite of all terror—Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.

To listen the prophetic words quoted in the article begin about half way through

Churchill had enemies within the government, but even his enemies were stirred by his words. Not unlike President George Bush in the immediate days after 9-11. They rallied around Churchill. All of England and indeed what was left of the free world looked to Churchill for the guidance that would be needed in the coming weeks and months.

By the third week in May it was evident that France was going to fall. The British were cornered and trapped by German forces. The only thing left to do was to retreat. More of France was in German hands at this point than was in French hands.

With the fall of France Hitler could taste revenge for World War I and Churchill was looking at defeat of the European continent. France was seriously considering surrendering and the evacuation of British Expeditionary forces began before the month was out.

Those were bleak days at the end of May beginning of June, 1940.

Knowing all this and the English people’s sinking feeling that after France they were next  Churchill stirred the nation and the world again on June 4th with these moving words, now known as his “fight on the beaches speech.”

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail…we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

To listen to this part of the speech click below.

He makes reference at the end for his hopes that America will enter the war and help them, giving pause to the idea that Churchill knew he could not defeat Hitler alone, but only with an American entry, a full democratic alliance to defeat the Nazi menace. He would have to wait another year and a half but he kept his people going until that happened.

England was now faced with an invasion of their Island. Few times in history has humanity pulled itself up and faced unbeatable odds with insurmountable courage against an implacable and unforgiving enemy. Churchill raised the best that was in his people. Without the U.S., without help from the rest of the world they would fight on no matter what it took.

There were some voices in the government that argued for an honorable surrender to save the countless English lives that would be taken in such a battle. Churchill would have none of it, they would continue to fight on until victory. And, the English people overwhelmingly echoed that sentiment.

But, Churchill wasn’t finished. Right around the time that Hitler made his famous walk under the Arc de Triumphe in Paris, to the horror of devastated Frenchmen, lining the streets of the Champs de Elysees, he made a third speech on June 18th.

Historians have termed this Churchill’s ‘finest hour” speech. A small play on words because Churchill used the phrase in his speech to designate to history his sense of the English people backing his plan to fight at all costs the defense of their Island from the coming German invasion, but also it was Churchill’s finest hour in giving the speech at that particular time when all seemed to be lost.

France had been defeated, Italy had entered the war on the side of Germany, Switzerland remained neutral, (never been able to really figure that one out) and Spain was neutral but a fascist government sided more with German motives than with England’s.

His “finest hour” speech on June 18th with the Nazi Swastika now gripping the entire European continent, he told the House of Commons and broadcast to the entire nation lamenting how the whole of western civilization rested on the shoulders of the English people. If they go down, 2500 years of the treasure of democracy goes down with them.

But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.

To hear it in Churchill’s own words listen here

 

Fully expecting an invasion of their island, the Battle of Britain had begun. The first real air war took place from July 1940 until around November of that year. The British fighter squadron, performed so magnificently, even in the face of losing plane after plane in German attack after attack, that Hitler, by mid September had pretty much decided that maybe and invasion of Britain wasn’t such a good idea at this time. He called off the invasion. England appeared to withstand everything the Germans could throw at them.

On August 20th in the midst of these air battles, Churchill gave another speech paying homage to the courage of Britain’s fighter pilots. “Never has so many, owed so much, to so few” Churchill’s words along with the other speeches he gave during that time, have been an inspiration to democratic movements everywhere. Hear it here,

The English continued to fight on. America engaged in the war by passing the Lend Lease Act in March of ’41 which helped a great deal and by the summer and fall of that year, even before Pearl Harbor, American ships where engaging the Germans in the North Sea.

We who cherish freedom owe a great deal to Winston Churchill. If England had fallen Hitler certainly would have consolidated National Socialism across Europe. What would have happened to the United States?

That is open to speculation but you can bet that peace would not have looked the same if Churchill had not held on until the U.S. entered the war. Our lives would be quite different today. Probably not as good, not as free, and, Jews, Gypsies, and other enemies of the Nazi state might very well be a thing of the past.

England survived the darkness of those times and democracy survived with it.

God Bless Winston Churchill, and all those brave English people who stood up to Fascism and  would rather die on their feet than live on their knees.

Photo at top courtesy en.wikipedia.org

Come to my website and see more  stuff at www.Hartnation.com

 

2 Comments

  • daniel peter siegel

    December 18, 2014

    r.i.p w.churchill he was for sure one of the greatest heroes and thinkers of our modern age of democracy. actually my norwegian grandfather supported the britons during the war and spilled the blood with them, HAIL TO ENGLAND!

  • lhart916@gmail.com

    December 18, 2014

    Do you know if he was at narvik in 1940 when it fell to the Germans?