Winston Churchill

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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.'

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill KG OM CH TD FRS PC (November 30, 1874January 24, 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, during the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill was a Sandhurst-educated soldier, a Nobel Prize-winning writer and historian, a prolific painter, and one of the longest-serving politicians in British history. Apart from two years between 1922 and 1924, he was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1900 to 1964 and represented a total of five constituencies. Ideologically an economic liberal and imperialist, he was for most of his career a member of the Conservative Party, which he led from 1940 to 1955, though he was a member of the Liberal Party from 1904 to 1924.

See also: The Second World War (book series)
To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.
Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because, as has been said, it is the quality which guarantees all others.



Early career (1897–1929)

  • [T]he British workman has more to hope for from the rising tide of Tory democracy than from the dried up drain-pipe of Radicalism.
    • Speech in Claverton Down, Bath (26 July 1897), quoted in Churchill By Himself: The Definitive Collections of Quotations, ed. Richard Langworth, 2008, p. 424
  • There are not wanting those who say that in this Jubilee year our Empire has reached the height of its glory and power, and that now we shall begin to decline, as Babylon, Carthage, Rome declined. Do not believe these croakers but give the lie to their dismal croaking by showing by our actions that the vigour and vitality of our race is unimpaired and that our determination is to uphold the Empire that we have inherited from our fathers as Englishmen (cheers), that our flag shall fly high upon the sea, our voice be heard in the councils of Europe, our Sovereign supported by the love of her subjects, then shall we continue to pursue that course marked out for us by an all-wise hand and carry out our mission of bearing peace, civilisation and good government to the uttermost ends of the earth. (Loud cheers.)
    • Speech in Claverton Down, Bath (26 July 1897), quoted in Never Give In! The Best of Winston Churchill's Speeches (2003), p. 3
  • Every influence, every motive, that provokes the spirit of murder among men, impels these mountaineers to deeds of treachery and violence. The strong aboriginal propensity to kill, inherent in all human beings, has in these valleys been preserved in unexampled strength and vigour. That religion, which above all others was founded and propagated by the sword — the tenets and principles of which are instinct with incentives to slaughter and which in three continents has produced fighting breeds of men — stimulates a wild and merciless fanaticism. The love of plunder, always a characteristic of hill tribes, is fostered by the spectacle of opulence and luxury which, to their eyes, the cities and plains of the south display. A code of honour not less punctilious than that of old Spain, is supported by vendettas as implacable as those of Corsica.
  • Every tribesman has a blood feud with his neighbor. Every man’s hand is against the other, and all against the stranger….Every influence, every motive, that provokes the spirit of murder among men, impels these mountaineers to deeds of treachery and violence. The strong aboriginal propensity to kill, inherent in all human beings, has in these valleys been preserved in unexampled strength and vigour. That religion [Islam], which above all others was founded and propagated by the sword—the tenets and principles of which are instinct with incentives to slaughter and which in three continents has produced fighting breeds of men—stimulates a wild and merciless fanaticism. The love of plunder, always a characteristic of hill tribes, is fostered by the spectacle of opulence and luxury which, to their eyes, the cities and plains of the south display. A code of honour not less punctilious than that of old Spain, is supported by vendettas as implacable as those of Corsica.[3]
  • We see them in their squalid, loopholed hovels, amid dirt and ignorance, as degraded a race as any on the fringe of humanity: fierce as the tiger, but less cleanly; as dangerous, not so graceful. Those simple family virtues, which idealists usually ascribe to primitive peoples, are conspicuously absent. Their wives and their womenkind generally, have no position but that of animals. They are freely bought and sold, and are not infrequently bartered for rifles. Truth is unknown among them. A single typical incident displays the standpoint from which they regard an oath. In any dispute about a field boundary, it is customary for both claimants to walk round the boundary he claims, with a Koran in his hand, swearing that all the time he is walking on his own land. To meet the difficulty of a false oath, while he is walking over his neighbor’s land, he puts a little dust from his own field into his shoes. As both sides are acquainted with the trick, the dismal farce of swearing is usually soon abandoned, in favor of an appeal to force.... All are held in the grip of miserable superstition. The power of the ziarat, or sacred tomb, is wonderful. Sick children are carried on the backs of buffaloes, sometimes sixty or seventy miles, to be deposited in front of such a shrine, after which they are carried back—if they survive the journey—in the same way. It is painful even to think of what the wretched child suffers in being thus jolted over the cattle tracks. But the tribesmen consider the treatment much more efficacious than any infidel prescription. To go to a ziarat and put a stick in the ground is sufficient to ensure the fulfillment of a wish. To sit swinging a stone or coloured glass ball, suspended by a string from a tree, and tied there by some fakir, is a sure method of securing a fine male heir. To make a cow give good milk, a little should be plastered on some favorite stone near the tomb of a holy man. These are but a few instances; but they may suffice to reveal a state of mental development at which civilization hardly knows whether to laugh or weep.”
  • Their superstition exposes them to the rapacity and tyranny of a numerous priesthood ‘Mullahs,’ ‘Sahibzadas,’ ‘Akhundzadas,’ ‘Fakirs,’—and a host of wandering Talib-ul-ilms, who correspond with the theological students in Turkey, and live free at the expense of the people. More than this, they enjoy a sort of droit du seigneur, and no man’s wife or daughter is safe from them. Of some of their manners and morals it is impossible to write. As Macaulay has said of Wycherley’s plays, ‘they are protected against the critics as a skunk is protected against the hunters.’ They are ‘safe, because they are too filthy to handle, and too noisome even to approach.’
  • [when] the Mullah will raise his voice and remind them of other days when the sons of the prophet drove the infidel from the plains of India, and ruled at Delhi, as wide an Empire as the Kafir holds to-day: when the true religion strode proudly through the earth and scorned to lie hidden and neglected among the hills: when mighty princes ruled in Bagdad, and all men knew that there was one God, and Mahomet was His prophet. And the young men hearing these things will grip their Martinis[1], and pray to Allah, that one day He will bring some Sahib—best prize of all—across their line of sight at seven hundred yards so that, at least, they may strike a blow for insulted and threatened Islam.
  • During the two years that the British flag had floated over Chakdara and the Malakand the trade of the Swat Valley had nearly doubled. As the sun of civilisation rose above the hills, the fair flowers of commerce unfolded, and the streams of supply and demand, hitherto congealed by the frost of barbarism, were thawed….
    But a single class had viewed with quick intelligence and intense hostility the approach of the British power. The priesthood of the Afghan border instantly recognised the full meaning of the Chitral road. The cause of their antagonism is not hard to discern. Contact with civilisation assails the ignorance, and credulity, on which the wealth and influence of the Mullah depend. A general combination of the religious forces of India against that civilising, educating rule, which unconsciously saps the strength of superstition, is one of the dangers of the future. Here Mahommedanism [Islam] was threatened and resisted. A vast, but silent agitation was begun. Messengers passed to and fro among the tribes. Whispers of war, a holy war, were breathed to a race intensely passionate and fanatical. Vast and mysterious agencies, the force of which is incomprehensible to rational minds, were employed. More astute brains than the wild valleys of the North produce conducted the preparations. Secret encouragement came from the South—from India itself. Actual support and assistance was given from Cabul.
    In that strange half light of ignorance and superstition, assailed by supernatural terrors and doubts, and lured by hopes of celestial glory, the tribes were taught to expect prodigious events. Something was coming. A great day for their race and faith was at hand. Presently the moment would arrive. They must watch and be ready. The mountains became as full of explosives as a magazine. Yet the spark was lacking.
    At length the time came. A strange combination of circumstances operated to improve the opportunity. The victory of the Turks over the Greeks; the circulation of the Amir’s book on ‘Jehad [Jihad]’; his assumption of the position of a Caliph of Islam, and much indiscreet writing in the Anglo-Indian press, [Articles in Anglo-Indian papers on such subjects as The Recrudescence of Mahommedanism [Islam] produce more effect on the educated native mind than the most seditious frothings of the vernacular press] united to produce a ‘boom’ in Mahommedanism [Islam]].
    The moment was propitious; nor was the man wanting. What Peter the Hermit was to the regular bishops and cardinals of the Church, the Mad Mullah was to the ordinary priesthood of the Afghan border. A wild enthusiast, convinced alike of his Divine mission and miraculous powers, preached a crusade, or Jehad [Jihad], against the infidel. The mine was fired. The flame ran along the ground. The explosions burst forth in all directions. The reverberations have not yet died away.[6]
  • It is, thank heaven, difficult if not impossible for the modern European to fully appreciate the force which fanaticism exercises among an ignorant, warlike and Oriental population. Several generations have elapsed since the nations of the West have drawn the sword in religious controversy, and the evil memories of the gloomy past have soon faded in the strong, clear light of Rationalism and human sympathy. Indeed it is evident that Christianity, however degraded and distorted by cruelty and intolerance, must always exert a modifying influence on men's passions, and protect them from the more violent forms of fanatical fever, as we are protected from smallpox by vaccination. But the Mahommedan religion increases, instead of lessening, the fury of intolerance. It was originally propagated by the sword, and ever since, its votaries have been subject, above the people of all other creeds, to this form of madness. In a moment the fruits of patient toil, the prospects of material prosperity, the fear of death itself, are flung aside. The more emotional Pathans are powerless to resist. All rational considerations are forgotten. Seizing their weapons, they become Ghazis—as dangerous and as sensible as mad dogs: fit only to be treated as such. While the more generous spirits among the tribesmen become convulsed in an ecstasy of religious bloodthirstiness, poorer and more material souls derive additional impulses from the influence of others, the hopes of plunder and the joy of fighting. Thus whole nations are roused to arms. Thus the Turks repel their enemies, the Arabs of the Soudan break the British squares, and the rising on the Indian frontier spreads far and wide. In each case civilisation is confronted with militant Mahommedanism. The forces of progress clash with those of reaction. The religion of blood and war is face to face with that of peace. Luckily the religion of peace is usually the better armed.
    • The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War (1898), Chapter III
  • I pass with relief from the tossing sea of Cause and Theory to the firm ground of Result and Fact.
    • The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War (1898), Chapter III
  • It is better to be making the news than taking it; to be an actor rather than a critic.
    • The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War (1898), Chapter VIII
  • Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.
    • The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War (1898), Chapter X
  • How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.
    Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.
  • It is the habit of the boa constrictor to besmear the body of his victim with a foul slime before he devours it; and there are many people in England, and perhaps elsewhere, who seem to be unable to contemplate military operations for clear political objects, unless they can cajole themselves into the belief that their enemy are utterly and hopelessly vile. To this end the Dervishes, from the Mahdi and the Khalifa downwards, have been loaded with every variety of abuse and charged with all conceivable crimes. This may be very comforting to philanthropic persons at home; but when an army in the field becomes imbued with the idea that the enemy are vermin who cumber the earth, instances of barbarity may easily be the outcome. This unmeasured condemnation is moreover as unjust as it is dangerous and unnecessary.
    • The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan (1899), Volume II pp. 394–395
    • (This passage does not appear in the 1902 one-volume abridgment, the version posted by Project Gutenberg).
  • What is the true and original root of Dutch aversion to British rule? It is the abiding fear and hatred of the movement that seeks to place the native on a level with the white man ... the Kaffir is to be declared the brother of the European, to be constituted his legal equal, to be armed with political rights.
  • There must be room in our army system for nearly everyone who is not grossly idle or grossly stupid. It is not a case of employing incompetent or worthless men, and such should, of course, be expelled from the army. It is a case of finding suitable employment for officers not fit for higher command.
    • Officers and Gentlemen, The Saturday Evening Post, 29 December 1900.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 51. ISBN 0903988429
  • It may be said, therefore, that the military opinion of the world is opposed to those people who cry 'Democratize the army!' and it must be remembered that an army is not a field upon which persons with Utopian ideas may exercise their political theories, but a weapon for the defence of the State.
    • British Cavalry, The Anglo-Saxon Review, March 1901.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 60. ISBN 0903988429
  • I think we shall have to take the Chinese in hand and regulate them. I believe that as civilized nations become more powerful they will get more ruthless, and the time will come when the world will impatiently bear the existence of great barbaric nations who may at any time arm themselves and menace civilized nations. I believe in the ultimate partition of China — I mean ultimate. I hope we shall not have to do it in our day. The Aryan stock is bound to triumph.
  • In former days, when wars arose from individual causes, from the policy of a Minister or the passion of a King, when they were fought by small regular armies of professional soldiers, and when their course was retarded by the difficulties of communication and supply, and often suspended by the winter season, it was possible to limit the liabilities of the combatants. But now, when mighty populations are impelled on each other, each individual severally embittered and inflamed—when the resources of science and civilisation sweep away everything that might mitigate their fury, a European war can only end in the ruin of the vanquished and the scarcely less fatal commercial dislocation and exhaustion of the conquerors. Democracy is more vindictive than Cabinets. The wars of peoples will be more terrible than those of kings.
  • The ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year – and to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.
    • Newspaper interview (1902), when asked what qualities a politician required, Halle, Kay, Irrepressible Churchill. Cleveland: World, 1966. cited in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 489 ISBN 1586486381
  • The whole Bill looks like an attempt on the part of the Government to gratify a small but noisy section of their own supporters and to purchase a little popularity in the constituencies by dealing harshly with a number of unfortunate aliens who have no votes. It will commend itself to those who like patriotism at other people's expense and admire Imperialism on the Russian model. It is expected to appeal to insular prejudice against foreigners, to racial prejudice against Jews, and to labour prejudice against competition; and it will no doubt supply a variety of rhetorical phrases for the approaching election. The same men who are obstinate opponents of trade unionism will declaim about "the rights of British labour." Those who champion the interests of slum landlords will dilate on the evils of overcrowding. Those who have been most forward in bringing Chinese into Africa will pose as the champions of racial purity at home.
    • Letter to Nathan Laski on the Aliens Bill (30 May 1904), quoted in The Times (31 May 1904), p. 10
  • I take leave to doubt the wisdom of this Bill even as a political manoeuvre. In spite of militarism and false ideals about trade, there is a growing spirit of fraternity between democracies. English working men are not so selfish as to be unsympathetic towards the victims of circumstances or oppression. They do not respond in any marked degree to the Anti-Semitism which has darkened recent Continental history; and I for one believe that they will disavow an attempt to shut out the stranger from our land because he is poor or in trouble, and will resent a measure which without any proved necessity smirches those ancient traditions of freedom and hospitality for which Britain has been so long renowned.
    • Letter to Nathan Laski on the Aliens Bill (30 May 1904), quoted in The Times (31 May 1904), p. 10
  • Governments create nothing and have nothing to give but what they have first taken away — you may put money in the pockets of one set of Englishmen, but it will be money taken from the pockets of another set of Englishmen, and the greater part will be spilled on the way. Every vote given for Protection is a vote to give Governments the right of robbing Peter to pay Paul and charging the public a handsome commission on the job.
    • "Why I am a Free Trader," Chapter I in T.W. Stead's journal Coming Men on Coming Questions (April 13, 1905), bottom p. 9.
  • The doc­trines that by keep­ing out for­eign goods more wealth, and con­se­quently more employ­ment, will be cre­ated at home, are either true or they are not true. We con­tend that they are not true. We con­tend that for a nation to try to tax itself into pros­per­ity is like a man stand­ing in a bucket and try­ing to lift him­self up by the han­dle.[1]:9
    • From "Why I am a Free Trader" (1905), Churchill revised this several times, the earliest recorded version coming from the speech "For Free Trade" at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, 19 Feb­ru­ary 1904:
      • It is the the­ory of the Pro­tec­tion­ist that imports are an evil. He thinks that if you shut out the for­eign imported man­u­fac­tured goods you will make these goods your­selves, in addi­tion to the goods which you make now, includ­ing those goods which we make to exchange for the for­eign goods that come in. If a man can believe that he can believe any­thing. (Laugh­ter.) We Free-traders say it is not true. To think you can make a man richer by putting on a tax is like a man think­ing that he can stand in a bucket and lift him­self up by the han­dle. (Laugh­ter and cheers.) [2]:Vol.I: 261
  • Politics are almost as exciting as war, and – quite as dangerous ... [I]n war, you can only be killed once. But in politics many times.
    • From a conversational exchange with Harold Begbie, as cited in Master Workers, Begbie, Methuen & Co. (1906), p. 177.
  • For my own part I have always felt that a politician is to be judged by the animosities which he excites among his opponents. I have always set myself not merely to relish but to deserve thoroughly their censure.
    • November 17, 1906, Institute of Journalists Dinner, London; in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 392 ISBN 1586486381
  • The conditions of the Transvaal ordinance under which Chinese Labour is now being carried on do not, in my opinion, constitute a state of slavery. A labour contract into which men enter voluntarily for a limited and for a brief period, under which they are paid wages which they consider adequate, under which they are not bought or sold and from which they can obtain relief on payment of seventeen pounds ten shillings, the cost of their passage, may not be a healthy or proper contract, but it cannot in the opinion of His Majesty's Government be classified as slavery in the extreme acceptance of the word without some risk of terminological inexactitude.
  • I submit respectfully to the House as a general principle that our responsibility in this matter is directly proportionate to our power. Where there is great power there is great responsibility, where there is less power there is less responsibility, and where there is no power there can, I think, be no responsibility.
  • Taxes are an evil—a necessary evil, but still an evil, and the fewer of them we have the better.
    • Churchill By Himself: The Definitive Collections of Quotations, ed. Richard Langworth, 2008, p. 424, (1907, 12 February)
  • They knew what to expect when their opponents returned to power a party of great vested interests—corruption at home, aggression to cover it up abroad, the trickery of tariff juggles, the tyranny of a well-fed party machine; sentiment by the bucketful, patriotism and Imperialism by the Imperial pint, the open hand at the public Exchequer, the open door at the publichouse, dear food for the million, cheap labour for the millionaire. That was the policy which the Tory party offered them, and that was the policy which he asked them to strike at with the battle-axe of Scotland.
    • Speech in Kinnaird Hall, Dundee, Scotland (8 May 1908), quoted in The Times (9 May 1908), p. 14
  • The Times is speechless, and takes three columns to express its speechlessness.
    • Speech at Kinnaird Hall, Dundee, Scotland ("The Dundee Election"), May 14, 1908, in Liberalism and the Social Problem (1909), Churchill, BiblioBazaar (Second Edition, 2006), p. 148 ISBN 1426451989
  • Uncounted generations will trample heedlessly upon our tombs. What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone? How else can we put ourselves in harmonious relation with the great verities and consolations of the infinite and the eternal? And I avow my faith that we are marching towards better days. Humanity will not be cast down. We are going on swinging bravely forward along the grand high road and already behind the distant mountains is the promise of the sun.
    • Speech at Kinnaird Hall, Dundee, Scotland ("Unemployment"), October 10, 1908, in Liberalism and the Social Problem (1909), Churchill, Echo Library (2007), p. 87 ISBN 1406845817
  • The quarrel between a tremendous democratic electorate and a one-sided hereditary chamber of wealthy men has often been threatened, has often been averted, has been long debated, has been long delayed, but it has always been inevitable, and it has come at last. It is now open, it is now flagrant, and it must now be carried to a conclusion.
    • The People's Rights [1909] (1970), p. 20
  • Why should five hundred or six hundred titled persons govern us, and why should their children govern our children for ever? I invite a reply from the apologists and the admirers of the House of Lords. I invite them to show any ground of reason, or of logic, or of expediency or practical common sense in defence of the institution which has taken the predominant part during the last few days in the politics of our country. There is no defence, and there is no answer, except that the House of Lords...has survived out of the past. It is a lingering relic of a feudal order. It is the remains, the solitary reminder of a state of things and of a balance of forces which has wholly passed away. I challenge the defenders, the backers, and the instigators of the House of Lords—I challenge them to justify and defend before the electors of the country the character and composition of the hereditary assembly.
    • The People's Rights [1909] (1970), p. 23
  • There is no difficulty in vindicating the principle of a hereditary monarchy. The experience of every country and of all ages, the practical reasonings of common sense, arguments of the highest theory, arguments of most commonplace convenience, all unite to show the wisdom which places the supreme leadership of the State beyond the reach of private ambition and above the shocks and changes of party strife.
    • The People's Rights [1909] (1970), p. 24
  • The House of Lords, in rejecting the Budget which provides for the national expenditure of the year, are refusing, for the first time since the great Rebellion, aids and supplies to the Crown, and by that fact and by their intrusion upon finance they commit an act of violence against the British Constitution. There is no precedent of any kind for the rejection of a Budget Bill by the House of Lords in all the long annals of the British Parliament, or, before that, in the still more venerable annals of the English Parliament. The custom of centuries forbids their intrusion upon finance.
    • The People's Rights [1909] (1970), p. 25
  • The House of Lords have only been tolerated all these years because they were thought to be in a comatose condition which preceded dissolution. They have got to dissolution now. That this body, utterly unrepresentative, utterly unreformed, should come forward and claim the right to make and unmake Governments, should lay one greedy paw on the prerogatives of the sovereign and another upon the established and most fundamental privileges of the House of Commons is a spectacle which a year ago no one would have believed could happen; which fifty years ago no Peer would have dared suggest; and which two hundred years ago would not have been discussed in the amiable though active manner of a political campaign, but would have been settled by charges of cavalry and the steady advance of iron-clad pikemen.
    • The People's Rights [1909] (1970), p. 46
  • "All civilization", said Lord Curzon, quoting Renan, "all civilization has been the work of aristocracies". ... It would be much more true to say "The upkeep of aristocracies has been the hard work of all civilizations".
    • The People's Rights [1909] (1970), pp. 53-54
  • I cannot believe that in the twentieth century the British people are by their deliberate vote going to constitute this assembly – a fraction of whom no doubt are men of real eminence and dignity, but the great majority of whom are quite ordinary people of the well-to-do class with all the narrowest prejudices and special interests of that class – I cannot believe that you by your votes are going to constitute them the main foundation on which the governing power in our land is reposed. I cannot believe the middle classes and the working classes, who after all have only to use their voting strength to get their own way, are going to degrade and cast away their own voting powers which their fathers won for them in the past...I cannot believe that the electors are going obsequiously to hand over their most vital constitutional right, namely, to choose the Chamber that governs the Government, to an antiquated body of titled persons utterly beyond their control.
    • The People's Rights [1909] (1970), pp. 65-66
  • There is nothing economically unsound in increasing temporarily and artificially the demand for labour during a period of temporary and artificial contraction. There is a plain need of some averaging machinery to regulate and even-up the general course of the labour market. ... by every step in that direction you would free thousands of your fellow-countrymen from undeserved agony and ruin.
    • The People's Rights [1909] (1970), pp. 133-134
  • We have entered upon a period of crisis and conflict more grave and crucial than any living man has known, and it is a conflict which I think has been more deliberately undertaken and will be more resolutely fought through by both sides than any political conflict that we can recall. Terribly important as economic and constitutional questions may be, the fiscal system of a country and the system of Government which prevails in a country are only means to an end, and that end must be to create conditions favourable to the social and moral welfare of the masses of the citizens.
    • The People's Rights [1909] (1970), p. 137
  • We have left the wilderness of phrases and formulas, the cut and dried party issues, and we have broken violently into a world of constructive action. It would be an exaggeration to speak of these changes as though they were a revolution. They are not a revolution, but, taken altogether, the policy which has been unfolded to this country during the last two or three years, and which is gripped together and carried forward by the Budget – that policy which the Lords have for the time being brought to a full stop – constitutes by far the largest, most scientific, most deliberate, most resolute attempt at social organization and social advance which any man living can remember.
    • The People's Rights [1909] (1970), pp. 137-138
  • The social conditions of the British people in the early years of the twentieth century cannot be contemplated without deep anxiety... We are at the cross-ways. If we stand on the old happy-go-lucky way, the richer classes ever growing in wealth and in number, and ever declining in responsibility, the very poor remaining plunged or plunging even deeper into helpless, hopeless misery, then I think there is nothing before us but savage strife between class and class, with an increasing disorganization, with an increasing destruction of human strength and human virtue—nothing, in fact, but that dual degeneration which comes from the simultaneous waste of extreme wealth and of extreme want.
    • The People's Rights [1909] (1970), pp. 138-139
  • The greatest danger to the British Empire and to the British people is not to be found among the enormous fleets and armies of the European Continent, nor in the solemn problems of Hindustan; it is not in the 'Yellow Peril' nor the 'Black Peril' nor any danger in the wide circuit of colonial and foreign affairs. No, it is here in our midst, close at home, close at hand in the vast growing cities of England and Scotland, and in the dwindling and cramped villages of our denuded countryside. It is there you will find the seeds of Imperial ruin and national decay—the unnatural gap between rich and poor, the divorce of the people from the land, the want of proper discipline and training in our youth, the exploitation of boy labour, the physical degeneration which seems to follow so swiftly on civilized poverty, the awful jumbles of an obsolete Poor Law, the horrid havoc of the liquor traffic, the constant insecurity in the means of subsistence and employment which breaks the heart of many a sober, hard-working man, the absence of any established minimum standard of life and comfort among the workers, and, at the other end, the swift increase of vulgar, joyless luxury—here are the enemies of Britain. Beware lest they shatter the foundations of her power.
    • The People's Rights [1909] (1970), pp. 139-140
  • The Budget, and the policy of the Budget, is the first conscious attempt on the part of the State to build up a better and a more scientific organization of society for the workers of this country.
    • The People's Rights [1909] (1970), pp. 146-147
  • If large classes of the population live under conditions which make it difficult if not impossible for them to keep a home together in decent comfort, if the children are habitually underfed, if the housewife is habitually overstrained, if the bread-winner is under-employed or under-paid, if all are unprotected and uninsured against the common hazards of modern industrial life, if sickness, accident, infirmity, or old age, or unchecked intemperance, or any other curse or affliction, break up the home, as they break up thousands of homes, and scatter the family, as they scatter thousands of families in our land, it is not merely the waste of earning-power or the dispersal of a few poor sticks of furniture, it is the stamina, the virtue, safety, and honour of the British race that are being squandered.
    • The People's Rights [1909] (1970), p. 147
  • Liberalism supplies at once the higher impulse and the practicable path; it appeals to persons by sentiments of generosity and humanity; it proceeds by courses of moderation. By gradual steps, by steady effort from day to day, from year to year, Liberalism enlists hundreds of thousands upon the side of progress and popular democratic reform whom militant Socialism would drive into violent Tory reaction... The cause of the Liberal Party is the cause of the left-out millions.
    • The People's Rights [1909] (1970), pp. 152-153
  • The whole tendency of civilization is...towards the multiplication of the collective functions of society. The ever growing complications of civilization create for us new services which have to be undertaken by the State, and create for us an expansion of the existing services. I am of the opinion that the State should increasingly assume the position of the reserve employer of labour. I am very sorry we have not got the railways of this country in our hands. We may do something better with the canals, and we are all agreed that the State must increasingly and earnestly concern itself with the care of the sick and aged, and, above all, of the children.
    • The People's Rights [1909] (1970), p. 154
  • I look forward to the universal establishment of minimum standards of life and labour, and their progressive elevation as the increasing energies of production may permit. I do not think that Liberalism in any circumstances can cut itself off from this fertile field of social effort, and I would recommend you not to be scared in discussing any of these proposals, just because some old woman comes along and tells you they are Socialistic.
    • The People's Rights [1909] (1970), p. 154
  • Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric light turns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains -- and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of those improvements is effected by the labour and cost of other people and the taxpayers. To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced. He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived.
    • Speech to the Scottish Liberal Association, Edinburgh, 18 July 1909
  • The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any country. A calm and dispassionate recognition of the rights of the accused against the State, and even of convicted criminals against the State, a constant heart-searching by all charged with the duty of punishment, a desire and eagerness to rehabilitate in the world of industry all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment, tireless efforts towards the discovery of curative and regenerating processes, and an unfaltering faith that there is a treasure, if you can only find it, in the heart of every man—these are the symbols which in the treatment of crime and criminals mark and measure the stored-up strength of a nation, and are the sign and proof of the living virtue in it.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (20 July 1910)
  • The unnatural and increasingly rapid growth of the feeble-minded and insane classes, coupled as it is with steady restriction among all the thrifty, energetic and superior stocks constitutes a national and race danger which is impossible to exaggerate. I feel that the source from which the stream of madness is fed should be cut off and sealed before another year has passed.
    • (Home Secretary) Churchill to Prime Minister Asquith on compulsory sterilization of 'the feeble-minded and insane'; cited, as follows (excerpted from longer note) : It is worth noting that eugenics was not a fringe movement of obscure scientists but often led and supported, in Britain and America, by some of the most prominent public figures of the day, across the political divide, such as Julian Huxley, Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence, John Maynard Keynes and Theodore Roosevelt. Indeed, none other than Winston Churchill, whilst Home Secretary in 1910, made the following observation: [text of quote] (quoted in Jones, 1994: 9)., in ‍'‍Race‍'‍, sport, and British society (2001), Carrington & McDonald, Routledge, Introduction, Note 4, p. 20 ISBN 0415246296
  • 'I propose that 100,000 degenerate Britons should be forcibly sterilized and others put in labour camps to halt the decline of the British race.'
    • As Home Secretary in a 1910 Departmental Paper. The original document is in the collection of Asquith's papers at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Also quoted in Clive Ponting, "Churchill" (Sinclair Stevenson 1994)
  • I consider that every workman is well advised to join a trade union. I cannot conceive how any man standing undefended against the powers that be in this world could be so foolish, if he can possibly spare the money from the maintenance of his family, not to associate himself with an organisation to protect the rights and interests of labour.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (30 May 1911)
  • There can be no question of the military forces of the Crown "intervening in a labour dispute" in the proper sense of the words. That, so-far as it can be done by the Government, is a function of the Board of Trade. It is only when a trade dispute is accompanied by riot, intimidation, or other violations of the law, or when a serious interruption is caused or likely to be caused to the supply of necessary commodities, that the military can be called on to support the police; and then their duty is to maintain the law, not to interfere in the matter in dispute.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (15 August 1911)
  • The main argument which all these years has sustained the Home Rule cause has been the continuous and unalterable demand of the Irish people in an overwhelming majority, through every recognised channel of the national will, for the establishment of an Irish Legislature. The Irish claim has never been fairly treated by the statesmen of Great Britain. They have never tried to deal with Ireland in the spirit in which both great parties face the large problems of the British Empire. And yet, why should not Ireland have her chance? Why should not her venerable nationhood enjoy a recognised and respected existence? Why should not her own distinctive point of view obtain a complete expression? Why should the Empire, why should the world at large, be deprived of a new contribution to the sum of human effort? History and poetry, justice and good sense, alike demand that this race, gifted, virtuous, and brave, which has lived so long and has endured so much, should not, in view of her passionate desire, be left out of the family of nations, and should not be lost forever among the indiscriminated multitudes of men.—(Cheers.) What harm could Irish ideas and Irish sentiments and Irish dreams, if given their free play in the Irish Parliament, do to the strong structure of the British power? Would not the arrival of an Irish Parliament upon the brilliantly lighted stage of the modern world be an enrichment and an added glory to the treasures of the British Empire?
    • Speech in Celtic Park Football Ground in Belfast (8 February 1912), quoted in Never Give In! The Best of Winston Churchill's Speeches (2003), pp. 48-49
  • The British Navy is to us a necessity and, from some points of view, the German Navy is to them more in the nature of a luxury. Our naval power involves British existence. It is existence to us; it is expansion to them. We cannot menace the peace of a single Continental hamlet, nor do we wish to do so no matter how great and supreme our Navy may become. But, on the other hand, the whole fortunes of our race and Empire, the whole treasure accumulated during so many centuries of sacrifice and achievement would perish and be swept utterly away if our naval supremacy were to be impaired. It is the British Navy which makes Great Britain a great Power.
    • Speech in Glasgow (9 February 1912), quoted in The Times (10 February 1912), p. 9
  • Any Ulster county, upon the requisition of a tenth of the electors, can, by a simple vote, stand out, for six years, of the whole operation of the Home Rule Bill and remain exactly as they are... Consider what that offer must cost to the Irish Nationalist Leaders. When I think of the patience, the wisdom, and the eloquence with which Mr. Redmond has conducted this great historic controversy, and when I think how dearly he and those who are working with him cherish the dream, the hope, of a united and self-governing Ireland, I can measure the cruel pang with which this temporary, but none the less serious, change has been accepted by him and by the great mass of the Irish nation. It is their hope, and I think they are right and wise in hoping, that the day will come, perhaps before that period is passed, when, of their own free will, the Ulster counties that have exercised the option will seek to be incorporated in the ancient Parliament of their motherland (cheers), when that brilliant and courageous speaker, Mr. Devlin, will lead the democracy of Belfast to take their true position in the councils of a united and progressive Ireland. (Cheers.)
    • Speech in Bradford (14 March 1914), quoted in The Times (16 March 1914), p. 13
  • Mr. Bonar Law says, in effect, if there is civil war in Ulster it will spread to England too. I agree with him. I go farther... This will be the issue—Whether civil and Parliamentary government in these realms is to be beaten down by the menace of armed force. Whatever sympathies we have for Ulster, we need have no compunction here. It is the old battle-ground of English history. It is the same issue fought out 250 years ago on the field of Marston Moor. (Cheers.) From the language which is employed it would almost seem that we are face to face with a disposition on the part of some sections of the propertied classes to subvert Parliamentary government and to challenge the civil and constitutional foundations of society. Against such a mood, wherever it manifests itself in action, there is no lawful measure from which the Government should shrink, and there is no lawful measure from which this Government will shrink. (Cheers.)
    • Speech in Bradford (14 March 1914), quoted in The Times (16 March 1914), p. 13
  • Bloodshed no doubt is lamentable. I have seen some of it—more perhaps than many of those who talk about it with such levity—but there are worse things than bloodshed, even on an extensive scale. The collapse of the Central Government of the British Empire would be worse. The abandonment by public men of the righteous aims to which they are pledged in honour would be worse. The cowardly abdication of responsibility by the Executive would be worse. The trampling down of that law and order which under the conditions of a civilised State assure to millions, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—all this would be worse than bloodshed. (Cheers.)
    • Speech in Bradford (14 March 1914), quoted in The Times (16 March 1914), p. 13
  • As long as it effects working men in England or Nationalist peasants in Ireland, there is no measure of military force which the Tory Party will not readily employ. They denounce all violence except their own. They uphold all law except the law they choose to break. (Cheers.) They always welcome the application of force to others. (Laughter.) But they themselves are to remain immune. They are to select from the Statute-book the laws they will obey and the laws they will resist. They claim to be a party in the State free to use force in all directions, but never to have it applied to themselves. Whether in office or in opposition, as they have very often told us, they are to govern the country. If they cannot do it by the veto of privilege, they will do it by the veto of violence. If constitutional methods serve their ends, they will be Constitutionalists. If law suits their purpose, they will be law-abiding, aye, and law-enforcing. When social order means the order of the Tory Party, when social order means the order of the propertied classes against the wage-earner, when social order means the master against the man, or the landlord against the tenant, order is sacred and holy, order is dear to the heart of the Tory Party and order must be maintained by force. But if it should happen that the Constitution, or the law, or the maintenance of order stand in the path of some Tory project, stand in the path of the realisation of some appetite or ambition which they have conceived, then they vie with the wildest anarchists in the language which they use against the Constitution, against the law, and against all order and all means of maintaining order. And that is the political doctrine with which they salute the 20th century. (Cheers.)
    • Speech in Bradford (14 March 1914), quoted in The Times (16 March 1914), p. 13
  • If Ulster seeks peace and fair play she can find it. She knows where to find it. (Cheers.) If Ulstermen extend the hand of friendship it will be clasped by Liberals and by their Nationalist countrymen in all good faith and in all good will; but if there is no wish for peace, if every concession that is made is spurned and exploited, if every effort to meet their views is only to be used as a means of breaking down Home Rule and of barring the way to the rest of Ireland; if Ulster is to become a tool in party calculations, if the civil and Parliamentary systems under which we have dwelt so long and our fathers before us are to be brought to the crude challenge of force, if the Government and the Parliament of this great country and greater Empire are to be exposed to menace and brutality, if all the loose, wanton, and reckless chatter we have been forced to listen to these many months is in the end to disclose a sinister and revolutionary purpose, then I can only say to you: Let us go forward together and put these grave matters to the proof. (Loud cheers.)
    • Speech in Bradford (14 March 1914), quoted in The Times (16 March 1914), p. 13
  • Everything tends towards catastrophe and collapse. I am interested, geared up and happy. Is it not horrible to be made like this?
    • In a letter to his wife Clemmie, during the build up to World War I.
  • Like chasing a quinine pill around a cow pasture.
    • On playing golf : as cited in The quote verifier: who said what, where, and when (2006), Keyes, Macmillan, p. 27 ISBN 0312340044
  • Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer. You have only to persevere to save yourselves, and to save all those who rely upon you. You have only to go right on, and at the end of the road, be it short or long, victory and honor will be found.
    • Remarks at the Guildhall, 4 September 1914, after the first British naval victory of World War I, the sinking of three German cruisers in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, as cited in Churchill: A Life, Martin Gilbert, Macmillan (1992), p. 279 : ISBN 0805023968
  • I am finished.
    • On losing his position at the Admiralty in 1915. Said to Lord Riddell, as cited in Maxims and Reflections, Chapter I (On Himself), Churchill, Houghton Mifflin Company (1947).
  • [The] truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is.
  • We are not a young people with an innocent record and a scanty inheritance... We have engrossed to ourselves an altogether disproportionate share of the wealth and traffic of the world. We have got all we want in territory, and our claim to be left in the unmolested enjoyment of vast and splendid possessions, mainly acquired by violence, largely maintained by force, often seems less reasonable to others than to us.
    • In a comment to his British Cabinet colleagues in January 1914 in a confidential paper. Cited in John Darwin, The Empire Project, Cambridge 2010, p268.
  • Only the final results can prove whether military autocracies or Parliamentary Governments are more likely — take them for all in all — to preserve the welfare and safety of great nations. If the result is inconclusive, the conflict will be renewed after an uneasy interval. But when an absolute decision is obtained the system of the victors — whoever they are — will probably be adopted to a very great extent by the vanquished.
    • On the Great War, The Sinister Hypothesis, The Sunday Pictorial, 9 July 1916.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 91. ISBN 0903988429
  • The true characteristic of all British strategy lies in the use of amphibious power. Not the sea alone, but the land and the sea together: not the Fleet alone, but the Army in the hand of the Fleet.
    • The Great Amphibian, The Sunday Pictorial, 23 July 1916.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 101. ISBN 0903988429
  • The German hope is that if the frontiers can be unshakeably maintained for another year, a peace can be obtained which will relieve Germany from the consequences of the hideous catastrophe in which she has plunged the world, and leave her free to scheme and prepare a decisive stroke in another generation. Unless Germany is beaten in a manner which leaves no room for doubt or dispute, unless she is convinced by the terrible logic of events that the glory of her people can never be achieved by violent means, unless her war-making capacity after the war is sensibly diminished, a renewal of the conflict, after an uneasy and malevolent truce, seems unavoidable.
    • The War by Land and Sea, Part IV, The London Magazine, January 1917.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 147-8. ISBN 0903988429
  • I think a curse should rest on me — because I love this war. I know it's smashing and shattering the lives of thousands every moment — and yet — I can't help it — I enjoy every second of it.
    • A letter to a friend (1916)
  • No compromise on the main purpose; no peace till victory; no pact with unrepentant wrong -- that is the Declaration of July 4th, 1918.
    • At a joint Anglo-American rally in Westminster, July 4, 1918, speaking against calls for a negotiated truce with Germany. As printed in War aims & peace ideals: selections in prose & verse (1919), edited by Tucker Brooke & Henry Seidel Canby, Yale University Press, p. 138
  • Why should anybody make a great fortune out of the war? While everybody has been serving the country, profiteers and contractors & shipping speculators have gained fortunes of a gigantic character. Why shd we be bound to bear the unpopularity of defending old Runciman's ill-gotten gains? I wd reclaim everything above £10,000 (to let the small fry off) in reduction of the War Debt.
    • Letter to David Lloyd George (21 November 1918), quoted in Paul Addison, Churchill On The Home Front, 1900–1955 (1992), p. 197
  • One might as well legalise sodomy as recognise the Bolsheviks.
    • Paris, 24 January 1919. Churchill: A Life. Gilbert, Martin (1992). New York: Holt, p. 408. ISBN 9780805023961
  • The aid which we can give to those Russian armies which are now engaged in fighting against the foul baboonery of Bolshevism can be given by arms, munitions, equipment, and by the technical services. It is a malicious statement against the interests of the British Empire to suggest that it is necessary for us to prolong the action of the Military Service Act because of enterprises which we have on foot in Russia.
    • Mansion House speech (19 February 1919)[3][4]
  • I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favour of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare. It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gases: gases can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected ... We cannot, in any circumstances acquiesce to the non-utilisation of any weapons which are available to procure a speedy termination of the disorder which prevails on the frontier.
    Many argue that quotes from this passage are often taken out of context, because Churchill is distinguishing between non-lethal agents and the deadly gasses used in World War I and emphasizing the use of non-lethal weapons; however Churchill is not clearly ruling out the use of lethal gases, simply stating that "it is not necessary to use only the most deadly". It is sometimes claimed that gas killed many young and elderly Kurds and Arabs when the RAF bombed rebelling villages in Iraq in 1920 during the British occupation. For more information on this matter, see Gas in Mesopotamia.
  • Germany will recover and Russian will rise... our policy must be directed to prevent a union between German militarism and Russian Bolshevism.
    • The Fortnightly Review, July 1919, William Harbutt Dawson, "The Liabilities of the Treaty," p. 10, speech in Dundee on May 14, 1919
  • Lenin was sent into Russia by the Germans in the same way that you might send a phial containing a culture of typhoid or cholera to be poured into the water supply of a great city, and it worked with amazing accuracy.
  • First there are the Jews who, dwelling in every country throughout the world, identify themselves with that country, enter into its national life and, while adhering faithfully to their own religion, regard themselves as citizens in the fullest sense of the State which has received them. Such a Jew living in England would say, 'I am an English man practising the Jewish faith.' This is a worthy conception, and useful in the highest degree. We in Great Britain well know that during the great struggle the influence of what may be called the 'National Jews' in many lands was cast preponderatingly on the side of the Allies; and in our own Army Jewish soldiers have played a most distinguished part, some rising to the command of armies, others winning the Victoria Cross for valour. There is no need to exaggerate the part played in the creation of Bolshevism and in the actual bringing about of the Russian Revolution, by these international and for the most part atheistical Jews, it is certainly a very great one; it probably outweighs all others. With the notable exception of Lenin, the majority of the leading figures are Jews. Moreover, the principal inspiration and driving power comes from the Jewish leaders. Thus Tchitcherin, a pure Russian, is eclipsed by his nominal subordinate Litvinoff, and the influence of Russians like Bukharin or Lunacharski cannot be compared with the power of Trotsky, or of Zinovieff, the Dictator of the Red Citadel (Petrograd) or of Krassin or Radek -- all Jews. In the Soviet institutions the predominance of Jews is even more astonishing. And the prominent, if not indeed the principal, part in the system of terrorism applied by the Extraordinary Commissions for Combating Counter-Revolution has been taken by Jews, and in some notable cases by Jewesses. The same evil prominence was obtained by Jews in the brief period of terror during which Bela Kun ruled in Hungary. The same phenomenon has been presented in Germany (especially in Bavaria), so far as this madness has been allowed to prey upon the temporary prostration of the German people. Although in all these countries there are many non-Jews every whit as bad as the worst of the Jewish revolutionaries, the part played by the latter in proportion to their numbers in the population is astonishing.
    • "Zionism versus Bolshevism", Illustrated Sunday Herald (February 1920)
    (A note: Churchill viewed Bolshevism as a heavily Jewish phenomenon. He contrasted the Jewish role in the creation of Bolshevism with a more positive view of the role that Jews had played in England.[1]).
  • In violent opposition to all this sphere of Jewish effort rise the schemes of the International Jews. The adherents of this sinister confederacy are mostly men reared up among the unhappy populations of countries where Jews are persecuted on account of their race. Most, if not all of them, have forsaken the faith of their forefathers, and divorced from their minds all spiritual hopes of the next world. This movement among the Jews is not new. From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxemburg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States), this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilisation and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing. It played, as a modern writer, Mrs. Webster, has so ably shown, a definitely recognisable part in the tragedy of the French Revolution. It has been the mainspring of every subversive movement during the Nineteenth Century; and now at last this band of extraordinary personalities from the underworld of the great cities of Europe and America have gripped the Russian people by the hair of their heads and have become practically the undisputed masters of that enormous empire.
    • Rt. Hon. Winston Churchill 'Bolshevism versus Zionism; a struggle for the soul of the Jewish people' in Illustrated Daily Herald, 8 February 1920.
  • However we may dwell upon the difficulties of General Dyer during the Amritsar riots, upon the anxious and critical situation in the Punjab, upon the danger to Europeans throughout that province, ... one tremendous fact stands out – I mean the slaughter of nearly 400 persons and the wounding of probably three to four times as many, at the Jallian Wallah Bagh on 13th April. That is an episode which appears to me to be without precedent or parallel in the modern history of the British Empire. ... It is an extraordinary event, a monstrous event, an event which stands in singular and sinister isolation.
  • Men who take up arms against the State must expect at any moment to be fired upon. Men who take up arms unlawfully cannot expect that the troops will wait until they are quite ready to begin the conflict.
  • I yield to no one in my detestation of Bolshevism, and of the revolutionary violence which precedes it. ... But my hatred of Bolshevism and Bolsheviks is not founded on their silly system of economics, or their absurd doctrine of an impossible equality. It arises from the bloody and devastating terrorism which they practice in every land into which they have broken, and by which alone their criminal regime can be maintained. ... Governments who have seized upon power by violence and by usurpation have often resorted to terrorism in their desperate efforts to keep what they have stolen, but the august and venerable structure of the British Empire ... does not need such aid. Such ideas are absolutely foreign to the British way of doing things.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, July 8, 1920 "Amritsar"
  • Let me marshal the facts. The crowd was unarmed, except with bludgeons. It was not attacking anybody or anything. It was holding a seditious meeting. When fire had been opened upon it to disperse it, it tried to run away. Pinned up in a narrow place considerably smaller than Trafalgar Square, with hardly any exits, and packed together so that one bullet would drive through three or four bodies, the people ran madly this way and the other. When the fire was directed upon the centre, they ran to the sides. The fire was then directed to the sides. Many threw themselves down on the ground, and the fire was then directed on the ground. This was continued for 8 or 10 minutes ... [i]f the road had not been so narrow, the machine guns and the armoured cars would have joined in. Finally, when the ammunition had reached the point that only enough remained to allow for the safe return of the troops, and after 379 persons ... had been killed, and when most certainly 1,200 or more had been wounded, the troops, at whom not even a stone had been thrown, swung round and marched away. ... We have to make it absolutely clear ... that this is not the British way of doing business. ... Our reign, in India or anywhere else, has never stood on the basis of physical force alone, and it would be fatal to the British Empire if we were to try to base ourselves only upon it.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, July 8, 1920 "Amritsar"
  • The scientific apparatus which has rendered possible the great expansion of the populations of the world in modern times is the result of capitalist production by individual effort. And from much earlier times the power of men to form themselves into civilised communities depended upon the observance of laws which secured personal possession of the fruits of work, or enterprise, or thrift, which procured respect for contracts entered into between man and man, which gave even greater prizes for greater efforts or greater aptitudes. These conceptions were based on the primary desire of man to seek his own benefit and that of his family. By harnessing this desire into laws, capable, no doubt, of infinite improvement, the motive power of material progress was obtained.
    • 'Mr Wells and Bolshevism: A Reply', The Sunday Express (5 December 1920), quoted in Paul Addison, Churchill On The Home Front, 1900–1955 (1992), p. 440
  • I cannot pretend to feel impartial about the colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones, and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.
    • In "Painting as a Pastime", first published in the Strand Magazine in two parts (December 1921/January 1922), cited in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 456 ISBN 1586486381
  • He ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi, and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new Viceroy seated on its back.
    • Referring to Mahatma Gandhi in conversation with Edwin Montagu, Secretary of State for India, 1921.[5][6]
  • Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and the glory of the climb.
    • In "Painting as a Pastime", the Strand Magazine (December 1921/January 1922), cited in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 568 ISBN 1586486381
  • Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat.
    • Remark in 1923 after rejoining the Conservatives, having left them earlier to join the Liberals; reported in Kay Halle, Irrepressible Churchill (1966), p. 52–53. Other sources say this remark was made in 1924.
  • The enthronement in office of a Socialist Government will be a serious national misfortune such as has usually befallen great States only on the morrow of defeat in war. It will delay the return of prosperity; it will check enterprise and impair credit; it will open a period of increasing political confusion and disturbance.
    • Letter to a correspondent shortly before the Labour Party formed its first government (17 January 1924), quoted in The Times (18 January 1924), p. 14
  • Might a bomb no bigger than an orange be found to possess a secret power to destroy a whole block of buildings — nay to concentrate the force of a thousand tons of cordite and blast a township at a stroke?.
    • Pall Mall Gazette (1924) on HG Wells' suggestion of an atomic bomb, in "BBC Article"
  • By abandoning the naval base at Singapore the Socialist Government has made it impossible for the British Navy to enter the Pacific, and consequently to afford the slightest assistance to Australia and New Zealand, no matter how terrible their need might be. Yet almost at the same time that the British Navy is stripped of its old power of defending the British Empire we know well that they would gladly hawk it round Europe to be the drudge of an international organization and fight in every quarrel but its own.
    • Speech in Edinburgh (25 September 1924), quoted in The Times (26 September 1924), p. 14
  • Judged by every standard which history has applied to Governments, the Soviet Government of Russia is one of the worst tyrannies that has ever existed in the world. (Cheers.) It accords no political rights. It rules by terror. It punishes political opinions. It suppresses free speech. It tolerates no newspapers but its own. It persecutes Christianity with a zeal and a cunning never equalled since the times of the Roman Emperors. It is engaged at this moment in trampling down the peoples of Georgia and executing their leaders by hundreds. It is for this process that Mr. MacDonald asks us to make ourselves responsible. We are to render these tyrannies possible by lending to their authors money to pay for the ammunition to murder the Georgians, to enable the Soviet sect to keep its stranglehold on the dumb Russian nation, and to poison the world, and so far as they can, the British Empire, with their filthy propaganda. (Cheers.) That is what we are asked to take upon ourselves. It is an outrage on the British name.
    • Speech in Edinburgh (25 September 1924), quoted in The Times (26 September 1924), p. 14
  • But contrast the attitude of the Socialist Government towards their Bolshevist friends and their attitude to the great self-governing Dominions of the Crown. To the enemies of Britain, of civilization, of freedom, to those who deserted us in the crises of the war—smiles, compliments, caresses, cash. But for Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, who sent their brave men to fight and die by scores of thousands, who never flinched and never wearied, who are bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh—to them nothing but frigid repulsion. Our bread for the Bolshevist serpent; our aid for the foreigner of every country; our favours for the Socialists all over the world who have no country; but for our own daughter States across the oceans, on whom the future of the British island and nation depends, only the cold stones of indifference, aversion, and neglect. (Cheers.) That is the policy with which the Socialist Government confronts us, and against that policy we will strive to marshal the unconquerable might of Britain.
    • Speech in Edinburgh (25 September 1924), quoted in The Times (26 September 1924), p. 14
Surely if a sense of self-preservation still exists among men...the prevention of the supreme catastrophe ought to be the paramount object of all endeavour.
  • Mankind has never been in this position before. Without having improved appreciably in virtue or enjoying wiser guidance, it has got into its hands for the first time the tools by which it can unfailingly accomplish its own extermination. That is the point in human destinies to which all the glories and toils of men have at last led them. They would do well to pause and ponder upon their new responsibilities...Surely if a sense of self-preservation still exists among men, if the will to live resides not merely in individuals or nations but in humanity as a whole, the prevention of the supreme catastrophe ought to be the paramount object of all endeavour.
    • Shall We All Commit Suicide?, 1924
  • I am most anxious that in dealing with matters which every Member knows are extremely delicate matters, I should not use any phrase or expression which would cause offence to our friends and Allies on the Continent or across the Atlantic Ocean.
    • Speaking on inter-Allied debts in the House of Commons (December 10, 1924); reported in Parliamentary Debates (Commons) (1925), 5th series, vol. 179, col. 259.
  • To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.
    • Winston Churchill (June 23, 1925), His complete speeches, 1897–1963, edited by Robert Rhodes James, Chelsea House ed., vol. 4 (1922–1928), p. 3706. During a debate with Philip Snowden, 1st Viscount Snowden.
    • Often misquoted as: To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.
  • The follies of Socialism are inexhaustible... Even among themselves they have twenty discordant factions who hate one another even more than they hate you and me. Their insincerity! Can you not feel a sense of disgust at the arrogant presumption of superiority of these people?.... Then when it comes to practice, down they fall with a wallop not only to the level of ordinary human beings but to a level which is even far below the average.
    • Winston S. Churchill, His Complete Speeches 1897-1963, Vol. IV, p. 3821, Town Hall, Battersea (1925, 11, December)
  • Too often the strong, silent man is silent only because he does not know what to say, and is reputed strong only because he has remained silent.
    • Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches (1974), Chelsea House, Volume IV: 1922–1928, p. 3462 ISBN 0835206939
  • Let them [Socialists] abandon the utter fallacy, the grotesque, erroneous, fatal blunder of believing that by limiting the enterprise of man, by riveting the shackles of a false equality... they will increase the well-being of the world.
    • Winston S. Churchill, His Complete Speeches 1897-1963, Vol. IV, p. 3821, (1926, 21 January)
  • I have never taken the view which seems to give so much pleasure to morbid and misanthropic minds, a view which they have spread so widely through the United States, that Britain is "down and out," that the foundations of her commercial and industrial greatness have been sapped, that the stamina of her people is impaired, that her workmen are mutinous and lazy, that her employers are pleasure-loving and benighted, that her institutions are crumbling, and that her Empire is falling to pieces.
    • Speech in Ulster Hall, Belfast (2 March 1926), quoted in The Times (3 March 1926), p. 21
  • I decline utterly to be impartial as between the fire brigade and the fire.
  • Make your minds perfectly clear that if ever you let loose upon us again a general strike, we will loose upon you — another "British Gazette."
    • Speech in the House of Commons, July 7, 1926 "Emergency Services" ; at this time, Churchill was serving as Chancellor of the Excheqer under Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin.
    • Threatening the Labour Party and trade union movement with a return of the Government-published newspaper he edited during that May's General Strike.
  • A sheep in sheep's clothing.
    • On Ramsay MacDonald. This is often taken as referring to Clement Attlee, but Scottish historian D. W. Brogan is cited in Safire's Political Dictionary (2008), William Safire, Oxford University Press US, p. 352 ISBN 0195343344 as follows: 'Sir Winston Churchill never said of Clement Attlee that he was a sheep in sheep's clothing. I have this on the excellent authority of Sir Winston himself. The phrase was totally inapplicable to Mr. Attlee. It was applicable, and applied, to J. Ramsay MacDonald, a very different kind of Labour leader.'
  • What a man! I have lost my heart! ... If I were Italian, I am sure I would have been with you entirely from the beginning of your victorious struggle against the bestial appetites and passion of Leninism. ... Your movement has rendered a service to the whole world. The greatest fear that ever tormented every Democratic or Socialist leader was that of being outbid or surpassed by some other leader more extreme than himself. It has been said that a continual movement to the Left, a kind of fatal landslide toward the abyss, has been the character of all revolutions. Italy has shown that there is a way to combat subversive forces.
    • On Benito Mussolini and Italian Fascism, in a press statement from Rome (20 January 1927), quoted in Churchill by Himself : The Definitive Collection of Quotations (2011) by Richard Langworth, p. 169
  • Italy has shown that there is a way of fighting the subversive forces which can rally the masses of the people, properly led, to value and wish to defend the honour and stability of stabilized society. She has provided the necessary antidote to the Russian poison. Hereafter no great nation will be unprovided with an ultimate means of protection against the cancerous growth of Bolshevism.
    • Press statement from Rome (20 January 1927), as quoted in Introduction: A Political-Biographical Sketch by Tariq Ali in Class War Conservatism and Other Essays (2015) by Ralph Miliband, with date of quote given in Go Betweens for Hitler by Karina Urbach.
  • Although trade is important, there are other and stronger bonds of Empire, and since the Conference of 1926 nothing but common interests and traditions have held the Empire together. But those are mighty ties, incomprehensible to Europeans, which have drawn millions of men from the far corners of the earth to the battlefields of France, and we must trust to them to continue to draw us together.
    • Speech in Toronto (16 August 1929), quoted in Martin Gilbert, The Churchill Documents, Volume 12: The Wilderness Years, 1929–1935 (1981; 2012), p. 51
  • Cultured people are merely the glittering scum which floats upon the deep river of production.
    • Quoted in Randolph Churchill's diary entry (24 August 1929), quoted in Martin Gilbert, The Churchill Documents, Volume 12: The Wilderness Years, 1929–1935 (1981; 2012), p. 55
  • The rescue of India from ages of barbarism, tyranny, and internecine war and its slow but ceaseless forward march to civilisation constitute upon the whole the finest achievement of our history.
    • Article for the Daily Mail (16 November 1929), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 356
  • Dominion status can certainly not be attained by a community which brands and treats sixty millions of its members, fellow human beings, toiling at their side, as 'Untouchables', whose approach is an affront and whose very presence is pollution. Dominion status can certainly not be attained while India is a prey to fierce racial and religious dissensions and when the withdrawal of British protection would mean the immediate resumption of mediaeval wars. It cannot be attained while the political classes in India represent only an insignificant fraction of the three hundred and fifty millions for whose welfare we are responsible.
    • Article for the Daily Mail (16 November 1929), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), pp. 356–357

The World Crisis (1923–1931)

  • Arabs would have sat in the dark forever had not the Zionist engineers harnessed the Jordan river for electrification. Now they swarm into Palestine in seeking the light. (1922)
  • The Great War through which we have passed differed from all ancient wars in the immense power of the combatants and their fearful agencies of destruction, and from all modern wars in the utter ruthlessness with which it was fought. ... Europe and large parts of Asia and Africa became one vast battlefield on which after years of struggle not armies but nations broke and ran. When all was over, Torture and Cannibalism were the only two expedients that the civilized, scientific, Christian States had been able to deny themselves: and these were of doubtful utility.
    • The World Crisis, 1911–1914 : Chapter I (The Vials of Wrath), Churchill, Butterworth (1923), pp. 10-11
  • We may now picture this great Fleet, with its flotillas and cruisers, steaming slowly out of Portland Harbour, squadron by squadron, scores of gigantic castles of steel wending their way across the misty, shining sea, like giants bowed in anxious thought. We may picture them again as darkness fell, eighteen miles of warships running at high speed and in absolute blackness through the narrow Straits, bearing with them into the broad waters of the North the safeguard of considerable affairs....The king's ships were at sea.
    • The World Crisis, 1911–1914 : Chapter IX (The Crisis), Churchill, Butterworth (1923), pp. 212-213
  • He was a cut flower in a vase; fair to see, yet bound to die, and to die very soon if the water was not constantly renewed.
    • Concerning Admiral von Spee’s East Asia Squadron
    • The World Crisis, 1911–1914 : Chapter XIII (On The Oceans), Churchill, Butterworth (1923), p. 295
  • There is always a strong case for doing nothing, especially for doing nothing yourself.
    • The World Crisis, 1911–1914 : Chapter XV (Antwerp), Churchill, Butterworth (1923), p. 340
  • Eaten bread is soon forgotten. Dangers which are warded off by effective precautions and foresight are never even remembered.
    • The World Crisis, 1911–1914 : Chapter XVII (The Grand Fleet and the Submarine Alarm), Churchill, Butterworth (1923), p. 399
  • Mechanical not less than strategic conditions had combined to produce at this early period in the war a deadlock both on sea and land. The strongest fleet was paralysed in its offensive by the menace of the mine and the torpedo. The strongest army was arrested in its advance by the machine gun......The mechanical danger must be overcome by a mechanical remedy.....Something must be discovered which would render ships immune from the torpedo, and make it unnecessary for soldiers to bare their breasts to the machine-gun hail.
    • The World Crisis, 1915 : Chapter I (The Deadlock in the West), Churchill, Butterworth (1923), pp. 22-23
  • Jellicoe was the only man on either side who could lose the war in an afternoon.
    • The World Crisis, 1916-1918 Part I : Chapter V (Jutland: The Preliminaries), Churchill, Butterworth (1927), pp. 112
  • Is this the end? Is it to be merely a chapter in a cruel and senseless story? Will a new generation in their turn be immolated to square the black accounts of the Teuton and Gaul? Will our children bleed and gasp again in devastated lands? Or will there spring from the very fires of conflict that reconciliation of the three giant combatants, which would unite their genius and secure to each in safety and freedom a share in rebuilding the glory of Europe.
    • The World Crisis, 1916-1918 Part II : Chapter XXIII (Victory), Churchill, Butterworth (1927), p. 544
  • An infected Russia, a plague-bearing Russia; a Russia of armed hordes not only smiting with bayonet and with cannon, but accompanied and preceded by swarms of typhus-bearing vermin which slew the bodies of men, and political doctrines which destroyed the health and even the souls of nations.
    • The Aftermath, by Winston Churchill (1929), p. 274
  • Great Britain could have no other object but to use her whole influence and resources consistently over a long period of years to weave France and Germany so closely together economically, socially and morally, as to prevent the occasion of quarrels and make their causes die in a realization of mutual prosperity and interdependence.
    • The World Crisis, The Aftermath : Chapter XX (The End of the World Crisis), Churchill, Butterworth (1929), p. 457
  • The choice was clearly open: crush them with vain and unstinted force, or try to give them what they want. These were the only alternatives, and though each had ardent advocates, most people were unprepared for either. Here indeed was the Irish spectre — horrid and inexorcisable.
    • The World Crisis, Volume V : the Aftermath (1929), Churchill, Butterworth (London).
  • She shone for me like the Evening Star. I loved her dearly — but at a distance.
    • On his mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, Chapter 1 (Childhood).
  • Where my reason, imagination or interest were not engaged, I would not or I could not learn.
    • Chapter 1 (Childhood).
  • Thus I got into my bones the essential structure of the ordinary British sentence, which is a noble thing.
    • On studying English rather than Latin at school, Chapter 2 (Harrow).
  • No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle.
    • My early life, 1874–1904 (1930), Churchill, Winston S., p. 45 (1996 Touchstone Edition), ISBN 0684823454
  • Headmasters have powers at their disposal with which Prime Ministers have never yet been invested.
    • Chapter 2 (Harrow).
  • I then had one of the three or four long intimate conversations with him which are all I can boast.
  • In retrospect these years form not only the least agreeable, but the only barren and unhappy period of my life. I was happy as a child with my toys in my nursery. I have been happier every year since I became a man. But this interlude of school makes a sombre grey patch upon the chart of my journey. It was an unending spell of worries that did not then seem petty, of toil uncheered by fruition; a time of discomfort, restriction and purposeless monotony. This train of thought must not lead me to exaggerate the character of my school days ... Harrow was a very good school ... Most of the boys were very happy ... I can only record the fact that, no doubt through my own shortcomings, I was an exception. ... I was on the whole considerably discouraged ... All my contemporaries and even younger boys seemed in every way better adapted to the conditions of our little world. They were far better both at the games and at the lessons. It is not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclassed and left behind at the very beginning of the race.
    • Chapter 3 (Examinations).
  • Certainly the prolonged education indispensable to the progress of Society is not natural to mankind. It cuts against the grain. A boy would like to follow his father in pursuit of food or prey. He would like to be doing serviceable things so far as his utmost strength allowed. He would like to be earning wages however small to help to keep up the home. He would like to have some leisure of his own to use or misuse as he pleased. He would ask little more than the right to work or starve. And then perhaps in the evenings a real love of learning would come to those who are worthy — and why try to stuff in those who are not? — and knowledge and thought would open the 'magic casements' of the mind.
    • Chapter 3 (Examinations).
  • I had a feeling once about Mathematics, that I saw it all—Depth beyond depth was revealed to me—the Byss and the Abyss. I saw, as one might see the transit of Venus—or even the Lord Mayor's Show, a quantity passing through infinity and changing its sign from plus to minus. I saw exactly how it happened and why the tergiversation was inevitable: and how the one step involved all the others. It was like politics. But it was after dinner and I let it go!
    • Chapter 3 (Examinations), p. 27.
  • Although always prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it should be postponed.
    • Chapter 4 (Sandhurst), p. 72.
  • Come on now all you young men, all over the world. You are needed more than ever now to fill the gap of a generation shorn by the war. You have not an hour to lose. You must take your places in Life's fighting line. Twenty to twenty-five! These are the years! Don't be content with things as they are. 'The earth is yours and the fulness thereof.' Enter upon your inheritance, accept your responsibilities. Raise the glorious flags again, advance them upon the new enemies, who constantly gather upon the front of the human army, and have only to be assaulted to be overthrown. Don't take No for an answer. Never submit to failure. Do not be fobbed off with mere personal success or acceptance. You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true, and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her.
    • End of Chapter 4 (Sandhurst).
    • The Netflix movie series "The Crown" (2016) attributes the following, modified citation to this source: "Hear this, young men and women everywhere, and proclaim it far and wide. The earth is yours and the fullness thereof. Be kind but be fierce. You're needed now more than ever before. Take up the mantle of change for this is your time."
  • I wonder whether any other generation has seen such astounding revolutions of data and values as those through which we have lived. Scarcely anything material or established which I was brought up to believe was permanent and vital, has lasted. Everything I was sure or taught to be sure was impossible, has happened.
    • Chapter 5 (The Fourth Hussars).
  • I have no doubt that the Romans planned the time-table of their days far better than we do. They rose before the sun at all seasons. Except in wartime we never see the dawn. Sometimes we see sunset. The message of sunset is sadness; the message of dawn is hope. The rest and the spell of sleep in the middle of the day refresh the human frame far more than a long night. We were not made by Nature to work, or even play, from eight o'clock in the morning till midnight. We throw a strain upon our system which is unfair and improvident. For every purpose of business or pleasure, mental or physical, we ought to break our days and our marches into two.
    • Chapter 6 (Cuba).
  • I do think unpunctuality is a vile habit, and all my life I have tried to break myself of it.
    • Chapter 7 (Hounslow).
  • I now began for the first time to envy those young cubs at the university who had fine scholars to tell them what was what; professors who had devoted their lives to mastering and focusing ideas in every branch of learning; who were eager to distribute the treasures they had gathered before they were overtaken by the night. But now I pity undergraduates, when I see what frivolous lives many of them lead in the midst of precious fleeting opportunity. After all, a man's Life must be nailed to a cross either of Thought or Action. Without work there is no play.
    • Chapter 9 (Education At Bangalore).
  • I accumulated in those years so fine a surplus in the Book of Observance that I have been drawing confidently upon it ever since.
    • Chapter 9 (Education At Bangalore).
  • It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations is an admirable work, and I studied it intently. The quotations when engraved upon the memory give you good thoughts. They also make you anxious to read the authors and look for more.
    • Chapter 9 (Education At Bangalore).
  • I had been brought up and trained to have the utmost contempt for people who got drunk — and I would have liked to have the boozing scholars of the Universities wheeled into line and properly chastised for their squalid misuse of what I must ever regard as a gift of the gods.
    • Chapter 10 (The Malakand Field Force).
  • When we all got back to camp, our General communicated by heliograph through a distant mountain top with Sir Bindon Blood at Nawagai. Sir Bindon and our leading brigade had thenselves been heavily attacked the night before. They had lost hundreds of animals and twenty or thirty men, but otherwise were none the worse. Sir Bindon sent orders that we were to stay in the Mamund valley and lay it waste with fire and sword in vengeance. This accordingly we did, but with great precautions. We proceeded systematically, village by village, and we destroyed the houses, filled up the wells, blew down the towers, cut down the great shady trees, burned the crops and broke the reservoirs in punitive devastation. So long as the villages were in the plain, this was quite easy. The tribesmen sat on the mountains and sullen watched the destruction of their homes and means of livelihood. When however we had to attack the villas on the sides of the mountains they resisted fiercely, and we lost for every village two or three British officers and fifteen or twenty native soldiers. Whether it was worth it, I cannot tell. At any rate, at the end of a fortnight the valley was a desert, and honour was satisfied.
    • Chapter 11 (The Mamund Valley). [2]
  • They knew so much more about the controversy than I did, that my bold broad generalities about liberty, equality and fraternity got seriously knocked about. I entrenched myself around the slogan "No slavery under the Union Jack." Slavery they suggested might be right or wrong: the Union Jack was no doubt a respectable piece of bunting: but what was the moral connection between the two? I had the same difficulty in discovering a foundation for the assertions I so confidently made, as I have found in arguing with the people who contend that the sun is only a figment of our imagination.
    • Chapter 16 (I Leave the Army)
  • Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realise that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events. Antiquated War Offices, weak, incompetent, or arrogant Commanders, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant Fortune, ugly surprises, awful miscalculations — all take their seats at the Council Board on the morrow of a declaration of war. Always remember, however sure you are that you could easily win, that there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance.

The 1930s

The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.
  • We are bound to further every honest and practical step which the nations of Europe may make to reduce the barriers which divide them and to nourish their common interests and common welfare. We rejoice at every diminution of the internal tariffs and martial armaments of Europe. We see nothing but good and hope in a richer, freer, more contented European commonalty. But we have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked, but not comprised. We are interested and associated, but not absorbed. And should European statesmen address us in the words which were used of old, 'Wouldest thou be spoken for to the king, or captain of the host?', we should reply, with the Shunammite woman: 'I dwell among mine own people.'
    • "The United States of Europe", The Saturday Evening Post (15 February 1930)
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol II, Churchill and Politics, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 184. ISBN 0903988437
  • [T]he inexorable duty which has come upon you to use your political power to help our Island out of the rotten state which it has now fallen. When I think of the way in which we poured out blood and money to take Contalmaison or to hold Ypres, I cannot understand why it is we should now throw away our conquests and our inheritance with both hands, through sheer helplessness and pusillanimity. In this disastrous year we have written ourselves down as a second Naval Power, squandered our authority in Egypt, and brought India to a position when the miserable public take it as an open question whether we should not clear out of the country altogether. Currently with all this, we have so reduced our reputation abroad and among our own dominions, that as you said the other night, 'they all think we are down and out'. My only interest in politics is to see this position retrieved.
    • Letter to Lord Beaverbrook (23 September 1930), quoted in Martin Gilbert, The Churchill Documents, Volume 12: The Wilderness Years, 1929–1935 (1981; 2012), p. 185
  • The truth is that Gandhi-ism and all it stands for will, sooner or later, have to be grappled with, and finally crushed. It is no use trying to satisfy a tiger by feeding him with cat's-meat. The sooner this is realised, the less trouble and misfortune will there be for all concerned.
    • Speech in Cannon Street Hotel, London (12 December 1930) at the first public meeting of the Indian Empire Society, quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 377
  • For 30 years I have watched from a central position the manifestations of the will power of Great Britain, and I do not believe the people will consent to be edged, pushed, talked and cozened out of India. No nation of which I am aware, great or small, has ever voluntarily or tamely suffered such an overwhelming injury to its interests or such a harsh abrogation of its rights. After all, there are British rights and interests in India. Two centuries of effort and achievement, lives given on a hundred fields, far more lives given and consumed in faithful and devoted service to the Indian people themselves. All this has earned us rights of our own in India.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (26 January 1931)
  • I remember, when I was a child, being taken to the celebrated Barnum's circus, which contained an exhibition of freaks and monstrosities. But the exhibit on the programme which I most desired to see was the one described as "The Boneless Wonder." My parents judged that that spectacle would be too revolting and demoralising for my youthful eyes, and I have waited 50 years to see the boneless wonder sitting on the Treasury Bench.
  • It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well-known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Vice-regal palace, while he is still organising and conducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representatives of the King-Emperor. Such a spectacle can only increase the unrest in India and the danger to which white people there are exposed. It can only encourage all the forces which are hostile to British authority.
    • Speech to the Council of the West Essex Conservative Association on Gandhi's meeting with the Viceroy of India (23 February 1931), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 390
  • Almost the only great real living popular chamber functioning in full power at the present time is the British House of Commons. What was the cradle of free institutions throughout the world is still their citadel. I am deeply anxious that its walls shall not be undermined by slow decay or overthrown by violent battering-rams. I believe that Parliamentary institutions are, upon the whole, the most tolerable form of government for men—and, of course, women—and I am animated solely by the desire to discover how the ancient institutions in our island can be given a new lease of life by being rendered capable of discharging effectually the duties they have claimed.
    • Rectorial address ("The present decline of Parliamentary government in Great Britain") to Edinburgh University (5 March 1931), quoted in The Times (6 March 1931), p. 19
  • The evils and dangers of which I speak are of slow growth, and their cure can only be gradual. Unless Great Britain is able by a united and well-instructed effort to grapple with her economic problems, and unless she is worthy to be the heart of her world-wide establishment, you here in this hall today will live long enough to lose not only your inheritance, but your livelihood. The continuance of our present confusion and disintegration will reduce us within a generation, and perhaps sooner, to the degree of States like Holland and Portugal, which nursed valiant races and held great possessions, but were stripped of them in the crush and competition of the world. That would be a melancholy end to all the old glories and recent triumphs.
    • Rectorial address ("The present decline of Parliamentary government in Great Britain") to Edinburgh University (5 March 1931), quoted in The Times (6 March 1931), p. 19
  • If Great Britain lost her Empire and India and her share in world trade and her sea power, she would be like a vast whale stranded in one your Scottish bays, which swam in upon the tide and then was left to choke and rot upon the sands. We should be like a great shop emporium in a district from which prosperity has for ever departed. We least of all peoples and races can afford to fail. Failure to us does not mean merely that we shall not improve. It means that we shall be ruined and frozen out.
    • Rectorial address ("The present decline of Parliamentary government in Great Britain") to Edinburgh University (5 March 1931), quoted in The Times (6 March 1931), p. 19
  • India is a geographical term. It is no more a united nation than the equator.
    • Speech at the Constitutional Club, London (26 March 1931).
  • Men and kings must be judged in the testing moments of their lives. Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because, as has been said, it is the quality which guarantees all others. Courage, physical and moral, King Alfonso has proved on every occasion of personal danger or political stress. Many years ago in the face of a difficult situation Alfonso made the proud declaration, no easy boast in Spain, “I was born on the throne, I shall die on it.”
    • In an article published in “Collier’s” magazine about King Alfonso XIII of Spain on 27 June 1931. Source: 1931 June 27, Collier’s, Unlucky Alfonso by Winston Churchill, Start Page 11, Quote Page 49, Column 2, P. F. Collier and Son, New York. (Unz Database). As quoted in: Quote Investigator (July 14, 2019): Courage Is Rightly Esteemed the First of Human Qualities Because . . . It Is the Quality Which Guarantees All Others. Archived from the original on July 7, 2023.
  • In the twinkling of an eye I found myself without an office, without a seat, without a party, and without an appendix.
    • "Election Memories", The Strand Magazine (September 1931).
    • Reproduced in Thoughts and Adventures, 1932.
  • We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.
    • "Fifty Years Hence", The Strand Magazine (December 1931).
  • dangerously; take things as they come; dread naught, all will be well.
    • My New York Misadventure, The Daily Mail, 4 and 5 January 1932
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol IV, Churchill at Large, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 94. ISBN 0903988453
  • We are stripped bare by the curse of plenty.
    • Lecture at Cleveland, Ohio (February 3, 1932), reported in Robert Rhodes James, ed., Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963 (1974), vol. 5, p. 5130; referring to the theory that over-production caused the Depression.
  • His great creation of the "Little Man" has become as much a reality in the popular mind as any live subject of caricature. Strube's Little Man is very different from Poy's Mr. John Citizen; but there is this in common between them: they both exhibit trials and misfortunes descending ceaselessly upon a weak and battered being. What a gulf separates these characterizations of our national type from the bluff, strong, hale, and hearty John Bull of former times, with his thick stick and his square-topped bowler hat and his resolute, rugged face! The change is due to post-War mentality. The exhausted nation weighed down by taxation, harried by Socialists; its trade declining, its doles expanding; the trident of the sea already gone, and the sceptre in the East about to fall! For such situations the careworn face of Strube's Little Man and Poy's haggard paterfamilias are well-suited.
    • 'Cartoons and Cartoonists', Thoughts and Adventures (1932), pp. 33-34
  • That abject, squalid, shameless avowal... It is a very disquieting and disgusting symptom... My mind turns across the narrow waters of Channel and the North Sea, where great nations stand determined to defend their national glories or national existence with their lives. I think of Germany, with its splendid clear-eyed youths marching forward on all the roads of the Reich singing their ancient songs, demanding to be conscripted into an army; eagerly seeking the most terrible weapons of war; burning to suffer and die for their fatherland. I think of Italy, with her ardent Fascisti, her renowned Chief, and stern sense of national duty. I think of France, anxious, peace-loving, pacifist to the core, but armed to the teeth and determined to survive as a great nation in the world. One can almost feel the curl of contempt upon the lips of the manhood of all these people when they read this message sent out by Oxford University in the name of young England.
    • Speech to the Anti-Socialist and Anti-Communist Union after the Oxford Union passed the motion "that this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country" (17 February 1933), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 456
  • [Fascism] is not a sign-post which would direct us here, for I firmly believe that our long experienced democracy will be able to preserve a parliamentary system of government with whatever modifications may be necessary from both extremes of arbitrary rule.
    • Speech to the Anti-Socialist and Anti-Communist Union (17 February 1933), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 457
  • I am strongly of opinion that we require to strengthen our armaments by air and upon the seas in order to make sure that we are still judges of our own fortunes, our own destinies and our own action... Not to have an adequate air force in the present state of the world is to compromise the foundations of national freedom and independence.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (14 March 1933)
  • "Thank God for the French army." When we read about Germany, when we watch with surprise and distress the tumultuous insurgence of ferocity and war spirit, the pitiless ill-treatment of minorities, the denial of the normal protections of civilised society to large numbers of individuals solely on the ground of race—when we see that occurring in one of the most gifted, learned, scientific and formidable nations in the world, one cannot help feeling glad that the fierce passions that are raging in Germany have not found, as yet, any other outlet but upon themselves. It seems to me that, at a moment like this, to ask France to halve her army while Germany doubles ask France to halve her air force while the German air force remains whatever it is...such a proposal, it seems to me, is likely to be considered by the French Government at present, at any rate, as somewhat unseasonable.
    • Speech in the House of Commons shortly after Hitler became Chancellor (23 March 1933)
  • We know that he has, more than any other man, the gift of compressing the largest number of words into the smallest amount of thought.
    • A jibe directed at Ramsay MacDonald, during a speech in the House of Commons, March 23, 1933 "European Situation". This quote is similar to a remark ("He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met") made by Abraham Lincoln. [Frederick Trevor Hill credits Lincoln with this remark in Lincoln the Lawyer (1906), adding that 'History has considerately sheltered the identity of the victim'.]
  • New discord has arisen in Europe of late years from the fact that Germany is not satisfied with the result of the late War. I have indicated several times that Germany got off lightly after the Great War. I know that that is not always a fashionable opinion, but the facts repudiate the idea that a Carthaginian peace was in fact imposed upon Germany. No division was made of the great masses of the German people. No portion of Germany inhabited by Germans was detached, except where there was the difficulty of disentangling the population of the Silesian border. No attempt was made to divide Germany as between the northern and southern portions which might well have tempted the conquerors at that time. No State was carved out of Germany. She underwent no serious territorial loss, except the loss of Alsace and Lorraine, which she herself had seized only 50 years before. The great mass of the Germans remained united after all that Europe had passed through, and they are more vehemently united to-day than ever before. You may talk of the War indemnity; what has happened there? I suppose that the Germans paid, in round terms, £1,000,000,000. But they had borrowed £2,000,000,000 at the same time, and there are no signs of their paying back.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (13 April 1933)
  • On the other hand, when we think of what would have happened to us, to France or to Belgium if the Germans had won; when we think of the terms which they exacted from Rumania, or of the terms of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk; when we remember that up to a few months of the end of the War German authorities refused to consider that Belgium could ever be liberated, but said that she should be kept in thrall for military purposes for ever, I do not think that we need break our hearts in deploring the treatment that Germany is receiving now. Germany is not satisfied; concession which has been made has produced any very marked appearance of gratitude. Once it has been conceded it has seemed less valuable than when it was demanded.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (13 April 1933)
  • Historians have noticed, all down the centuries, one peculiarity of the English people which has cost them dear. We have always thrown away after a victory the greater part of the advantages we gained in the struggle. The worst difficulties from which we suffer do not come from without. They come from within. They do not come from the cottages of the wage-earners. They come from a peculiar type of brainy people always found in our country, who, if they add something to its culture, take much from its strength. Our difficulties come from the mood of unwarrantable self-abasement into which we have been cast by a powerful section of our own intellectuals. They come from the acceptance of defeatist doctrines by a large proportion of our politicians. But what have they to offer but a vague internationalism, a squalid materialism, and the promise of impossible Utopias?
    • Speech to the Royal Society of St George (23 April 1933), Winston Churchill, Never Give In! Winston Churchill's Speeches (2013), p. 84
  • Nothing can save England if she will not save herself. If we lose faith in ourselves, in our capacity to guide and govern, if we lose our will to live, then indeed our story is told. If, while on all sides foreign nations are every day asserting a more aggressive and militant nationalism by arms and trade, we remain paralysed by our own theoretical doctrines or plunged into the stupor of after-war exhaustion, then indeed all that the croakers predict will come true, and our ruin will be swift and final. Stripped of her Empire in the Orient, deprived of the sovereignty of the seas, loaded with debt and taxation, her commerce and carrying trade shut out by foreign tariffs and quotas, England would sink to the level of a fifth-rate Power, and nothing would remain of all her glories except a population much larger than this island can support.
    • Speech to the Royal Society of St George (23 April 1933), Winston Churchill, Never Give In! Winston Churchill's Speeches (2013), p. 84
  • We must not despair, we must not for a moment pretend that we cannot face these things. Dangers come upon the world; other nations face them. When, in old days, the sea gave access to this island, it was a danger to this island, it made it the most invadable place at any point, but by taking proper measures our ancestors gained the command of the sea, and, consequently, what had been a means of inroad upon us became our sure shield and protection; and there is not the slightest reason why, with our ability and our resources, and our peaceful intentions, our desire only to live quietly here in our island, we should not raise up for ourselves a security in the air above us which will make us as free from serious molestation as did our control of blue water through bygone centuries.
    • Speech in the House of Commons during the debate on the Government's White Paper on Defence that announced an increase in the Royal Air Force (8 March 1934)
  • I dread the day when the means of threatening the heart of the British Empire should pass into the hands of the present rulers of Germany. I think we should be in a position which would be odious to every man who values freedom of action and independence, and also in a position of the utmost peril for our crowded, peaceful population, engaged in their daily toil. I dread that day, but it is not, perhaps, far distant. It is, perhaps, only a year, or perhaps 18 months, distant...There is still time for us to take the necessary measures, but what we want are the measures. We do not want this paragraph in this White Paper, we want the measures. It is no good writing that first paragraph and then producing £130,000. We want the measures to achieve parity.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (8 March 1934)
  • Broadly speaking, human beings may be divided into three classes: those who are toiled to death, those who are worried to death, and those who are bored to death.
    • Have You a Hobby?, Answers, 21 April 1934
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol IV, Churchill at Large, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 288. ISBN 0903988453
  • I marvel at the complacency of Ministers in the face of the frightful experiences through which we have all so newly passed. I look with wonder upon our thoughtless crowds disporting themselves in the summer sunshine, and upon this unfocused, unheeding House of Commons, which seems to have no higher function than to cheer a Minister. But what is happening across the narrow seas? A terrible process is astir. Germany is arming. That mighty race who fought and almost vanquished the whole world is on the march again. The whole nation is inspired with the idea of retrieving and avenging their defeat in the Great War. They have arisen from the pit of disaster in monstrous guise. ... And we are still pestering France to disarm, and we are still disarmed ourselves!
    • 'How I Would Procure Peace', Daily Mail (9 July 1934), quoted in Martin Gilbert, The Churchill Documents, Volume 12: The Wilderness Years, 1929–1935 (1981; 2012), p. 825, n. 3
  • What is the dominant fact of the situation? Germany is arming...Germany is arming particularly in the air. ... it seems of the utmost importance, not only that we should lose no time in putting ourselves in an adequate position of defence but, that we should keep close and friendly relations with other great Powers of a friendly character who have not fallen into the error which has overtaken us of late years, of neglecting the essentials of our own security.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (13 July 1934)
  • At the present time we are the sixth air Power in the world. But every State is rapidly expanding its air force. They are all expanding, but much more rapidly than we are doing. It is certain, therefore, 1936...we shall have fallen further behind other countries than we are now in air defence... If you extend your view over the [Government's] five-years' programme I believe it is also true to state that, having regard to the increases which are being made by other countries and which are projected, even if the whole programme is carried out, at the end of the period...we shall be worse off in 1939 relatively—it is relativity that counts in these matters—than we are now... Yet even for this tiny, timid, tentative, tardy increase of the Air Force, to which the Government have at length made up their mind, they are to be censured by the whole united forces of the Socialist and Liberal parties here and throughout the country.
    • Speech in the House of Commons on Labour's motion of censure against the Government for rearming (30 July 1934)
  • I am afraid that if you look intently at what is moving towards Great Britain, you will see that the only choice open is the old grim choice our forbears had to face, namely, whether we shall submit or whether we shall prepare. Whether we shall submit to the will of a stronger nation or whether we shall prepare to defend our rights, our liberties and indeed our lives.
    • On German rearmament; BBC broadcast (16 November 1934), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 566
  • If England had not resisted German militarism, in my view the German hegemony of Europe would have been established and our island would have had to face a united Continental army. It is the same old story from the days of Marlborough and Napoleon.
    • Letter to G. M. Trevelyan (3 January 1935), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 623
  • But what is this India Home Rule Bill? I will tell you. It is a gigantic quilt of jumbled crotchet work. There is no theme; there is no pattern; there is no agreement; there is no conviction; there is no simplicity; there is no courage. It is a monstrous monument of shame built by pygmies.
    • BBC broadcast (29 January 1935), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 595
  • The storm clouds are gathering over the European scene. Our defences have been neglected. Danger is in the air...yes, I say in the air. The mighty discontented nations are reaching out with the strong hands to regain what they have lost; nay, to gain a predominance which they have never had. Is this, then, the time to plunge our vast dependency of India into the melting-pot?
    • BBC broadcast (29 January 1935), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 596
  • War arises from both sides feeling they have a hope of victory.
    • The King's Twenty-Five Years. III. The Coronation and the Agadir Crisis. The Evening Standard, 4 May 1935
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol III, Churchill and People, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 351-2. ISBN 0903988445
  • If [Hitler's] proposal means that we should come to an understanding with Germany to dominate Europe I think this would be contrary to the whole of our history. You know the old fable of the jackal who went hunting with the tiger and what happened after the hunt was over. Thus Elizabeth resisted Philip II of Spain. Thus William III and Marlborough resisted Louis XIV. Thus Pitt resisted Napoleon, and thus we all resisted William II of Germany. Only by taking this path and effort have we preserved ourselves and our liberties, and reached our present position. I see no reason myself to change from this traditional view.
    • Letter to Lord Rothermere (12 May 1935), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), pp. 648−649
  • In the name of liberty you have done what liberty disowns. In the name of theoretical progress, you have opened the door to practical retrogression. In the name of appeasement and the popular will, you have prescribed a course of endless irritation. ... He has won his victory; he has won the victory for which he has fought hard, and long, and adroitly; but it is not a victory, in our opinion, for the interests of this country, nor a victory for the welfare of the peoples of India, and in the crashing cheers which no doubt will hail his majority to-night, we pray there may not mingle the knell of the British Empire in the East.
    • Speech in the House of Commons addressing the Secretary of State for India Samuel Hoare (5 June 1935)
  • Everyone can see the arguments against the English-speaking peoples becoming the policemen of the world.
    • To End War, Collier's, 29 June 1935
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 351-2. ISBN 0903988429
  • [In air power] so far from being half as strong again as Germany, so far from making up lee-way, we are already greatly inferior in numbers and falling further and further behind every month. ... No doubt it is not popular to say these things, but I am accustomed to abuse and I expect to have a great deal more of it before I have finished. Somebody has to state the truth. There ought to be a few members of the House of Commons who are in a sufficiently independent position to confront both Ministers and electors with unpalatable truths. We do not wish our ancient freedom and the decent tolerant civilisation we have preserved in this island to hang upon a rotten thread.
    • Speech to the City Carlton Club (26 September 1935), quoted in Martin Gilbert, The Churchill Documents, Volume 12: The Wilderness Years, 1929–1935 (1981; 2012), p. 1268
  • Mr. Gandhi has gone very high in my esteem since he stood up for the untouchables ... Well, you have the opportunity now. I do not like the [Indian Home Rule] Bill but it is now on the Statute Book. I am not going to bother any more, but do not give us a chance to say we anticipated a breakdown...So make it a success. ... My test of improvement in the lot of the masses, morally as well as materially. I do not care whether you are more or less loyal to Great Britain ... Tell Mr. Gandhi to use the powers that are offered and make the thing a success.
    • G.D. Birla's account of his conversation with Churchill in a letter to Gandhi (September 1935), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 618
  • I am genuinely sympathetic towards India. I have got real fears about the future. India, I feel is a burden on us. We have got to maintain an army and for the sake of India we have to maintain Singapore and Near East strength. If India could look after herself we would be delighted. ... I would be only too delighted if the Reforms are a success. I have all along felt that there are fifty Indias. But you have got the thing now; make it a success and if you do I will advocate your getting much more.
    • G.D. Birla's account of his conversation with Churchill in a letter to Gandhi (September 1935), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 619
  • The whole of Germany is an armed camp...The industries of Germany are mobilised for war to an extent to which ours were not mobilised even a year after the Great War had begun. The whole population is being trained from childhood up to war. A mighty army is coming into being. Many submarines are already exercising in the Baltics. Great cannon, tanks, machine guns and poison gas are fast accumulating. The Germans are even able to be great exporters of munitions as well as to develop their own enormous magazines. The German air force is developing at a great speed, and in spite of ruthless loss of life. We have no speedy prospect of equalling the German air force or of overtaking Germany in the air, whatever we do in the near future.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (24 October 1935)
  • Germany is already well on her way to become, and must become incomparably, the most heavily armed nation in the world and the nation most completely ready for war. There is the dominant factor; there is the factor which dwarfs all others, the factor which we find affecting the movements of politics and diplomacy in every country throughout Europe...we cannot have any anxieties comparable to the anxiety caused by German re-armament. The House will pardon me if I continue to press that anxiety upon it.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (24 October 1935)
  • We cannot afford to see Nazidom in its present phase of cruelty and intolerance, with all its hatreds and all its gleaming weapons, paramount in Europe at the present time.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (24 October 1935)
  • One may dislike Hitler's system and yet admire his patriotic achievement. If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as indomitable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations.
    • "Hitler and His Choice", The Strand Magazine (November 1935)
  • We cannot tell whether Hitler will be the man who will once again let loose upon the world another war in which civilisation will irretrievably succumb, or whether he will go down in history as the man who restored honour and peace of mind to the Great Germanic nation.
    • "Hitler and His Choice", The Strand Magazine (November 1935)
  • Hitherto, Hitler's triumphant career has been borne onwards, not only by a passionate love of Germany, but by currents of hatred so intense as to sear the souls of those who swim upon them.
    • "Hitler and His Choice", The Strand Magazine (November 1935), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 680
  • The twentieth century has witnessed with surprise, not merely the promulgation of these ferocious doctrines, but their enforcement with brutal vigour by the Government and by the populace. No past services, no proved patriotism, even wounds sustained in war, could procure immunity for persons whose only crime was that their parents had brought them into the world. Every kind of persecution, grave or petty, upon the world-famous scientists, writers, and composers at the top down to the wretched little Jewish children in the national schools, was practised, was glorified, and is still being practised and glorified.
    • "Hitler and His Choice", The Strand Magazine (November 1935), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 681
  • A free Press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right that freemen prize; it is the most dangerous foe of tyranny.
    • You Get It In Black And White, Collier's, 28 December 1935
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol IV, Churchill at Large, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 323. ISBN 0903988453
  • There is a great danger that the Parliamentary nations and merciful, tolerant forces in the world will be knocked out quite soon by the heavily armed, unmoral dictatorships. But I believe there is still time to organise a European mass, and perhaps a world mass which would confront them, overawe them, and perhaps let their peoples loose upon them.
    • Letter to Robert Cecil (9 April 1936), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 721
  • It seems a mad business to confront these dictators without weapons or military force, and at the same time try to tame and cow the spirit of our people with peace films, anti-recruiting propaganda and resistance to defence measures. Unless the free and law-respecting nations are prepared to organise, arm and combine, they are going to be smashed up. This is going to happen quite soon. But I believe we still have a year to combine and marshal superior forces in defence of the League and its Covenant.
    • Letter to Robert Cecil (9 April 1936), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 722
  • I can only see one thing. I see it sharper and harsher day by day. Germany is arming more strenuously, more scientifically and upon a larger scale, than any nation has ever armed before... All this has gone into making the most destructive war weapons and war arrangements that have ever been known: and there are four or five millions of active, intelligent, valiant Germans engaged in these process, working, as General Goering has told us, night and day. Surely these are facts which ought to bulk as large in ordinary peaceful peoples' minds as horse racing, a prize fight, a murder trial or nineteen-twentieths of the current newspaper bill of fare. What is it all for? Certainly it is not all for fun. Something quite extraordinary is afoot. All the signals are set for danger. The red lights flash through the gloom. Let peaceful folk beware. It is a time to pay attention and to be well prepared.
    • 'How Germany Is Arming' (1 May 1936), quoted in Winston Churchill, Step by Step, 1936–1939 (1939; 1947), pp. 13, 16
  • I certainly do not take the view that a war between England and Germany is inevitable. I fear very gravely however unless something happens to the Nazi regime in Germany there will be a devastating war in Europe, and it may come earlier than you expect. The only chance of stopping it is to have a union of nations, all well-armed and bound to defend each other, and thus confront the Nazi aggression with over-whelming force.
    • Letter to Lord Londonderry (6 May 1936), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 732
  • You are also mistaken in supposing that I have an anti-German obsession. British policy for four hundred years has been to oppose the strongest power in Europe by weaving together a combination of other countries strong enough to face the bully. Sometimes it is Spain, sometimes the French monarchy, sometimes the French Empire, sometimes Germany. I have no doubt who it is now...It is thus through the centuries we have kept our liberties and maintained our life and power.
    • Letter to Lord Londonderry (6 May 1936), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 733
  • If I read the future aright Hitler's government will confront Europe with a series of outrageous events and ever-growing military might. It is events which will show our dangers, though for some the lesson will come too late.
    • Letter to Lord Londonderry (6 May 1936), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 733
  • It must be very painful to a man of Lord Hugh Cecil's natural benevolence and human charity to find so many of God's children wandering simultaneously so far astray ... In these circumstances I would venture to suggest to my noble friend, whose gifts and virtues I have all my life admired, that some further refinement is needed in the catholicity of his condemnations.
    • Letter to The Times on 12 May 1936, responding to Lord Cecil equally denouncing Italy, France, Japan, the USSR, and Germany; Churchill said that the French did not deserve as much criticism as the others. Quoted by John Gunther in Inside Europe (1940), p. 329
  • [E]xcept for a few handfuls of ferocious romanticists, or sordid would-be profiteers, war spells nothing but toil, waste, sorrow and torment to the vast mass of ordinary folk in every land... No plan for stopping war at this present late hour is of any value unless it has behind it force, and the resolve to use that force... [S]afety will only come though a combination of pacific nations armed with overwhelming power, and capable of the same infinity of sacrifice, and indeed of the ruthlessness, which hitherto have been the attributes of the warrior mind. The scales of justice are vain without her sword. Peace in her present plight must have her constables. To bring the matter to an agate point, there must be a Grand Alliance of all the nations who wish for peace against the Potential Aggressor, whoever he may be. Let us, therefore, without delay make this Grand Alliance.
    • 'How To Stop War' (12 June 1936), quoted in Winston Churchill, Step by Step, 1936–1939 (1939; 1947), pp. 25-26
  • We have pushed taxation of wealth to a point in Great Britain where in many cases the yield would be greater if the rate were less. The idea that prosperity can be wooed by chasing millionaires is one of the most common and most foolish of modern popular delusions.
    • Soapbox Messiahs, Collier's, 20 June 1936
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol IV, Churchill at Large, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 335. ISBN 0903988453
  • Through our own folly and refusal to face realities and deal with evil tendencies while they were yet controllable, we have allowed brutal and intolerant forces to gain almost unchallenged supremacy in Europe and have placed ourselves in a position of weakness and peril, the like of which our history does not record for two and a half centuries.
    • Speech to the New Commonwealth Society (15 July 1936), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 764
  • I can well imagine some circles of smart society, some groups of wealthy financiers, and the elements in this country which are attracted by the idea of a Government strong enough to keep the working classes in order; people who hate democracy and freedom, I can well imagine such people accommodating themselves fairly easy to Nazi domination. But the Trade Unionists of Britain, the intellectuals of Socialism and Radicalism, they could no more bear it than the ordinary British Tory. It would be intolerable.
    • Speech in Horsham (23 July 1936), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 768
  • I do not like to hear people talking of England, Germany and Italy forming up against European communism.
    • Letter to Charles Corbin, the French Ambassador to Britain (31 July 1936), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 782
  • How could we bear, nursed as we have been in a free atmosphere, to be gagged and muzzled; to have spies, eavesdroppers and delators at every corner; to have even private conversations caught up and used against us by the Secret Police and all their agents and creatures; to be arrested and interned without trial; or to be tried by political or Party courts for crimes hitherto unknown to civil law. How could we bear to be treated like schoolboys when we are grown-up men; to be turned out on parade by tens of thousands to march and cheer for this slogan or for that; to see philosophers, teachers and authors bullied and toiled to death in concentration camps; to be forced every hour to conceal the natural workings of the human intellect and the pulsations of the human heart? Why, I say that rather than submit to such oppression, there is no length we would not go to.
    • Speech at Théâtre des Ambassadeurs, Paris (24 September 1936), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 788
  • We must recognise that we have a great treasure to guard; that the inheritance in our possession represents the prolonged achievement of the centuries; that there is not one of our simple uncounted rights today for which better men than we are have not died on the scaffold or the battlefield. We have not only a great treasure; we have a great cause. Are we taking every measure within our power to defend that cause?
  • The world looks with some awe upon a man who appears unconcernedly indifferent to home, money, comfort, rank, or even power and fame. The world feels not without a certain apprehension, that here is some one outside its jurisdiction; someone before whom its allurements may be spread in vain; some one strangely enfranchised, untamed, untrammelled by convention, moving independent of the ordinary currents of human action.
    • At an unveiling of a memorial to T. E. Lawrence at the Oxford High School for Boys (3 October 1936); as quoted in Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorized Biography of T.E. Lawrence (1989) by Jeremy M Wilson.
  • We live in a country where the people own the Government and not in a country where the Government owns the people. Thought is free, speech is free, religion is free, no one can say that the Press is not free. In short, we live in a liberal society, the direct product of the great advances in human dignity, stature and well-being which will ever be the glory of the nineteenth century.
    • I Ask You—What Price Freedom? Answers, 24 October 1936.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 360. ISBN 0903988429
  • It will not benefit the world if we succeed in banishing the old-fashioned wars of nations only to clear the board for social and doctrinal wars of even greater ferocity and destructiveness. This, indeed, is a growing danger. We were told that the old wars of religion had ended, but that is not much comfort if the wars of various kinds of secular religions or non-God religions are to begin and are to make Europe the arena of their hideous conflict, and if all that makes life worth living to the mass of the people is to be destroyed in the process.
    • I Ask You—What Price Freedom? Answers, 24 October 1936.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 364. ISBN 0903988429
  • I have heard it said that the Government had no mandate for rearmament until the General Election. Such a doctrine is wholly inadmissible. The responsibility of Ministers for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (12 November 1936)
  • Anyone can see what the position is. The Government simply cannot make up their mind, or they cannot get the Prime Minister to make up his mind. So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent. So we go on preparing more months and years — precious, perhaps vital to the greatness of Britain — for the locusts to eat.
  • I am trying to marshal all the forces I can to prevent this coming war, and to strengthen Britain.
    • Letter to Guy Fleetwood Wilson (13 November 1936), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 800
  • All the left wing intelligentsia are coming to look to me for protection and I will give it wholeheartedly in return for their aid in the rearmament of Britain.
    • Letter to Randolph Churchill (13 November 1936), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 800
  • Fascism and Communism... Polar opposites—no, polar the same!"
    • Churchill's remark to his son, Randolph Churchill. Quoted in Churchill: The Prophetic Statesman, James C. Humes, Washington D.C., Regnery Publishing (2012), p. 137.
  • [T]hey were gathered together on that platform with one object. They wanted to stop this war of which they had heard so much talk. They would like to stop it while time remained, for we had had enough of the last war not to want another. The seriousness and urgency of the danger was exemplified by the divergency of political opinion represented on the platform. We had reached a fateful milestone in human history.
    • Speech at the Albert Hall, London at a cross-party meeting organised by the League of Nations Union "in defence of freedom and peace" (3 December 1936), quoted in The Times (4 December 1936), p. 18
  • [The] apostles of various kinds of error presented themselves. They were those like Sir Oswald Mosley who were fascinated by the spectacle of brutal power. They would like to use it themselves. They grovelled to Nazi dictatorship in order that they could make people in their turn grovel to them... At the other end of the political scale were the Trotsky-ite Communists, furious fanatics whose sole aim was to throw the world into one supreme convulsion. Then there was Sir Stafford Cripps, who was in a class by himself. He wished British people to be conquered by the Nazis in order to urge them into becoming Bolsheviks. It seemed a long way round. (Laughter.) And not much enlightenment when they got to the end of their journey. Lastly, there were the absolute non-resisters like Canon Sheppard and Mr. Lansbury. They were pious men, but they would lead the country to ruin, even more surely than all the others.
    • Speech at the Albert Hall, London (3 December 1936), quoted in The Times (4 December 1936), p. 18
  • ...the war between the Nazis and the Communists; the war of the non-God religions, waged with the weapons of the twentieth century. The most striking fact about the new religions was their similarity. They substituted the devil for God and hatred for love.
    • Speech at the Albert Hall, London (3 December 1936), quoted in The Times (4 December 1936), p. 18
  • If present dangers were to be averted there must be loyal aid from the whole masses of the people; there must be voluntary and spontaneous comradeship; and there must even be a measure of self-imposed discipline. ... was it not time that the free nations, great or small, here or across the Atlantic Ocean, should take measures necessary to place themselves in a state of security and in a state of adequate defence, not only for their own safety but also that they might hold aloft the beacon-lights of freedom which would carry their rays of encouragement to the thinker and toiler in every land?
    • Speech at the Albert Hall, London (3 December 1936), quoted in The Times (4 December 1936), p. 18
  • Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because, as has been said, 'it is the quality which guarantees all others.'
  • The essence and foundation of House of Commons debating is formal conversation. The set speech, the harangue addressed to constituents, or to the wider public out of doors, has never succeeded much in our small wisely-built chamber. To do any good you have got to get down to grips with the subject and in human touch with the audience.
    • In Great Contemporaries, "Clemenceau" (1937)
  • Whatever one may think about democratic government, it is just as well to have practical experience of its rough and slatternly foundations. No part of the education of a politician is more indispensable than the fighting of elections.
    • In Great Contemporaries, "Lord Rosebery" (1937)
  • We desire to see the return of a liberal age where Parliaments will guard freedom, where science will open the banqueting halls to the millions, and where what Bismarck once called "practical Christianity" will mitigate suffering and misfortunes.
    • 'No Intervention In Spain' (8 January 1937), quoted in Winston Churchill, Step by Step, 1936–1939 (1939; 1947), p. 84
  • It is a strange thing that certain parts of the world should now be wishing to revive the old religious war. There are those non-God religions Nazism and Communism . . . I repudiate both and will have nothing to do with either... They are as alike as two peas. Tweedledum and Tweedledee were violently contrasted compared with them. You leave out God and you substitute the devil.
    • Manchester Guardian (26 January 1937) speech at Leeds Chamber of Commerce
  • Many Japanese speak English. But they do not think our thoughts. They worship at other shrines; profess another creed; observe a different code. They can no more be moved by Christian pacifism than wolves by the bleating of sheep. We have to deal with a people whose values are in many respects altogether different from our own.
    • The Mission of Japan, Collier's, 20 February 1937.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 365. ISBN 0903988429
  • I know that it is the Socialist idea that making profits is a vice, and that making large profits is something of which a man ought to be ashamed. I hold the other view. I consider that the real vice is making losses.
  • I do not believe in a major war this year because the French army at present is as large as that of Germany and far more mature. But next year and the year after may carry these Dictator-ridden countries to the climax of their armament and of their domestic embarrassments. We shall certainly need to be ready then.
    • Letter to Lord Linlithgow (23 September 1937), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 870
  • The wars fanned the wings of science, and science brought to mankind a thousand blessings, a thousand problems and a thousand perils.
    • This Age of Government by Great Dictators, News of the World, 10 October 1937
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol IV, Churchill at Large, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 395. ISBN 0903988453
  • You cannot expect English people to be attracted by the brutal intolerances of Nazidom... We certainly do not wish to pursue a policy inimical to the legitimate interests of Germany, but you must surely be aware that when the German Government speaks of friendship with England, what they mean is that we shall give them back their former Colonies, and also agree to their having a free hand so far as we are concerned in Central and Southern Europe. This means that they would devour Austria and Czecho-Slovakia as a preliminary to making a gigantic middle Europe-block. It would certainly not be in our interests to connive at such policies of aggression.
    • Letter to Lord Londonderry (23 October 1937), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 873
  • No one in England has ever wished to prevent the fullest expression of Scottish or Welsh traditions and customs. Indeed, their manifestation is regarded with pleasure and pride by the English people. We have reaped great advantages from this tolerant mood.
    • 'Yugoslavia and Europe' (29 October 1937), quoted in Winston Churchill, Step by Step, 1936–1939 (1939; 1947), p. 169
  • Three hundred years ago it would have seemed absurd to say that this black mineral, this sea-coal, which could be used as a substitute for wood to burn in one's grate, could be applied to revolutionize human affairs. Today we know that there is another source of energy a million times greater. We have not yet learned how to harness it or apply it, but it is there. Occasionally in complicated processes in the laboratory a scientist observes transmutations, re-arrangements in the core of the atom, which is known as the nucleus, which generate power at a rate hundreds of thousands of times greater than is produced when coal is burned and when, as the scientists put it, a carbon atom satisfied its affinity for an oxygen molecule. It can scarcely be doubted that a way to induce and control these effects can be found. The new fire is laid, but the particular kind of match is missing.
    • Vision of the Future Through Eyes of Science, News of the World, 31 October 1937
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol IV, Churchill at Large, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 414. ISBN 0903988453
  • The peace of Europe dwells under the shield of the French Army. But in a few years the German Army will be much larger than the French and increasingly its equal in maturity. The deadly years of our policy were 1934 and 1935. "The years that the locusts have eaten." I expect we shall experience the consequences of these years in the near future.
    • Letter to Lord Linlithgow (3 November 1937), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 886
  • I have to come to think myself in the last lap of life that one should always look back upon the history of the past, study it and meditate upon it. Thus one learns the main line of is wrong to be bound by the events and commitments of the last few years, unless these are sound and compatible with the main historic line. I am sure the right course is to know as much as possible about all that has happened in the world, and then to act entirely upon the merits from day to day. Of course, my ideal is narrow and limited. I want to see the British Empire preserved for a few more generations in its strength and splendour. Only the most prodigious exertions of British genius will achieve this result.
    • Letter to Lord Linlithgow (3 November 1937), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 886
  • Night and day the forges roar, the hammers descend, the hellish implements of slaughter pour out to multitudes of training troops. Statecraft is bankrupt. The unity of Christendom is a mockery. Nay, even the idea of Christianity is repudiated by a new paganism. No longer can the leading nations of the European family appeal to one another upon the New Testament. Grim war-gods from remote ages have stalked upon the scene. International good faith; the public law of Europe; the greatest good of the greatest number; the ideal of a fertile, tolerant, progressive, demilitarised, infinitely varied society, is shattered. Dictators ride to and fro on tigers from which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.
    • 'Armistice—or Peace?' (11 November 1937), quoted in Winston Churchill, Step by Step, 1936–1939 (1939; 1947), p. 174
  • The story of the human race is war. Except for brief and precarious interludes, there has never been peace in the world; and before history began, murderous strife was universal and unending.
    • Mankind is Confronted by One Supreme Task, News of the World, 14 November 1937
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol IV, Churchill at Large, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 421 ISBN 0903988453
  • [I]t is a horrible thing that a race of people should be attempted to be blotted out of the society in which they have been born, that from their earliest years little children should be segregated and that they should be exposed to scorn and odium. It is very painful. Moreover, it is not only in regard to Jews that there is intolerance. Religious opinions, Protestant and Catholic alike, are subject to a prejudice of which we fondly hoped and were brought up to believe, the nineteenth century had rid the world.
    • Speech in the House of Commons on the Nazis (21 December 1937)
  • On Christmas Day, 1914, the German soldiers on the Western Front ceased firing. They placed small Christmas trees on their trenches and declared that on this day there should be peace and goodwill among suffering men. Both sides came out of their trenches and met in the blasted No-Man's Land. They clasped each other's hands, they exchanged gifts and kind words. Together they buried the dead hitherto inaccessible and deprived of the rites which raise men above the brute. Let no man worthy of human stature banish this inspiration from his mind.
    • 'Panorama of 1937' (23 December 1937), quoted in Winston Churchill, Step by Step, 1936–1939 (1939; 1947), p. 188
  • The dictator Powers of Europe are striding on from strength to strength and from stroke to stroke, and the parliamentary democracies are retreating abashed and confused... Austria has been laid in thrall, and we do not know whether Czechoslovakia will not suffer a similar attack... It is because we have lost these opportunities of standing firm, of having strong united forces and a good heart, and a resolute desire to defend the right and afterwards to do generously as the result of strength; it is because we have lost these successive opportunities which have presented themselves, that, when our resources are less and the dangers greater, we have been brought to this pass. I predict that the day will come when at some point or other on some issue or other you will have to make a stand, and I pray God that when that day comes we may not find that through an unwise policy we are left to make that stand alone.
    • Speech in the House of Commons after the resignation of the Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden (22 February 1938)
  • For five years I have talked to the House on these matters – not with very great success. I have watched this famous island descending incontinently, fecklessly, the stairway which leads to a dark gulf. It is a fine broad stairway at the beginning, but after a bit the carpet ends. A little farther on there are only flagstones, and a little farther on still these break beneath your feet. [ ... ] Look back upon the last five years – since, that is to say, Germany began to rearm in earnest and openly to seek revenge ... historians a thousand years hence will still be baffled by the mystery of our affairs. They will never understand how it was that a victorious nation, with everything in hand, suffered themselves to be brought low, and to cast away all that they had gained by measureless sacrifice and absolute victory – gone with the wind! Now the victors are the vanquished, and those who threw down their arms in the field and sued for an armistice are striding on to world mastery. That is the position – that is the terrible transformation that has taken place bit by bit.
  • The shores of History are strewn with the wrecks of Empires.
    • Peopling the Wide, Open Spaces of Empire, News of the World, 22 May 1938
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol IV, Churchill at Large, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 444. ISBN 0903988453
  • Everything is overshadowed by the impending trial of will-power which is developing in Europe. I think we shall have to choose in the next few weeks between war and shame, and I have very little doubt what the decision will be.
    • Letter to David Lloyd George (13 August 1938), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 962
  • Owing to the neglect of our defences and the mishandling of the German problem in the last five years, we seem to be very near the bleak choice between War and Shame. My feel­ing is that we shall choose Shame, and then have War thrown in a lit­tle later on even more adverse terms than at present.
    • Letter to Lord Moyne (September 1938), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 972
  • The partition of Czechoslovakia under pressure from England and France amounts to the complete surrender of the Western Democracies to the Nazi threat of force. Such a collapse will bring peace or security neither to England nor to France. On the contrary, it will place these two nations in an ever weaker and more dangerous situation. ... It is not Czechoslovakia alone which is menaced, but also the freedom and the democracy of all nations. The belief that security can be obtained by throwing a small State to the wolves is a fatal delusion. The war potential of Germany will increase in a short time more rapidly than it will be possible for France and Great Britain to complete the measure necessary for their defence.
    • Statement to the Press (21 September 1938), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), pp. 978-979
  • It is the end of the British Empire.
    • Remark to Harold Nicolson after Neville Chamberlain flew to Godesberg to meet Hitler (22 September 1938) , quoted in Harold Nicolson, Diaries and Letters, 1930-1964 (1980), p. 134
  • [W]e have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat, and that France has suffered even more than we have... The utmost my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has been able to secure by all his immense exertions, by all the great efforts and mobilisation which took place in this country, and by all the anguish and strain through which we have passed in this country, the utmost he has been able to gain...for Czechoslovakia and in the matters which were in dispute has been that the German dictator, instead of snatching his victuals from the table, has been content to have them served to him course by course.
  • All is over. Silent, mournful, abandoned, broken, Czechoslovakia recedes into the darkness. She has suffered in every respect by her association with the Western democracies and with the League of Nations, of which she has always been an obedient servant.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (5 October 1938)
  • We in this country, as in other Liberal and democratic countries, have a perfect right to exalt the principle of self-determination, but it comes ill out of the mouths of those in totalitarian States who deny even the smallest element of toleration to every section and creed within their bounds.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (5 October 1938)
  • I venture to think that in future the Czechoslovak State cannot be maintained as an independent entity. You will find that in a period of time which may be measured by years, but may be measured only by months, Czechoslovakia will be engulfed in the Nazi régime... It is the most grievous consequence which we have yet experienced of what we have done and of what we have left undone in the last five years—five years of futile good intention, five years of eager search for the line of least resistance, five years of uninterrupted retreat of British power, five years of neglect of our air defences.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (5 October 1938)
  • We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude which has befallen Great Britain and France. Do not let us blind ourselves to that. It must now be accepted that all the countries of Central and Eastern Europe will make the best terms they can with the triumphant Nazi Power. The system of alliances in Central Europe upon which France has relied for her safety has been swept away, and I can see no means by which it can be reconstituted... If the Nazi dictator should choose to look westward, as he may, bitterly will France and England regret the loss of that fine army of ancient Bohemia which was estimated last week to require not fewer than 30 German divisions for its destruction.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (5 October 1938)
  • Many people, no doubt, honestly believe that they are only giving away the interests of Czechoslovakia, whereas I fear we shall find that we have deeply compromised, and perhaps fatally endangered, the safety and even the independence of Great Britain and France... You have to consider the character of the Nazi movement and the rule which it implies. The Prime Minister desires to see cordial relations between this country and Germany. There is no difficulty at all in having cordial relations with the German people. Our hearts go out to them. But they have no power. You must have diplomatic and correct relations, but there can never be friendship between the British democracy and the Nazi Power, that Power which spurns Christian ethics, which cheers its onward course by a barbarous paganism, which vaunts the spirit of aggression and conquest, which derives strength and perverted pleasure from persecution, and uses, as we have seen, with pitiless brutality the threat of murderous force. That Power cannot ever be the trusted friend of the British democracy.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (5 October 1938)
  • What I find unendurable is the sense of our country falling into the power, into the orbit and influence of Nazi Germany, and of our existence becoming dependent upon their good will or pleasure. It is to prevent that that I have tried my best to urge the maintenance of every bulwark of defence—first the timely creation of an Air Force superior to anything within striking distance of our shores; secondly, the gathering together of the collective strength of many nations; and thirdly, the making of alliances and military conventions, all within the Covenant, in order to gather together forces at any rate to restrain the onward movement of this Power. It has all been in vain. Every position has been successively undermined and abandoned on specious and plausible excuses.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (5 October 1938)
  • I do not grudge our loyal, brave people, who were ready to do their duty no matter what the cost, who never flinched under the strain of last week—I do not grudge them the natural, spontaneous outburst of joy and relief when they learned that the hard ordeal would no longer be required of them at the moment; but they should know the truth. They should know that there has been gross neglect and deficiency in our defences; they should know that we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road; they should know that we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies: "Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting." And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (5 October 1938)
  • People say we ought not to allow ourselves to be drawn into a theoretical antagonism between Nazidom and democracy; but the antagonism is here now. It is this very conflict of spiritual and moral ideas which gives the free countries a great part of their strength. You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. On all sides they are guarded by masses of armed men, cannons, aeroplanes, fortifications, and the like — they boast and vaunt themselves before the world, yet in their hearts there is unspoken fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts; words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home — all the more powerful because forbidden — terrify them. A little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic. They make frantic efforts to bar our thoughts and words; they are afraid of the workings of the human mind. Cannons, airplanes, they can manufacture in large quantities; but how are they to quell the natural promptings of human nature, which after all these centuries of trial and progress has inherited a whole armoury of potent and indestructible knowledge?
    • "The Defence of Freedom and Peace (The Lights are Going Out)", radio broadcast to the United States and to London (16 October 1938).
  • I have always said that if Great Britain were defeated in war I hoped we should find a Hitler to lead us back to our rightful position among the nations. I am sorry, however, that he has not been mellowed by the great success that has attended him. The whole world would rejoice to see the Hitler of peace and tolerance, and nothing would adorn his name in world history so much as acts of magnanimity and of mercy and of pity to the forlorn and friendless, to the weak and poor... Let this great man search his own heart and conscience before he accuses anyone of being a warmonger.
    • "Mr. Churchill's Reply" in The Times (7 November 1938).
  • Are we going to make a supreme additional effort to remain a great Power, or are we going to slide away into what seem to be easier, softer, less strenuous, less harassing courses, with all the tremendous renunciations which that decision implies? Is not this the moment when all should hear the deep, repeated strokes of the alarm bell, and when all should resolve that it shall be a call to action, and not the knell of our race and fame?
    • Speech in the House of Commons (17 November 1938)
  • The Prime Minister said...that where I failed, for all my brilliant gifts, was in the faculty of judging. I will gladly submit my judgement about foreign affairs and national defence during the last five years, in comparison with his own... In February the Prime Minister said the tension in Europe had greatly relaxed. A few weeks later Nazi Germany seized Austria. I predicted that he would repeat this statement as soon as the shock of the rape of Austria passed away. He did so in the very same words at the end of July. By the middle of August Germany was mobilising...which...ended in the complete destruction and absorption of the Republic of Czecho-Slovakia... [I]n November...he told us that Europe was settling down to a more peaceful state. The words were hardly out of his mouth before the Nazi atrocities on the Jewish population resounded throughout the civilised world.
    • Speech in Chingford (9 December 1938), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 1025
  • In 1934 I warned Mr. Baldwin that the Germans had a secret Air Force and were rapidly overhauling ours. I gave definite figures and forecasts. Of course, it was all denied with all the weight of official authority. I was depicted a scaremonger. Less than six months after Mr. Baldwin had to come down to the House and admit he was wrong... He got more applause for making this mistake, which may prove fatal to the British Empire and to British freedom, than ordinary people would do after they rendered some great service which added to its security and power. Well, Mr. Chamberlain was, next to Mr. Baldwin, the most powerful Member of that Government. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer. He knew all the facts. His judgment failed just like that of Mr. Baldwin and we are are suffering from the consequences today.
    • Speech in Chingford (9 December 1938), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 1026
  • To say that an arms race always leads to war seems to me to be putting the cart before the horse. A government resolved to attain ends detrimental to its neighbours, which does not shrink from the possibility of war, makes preparations for war, its neighbours take defensive action, and you say an arms race is beginning. But this is the symptom of the intention of one government to challenge or destroy its neighbours, not the cause of the conflict. The pace is set by the potential aggressor, and, failing collective action by the rest of the world to resist him, the alternatives are an arms race or surrender.
  • War is horrible, but slavery is worse, and you may be sure that the British people would rather go down fighting than live in servitude.
  • In the main, the theme is emerging of the growth of freedom and law, of the rights of the individual, of the subordination of the State to the fundamental and moral conceptions of an ever-comprehending community. Of these ideas the English-speaking peoples were the authors, then the trustees, and must now become the armed champions. Thus I condemn tyranny in whatever guise and from whatever quarter it presents itself. All this of course has a current application.
    • Letter to Maurice Ashley on his work on A History of the English Speaking Peoples (12 April 1939), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1976), p. 1063
  • You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war.[7]

The Second World War (1939–1945)

Winston Churchill addressing a joint session of the United States Congress, May 1943.
I never "worry" about action, but only about inaction.
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
  • Everyone can see how communism rots the soul of a nation. How it makes it abject in peace and proves it abominable in war.
    • Part of a speech played on the documentary Timewatch - Russia: A Century of Suspicion.
  • First, Poland has been again overrun by two of the great powers which held her in bondage for 150 years but were unable to quench the spirit of the Polish nation. The heroic defence of Warsaw shows that the soul of Poland is indestructible, and that she will rise again like a rock which may for a spell be submerged by a tidal wave but which remains a rock.
  • The traditional British view is that character is what matters in a general. They like a solid, simple man, with no newfangled nonsense about him. He should be preternaturally silent. If by chance he thinks at all he should not let this leak out, otherwise confidence would be destroyed.
    • Today's Battles. Collier's, 7 October 1939.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 487. ISBN 0903988429
  • The whole world is against Hitler and Hitlerism. Men of every race and clime feel that this monstrous apparition stands between them and the forward move which is their due, and for which the age is ripe. Even in Germany itself there are millions who stand aloof from the seething mass of criminality and corruption constituted by the Nazi Party machine. Let them take courage amid perplexities and perils, for it may well be that the final extinction of a baleful domination will pave the way to a broader solidarity of all the men in all the lands than we could ever have planned if we had not marched together through the fire.
    • Broadcast (12 November 1939), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 81
  • I never "worry" about action, but only about inaction.
    • Source: Winston Churchill (Author) and Richard Langworth (Editor) (28. Oktober 2008): Churchill by Himself: The Definitive Collection of Quotations. New York: PublicAffairs (1st Edition), page 160.
      • See also: 1940s. Passim. Martin Gilbert, The Churchill War Papers, Volume II: Never Surrender, May 1940-December 1940. London: Heinemann, New York: Norton, 1994, page xvi, where Sir Martin writes in his Preface: "Inefficiency, incompetence and negative attitudes roused his ire: I have indicated some examples of this in the Churchill index entry, under "rebukes by." He did not take kindly to what he called "a drizzle of carping criticism," or to those officials, military or civilian, who, as he expressed it, "failed to rise to the height of circumstances." Among his injunctions to his Ministers were, "Don't let this matter sleep," and, "I never 'worry' about action, but only about inaction.""
      • See also: In a letter, on page 1184 of the above work: Concerning "Operation Compass," the first major British offensive in North Africa, Churchill wrote to General Dill on 7 December 1940: "If, with the situation as it is, General Wavell is only playing small, and is not hurling on his whole available forces with furious energy, he will have failed to rise to the height of circumstances. I never "worry" about action, but only about inaction."
  • In the bitter and increasingly exacting conflict which lies before us we are resolved to keep nothing back, and not to be outstripped by any in service to the common cause. Let the great cities of Warsaw, of Prague, of Vienna banish despair even in the midst of their agony. Their liberation is sure. The day will come when the joybells will ring again throughout Europe, and when victorious nations, masters not only of their foes but of themselves, will plan and build in justice, in tradition, and in freedom a house of many mansions where there will be room for all.
    • Broadcast (20 January 1940), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 138
  • 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 policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is 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.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, after taking office as Prime Minister (13 May 1940) This has often been misquoted in the form: "I have nothing to offer but blood, sweat and tears ..."
    • The Official Report, House of Commons (5th Series), 13 May 1940, vol. 360, c. 1502. Audio records of the speech do spare out the "It is" before the in the beginning of the "Victory"-Part.
  • I speak to you for the first time as Prime Minister, in a solemn hour of the life of our country, of our Empire, of our Allies, and, above all, of the cause of Freedom. ... I am sure I speak for all when I say we are ready to face it; to endure it; and to retaliate against it—to any extent that the unwritten laws of war permit. There will be many men and women in this Island who when the ordeal comes upon them, as come it will, will feel comfort, and even a pride, that they are sharing the perils of our lads at the Front—soldiers, sailors and airmen, God bless them—and are drawing away from them a part at least of the onslaught they have to bear. Is not this the appointed time for all to make the utmost exertions in their power?
    • Broadcast (19 May 1940), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 363
  • We have differed and quarrelled in the past but now one bond unites us all—to wage war until victory is won, and never to surrender ourselves to servitude and shame, whatever the cost and the agony must be.
    • Broadcast (19 May 1940), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 364
  • Side by side ... the British and French peoples have advanced to rescue ... mankind from the foulest and most soul-destroying tyranny which has ever darkened and stained the pages of history. Behind them ... gather a group of shattered States and bludgeoned races: the Czechs, the Poles, the Norwegians, the Danes, the Dutch, the Belgians -- upon all of whom the long night of barbarism will descend, unbroken even by a star of hope, unless we conquer, as conquer we must; as conquer we shall.
  • I have thought carefully in these last days whether it was part of my duty to consider entering negotiations with That Man. But it was idle to think that, if we tried to make peace now, we should get better terms than if we fought it out. The Germans would demand our fleet—that would be called 'disarmament'—our naval bases, and much else. We should become a slave state, though a British Government which would be Hitler's puppet would be set up—under Mosley or some such person. And where should we be at the end of all that? On the other hand, we had immense reserves and advantages. And I am convinced that every man of you would rise up and tear me from my place if I were for one moment to contemplate parley or surrender. If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground.
    • Speech to the Cabinet (28 May 1940), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 420
  • I believe we shall make them rue the day they try to invade our island. No such discussion can be permitted.
    • Minute (1 June 1940) in response to the Foreign Office's suggestion that preparations should be made for the evacuation of the Royal Family and the British Government to "some part of the Overseas Empire", quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 449
  • No, bury them in caves and cellars. None must go. We are going to beat them.
    • Minute (1 June 1940) in response to the suggestion of Kenneth Clark (Director of the National Gallery) that the National Gallery's paintings should be sent to Canada, quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 449
  • Every morn brought forth a noble chance, and every chance brought forth a noble knight.
  • We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, 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, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the Old.
  • Enterprises must be prepared, with specially-trained troops of the hunter class, who can develop a reign of terror down these coasts, first of all on the "butcher and bolt" policy; but later on, or perhaps as soon as we are organised, we could surprise Calais or Boulogne, kill and capture the Hun garrison, and hold the place until all preparations to reduce it by siege or heavy storm have been made, and then away. The passive resistance war, in which we have acquitted ourselves so well, must come to an end. I look to the Joint Chiefs of the Staff to propose me measures for a vigorous, enterprising and ceaseless offensive against the whole German-occupied coastline.
  • The news from France is very bad, and I grieve for the gallant French people who have fallen into this terrible misfortune. Nothing will alter our feelings towards them or our faith that the genius of France will rise again. What has happened in France makes no difference to our actions and purpose. We have become the sole champions now in arms to defend the world cause. We shall do our best to be worthy of this high honour. We shall defend our Island home, and with the British Empire we shall fight on unconquerable until the curse of Hitler is lifted from the brows of mankind. We are sure that in the end all will come right.
    • Broadcast (17 June 1940), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 566
  • Of this I am quite sure, that if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future.
  • Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us now. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. 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.'
  • I certainly shd welcome any approach to Irish unity: but I have 40 years experience of its difficulties. I cd never be a party to the coercion of Ulster to join the Southern counties: but I am much in favour of their being persuaded. The key to this is de Valera showing some loyalty to Crown & Empire.
    • Letter and Minute (18 June 1940), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 433
  • Here in this strong City of Refuge which enshrines the title-deeds of human progress and is of deep consequence to Christian civilisation; here, girt about by the seas and oceans where the Navy reigns; shielded from above by the prowess and devotion of our airmen—we await undismayed the impending assault. Perhaps it will come tonight. Perhaps it will come next week. Perhaps it will never come. We must show ourselves equally capable of meeting a sudden violent shock or—what is perhaps a harder test—a prolonged vigil. But be the ordeal sharp or long, or both, we shall seek no terms, we shall tolerate no parley; we may show mercy—we shall ask for none.
    • Broadcast (14 July 1940), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 664
  • This is no war of chieftains or of princes, of dynasties or national ambition; it is a war of peoples and of causes. There are vast numbers, not only in this Island but in every land, who will render faithful service in this war, but whose names will never be known, whose deeds will never be recorded. This is a War of the Unknown Warrior; but let all strive without failing in faith or in duty, and the dark curse of Hitler will be lifted from our age.
    • Broadcast (14 July 1940), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 665
  • And now go and set Europe ablaze
    • Entry from Monday 22 July 1940, foundation of the Special Operations Executive (SOE)
    • Dalton, Hugh (1986). The Second World War Diary of Hugh Dalton 1940-45. Jonathan Cape. p. 62. ISBN 022402065X
  • The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day; but we must never forget that all the time, night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets in the darkness by the highest navigational skill, aim their attacks, often under the heaviest fire, often with serious loss, with deliberate careful discrimination, and inflict shattering blows upon the whole of the technical and war-making structure of the Nazi power.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, also known as "The Few", made on 20 August 1940. However Churchill first made his comment, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few" to General Hastings Ismay as they got into their car to leave RAF Uxbridge on 16 August 1940 after monitoring the battle from the Operations Room.Farewell to RAF Uxbridge. Global Aviation Resource (6 April 2010). Retrieved on 12 September 2010. Crozier, Hazel. RAF Uxbridge 90th Anniversary 1917–2007. RAF High Wycombe: Air Command Media Services.  Churchill repeated the quote in a speech to Parliament four days later complimenting the pilots in the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain. The speech in the House of Commons is often incorrectly cited as the origin of the popular phrase "never was so much owed by so many to so few". Queen Elizabeth II during her speech in Polish Parliament 26.03.1996 said that Churchill said "so few" about unforgettable and brave Polish pilots from Battle of Britain.
  • Now that they have begun to molest the capital, I want you to hit them hard − and Berlin is the place to hit them.
    • To the Chief of the Air Staff (26 August 1940) after the Luftwaffe bombed London, quoted in John Colville, The Fringes of Power: Downing Street Diaries 1939-1955 (1985), p. 230
  • We cannot tell when they will try to come; we cannot be sure that in fact they will come at all; but no one should blind himself to the fact that a heavy full-scale invasion of this Island is being prepared with all the usual German thoroughness and method, and that it may be launched at any time now. ... Therefore, we must regard the next week or so as a very important week for us in our history. It ranks with the days of the Spanish Armada was approaching the Channel, and Drake was finishing his game of bowls; or when Nelson stood between us and Napoleon's Grand Army at Boulogne. We have read all about this in the history books; but what is happening now is on a far greater scale and of far more consequence to the life and future of the world and its civilization than these brave old days of the past. Every man and every woman will therefore prepare himself to do his duty, whatever it may be, with special pride and care.
    • Broadcast (11 September 1940), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 778
  • This wicked man, the repository and embodiment of many forms of soul-destroying hatreds, this monstrous product of former wrongs and shame, has now resolved to try to break our famous Island race by a process of indiscriminate slaughter and destruction. What he has done is to kindle a fire in British hearts, here and all over the world, which will glow long after all traces of the conflagration he has caused in London have been removed. He has lighted a fire which will burn with a steady and consuming flame until the last vestiges of Nazi tyranny have been burnt out of Europe, and until the Old World—and the New—can join hands to rebuild the temples of man's freedom and man's honour, upon foundations which will not soon or easily be overthrown.
    • Broadcast (11 September 1940), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 779
  • We are waiting for the long-promised invasion. So are the fishes.
    • Radio broadcast, London, Dieu Protège La France [God protect France], October 21, 1940 (partial text).
  • Goodnight then: sleep to gather strength for the morning. For the morning will come. Brightly will it shine on the brave and true, kindly upon all who suffer for the cause, glorious upon the tombs of heroes. Thus will shine the dawn. Vive la France! Long live also the forward march of the common people in all the lands towards their just and true inheritance, and towards the broader and fuller age.
    • Radio broadcast, London, Dieu Protège La France [God protect France], October 21, 1940 (partial text).
  • Hitler, in one of his recent discourses, declared that the fight was between those who have been through the Adolf Hitler Schools and those who have been at Eton. Hitler has forgotten Harrow.
    • Speech to Harrow School (18 December 1940), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 949
  • When this war is won by this nation, as it surely will be, it must be one of our aims to work to establish a state of society where the advantage and privileges which hitherto have been enjoyed only by the few shall be far more widely shared by the many and the youth of the nation as a whole.
    • Speech to Harrow School (18 December 1940), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 950
  • The hour has come; kill the Hun.
    • How Churchill said he would end his speech if Germany invaded Britain (John Colville's diary entry for January 25, 1941). In The Churchill War Papers : 1941 (1993), ed. Gilbert, W.W. Norton, pp. 132–133 ISBN 0393019594
  • In order to win this war Hitler must destroy Great Britain. He may carry havoc into the Balkan States; he may tear great provinces out of Russia; he may march to the Caspian; he may march to the gates of India. All this will avail him nothing. It may spread his curse more widely throughout Europe and Asia, but it will not avert his doom. With every month that passes the many proud and once happy countries he is now holding down by brute force and vile intrigue are learning to hate the Prussian yoke and the Nazi name as nothing has ever been hated so fiercely and so widely among men before. And all the time, masters of the sea and air, the British Empire—nay, in a certain sense, the whole English-speaking world—will be on his track bearing with them the swords of justice.
    • Broadcast (9 February 1941), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 1009
  • Here is the answer which I will give to President Roosevelt: Put your confidence in us. ... We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools and we will finish the job.
    • BBC radio broadcast, February 9, 1941. In The Churchill War Papers : 1941 (1993), ed. Gilbert, W.W. Norton, pp. 199–200 ISBN 0393019594
  • I must point out ... that the British nation is unique in this respect. They are the only people who like to be told how bad things are, who like to be told the worst, and like to be told that they are very likely to get much worse in the future and must prepare themselves for further reverses.
  • No one has been a more consistent opponent of Communism than I have for the last twenty-five years. I will unsay no word that I have spoken about it. But all this fades away before the spectacle which is now unfolding. ... I see the Russian soldiers standing on the threshold of their native land, guarding the fields which their fathers have tilled from time immemorial. I see them guarding their homes where mothers and wives pray—ah, yes, for there are times when all pray—for the safety of their loved ones, for the return of the bread-winner, of their champion, of their protector. I see the ten thousand villages of Russia where the means of existence is wrung so hardly from the soil, but where there are still primordial human joys, where maidens laugh and children play.
    • Radio broadcast (22 June 1941) on the day Germany invaded the Soviet Union, quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 1120
  • I see advancing upon all this in hideous onslaught the Nazi war machine, with its clanking, heel-clicking, dandified Prussian officers, its crafty expert agents fresh from the cowing and tying down of a dozen countries. I see also the dull, drilled, docile, brutish masses of the Hun soldiery plodding on like a swarm of crawling locusts. I see the German bombers and fighters in the sky, still smarting from many a British whipping, delighted to find what they believe is an easier and a safer prey.
    • Radio broadcast (22 June 1941) on the day Germany invaded the Soviet Union, quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), pp. 1120-1121
  • I have to make the declaration, but can you doubt what our policy will be? We have but one aim and one single, irrevocable purpose. We are resolved to destroy Hitler and every vestige of the Nazi regime. From this nothing will turn us—nothing. We will never parley, we will never negotiate with Hitler or any of his gang. We shall fight him by land, we shall fight him by sea, we shall fight him in the air, until, with God's help, we have rid the earth of his shadow and liberated its peoples from his yoke. Any man or state who fights on against Nazidom will have our aid. Any man or state who marches with Hitler is our foe. That is our policy and that is our declaration. It follows therefore that we shall give whatever help we can to Russia and the Russian people.
    • Radio broadcast (22 June 1941) on the day Germany invaded the Soviet Union, quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 1121
  • Hitler is a monster of wickedness, insatiable in his lust for blood and plunder. Not content with having all Europe under his heel, or else terrorised into various forms of abject submission, he must now carry his work of butchery and desolation among the vast multitudes of Russia and of Asia. The terrible military machine — which we and the rest of the civilised world so foolishly, so supinely, so insensately allowed the Nazi gangsters to build up year by year from almost nothing — cannot stand idle lest it rust or fall to pieces. ... So now this bloodthirsty guttersnipe must launch his mechanized armies upon new fields of slaughter, pillage and devastation.
    • Radio broadcast on the German invasion of Russia, June 22, 1941. In The Churchill War Papers : 1941 (1993), W.W. Norton, pp. 835–836 ISBN 0393019594
  • We ask no favours of the enemy. We seek from them no compunction. On the contrary, if tonight the people of London were asked to cast their votes as to whether a convention should be entered into to stop the bombing of all cities, an overwhelming majority would cry, "No, we will mete out to the Germans the measure, and more than the measure, they have meted out to us." {applause} The people of London with one voice would say to Hitler: "You have committed every crime under the sun. Where you have been the least resisted there you have been the most brutal. It was you who began the indiscriminate bombing. We remember Warsaw! In the first few days of the war. We remember Rotterdam. We have been newly reminded of your habits by the hideous massacre in Belgrade. We know too well the bestial assaults you're making upon the Russian people, to whom our hearts go out in their valiant struggle! {cheers} We will have no truce or parley with you, or the grisly gang who work your wicked will! You do your worst! — and we will do our best! {sustained cheering} Perhaps it may be our turn soon. Perhaps it may be our turn now."
    • July 14, 1941, in a speech before the London County Council. The original can be found in Churchill's The Unrelenting Struggle (English edition 187; American edition 182) or in the Complete Speeches VI:6448.
  • The Russian Armies and all the peoples of the Russian Republic have rallied to the defence of their hearths and homes. ... The aggressor is surprised, startled, staggered. For the first time in his experience mass murder has become unprofitable. He retaliates by the most frightful cruelties. As his armies advance, whole districts are being exterminated. Scores of thousands—literally scores of thousands—of executions in cold blood are being perpetrated by the German police-troops upon the Russian patriots who defend their native soil. Since the Mongol invasions of Europe in the sixteenth century, there has never been methodical, merciless butchery on such a scale, or approaching such a scale. And this is but the beginning. Famine and pestilence have yet to follow in the bloody ruts of Hitler's tanks. We are in the presence of a crime without a name.
    • Broadcast (24 August 1941), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 1173
  • Never give in — never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
    • Speech given at Harrow School, Harrow, England, October 29, 1941. Quoted in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, 2008, p. 23 ISBN 1586486381
  • We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished. All this tradition of ours, our songs, our School history, this part of the history of this country, were gone and finished and liquidated. Very different is the mood today. Britain, other nations thought, had drawn a sponge across her slate. But instead our country stood in the gap. There was no flinching and no thought of giving in; and by what seemed almost a miracle to those outside these Islands, though we ourselves never doubted it, we now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer.
    • Speech to Harrow School (29 October 1941), quoted in Winston Churchill, Never Give In!: Winston Churchill's Speeches (2013), p. 255
  • We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy.
    • Speech before Joint Session of the Canadian Parliament, Ottawa (December 30, 1941)
    • The Yale Book of Quotations, ed. Fred R. Shapiro, Yale University Press (2006), p. 153 ISBN 0300107986
  • When we consider the resources of the United States and the British Empire compared to those of Japan, when we remember those of China, which has so long and valiantly withstood invasion and when also we observe the Russian menace which hangs over Japan, it becomes still more difficult to reconcile Japanese action with prudence or even with sanity. What kind of a people do they think we are? Is it possible they do not realise that we shall never cease to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson which they and the world will never forget?
    Members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives, I turn for one moment more from the turmoil and convulsions of the present to the broader basis of the future. Here we are together facing a group of mighty foes who seek our ruin; here we are together defending all that to free men is dear. Twice in a single generation the catastrophe of world war has fallen upon us; twice in our lifetime has the long arm of fate reached across the ocean to bring the United States into the forefront of the battle. If we had kept together after the last War, if we had taken common measures for our safety, this renewal of the curse need never have fallen upon us.
    Do we not owe it to ourselves, to our children, to mankind tormented, to make sure that these catastrophes shall not engulf us for the third time?
  • 'It is not given to us to peer into the mysteries of the future. Still, I avow my hope and faith, sure and inviolate, that in the days to come the British and American peoples will for their own safety and for the good of all walk together side by side in majesty, in justice, and in peace.
    • Ending of the Speech to a joint session of the United States Congress, Washington, D.C. (26 December 1941); reported in Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963, ed. Robert Rhodes James (1974), vol. 6, p. 6541. The Congressional Record reports that this speech was followed by "Prolonged applause, the Members of the Senate and their guests rising"; Congressional Record, vol. 87, p. 10119
  • Let me have the best solution worked out. Don't argue the matter. The difficulties will argue for themselves.
    • Memo (May 30, 1942) to the Chief of Combined Operations on the design of floating piers (which later became Mulberry Harbours) for use on landing beaches; in The Second World War, Volume V : Closing the Ring (1952) Chapter 4 (Westward Ho! Synthetic Harbours)
  • If Gandhi tries to start a really hostile movement against us in this crisis, I am of the opinion that he should be arrested, and that both British and United States opinion would support such a step. If he likes to starve himself to death, we cannot help that.
    • Minute (14 June 1942) to the Secretary of State for India before Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement, quoted in Martin Gilbert, Road to Victory: Winston S. Churchill, 1941-1945 (1986), p. 123
  • It was an experience of great interest to me to meet Premier Stalin ... It is very fortunate for Russia in her agony to have this great rugged war chief at her head. He is a man of massive outstanding personality, suited to the sombre and stormy times in which his life has been cast; a man of inexhaustible courage and will-power and a man direct and even blunt in speech, which, having been brought up in the House of Commons, I do not mind at all, especially when I have something to say of my own. Above all, he is a man with that saving sense of humour which is of high importance to all men and all nations, but particularly to great men and great nations. Stalin also left upon me the impression of a deep, cool wisdom and a complete absence of illusions of any kind. I believe I made him feel that we were good and faithful comrades in this war – but that, after all, is a matter which deeds not words will prove.
  • I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.
    • In conversation to Leo Amery, Secretary of State for India. This quotation is widely cited as written in "a letter to Leo Amery" (e.g., in "Jolly Good Fellows and Their Nasty Ways" by Vinay Lal in Times of India (15 January 2007)) but it is actually attributed to Churchill as a remark, in an entry for September 1942 in Leo Amery : Diaries (1988), edited John Barnes and David Nicholson, p. 832 : "During my talk with Winston he burst out with: 'I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion'."
  • I have not become the King's First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.
    • speech at Lord Mayor's Luncheon, Mansion House, London, November 10, 1942
    • The Yale Book of Quotations, ed. Fred R. Shapiro, Yale University Press (2006), p. 153 ISBN 0300107986
  • You might however consider whether you should not unfold as a background the great privilege of habeas corpus and trial by jury, which are the supreme protection invented by the English people for ordinary individuals against the state. The power of the Executive to cast a man in prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government, whether Nazi or Communist.
    • In a telegram (November 21, 1942) by Churchill from Cairo, Egypt to Home Secretary Herbert Morrison; cited in In the Highest Degree Odious (1992), Simpson, Clarendon Press, p. 391 ISBN 0198257759
  • The maxim Nothing avails but perfection may be spelt shorter: 'Paralysis.'
    • Minute [brief note] to General Ismay, December 6, 1942, on proposed improvements to landing-craft.
    • In The Second World War, Volume IV : The Hinge of Fate (1951), Appendix C.
  • I am sure it would be sensible to restrict as much as possible the work of these gentlemen, who are capable of doing an immense amount of harm with what may very easily degenerate into charlatanry. The tightest hand should be kept over them, and they should not be allowed to quarter themselves in large numbers among Fighting Services at the public expense.
    • On psychiatrists, in a letter to John Anderson, Lord President of the Council (December 19, 1942)
    • In The Second World War, Volume IV : The Hinge of Fate (1951), Appendix C.
  • I personally am very keen that a scheme for the amalgamation and extension of our present incomparable insurance system should have a leading place in our Four Years' Plan. I have been prominently connected with all these schemes of national compulsory organized thrift from the time when I brought Sir William Beveridge into the public service 35 years ago when I was creating the labour exchanges... I framed the first unemployment insurance scheme... [I]t fell to me, as Chancellor of the Exchequer 18 years ago, to lower the pensions age to 65 and to bring in the widows and orphans. The time is now ripe for another great advance.
    • Broadcast (21 March 1943), quoted in The Times (22 March 1943), p. 6
  • The best way to insure against unemployment is to have no unemployment. ... Idlers at the top make idlers at the bottom.
    • Broadcast (21 March 1943), quoted in The Times (22 March 1943), p. 6
  • It is absolutely certain we shall have to grow a larger proportion of our food at home. ... I hope to see a vigorous revival of healthy village life on the basis of these higher wages and of improved housing.
    • Broadcast (21 March 1943), quoted in The Times (22 March 1943), p. 6
  • We must establish on broad and solid foundations a National Health Service. Here let me say that there is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies. Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.
    • Broadcast (21 March 1943), quoted in The Times (22 March 1943), p. 6
  • By its sudden collapse, ... the proud German army has once again proved the truth of the saying, 'The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet'.
    • Speech before a Joint Session of Congress (May 19, 1943), Washington, D.C., in Never Give In! : The best of Winston Churchill's Speeches (2003), Hyperion, p. 352 ISBN 1401300561
  • The price of greatness is responsibility.
  • The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.
  • To achieve the extirpation of Nazi tyranny there are no lengths of violence to which we will not go.
    • Speech to Parliament, September 21, 1943. Quoted in Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War (2008) by Patrick J Buchanan, p. 396.
  • I have nothing to add to the reply which has already been sent.
  • I hate nobody except Hitler — and that is professional.
  • Everyone is in favour of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage
    • "The Coalmining Situation", Speech to the House of Commons (October 13, 1943)[8]
  • We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.
    • Speech to the House of Commons (October 28, 1943), on plans for the rebuilding of the Chamber (destroyed by an enemy bomb May 10, 1941), in Never Give In! : The best of Winston Churchill's Speeches (2003), Hyperion, p. 358 ISBN 1401300561
  • There are two main characteristics of the House of Commons which will command the approval and the support of reflective and experienced Members. They will, I have no doubt, sound odd to foreign ears. The first is that its shape should be oblong and not semi-circular. Here is a very potent factor in our political life. The semi-circular assembly, which appeals to political theorists, enables every individual or every group to move round the centre, adopting various shades of pink according as the weather changes. I am a convinced supporter of the party system in preference to the group system. I have sewn many earnest and ardent Parliaments destroyed by the group system. The party system is much favoured by the oblong form of Chamber. It is easy for an individual to move through those insensible gradations from Left to Right but the act of crossing the Floor is one which requires serious consideration. I am well informed on this matter, for I have accomplished that difficult process, not only once but twice.
    • Speech in the House of Commons after a bomb blast (28 October 1943)
  • The essence of good House of Commons speaking is the conversational style, the facility for quick, informal interruptions and interchanges. Harangues from a rostrum would be a bad substitute for the conversational style in which so much of our business is done. But the conversational style requires a fairly small space, and there should be on great occasions a sense of crowd and urgency. There should be a sense of the importance of much that is said and a sense that great matters are being decided, there and then, by the House. ... It has a collective personality which enjoys the regard of the public, and which imposes itself upon the conduct not only of individual Members but of parties.
  • The House of Commons has lifted our affairs above the mechanical sphere into the human sphere. It thrives on criticism, it is perfectly impervious to newspaper abuse or taunts from any quarter, and it is capable of digesting almost anything or almost any body of gentlemen, whatever be the views with which they arrive. There is no situation to which it cannot address itself with vigour and ingenuity. It is the citadel of British liberty; it is the foundation of our laws; its traditions and its privileges are as lively today as when it broke the arbitrary power of the Crown and substituted that Constitutional Monarchy under which we have enjoyed so many blessings.
  • 'In war-time,' I said, 'truth is so precious she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.'
    • Discussion of Operation Overlord with Stalin at the Teheran Conference (November 30, 1943); in The Second World War, Volume V : Closing the Ring (1952), Chapter 21 (Teheran: The Crux), p. 338
  • When I make a statement of facts within my knowledge I expect it to be accepted.
    • To Joseph Stalin in 1944, on the fact that there had been no plot between Britain and Germany to invade the Soviet Union. The Grand Alliance, Winston S. Churchill.
  • The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward. This is not a philosophical or political argument—any oculist will tell you this is true. The wider the span, the longer the continuity, the greater is the sense of duty in individual men and women, each contributing their brief life's work to the preservation and progress of the land in which they live, the society of which they are members, and the world of which they are the servants.
    • 2 March 1944, Speech to the Royal College of Physicians, London. Quoted in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 25 ISBN 1586486381
    • Often misquoted, see section "Misattributed" below
  • The Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.
    • Churchill By Himself: The Definitive Collections of Quotations, ed. Richard Langworth, 2008, p. 124, (circa 1944)
  • The discoveries of healing science must be the inheritance of all. That is clear. Disease must be attacked whether it occurs in the poorest or the richest man or woman, simply on the ground that it is the enemy; and it must be attacked just in the same way as the Government have adopted the policy outlined in the remarks of Lord Beaconsfield, health and the laws of health, and that is the course upon which we have embarked. Our policy is to create a national health service in order to ensure that everybody in the country, irrespective of means, age, sex, or occupation, shall have equal opportunities to benefit from the best and most up-to-date medical and allied services available.
    • Speech to the Royal College of Physicians at the Savoy Hotel (2 March 1944), quoted in The Times (3 March 1944), p. 2
  • The object of presenting medals, stars, and ribbons is to give pride and pleasure to those who have deserved them. At the same time a distinction is something which everybody does not possess. If all have it it is of less value ... A medal glitters, but it also casts a shadow.
  • There is no doubt that this is probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world, and it has been done by scientific machinery by nominally civilised men in the name of a great State and one of the leading races of Europe. It is quite clear that all concerned in this crime who may fall into our hands, including the people who only obeyed orders by carrying out the butcheries, should be put to death after their association with the murders has been proved.
  • I have left the obvious, essential fact till this point, namely, that it is the Russian Armies who have done the main work in tearing the guts out of the German army. In the air and on the oceans we could maintain our place, but there was no force in the world which could have been called into being, except after several more years, that would have been able to maul and break the German army unless it had been subjected to the terrible slaughter and manhandling that has fallen to it through the strength of the Russian Soviet Armies.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, August 2, 1944.[9]
  • I salute Marshal Stalin, the great champion, and I firmly believe that our 20 years' treaty with Russia will prove to be one of the most lasting and durable factors in preserving the peace and the good order and the progress of Europe.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, August 2, 1944.[9]
  • I don't like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand right back and if possible to get a pillar between me and the train. I don't like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second's action would end everything. A few drops of desperation.
    • Conversation with Lord Moran, August 14, 1944.
    • Lord Moran, Winston Churchill: The Struggle for Survival, 1940-1965 (London: Constable & Company, 1966), p. 167.
  • The Russians will sweep through your country and your people will be liquidated. You are on the verge of annihilation.
  • A love of tradition has never weakened a nation, indeed it has strengthened nations in their hour of peril; but the new view must come, the world must roll forward ... Let us have no fear of the future.
  • I hope very much that the archway into the Chamber from the Inner Lobby—where the Bar used to be—which was smitten by the blast of the explosion, and has acquired an appearance of antiquity that might not have been achieved by the hand of time in centuries, will be preserved intact, as a monument of the ordeal which Westminster has passed through in the Great War, and as a reminder to those who will come centuries after us that they may look back from time to time upon their forbears who "kept the bridge In the brave days of old."
  • It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed.
  • It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, February 27, 1945 "Crimea Conference"; in The Second World War, Volume VI: Triumph and Tragedy (1954), Chapter XXIII – Yalta: Finale.
  • Personally, having lived through all these European disturbances and studied carefully their causes, I am of the opinion that if the Allies at the peace table at Versailles had not imagined that the sweeping away of long-established dynasties was a form of progress, and if they had allowed a Hohenzollern, a Wittelsbach, and a Habsburg to return to their thrones, there would have been no Hitler. To Germany, a symbolic point on which the loyalties of the military classes could centre would have been found, and a democratic basis of society might have been preserved by a crowned Weimar in contact with the victorious Allies.
    • Telegram to Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen, British Ambassador to Turkey (26 April 1945), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Road to Victory: Winston S. Churchill, 1941-1945 (1986), p. 1314
  • We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead. Japan, with all her treachery and greed, remains unsubdued. The injury she has inflicted on Great Britain, the United States, and other countries, and her detestable cruelties, call for justice and retribution. We must now devote all our strength and resources to the completion of our task, both at home and abroad. Advance, Britannia! Long live the cause of freedom! God save the King.
    • Broadcast (8 May 1945) from the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street, quoted in Martin Gilbert, Road to Victory: Winston S. Churchill, 1941-1945 (1986), p. 1344
  • We all of us made our mistakes, but the strength of the Parliamentary institution has been shown to enable it at the same moment to preserve all the title-deeds of democracy while waging war in the most stern and protracted form. I wish to give my hearty thanks to men of all Parties, to everyone in every part of the House wherever they sit, for the way in which the liveliness of Parliamentary institutions has been maintained under the fire of the enemy, and for the way in which we have been able to persevere—and we could have persevered much longer if need had been—till all the objectives which we set before us for the procuring of the unlimited and unconditional surrender of the enemy had been achieved.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (8 May 1945), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Road to Victory: Winston S. Churchill, 1941-1945 (1986), p. 1346
  • God bless you all. This is your victory! [crowd: "No—it is yours."] It is the victory of the cause of freedom in every land. In all our long history we have never seen a greater day than this. Everyone, man or woman, has done their best. Everyone has tried. Neither the long years, nor the dangers, nor the fierce attack of the enemy, have in any way weakened the independent resolve of the British nation. God bless you all.
    • Speech to the crowd from the balcony of the Ministry of Health in Whitehall, London (8 May 1945), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Road to Victory: Winston S. Churchill, 1941-1945 (1986), p. 1347
  • Socialism is, in its essence, an attack not only upon British enterprise, but upon the right of the ordinary man or woman to breathe freely without having a harsh, clumsy, tyrannical hand clapped across their mouths and nostrils. A Free Parliament—look at that—a Free Parliament is odious to the Socialist doctrinaire.
    • Broadcast for the 1945 general election (4 June 1945), quoted in Martin Gilbert, 'Never Despair': Winston S. Churchill, 1945–1965 (1988), p. 33
  • No Socialist Government conducting the entire life and industry of the country could afford to allow free, sharp, or violently-worded expressions of public discontent. They would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo, no doubt very humanely directed in the first instance. And this would nip opinion in the bud; it would stop criticism as it reared its head, and it would gather all the power to the supreme party and the party leaders, rising like stately pinnacles above their vast bureaucracies of Civil Servants, no longer servants and no longer civil. And where would the ordinary simple folk—the common people, as they like to call them in America—where would they be, once this mighty organism had got them in its grip?
    • Broadcast for the 1945 general election (4 June 1945), quoted in Martin Gilbert, 'Never Despair': Winston S. Churchill, 1945–1965 (1988), p. 32
  • My friends, I must tell you that a Socialist policy is abhorrent to the British ideas of freedom. Although it is now put forward in the main by people who have a good grounding in the Liberalism and Radicalism of the early part of the century, there can be no doubt that Socialism is inseparably interwoven with Totalitarianism and the abject worship of the State. It is not alone that property, in all its form, is struck at, but that liberty, in all its form, is challenged by the fundamental conceptions of Socialism.
    • Broadcast for the 1945 general election (4 June 1945), quoted in Martin Gilbert, 'Never Despair': Winston S. Churchill, 1945–1965 (1988), pp. 33-34
  • How is an ordinary citizen or subject of the King to stand up against this formidable machine, which, once it is in power, will prescribe for every one of them where they are to work; what they are to work at; where they may go and what they may say; what views they are to hold and within what limits they may express them; where their wives are to go to queue up for the State ration; and what education their children are to receive to mould their views of human liberty and conduct in the future?
    • Broadcast for the 1945 general election (4 June 1945), quoted in Martin Gilbert, 'Never Despair': Winston S. Churchill, 1945–1965 (1988), p. 34
  • I spoke of the melancholy financial position of Great Britain. Half our foreign investments had been spent in the common cause when we stood alone. There is a great external debt of three thousand million pounds. We should require time to get on our feet again. The President listened closely, attentively and sympathetically. He spoke of the immense debt the Allies owed to Britain for that period when she fought alone. "If you had gone like France," he added, "we might well be fighting the Germans on the American coast at the present time."
    • Churchill's account of his conversation with President Truman (18 July 1945), quoted in Lord Moran, Winston Churchill: The Struggle for Survival, 1940-1965 (1968), p. 298
  • I am going to tell you something you must not tell to any human being. We have split the atom. The report of the great experiment has just come in. A bomb was let off in some wild spot in New Mexico. It was only a thirteen-pound bomb, but it made a crater half a mile across. People ten miles away lay with their feet towards the bomb; when it went off they rolled over and tried to look at the sky. But even with the darkest glasses it was impossible. It was the middle of the night, but it was as if seven suns had lit the earth; two hundred miles away the light could be seen. The bomb sent up smoke into the stratosphere...It is the Second Coming. The secret has been wrested from nature...Fire was the first discovery; this is the second.
    • Conversation with his doctor, Lord Moran (23 July 1945), quoted in Lord Moran, Winston Churchill: The Struggle for Survival, 1940-1965 (1968), p. 305

Post-war years (1945–1955)

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
We must all turn our backs upon the horrors of the past. We must look to the future. We cannot afford to drag forward across the years that are to come the hatreds and revenges which have sprung from the injuries of the past.
The salvation of the common people of every race and of every land from war or servitude must be guarded by the readiness of all men and women to die rather than submit to tyranny.
Democracy is not a caucus, obtaining a fixed term of office by promises, and then doing what it likes with the people. We hold that there ought to be a constant relationship between the rulers and the people. "Government of the people, by the people, for the people," still remains the sovereign definition of democracy.
Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
In War: Resolution. In Defeat: Defiance. In Victory: Magnanimity. In Peace: Good Will.
When you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite.
How many wars have been averted by patience and persisting good will! ... How many wars have been precipitated by firebrands! How many misunderstandings which led to wars could have been removed by temporizing!
Personally, I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.
I am an optimist — it does not seem to be much use being anything else.
  • Peace with Germany and Japan on our terms will not bring much rest to you and me (if I am still responsible). As I observed last time, when the war of the giants is over, the war of the pygmies will begin.
    • Telegram to FDR, March 18, 1945 [3]
  • The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
  • The most dangerous moment of the War, and the one which caused me the greatest alarm, was when the Japanese Fleet was heading for Ceylon and the naval base there. The capture of Ceylon, the consequent control of the Indian Ocean, and the possibility at the same time of a German conquest of Egypt would have closed the ring and the future would have been black.
    • Remarks on the April 5, 1942) Easter Sunday Raid on Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) on 5 April 1942. From a conversation at the British Embassy, Washington D.C. in 1946, as described by Leonard Birchall, RCAF, in Battle for the Skies (2004), Michael Paterson, David & Charles, ISBN 0715318152
  • The Dark Ages may return, the Stone Age may return on the gleaming wings of Science, and what might now shower immeasurable material blessings upon mankind, may even bring about its total destruction. Beware, I say; time may be short.
  • [Christopher Soames, Churchill's future son-in-law, remembered] Churchill showing him around Chartwell Farm [around 1946]. When they came to the piggery Churchill scratched one of the pigs and said: I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
    • Christopher Soames, speech at the Reform Club (28 April 1981), reported in Martin S. Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill. Volume Eight: Never Despair: 1945–1965. p. 304
  • Meeting Roosevelt was like uncorking your first bottle of champagne.
    • Winston Churchill's visit to FDR's grave site at Hyde Park, NY, reflecting on his past and the relationship he had with FDR, as quoted in PBS series, American Experience [The Presidents: FDR]
  • I think 'No Comment' is a splendid expression. I am using it again and again.
    • After using the phrase when interviewed by reporters in Miami on 12 February, 1946; quoted in Churchill's "Iron Curtain" Speech Fifty Years Later by James W. Muller, University of Missouri Press (1999), p. 20 ISBN 0826261221
  • The very first thing the President did was to show me the new Presidential Seal, which he had just redesigned. He explained, 'The seal has to go everywhere the President goes. It must be displayed upon the lectern when he speaks. The eagle used to face the arrows but I have re-designed it so that it now faces the olive branches ... what do you think?' I said, 'Mr. President, with the greatest respect, I would prefer the American eagle's neck to be on a swivel so that it could face the olive branches or the arrows, as the occasion might demand.'
  • When I was a young subaltern in the South African War, the water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable we had to put a bit of whiskey in it. By diligent effort I learned to like it.
    • Aboard the Presidential train during the journey to Fulton, Missouri (March 4, 1946); quoted in Conflict and Crisis by Robert Donovan, University of Missouri Press (1996), p. 190 ISBN 082621066X
  • A shadow has fallen upon the scenes so lately lighted by the Allied victory.... From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.
    • On Soviet communism and the Cold War, in a speech at Fulton, Missouri on March 5, 1946 (complete text). Churchill did not coin the phrase "iron curtain", however; the 1920 book Through Bolshevik Russia by English suffragette Ethel Snowden contained the line "We were behind the 'iron curtain' at last!" (This fact is mentioned in the article 'Anonymous was a Woman', Yale Alumni Magazine Jan/Feb 2011).
  • We must all turn our backs upon the horrors of the past. We must look to the future. We cannot afford to drag forward cross the years that are to come the hatreds and revenges which have sprung from the injuries of the past.
  • Is there any need for further floods of agony? Is the only lesson of history to be that mankind is unteachable? Let there be justice, mercy and freedom. The people have only to will it, and all will achieve their hearts' desire.
  • The salvation of the common people of every race and of every land from war or servitude must be established on solid foundations and must be guarded by the readiness of all men and women to die rather than submit to tyranny.
  • There is less there than meets the eye.
    • On Prime Minister Clement Attlee, to President Truman, in 1946. When Truman defended Attlee ('He seems a modest sort of fellow'), Churchill replied 'He's got a lot to be modest about.' As cited in The Origins of the Cold War in Europe (1994), Reynolds, Yale University Press, p. 93 ISBN 0300105622
  • I gather, young man, that you wish to be a Member of Parliament. The first lesson that you must learn is that, when I call for statistics about the rate of infant mortality, what I want is proof that fewer babies died when I was Prime Minister than when anyone else was Prime Minister. That is a political statistic.
    • When Churchill was in opposition after 1945, he led the Conservative Party in a debate about the Health Service. As he listened to Aneurin Bevan's opening speech, he called for some statistics about infant mortality ... [which were] supplied, copiously and accurately, by Iain Macleod, then working in the back rooms of the Conservative Research Department. But, in his speech, Churchill made only one bold and sweeping use ... [of Macleod's detailed research]. Encountering MacLeod afterward, Churchill made the above statement. As cited in The Life of Politics (1968), Henry Fairlie, Methuen, pp. 203-204.
  • It is with deep grief I watch the clattering down of the British Empire, with all its glories and all the services it has rendered to mankind. ... Many have defended Britain against her foes. None can defend her against herself.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (6 March 1947) on Indian independence
  • You may try to destroy wealth, and find that all you have done is to increase poverty.
    • Churchill By Himself: The Definitive Collections of Quotations, ed. Richard Langworth, 2008, p. 29 (1947, 12 March)
  • When I am abroad I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the Government of my country. I make up for lost time when I am at home.
    • In the House of Commons (18 April 1947), cited in The Oxford Dictionary of Political Quotations (1996), Jay, Oxford University Press, p. 93.
  • When I was younger I made it a rule never to take strong drink before lunch. It is now my rule never to do so before breakfast.
    • Reply to King George VI, on a cold morning at the airport. The King had asked if Churchill would take something to warm himself. As cited in Man of the Century (2002), Ramsden, Columbia University Press, p. 134 ISBN 0231131062
  • All the greatest things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: Freedom; Justice; Honour; Duty; Mercy; Hope.
    • United Europe Meeting, Albert Hall, London (May 14, 1947). Cited in Churchill by Himself, ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs (2008), p. 26 ISBN 1586486381
  • Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time; but there is the broad feeling in our country that the people should rule, continuously rule, and that public opinion, expressed by all constitutional means, should shape, guide, and control the actions of Ministers who are their servants and not their masters.
  • I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.
    • On his 75th birthday (1947), in reply to a question on whether he was afraid of death, quoted in the N. Y. Times Magazine on November 1, 1964, p. 40 according to Quote It Completely! (1998), Gerhart, Wm. S. Hein Publishing, p. 262 ISBN 1575884003
  • One foggy afternoon in November 1947 I was painting in my studio... when I suddenly felt an odd sensation. I turned round... and there, sitting in my red leather upright armchair, was my father. He looked just as I had seen him in his prime...
    [towards the end of their conversation] "Papa," I said, "in each of them about thirty million men were killed in battle. In the last one seven million were murdered in cold blood, mainly by the Germans. They made human slaughter-pens like the Chicago stockyards. Europe is a ruin. Many of her cities have been blown to pieces by bombs... Far gone are the days of Queen Victoria and a settled world order. But, having gone through so much, we do not despair."... He said:
    "Winston, you have told me a terrible tale. I would never have believed that such things could happen. I am glad I did not live to see them. As I listened to you unfolding these fearful facts you seemed to know a great deal about them. I never expected that you would develop so far and so fully. Of course you are too old now to think about such things, but when I hear you talk I really wonder you didn't go into politics. You might have done a lot to help..."
    He gave me a benignant smile. He then took the match to light his cigarette and struck it. There was a tiny flash. He vanished. The chair was empty...
  • When losses are made, under the present system those losses are borne by the individuals who sustained them and took the risk and judged things wrongly, whereas under State management all losses are quartered upon the taxpayers and the community as a whole. The elimination of the profit motive and of self-interest as a practical guide in the myriad transactions of daily life will restrict, paralyse and destroy British ingenuity, thrift, contrivance and good housekeeping at every stage in our life and production, and will reduce all our industries from a profit-making to a loss-making process.
    • Churchill By Himself: The Definitive Collections of Quotations, ed. Richard Langworth, 2008, p. 394, Belle Vue, Manchester (Europe, p. 212) (1947, 6 December)
  • For my part, I consider that it will be found much better by all Parties to leave the past to history, especially as I propose to write that history myself.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (January 23, 1948), cited in The Yale Book of Quotations (2006), Fred R. Shapiro, Yale University Press, p. 154 ISBN 0300107986
    • This quote may be the basis for a statement often attributed to Churchill : History will be kind to me. For I intend to write it.
  • We may indeed ask ourselves how it is that capitalism and free enterprise enable the United States not only to support its vast and varied life and needs, but also to supply these enormous sums to lighten the burden of others in distress.
    • Churchill By Himself: The Definitive Collections of Quotations, ed. Richard Langworth, 2008, p. 124 (1948, 21 April)
  • The Socialists dilate upon the National Insurance Scheme, Family Allowances, improved education, welfare foods, food subsidies, and so forth. They point to the benefits flowing to the people from these schemes and particularly to the housewives and children... All these schemes were devised and set in motion in days before the Socialists came to office. They all date from the National Coalition Government of which I was the head. I have worked at national insurance schemes almost all my life and am responsible for several of the largest measures ever passed. The main principles of the new Health Schemes were hammered out in the days of the Coalition Government, before the party and personal malignancy of Mr Bevan plunged health policy into its present confusion.
    • Speech to Conservative women (21 April 1948), quoted in Paul Addison, Churchill On The Home Front, 1900–1955 (1992), p. 399
  • The Family Allowance Act was passed by the Conservative Caretaker Government. School milk was started in 1934 by a Conservative Parliament. The idea of welfare foods was largely developed by Lord Woolton. The Education Act was the work of Mr Butler... These facts should be repeated on every occasion by those who wish the truths to be known.
    • Speech to Conservative women (21 April 1948), quoted in Paul Addison, Churchill On The Home Front, 1900–1955 (1992), pp. 399-400
  • Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy.
    • Speech (May 28, 1948) at the Scottish Unionist Conference, Perth, Scotland, in Never Give In! : The best of Winston Churchill's Speeches (2003), Hyperion, p. 446 ISBN 1401300561
  • When I see the present Socialist Government denouncing capitalism in all its forms, mocking with derision and contempt the tremendous free enterprise capitalist system on which the mighty production of the United States is founded, I cannot help feeling that as a nation we are not acting honourably or even honestly.
    • Churchill By Himself: The Definitive Collections of Quotations, ed. Richard Langworth, 2008, p. 124, (1948, 10 July) Woodford, Essex, Europe, 374)
  • I think the day will come when it will be recognized without doubt, not only on one side of the House, but throughout the civilized world, that the strangling of Bolshevism at its birth would have been an untold blessing to the human race.
    • In the House of Commons, (26 January 1949)[10]
  • If you make 10,000 regulations you destroy all respect for the law.
    • In the House of Commons (3 February 1949), as quoted in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 17 ISBN 1586486381
  • The choice is between two ways of life: between individual liberty and State domination; between concentrations of ownership in the hands of the State and the extension of ownership over the widest number of individuals; between the dead hand of monopoly and the stimulus of competition; between a policy of increasing restraint and a policy of liberating energy and ingenuity; between a policy of leveling down and a policy of opportunity for all to rise upwards from a basic standard.
    • Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches 1897-1963, Vol. VII, New York: Chelsea House/Bowker, (1974), Wolverhampton, (23 July 1949) p. 7835

  • Broadly speaking, short words are best, and the old words, when short, are best of all.
    • Speech on receiving the London Times Literary Award November 2, 1949
    • Never Give In! The Best of Winston Churchill's Speeches, Hyperion (2003), p. 453 ISBN ISBN 1401300561
  • The reason for having diplomatic relations is not to confer a compliment, but to secure a convenience.
    • In the House of Commons (17 November 1949) "Foreign Affairs", on diplomatic recognition of the People's Republic of China, as cited in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 16 ISBN 1586486381
  • I cannot conceive that Britain would be an ordinary member of a Federal Union limited to Europe in any period which can at present be foreseen. We should in my opinion favour and help forward all developments on the Continent which arise naturally from a removal of barriers, from the process of reconciliation, and blessed oblivion of the terrible past, and also from our common dangers in the future and present. Although a hard-and-fast concrete federal constitution for Europe is not within the scope of practical affairs, we should help, sponsor and aid in every possible way the movement towards European unity. We should seek steadfastly for means to become intimately associated with it.
    • The Schuman Plan, Speech in the House of Commons, June 27, 1950
  • It excites world wonder in the Parliamentary countries that we should build a Chamber, starting afresh, which can only seat two-thirds of its Members. It is difficult to explain this to those who do not know our ways. They cannot easily be made to understand why we consider that the intensity, passion, intimacy, informality and spontaneity of our Debates constitute the personality of the House of Commons and endow it at once with its focus and its strength.
  • The object of Parliament is to substitute argument for fisticuffs.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (June 6, 1951) ; in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 22 ISBN 1586486381
  • Let us look back on the conduct of Mr. Attlee and his friends in the years before the war. The Labour Party denounced the Baldwin Government for "planning a vast and expensive rearmament programme"...Mr. Attlee said on November 10, 1935: "The National Government is preparing a great programme of rearmament which will endanger the peace of the world". Mr. Morrison, in the same month, said "the Government leaders are all urging a policy of rearmament, and Mr. Chamberlain is ready and anxious to spend millions of pounds on machines of destruction". I suppose those must have been the aeroplanes which saved us in the Battle of Britain. And, again: "Every vote for the Unionists would be a vote for an international race in arms, and a vote for that was a vote for war". Such was the language of the Socialist leaders in the years while Hitler's Germany was rearming night and day. ... And the election of 1945, the Labour Party gained great credit by denouncing the Chamberlain Government as guilty men for not having made larger and more timely arrangements.
    • Speech in Woodford (12 October 1951), quoted in The Times (13 October 1951), p. 9
  • I look back with pride to the great measures of social reform—Unemployment Insurance, Labour Exchanges, Safety in the Coalmines, bringing Old Age Pensions down from seventy to sixty-five years of age, the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions—for which I have been responsible both as a Liberal and a Conservative Minister. I find comfort in the broad harmony of thought which prevails between the modern Tory democracy and the doctrines of the famous Liberal leaders of the past. I am sure that in accord with their speeches and writings, men like Asquith, Morley and Grey, whom I knew so well in my youth, would have regarded the establishment of a Socialist State and the enforcement of the collectivist theory as one of the worst evils that could befall Britain and her slowly-evolved, long-cherished way of life.
    • Speech at Huddersfield Town Hall (15 October 1951), quoted in Winston Churchill, Stemming the Tide: Speeches 1951 and 1952 (1953), p. 149
  • The Chinese said of themselves several thousand years ago: "China is a sea that salts all the waters that flow into it." There's another Chinese saying about their country which is much more modern—it dates only from the fourth century. This is the saying: "The tail of China is large and will not be wagged." I like that one. The British democracy approves the principles of movable party heads and unwaggable national tails. It is due to the working of these important forces that I have the honour to be addressing you at this moment.
    • Address to a joint session of Congress, Washington, D.C. (January 17, 1952); reported in Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963, ed. Robert Rhodes James (1974), vol. 8, p. 8326.
  • But now let me return to my theme of the many changes that have taken place since I was last here. There is a jocular saying: 'To improve is to change; to be perfect is to have changed often.' I had to use that once or twice in my long career.
    • Address to a joint session of Congress, Washington, D.C., (17 January 1952) "We Must Not Lose Hope", in The Great Republic : A History of America (2000), Churchill, Random House, p. 399 ISBN 0375754407
  • [T]omorrow the proclamation of her sovereignty will command the loyalty of her native land and of all other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire. I, whose youth was passed in the august, unchallenged and tranquil glories of the Victorian Era, may well feel a thrill in invoking, once more, the prayer and the Anthem, GOD SAVE THE QUEEN.
    • Broadcast upon the accession of Elizabeth II (7 February 1952) , quoted in Winston Churchill, Stemming the Tide: Speeches 1951 and 1952 (1953), p. 240
  • I am against the monopoly enjoyed by the BBC. For eleven years they kept me off the air. They prevented me from expressing views which have proved to be right. Their behaviour has been tyrannical. They are honeycombed with Socialists—probably with Communists.
    • Remarks to Lord Moran (3 June 1952), quoted in Lord Moran, Winston Churchill: The Struggle for Survival, 1940-1965 (1966; 1968), p. 416.
  • Last week I watched the Trooping the Colour and our young Queen riding at the head of her Guards... Certainly no one of British race could contemplate such a spectacle without pride. But no thinking man or woman could escape the terrible question: on what does it all stand? It does indeed seem hard that the traditions and triumphs of a thousand years should be challenged by the ebb and flow of markets and commercial and financial transactions...and that we have to watch from month to month the narrow margins upon which our solvency and consequently our reputation and influence depend. But fifty million islanders growing food for only thirty millions, and dependent for the rest upon their exertions, their skill and their genius, present a problem which has not been seen or at least recorded before. In all history there has never been a community so large, so complex, so sure of its way of life, posed at such dizzy eminence and on so precarious a foundation.
    • Speech at the Savoy Hotel, London (11 June 1952), quoted in Winston Churchill, Stemming the Tide: Speeches 1951 and 1952 (1953), pp. 298-299
  • Personally, I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught, but I shall not attempt to foreshadow the proposals which will be brought before the House tomorrow. Today it will be sufficient and appropriate to deal with the obvious difficulties and confusion of the situation as we found it on taking office.
    • In debate in the House of Commons, 4 Nov 1952
  • We in this small Island have to make a supreme effort to maintain our place and status, the place and status to which our undying genius entitles us.
    • Speech at Harrow School, 7 November 1952. Quoted in Field Marshal Lord Michael Carver: "Tightrope Walking" (1992), pg 34
  • Nicholas Soames: "Is it true, grandpapa, that you are the greatest man in the world?" Churchill: "Yes I am. Now bugger off."
    • Approximately 1953[11]
  • Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.
  • To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.
    • Remarks at a White House luncheon (26 June 1954)
    • Quoted in "Churchill Urges Patience in Coping with Red Dangers". The New York Times. June 27, 1954. 
    • Has been falsely attributed to Otto von Bismarck.
    • But Churchill's official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, speaking of this quote, noted that Churchill actually said, "Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war." Four years later, during a visit to Australia, Harold Macmillan said the words usually—and wrongly—attributed to Churchill: "Jaw, jaw is better than war, war." Credit: Harold Macmillan.[12]
  • If I had been properly supported in 1919, I think we might have strangled Bolshevism in its cradle, but everybody turned up their hands and said, 'How shocking!'
    • Remarks to the National Press Club, Washington (28 June 1954)[13]
  • I read with great interest all that you have written me about what is called Colonialism, namely: bringing forward backward races and opening up the jungles. I was brought up to feel proud of much that we had done. Certainly in India, with all its history, religion and ancient forms of despotic rule, Britain has a story to tell which will look quite well against the background of the coming hundred years... I am sceptical about universal suffrage for the Hottentots even if refined by proportional representation. The British and American Democracies were slowly and painfully forged and even they are not perfect yet.
    • Letter to President Eisenhower (8 August 1954), quoted in Martin Gilbert, 'Never Despair': Winston S. Churchill, 1945–1965 (1988), pp. 1040-1041. Cf. Lord Salisbury: "You would not confide free representative institutions to the Hottentots".
  • We have surmounted all the perils and endured all the agonies of the past. We shall provide against and thus prevail over the dangers and problems of the future, withhold no sacrifice, grudge no toil, seek no sordid gain, fear no foe. All will be well. We have, I believe, within us the life-strength and guiding light by which the tormented world around us may find the harbour of safety, after a storm-beaten voyage.
  • For myself I am an optimist — it does not seem to be much use being anything else.
    • Lord Mayor's Banquet, Guildhall, London (9 November 1954) The Unwritten Alliance, page 195, Columbia University, NY (1966),page 195,
  • I have lived my life in the House of Commons, having served there for 52 out of the last 54 years of this tumultuous and convulsive century. I have indeed seen all the ups and downs of fate and fortune there, but I have never ceased to love and honour the Mother of Parliaments, the model of the legislative assemblies of so many lands.
    • Speech in Westminster Hall for his eightieth birthday (30 November 1954), quoted in The Times (1 December 1954), p. 11
  • I was very glad when Mr. Attlee described my speeches in the late war as expressing the will not only of Parliament but of the whole nation. I have never accepted what many people have kindly said—namely, that I inspired the nation. Their will was resolute and remorseless and it proved unconquerable. It fell to me to express it and if I found the right word you must remember that I have always earned my living by my pen, and by my tongue.
    • Speech in Westminster Hall (30 November 1954), quoted in The Times (1 December 1954), p. 11
  • It was the nation and the race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion's heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.
    • Speech in Westminster Hall (30 November 1954), quoted in The Times (1 December 1954), p. 11
  • An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile — hoping it will eat him last.
    • In Reader's Digest (December 1954).
  • "Keep England White" is a good slogan.
    • On Commonwealth immigration, recorded in Harold Macmillan's diary entry (20 January 1955), quoted in Peter Catterall (ed.), The Macmillan Diaries: The Cabinet Years, 1950-57 (Macmillan, 2003), p. 382
  • I have worked very hard with Nehru. I told him he should be the light of Asia, to show all those mil­lions how they can shine out, instead of accept­ing the dark­ness of Com­mu­nism.
    • 18 Feb­ru­ary 1955, WSC to Eden's pri­vate sec­re­tary Eve­lyn Shuckburgh.
  • There is widespread belief throughout the free world that, but for American nuclear superiority, Europe would already have been reduced to satellite status and the Iron Curtain would have reached the Atlantic and the Channel. Unless a trustworthy and universal agreement upon disarmament, conventional and nuclear alike, can be reached and an effective system of inspection is established and is actually working, there is only one sane policy for the free world in the next few years. That is what we call defence through deterrents. This we have already adopted and proclaimed. These deterrents may at any time become the parents of disarmament, provided that they deter. To make our contribution to the deterrent we must ourselves possess the most up-to-date nuclear weapons, and the means of delivering them.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (1 March 1955)
  • I have a strong admiration for the Russian people—for their bravery, their many gifts, and their kindly nature. It is the Communist dictatorship and the declared ambition of the Communist Party and their proselytising activities that we are bound to resist, and that is what makes this great world cleavage.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (1 March 1955)
  • Hitherto, crowded the United Kingdom and Western Europe, have had this outstanding vulnerability to carry. But the hydrogen bomb, with its vast range of destruction and the even wider area of contamination, would be effective also against nations whose population hitherto has been so widely dispersed over large land areas as to make them feel that they were not in any danger at all. They, too, become highly vulnerable ... Here again we see the value of deterrents, immune against surprise and well understood by all persons on both sides—I repeat "on both sides"—who have the power to control events. That is why I have hoped for a long time for a top level conference where these matters could be put plainly and bluntly from one friendly visitor to the conference to another. Then it may well be that we shall by a process of sublime irony have reached a stage in this story where safety will be the sturdy child of terror, and survival the twin brother of annihilation.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (1 March 1955)
  • The day may dawn when fair play, love for one's fellow men, respect for justice and freedom, will enable tormented generations to march forth triumphant from the hideous epoch in which we have to dwell. Meanwhile, never flinch, never weary, never despair.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (1 March 1955)
  • I think it is the most important subject facing this country, but I cannot get any of my ministers to take any notice.
    • To Sir Ian Gilmour on Commonwealth immigration to England in 1955, quoted in Ian Gilmour, Inside Right (Hutchinson, 1977), p. 134
  • It remains for me to wish my colleagues all good fortune in the difficult, but hopeful, situation which you have to face. I trust that you will be enabled to further the progress already made in rebuilding the domestic stability and economic strength of the United Kingdom and in weaving still more closely the threads which bind together the countries of the Commonwealth or, as I still prefer to call it, the Empire.
    • Speech to his last Cabinet (5 April 1955), quoted in Henry Pelling, Churchill's Peacetime Ministry, 1951–55 (1997), p. 175
  • No, no. I stop in Victoria's reign. I could not write about the woe and ruin of the terrible twentieth century. We answered all the tests. But it was useless.
    • His answer to Lord Moran, who asked him whether he would write about the 20th century in his A History of the English Speaking Peoples (19 June 1956), quoted in Lord Moran, Winston Churchill: The Struggle for Survival, 1940–1965 (1966; 1968), p. 732
  • Among our Socialist opponents there is great confusion. Some of them regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Only a handful see it for what it really is—the strong and willing horse that pulls the whole cart along.
    • The Unwritten Alliance: Speeches 1953-1959, London: Cassell, (1961), p. 324, Woodford, Essex, (1959, 29 September)
  • We are all worms. But I do believe I am a glow-worm.
    • As quoted by Violet Bonham-Carter in Winston Churchill as I Knew Him (1965), according to The Yale Book of Quotations (2006), Fred R. Shapiro, Yale University Press, p. 155 ISBN 0300107986
  • I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.
    • As cited in The Forbes Book of Business Quotations (2007), Ed. Goodwin, Black Dog Publishing, p. 49, ISBN 1579127215
  • It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.
    • As cited in The Forbes Book of Business Quotations (2007), Ed. Goodwin, Black Dog Publishing, p. 168, ISBN 1579127215
  • I am a sporting man. I always give them a fair chance to get away.
    • Asked why he missed so many trains and aeroplanes, as cited in My Darling Clementine (1963), Fishman, W.H. Allen : Star Books edition (1974), p. 218 ISBN 0352300191
  • We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.
    • Quoted in Words of Wisdom: Winston Churchill, Students' Academy, Lulu Press (2014), Section Three : ISBN 1312396598
  • Historians are apt to judge war ministers less by the victories achieved under their direction than by the political results which flowed from them. Judged by that standard, I am not sure that I shall be held to have done very well.
    • Quoted by Robert Boothby in Robert Boothy, Recollections of a Rebel (1978), pp. 183–84.
  • Take away that pudding – it has no theme.
    • As cited in Oxford Dictionary of Quotations by Subject (2010), ed. Susan Ratcliffe, Oxford University Press, p. 193 : ISBN 0199567069 ; reported in The Way the Wind Blows (1976), Lord Home, Quadrangle, p. 217.
  • This Treasury paper, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.
    • As cited in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 50, ISBN 1586486389
  • I want no criticism of America at my table. The Americans criticize themselves more than enough.
    • As cited in Churchill By Himself (2008), Ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 128 ISBN 1586486381
  • My ability to persuade my wife to marry me [was] quite my most brilliant achievement ... Of course, it would have been impossible for any ordinary man to have got through what I had to go through in peace and war without the devoted aid of what we call, in England, one's better half.
    • As cited in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 511, ISBN 1586489577
  • Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.
    • As quoted in the United States of America Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 105th Congress Second Session, Government Printing Office, Vol. 144, Part 4, p. 5738

The Second World War (1948–1953)

  • Fascism was the shadow or ugly child of communism... As Fascism sprang from Communism, so Nazism developed from Fascism. Thus were set on foot those kindred movements which were destined soon to plunge the world into more hideous strife, which none can say has ended with their destruction.
    • The Second World War, Volume 1, The Gathering Storm, Mariner Books (1985), pp. 13-14. First published in 1948.
  • One day President Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once 'The Unnecessary War'.
    • The Second World War, Volume I : The Gathering Storm (1948).
  • Their horse cavalry, of which they had twelve brigades, charged valiantly against the swarming tanks and armoured cars but could not harm them with their swords and lances.
    • On the Polish defense against Germany, in The Second World War, Volume I : The Gathering Storm (1948).
  • I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.
    • On his appointment as Prime Minister, May 10, 1940; The Second World War, Volume I : The Gathering Storm (1948).
  • Those who are prone, by temperament and character, to seek sharp and clear-cut solutions of difficult and obscure problems, who are ready to fight whenever some challenge comes from a foreign power, have not always been right. On the other hand, those whose inclination is to bow their heads, to seek patiently and faithfully for peaceful compromise, are not always wrong. On the contrary, in the majority of instances they may be right, not only morally, but from a practical standpoint. How many wars have been averted by patience and persisting good will! Religion and virtue alike lend their sanctions to meekness and humility, not only between men but between nations. How many wars have been precipitated by firebrands! How many misunderstandings which led to wars could have been removed by temporizing! How often have countries fought cruel wars and then after a few years found themselves not only friends but allies!
    • The Second World War, Volume I : The Gathering Storm (1948) Chapter 17 (The Tragedy of Munich), p .287
  • Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than live as slaves.
    • The Second World War, Volume I: The Gathering Storm (1948) Chapter 19 (Prague, Albania, and the Polish Guarantee).
  • Baldwin, Stanley ... confesses putting party before country, 169-70; ...
    • Index entry, The Second World War, Volume I: The Gathering Storm (1948)
  • When I look back on all these worries I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.
    • The Second World War, Volume II: Their Finest Hour (1949) Chapter 8 (September Tensions)
  • The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril.
    • The Second World War, Volume II: Their Finest Hour (1949) Chapter XXX (Ocean Peril). p. 529
  • No American will think it wrong of me if I proclaim that to have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy. I could not foretell the course of events. I do not pretend to have measured accurately the martial might of Japan, but now at this very moment I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death. So we had won after all! ... Hitler's fate was sealed. Mussolini's fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they would be ground to powder.
    • The Second World War, Volume III: The Grand Alliance (1950) Chapter 32 (Pearl Harbor).
  • Some people did not like this ceremonious style. But after all when you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite.
    • Churchill ended his December 8, 1941 letter to the Japanese Ambassador, declaring that a state of war now existed between the United Kingdom and Japan, with the courtly flourish "I have the honour to be, with high consideration, Sir, Your obedient servant".
    • The Second World War, Volume III: The Grand Alliance (1950) Chapter 32 (Pearl Harbor).
  • Silly people, and there are many, not only in enemy countries, might discount the force of the United States. Some said they were soft, others that they would never be united. They would fool around at a distance. They would never come to grips. They would never stand bloodletting. Their democracy and system of recurrent elections would paralyse their war horizon to friend or foe. Now we should see the weakness of this numerous but remote, wealthy, and talkative people. But I had studied the American Civil War, fought out to the last desperate inch.
    • The Grand Alliance: The Second World War, Volume 3, (1950) p. 540
  • War is mainly a catalogue of blunders.
    • On the Soviet Union's failure to form a united Balkan front against Hitler ; in The Second World War, Volume III: The Grand Alliance (1950) Chapter 20 (The Soviet Nemesis)
  • This was one of the heaviest blows I can recall during the war....It was a bitter moment. Defeat is one thing; disgrace is another.
    • The Fall of Tobruk, 20 June 1942.
    • The Second World War, Volume IV: The Hinge of Fate (1951) Chapter XII. pp. 343-4
  • A number of social problems arose. I had been told that neither smoking nor alcoholic beverages were allowed in the [Saudi] Royal Presence. As I was the host at luncheon I raised the matter at once, and said to the interpreter that if it was the religion of His Majesty [Ibn Saud] to deprive himself of smoking and alcohol I must point out that my rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after, and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them. The King graciously accepted the position. His own cup-bearer from Mecca offered me a glass of water from its sacred well, the most delicious I had ever tasted.
    • Discussion of an audience with Saudi King Ibn Saud at the Fayoum oasis, Egypt, on February 17, 1945; in The Second World War, Volume VI : Triumph and Tragedy (1953), Chapter 23 (Yalta: Finale), pp. 348-349
  • Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein, we never had a defeat.
    • The Second World War, Volume IV: The Hinge of Fate (1951) Chapter 33 (The Battle of Alamein)
    • BBC News story on the 60th anniversary of Alamein.
  • I am reminded of the professor who, in his declining hours, was asked by his devoted pupils for his final counsel. He replied, "Verify your quotations."
    • The Second World War, Volume IV: The Hinge of Fate (1951)
  • Of course, when you are winning a war almost everything that happens can be claimed to be right and wise.
    • In The Second World War, Volume V : Closing the Ring (1952) Chapter 12 (Island Prizes Lost).
  • By noon it was clear that the Socialists would have a majority. At luncheon my wife said to me, 'It may well be a blessing in disguise.' I replied, 'At the moment it seems quite effectively disguised.'
    • On the (July 26, 1945) landslide electoral defeat that turned him out of office near the end of WWII, in The Second World War, Volume VI: Triumph and Tragedy (1953), Chapter 40 (The End of My Account), p. 583.

A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (1956–1958)


A History of the English Speaking Peoples, in four volumes, much of which had been written in the 1930s. ISBN 0-88029-423-X

  • Thus ended the great American Civil War, which upon the whole must be considered the noblest and least avoidable of all the great mass conflicts of which till then there was record.
  • No one can understand history without continually relating the long periods which are constantly mentioned to the experiences of our own short lives. Five years is a lot. Twenty years is the horizon to most people. Fifty years is antiquity. To understand how the impact of destiny fell upon any generation of men one must first imagine their position and then apply the time-scale of our own lives.
    • Vol I; The Birth of Britain
  • At this point the march of invention brought a new factor upon the scene. Iron was dug and forged. Men armed with iron entered Britain from the Continent and killed the men of bronze. At this point we can plainly recognise across the vanished millenniums a fellow-being. A biped capable of slaying another with iron is evidently to modern eyes a man and a brother.
  • We see the crude and corrupt beginnings of a higher civilisation blotted out by the ferocious uprising of the native tribes. Still, it is the primary right of men to die and kill for the land they live in, and to punish with exceptional severity all members of their own race who have warmed their hands at the invaders' hearth.
  • Apparently, as in so many ancient battles, the beaten side were the victims of misunderstanding and the fate of the day was decided against them before the bulk of the forces realised that a serious engagement had begun. Reserves descended from the hills too late to achieve victory, but in good time to be massacred in the rout.
  • Like other systems in decay, the Roman Empire continued to function for several generations after its vitality was sapped. For nearly a hundred years our Island was one of the scenes of conflict between a dying civilisation and lusty, famishing barbarism.
  • The cities are everywhere in decline. Trade, industry and agriculture bend under the weight of taxation.
  • The contrast between the morals at the centre of power and those practiced by wide communities in many subject lands presented problems of ever growing unrest.
    • On the last years of Rome and Roman Britain; Vol I; The Birth of Britain.
  • And wherever men are fighting against barbarism, tyranny, and massacre, for freedom, law, and honour, let them remember that the fame of their deeds, even though they themselves be exterminated, may perhaps be celebrated as long as the world rolls round. Let us then declare that King Arthur and his noble knights, guarding the Sacred Flame of Christianity and the theme of a world order, sustained by valour, physical strength, and good horses and armour, slaughtered innumerable hosts of foul barbarians and set decent folk an example for all time.
  • The picture rises before us vivid and bright: the finely carved, dragon-shaped prow; the high, curving stern; the long row of shields, black and yellow alternately, ranged along the sides; the gleam of steel; the scent of murder.
  • When we reflect upon the brutal vices of these salt-water bandits, pirates as shameful as any whom the sea has borne, or recoil from their villainous destruction and cruel deeds, we must also remember the discipline, the fortitude, the comradeship and martial virtues which made them at this period beyond all challenge the most formidable and daring race in the world.
  • When the next year the raiders returned and landed near Jarrow they were stoutly attacked while harassed by bad weather. Many were killed. Their "king" was captured and put to a cruel death, and the fugitives carried so grim a tale back to Denmark that for forty years the English coasts were unravaged.
    • On a Viking Raid in 794 A.D.; Vol I; The Birth of Britain.
  • "872, Ivar, King of the Northmen of all Ireland and Britain, ended his life." He had conquered Mercia and East Anglia. He had captured the major stronghold of the kingdom of Strathclyde, Dumbarton. Laden with loot and seemingly invincible, he settled in Dublin and died there peacefully two years later. The pious chroniclers report that he "slept in Christ." Thus it may be that he had the best of both worlds.
    • On Ivar, a Viking King (c. 872); Vol I; The Birth of Britain.
  • A group of pagan ruffians and pirates had gained possession of an effective military and naval machine, but they faced a mass of formidable veterans whom they had to feed and manage, and for whom they must provide killings. Such men make plans, and certainly their descent upon England was one of the most carefully considered and elaborately prepared villainies of that dark time.
    • On the Danish invasion of England in 892; Vol I; The Birth of Britain.
  • Without any coherent national organisation to repel from the land on which they had settled the ever-unknowable descents from the seas, the Saxons, now for four centuries entitled to be deemed the owners of the soil, very nearly succumbed completely to the Danish inroads. That they did not was due--as almost every critical turn of historic fortune has been due--to the sudden apparition in an era of confusion and decay of one of the great figures of history.
  • It was Twelfth Night, and the Saxons, who in these days of torment refreshed and fortified themselves by celebrating the feasts of the Church, were off their guard, engaged in pious exercises, or perhaps even drunk. Down swept the ravaging foe. The whole army of Wessex, sole guarantee of England south of the Thames, was dashed into confusion. Many were killed.
  • Civilisation had been restored to the Island. But now the political fabric which nurtured it was about to be overthrown. Hitherto strong men armed had kept the house. Now a child, a weakling, a vacillator, a faithless, feckless creature, succeeded to the warrior throne.
  • We have seen that Alfred in his day had never hesitated to use money as well as arms. Ethelred used money instead of arms. He used it in ever-increasing quantities, with ever-diminishing returns ... There is the record of a final payment to the Vikings in 1012. This time forty-eight thousand pounds' weight of silver was extracted, and the oppressors enforce the collection by the sack of Canterbury, holding Archbishop Alphege to ransom, and finally killing him at Greenwich because he refused to coerce his flock to raise the money. The Chronicle states: "All these calamities fell upon us through evil counsel, because tribute was not offered to them at the right time, nor yet were they resisted; but, when they had done the most evil, then was peace made with them. And notwithstanding all this peace and tribute they went everywhere in companies, harried our wretched people, and slew them"
  • It is vain to recount further the catalogue of miseries. In earlier ages such horrors remain unknown because unrecorded. Just enough flickering light plays upon this infernal scene to give us the sense of its utter desolation and hopeless wretchedness and cruelty.
    • On a series of Viking raids; Vol I; The Birth of Britain.
  • The lights of Saxon England were going out, and in the gathering darkness a gentle, grey-beard prophet foretold the end. When on his death-bed Edward spoke of a time of evil that was coming upon the land his inspired mutterings struck terror into the hearers.
  • On September 28 the fleet hove in sight, and all came safely to anchor in Pevensey Bay. There was no opposition to the landing. The local "fyrd" had been called out this year four times already to watch the coast, and having, in true English style, come to the conclusion that the danger was past because it had not yet arrived had gone back to their homes.
  • Someone once said that history is written by the victors. He probably was not the greatest of all victors, if only because his name has been utterly forgotten.
  • William now directed his archers to shoot high into the air, so that the arrows would fall behind the shield-wall, and one of these pierced Harold in the right-eye, inflicting a mortal wound. He fell at the foot of the royal standard, unconquerable except by death, which does not count in honour. The hard-fought battle was now decided.
  • Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years. She embodied the natural goodness and valour of the human race in unexampled perfection. Unconquerable courage, infinite compassion, the virtue of the simple, the wisdom of the just, shone forth in her. She glorifies as she freed the soil from which she sprang.
  • Time after time, history ran over the luddites and romanticists, those who sought to restore the old and delay the new. And every time, history did it with faster, more reliable and more advanced vehicles.
    • On the Luddites ; Vol II: The New World, p. 121
  • By an uncompleted process of terror, by an iniquitous land settlement, by the virtual proscription of the Catholic religion, by the bloody deeds already described, he cut new gulfs between the nations and the creeds. 'Hell or Connaught' were the terms he thrust upon the native inhabitants, and they for their part, across three hundred years, have used as their keenest expression of hatred 'The Curse of Cromwell on you.' ... Upon all of us there still lies 'the curse of Cromwell'.


  • America should have minded her own business and stayed out of the World War. If you hadn't entered the war the Allies would have made peace with Germany in the Spring of 1917. Had we made peace then there would have been no collapse in Russia followed by Communism, no breakdown in Italy followed by Fascism, and Germany would not have signed the Versailles Treaty, which has enthroned Nazism in Germany. If America had stayed out of the war, all these 'isms' wouldn't today be sweeping the continent of Europe and breaking down parliamentary government — and if England had made peace early in 1917, it would have saved over one million British, French, American, and other lives.
    • Published as having been made in an (August 1936) interview with William Griffin, editor of the New York Enquirer, who was indicted for sedition by F.D.R.'s Attorney General Francis Biddle in 1942. In a sworn statement before Congress in 1939 Griffin affirmed Churchill had said this; Congressional Record (1939-10-21), vol. 84, p. 686. In 1942, Churchill admitted having had the 1936 interview but disavowed having made the statement (The New York Times, 1942-10-22, p. 13).
    • In his article "The Hidden Tyranny," Benjamin Freedman attributed this quotation to an article in the isolationist publication Scribner's Commentator in 1936. However, that magazine did not exist until 1939. He may have gotten the date wrong or might have been referring to one of its predecessors, Scribner's Monthly or Payson Publishing's The Commentator.
The earliest known version makes no mention of Churchill, and appeared in the Strand Magazine, later quoted in the "Pepper and Salt" section of the Wall Street Journal on 1942-09-30:
When a memorandum passed round a certain Government department, one young pedant scribbled a postscript drawing attention to the fact that the sentence ended with a preposition, which caused the original writer to circulate another memorandum complaining that the anonymous postscript was "offensive impertinence, up with which I will not put."
The earliest known attribution of this to Churchill appears to be in Plain Words (1948) by Sir Ernest Gowers, who writes:
It is said that Mr. Winston Churchill once made this marginal comment against a sentence that clumsily avoided a prepositional ending: "This is the sort of English up with which I will not put".
A far more elaborate version also appeared in the Wall Street Journal on the December 9 that same year:
The carping critic who can criticize the inartistic angle of the firemen's hose while they are attempting to put out the fire, has his counterpart in a nameless individual in the British Foreign Office who once found fault with a projected speech by Winston Churchill. It was in the most tragic days of World War II, when the life of Britain, nay, of all Europe, hung in the balance. Churchill prepared a highly important speech to deliver in Parliament, and, as a matter of custom, submitted an advanced draft to the Foreign Office for comment. Back came the speech with no word save a notation that one of the sentences ended with a preposition, and an indication where the error should be eliminated. To this suggestion, the Prime Minister replied with the following note: "This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put."
Over the years many variants that seem to have been based on informal anecdotes have arisen including:
"This is the type of pedantry up with which I will not put."
"This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put."
  • It is always wise to look ahead – but difficult to look further than you can see.
    • Appears in Churchill By Himself, ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs , p. 576 ("Appendix I : Red Herrings") : ISBN 1586489577 , with the following explanatory note ; "Reported by the usually reliable Graham Cawthorne, but not in Hansard; possibly an aside to a colleague, however"
  • You are a small exclamation mark at the end of a very long and insignificant sentence in the book of history.
    • a remark made in the House of Commons responding to a Laborite speech; reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • Bessie Braddock: Winston, you are drunk, and what's more you are disgustingly drunk.
    Churchill: Bessie, my dear, you are ugly, and, what's more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly.
    • Churchill's bodyguard Ronald Golding claims that he witnessed Churchill say this in 1946 to Labour MP w:Bessie Braddock. Golding's claim, made to Churchill expert Richard Langworth, was reported in Langworth's collection Churchill by himself. Langworth adds that Churchill's daughter Lady Soames doubted the story.
    • The basic idea of this joke was published as early as 1882, although it was used to ridicule the critic's foolishness rather than ugliness: " ... are you Mr. —-, the greatest fool in the House of Commons?" "You are drunk," exclaimed the M.P. "Even if I am," replied the man, "I have the advantage over you – I shall be sober to-morrow, whereas you will remain the fool you are to-day." (1882 August 05, The Daily Republican-Sentinel, His Advantage, p. 5, col. 2, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, cited by Quote Investigator).
    • Reported as false by George Thayer, The Washington Post (April 27, 1971), p. B6.
    • Often given in a shorter form, e.g., " Winston, you are drunk." "Indeed, Madam, and you are ugly—but tomorrow I'll be sober."
    • Churchill's interlocutor may be given as Lady Astor rather than Braddock.
  • Democracy means that if the doorbell rings in the early hours, it is likely to be the milkman.
    • Widely quoted and attributed, but without a documented source.
  • Hence, we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks.
    • Allegedly said regarding a Greek victory over Italian invaders, but without a documented source.
  • The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. Most people, sometime in their lives, stumble across truth. Most jump up, brush themselves off, and hurry on about their business, as if nothing happened.
  • Continuous effort — not strength or intelligence — is the key to unlocking our potential.
    • First mentioned as "Continuous effort — not strength or intelligence — is the key to unlocking and using our potential." according to Quote Investigator in the 1981 book The Reflecting Pond: Meditations for Self-Discovery by Liane Cordes, Quote Page 89, Hazelden Publishing, Center City, Minnesota. For further research on this quote see: Quote Investigator (August 31, 2013): Continuous Effort — Not Strength or Intelligence — Is the Key to Unlocking and Using Our Potential Winston Churchill? Liane Cordes? Liane Cardes? Apocryphal? Archived on June 2, 2020 from the original.
  • Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.
    • The earliest published evidence located by Quote Investigator for a similar quote appeared in Reader's Digest magazine in 1942 (specific source: 1942 April, Reader's Digest, Volume 40, Picturesque Speech and Patter, Page 92, The Reader's Digest Association.) and the words were ascribed to Winston Churchill. For further research on this quote see: Quote Investigator (May 26, 2012): Men Occasionally Stumble Over the Truth, But They Pick Themselves Up and Hurry Off. Winston Churchill? Simon Singh? Stanley Baldwin? The Reader's Digest? Apocryphal? Archived on June 2, 2020 from the original.
  • Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.
  • Never let a good crisis go to waste.
    • Purportedly said in reference to the Yalta Conference,[citation needed] this statement has rather been attributed to Rahm Emmanuel, Chief of Staff under U.S. President Barack Obama (perhaps deriving from the fifth chapter on "Communication", from Saul Alinsky's 1971 book, Rules for Radicals, which asserts "a threat or a crisis becomes... a precondition to communication" [in] "the arena of action", p. 89; ISBN 9780679721130), and is clearly evident in the language of M. F. Weiner in a 1976 article entitled “Don’t Waste a Crisis—Your Patient’s or Your Own.” (Medical Economics [full citation needed]). See the article, Dubner, Stephen J. (August 13, 2009). Quotes Uncovered: Who Said No Crisis Should Go to Waste? (and comments therein).
  • I am quite satisfied with my views of India. I don’t want them disturbed by any bloody Indian.
    • Thus Winston Churchill said (or is alleged to have said) to Lord Halifax née Lord Irwin née Edward Wood, in 1929. See for discussion of the quote. Ben Pimlott, editor, The Second World War Diary of Hugh Dalton 1940-45 (Jonathan Cape 1986), 126.


  • The Balkans produce more history than they can consume (also reported in the form: The peoples of the Balkans produce more history than they can consume, and the weight of their past lies oppressively on their present.)
    • Although widely attributed to Winston Churchill (e.g. by the President of the British Academy, Professor Sir Adam Roberts[14]), the quote is spurious.
    • The remark was quoted - although without attribution, and concerning East Central Europe instead - by Margaret Thatcher in her speech, "New Threats for Old," in Westminster College, Fulton, Mo., at a joint commemoration with the Churchill Centre of the "Iron Curtain" speech's 50th anniversary, on 9 March 1996: "It is, of course, often the case in foreign affairs that statesmen are dealing with problems for which there is no ready solution. They must manage them as best they can. That might be true of nuclear proliferation, but no such excuses can be made for the European Union's activities at the end of the Cold War. It faced a task so obvious and achievable as to count as an almost explicit duty laid down by History: namely, the speedy incorporation of the new Central European democracies--Poland, Hungary and what was then Czechoslovakia--within the EU's economic and political structures. Early entry into Europe was the wish of the new democracies; it would help to stabilize them politically and smooth their transition to market economies; and it would ratify the post-Cold War settlement in Europe. Given the stormy past of that region--the inhabitants are said to produce more history than they can consume locally--everyone should have wished to see it settled economically."[15]
    • The sources of Thatcher's quote is likely a passage in the 1911 "Chronicles of Clovis", by Hector Hugh Munro (Saki), referring actually to Crete: "It was during the debate on the Foreign Office vote that Stringham made his great remark that "the people of Crete unfortunately make more history than they can consume locally." It was not brilliant, but it came in the middle of a dull speech, and the House was quite pleased with it. Old gentlemen with bad memories said it reminded them of Disraeli."[16]
  • Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues and freebooters. All Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles.
    • Often cited as from a speech "on the eve of Indian Independence in 1947", e.g. "Anything multiplied by zero is zero indeed!" in Rediff India Abroad (11 April 2007), or even from a speech in the house of Commons, but it does not appear to have any credible source. May have first appeared in the Annual Report of P. N. Oak's discredited "Institute for Rewriting Indian History" in 1979, and is now quoted in at least three books, as well as countless media and websites.
  • There is no such thing as a good tax.
    • The correct attribution is Oklahoma Senator Thomas Gore, in his speech to the National Tax Association in 1935.[17][18] Though it is often attributed to Churchill, there is no evidence he ever said it.

  • If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain.
    • The earliest example of this quotation is found in Jules Claretie's Portraits Contemporains (1875), where the following remark is ascribed to lawyer and academic Anselme Polycarpe Batbie: "Celui qui n'est pas républicain à vingt ans fait douter de la générosité de son âme; mais celui qui, après trente ans, persévère, fait douter de la rectitude de son esprit" (English: "He who is not a republican at twenty compels one to doubt the generosity of his heart; but he who, after thirty, persists, compels one to doubt the soundness of his mind").[19][20]
    • According to research by Mark T. Shirey, citing Nice Guys Finish Seventh: False Phrases, Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Misquotations by Ralph Keyes, 1992, this quote was first uttered by mid-nineteenth century French historian and statesman François Guizot when he observed, Not to be a republican at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head. (N'être pas républicain à vingt ans est preuve d'un manque de cœur ; l'être après trente ans est preuve d'un manque de tête.) However, this ascription is based in an entry in Benham's Book of Quotations Proverbs and Household Words (1936): the original place where Guizot said this has not been located. This quote has been attributed variously to George Bernard Shaw, Benjamin Disraeli, Otto von Bismarck, and others.
    • Furthermore, the Churchill Centre, on its Falsely Attributed Quotations page, states "there is no record of anyone hearing Churchill say this." Paul Addison of Edinburgh University is quoted as stating: "Surely Churchill can't have used the words attributed to him. He'd been a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35! And would he have talked so disrespectfully of Clemmie, who is generally thought to have been a lifelong Liberal?"
    • Variants: Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.
      Show me a young conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains.
      If you are not a socialist by the time you are 25, you have no heart. If you are still a socialist by the time you are 35, you have no head
  • The fascists of the future will be called anti-fascists.
    • According to research[21], it has been attributed to Churchill since the 21st century. A similar variation has been attributed to Huey Long a year after he died, but it's unclear if he said it either.[22]
    • Variants: The Fascists of the future will be the anti-fascists.
    • The Swiss author François Bondy attributed a similar quote to Ignazio Silone: This reminded me of what Ignazio Silone said in 1945 soon after he returned to Italy from his Zurich exile: "The Fascism of tomorrow will never say 'I am Fascism.' It will say: 'I am anti-Fascism.'"[23] Alternatively quoted as: When I met him in Geneva on the day of his scheduled return home after the long exile in Switzerland, Silone said abruptly: "If at a future moment fascism will return, it will not be so stupid as to say: 'I am fascism.' It will say: 'I am antifascism.'"[24]
  • There is nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse.
  • An empty taxi arrived and out of it stepped Attlee.
    • A joke about Clement Attlee doing the rounds after World War II, often wrongly attributed to Churchill. When he heard about that misattribution he said:
      • Mr Attlee is an honourable and gallant gentleman, and a faithful colleague who served his country well at the time of her greatest need. I should be obliged if you would make it clear whenever an occasion arises that I would never make such a remark about him, and that I strongly disapprove of anybody who does.
  • All this contains much that is obviously true, and much that is relevant; unfortunately, what is obviously true is not relevant, and what is relevant is not obviously true.
    • This is not by Churchill, but a paraphrase of Churchill quoting Arthur James Balfour in Great Contemporaries (1937): 'there were some things that were true, and some things that were trite; but what was true was trite, and what was not trite was not true' .
  • You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.
    • Variant: We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.
    • Extensive research of writings by and about Churchill at the Churchill Centre fails to indicate that Churchill ever spoke or wrote those words.
  • The further backward you look, the further forward you can see.
    • In Churchill by Himself (2008), Appendix I: Red Herrings, ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 577 ISBN 1586486381; "Commonly ascribed to WSC, even by The Queen (Christmas Message, 1999). What Churchill actually said was 'The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward'".
    • The attribution of the mistaken form of the quote to Churchill dates from at least 1959.
  • Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy, and the lash.
    • According to Churchill's assistant, Anthony Montague-Browne, Churchill had not coined this phrase, but wished he had.
    • Resembles an ironic aphorism cited by Langworth from the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations as 19th-century English naval tradition, "Ashore it's wine, women and song; aboard it's rum, bum and concertina" or variously "... rum, bum and bacca [tobacco]".[25][26]
  • The heaviest cross I have to bear is the Cross of Lorraine.
    • This remark referring to Charles de Gaulle was actually made by General Edward Louis Spears, Churchill's personal representative to the Free French.
    • Film producer Alexander Korda asked Churchill in 1948 if he had made the remark, he replied
      • No, I didn't say it; but I'm sorry I didn't, because it was quite witty ... and so true!
        • Quoted in Nigel Rees, Sayings of the Century p. 105.
  • Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.
    • This military aphorism has been attributed to both von Moltke and Clausewitz, as well as Churchill. It was familiar to President and former Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe Dwight D. Eisenhower: I tell this story to illustrate the truth of the statement I heard long ago in the Army: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. There is a very great distinction because when you are planning for an emergency you must start with this one thing: the very definition of 'emergency' is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.
      • Speech to the National Defense Executive Reserve Conference in Washington, D.C. (November 14, 1957) ; from Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957, National Archives and Records Service, Government Printing Office, p. 818 : ISBN 0160588510, 9780160588518
  • A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
    • This quote is commonly attributed to Churchill, but appears in the "Red Herrings: False Attributions" appendix of Churchill by Himself : The Definitive Collection of Quotations (2008) by Richard Langworth, without citation as to where it originates.
    • In American Character, a 1905 address by Brander Matthews, a similar quotation is attributed to L. P. Jacks (link).
      • ""Our civilization is a perilous adventure for an uncertain prize... Human society is not a constructed thing but a human organization... We are adopting a false method of reform when we begin by operations that weaken society, either morally or materially, by lower its vitality, by plunging it into gloom and despair about itself, by inducing the atmosphere of the sick-room, and then when its courage and resources are at a low ebb, expecting it to perform some mighty feat of self-reformation... Social despair or bitterness does not get us anywhere... Low spirits are an intellectual luxury. An optimist is one who sees an opportunity in every difficulty. A pessimist is one who sees a difficulty in every opportunity... The conquest of great difficulties is the glory of human nature." L. P. Jacks, quoted in American character, by Brander Matthews, 1906
  • You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.
    • Often attributed to Churchill, this thought was originally expressed by the French author Victor Hugo in Villemain (1845), as follows: You have enemies? Why, it is the story of every man who has done a great deed or created a new idea. It is the cloud which thunders around everything that shines. Fame must have enemies, as light must have gnats. Do not bother yourself about it; disdain. Keep your mind serene as you keep your life clear.
      • Villemain is a brief segment taken from Hugo's Choses Vues (Things Seen), a running journal Hugo kept of events he witnessed. The original French versions of these journals were published after Hugo's death.
  • I only believe in statistics that I doctored myself.
    • This slanderous remark was attributed to Churchill, possibly by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to depict him as a liar.
    • In German: »Ich glaube nur der Statistik, die ich selbst gefälscht habe«
  • A joke is a very serious thing.
    • Sometimes attributed to Winston Churchill, it is in fact a slight misquote of "A joke's a very serious thing" from the 1763 poem "The Ghost" by Charles Churchill.
  • The idea that a nation can tax itself into prosperity is one of the cruelest delusions which has befuddled the human mind.
    • A misquotation by Ronald Reagan in a 9 March 1982 speech, reported in Paul F. Boller, Jr., and John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions (1989), p. 13-14. In fact, Churchill used a very similar line ("To think you can make a man richer by putting on a tax is like a man think­ing that he can stand in a bucket and lift him­self up by the han­dle.") several times beginning with a speech at Free Trade Hall, Man­ches­ter, 19 Feb­ru­ary 1904.
  • Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
    • Attributed to Winston Churchill in The Prodigal Project : Book I : Genesis (2003) by Ken Abraham and Daniel Hart, p. 224 and other places, though no source attribution is given. It actually derives from an advertising campaign for Budweiser beer in the late 1930s.[27]
  • Lady Nancy Astor: If I were your wife I'd put poison in your coffee.
    Churchill: If I were your husband I'd drink it.
    • Dates to 1899, American humor origin, originally featuring a woman upset by a man's cigar smoking. Cigar often removed in later versions, coffee added in 1900. Incorrectly attributed in Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, Glitter and Gold (1952).
    • See various early citations and references to refutations at "If you were my husband, I'd poison your coffee" (Nancy Astor to Churchill?), Barry Popik, The Big Apple, February 9, 2009
    • Early examples include 19 November 1899, Gazette-Telegraph (CO), "Tales of the Town," p. 7, and early attributions are to American humorists Marshall P. Wilder and De Wolf Hopper.
    • Churchill by Himself: The Definitive Collection of Quotations, by Richard Langworth, PublicAffairs, 2008, p. 578.
    • The Yale Book of Quotations, edited by Fred R. Shapiro, New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University Press, 2006, p. 155.
    • George Thayer, The Washington Post (April 27, 1971), p. B6.
  • George Bernard Shaw is said to have told W.S.C.:
    Am reserving two tickets for you for my premiere. Come and bring a friend—if you have one.
    W.S.C. to G.B.S.:
    Impossible to be present for the first performance. Will attend the second—if there is one.
    • (Version given in Irrepressible Churchill: A Treasury of Winston Churchill's Wit by Kay Halle, 1966)
    • Apocryphal, originally featured Noël Coward and Randolph Churchill (Winston's son); attested 1946 (columnist Walter Winchell, attributed to anonymous United Press journalist in London). Originally only featured first half about lack of friend; second half (retort about lack of second performance) attested 1948, as was replacement of personages by George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill. Specific plays added in later variants, ranging from Man and Superman (1903) to Saint Joan (1923), and appeared in biographies and quote collections from the 1960s.
    • The quote is presumably apocryphal due to earliest attestations being too different, less famous personages (easily replaced by more famous ones), the quotation becoming more elaborate in later versions, the 20+ year gap between putative utterance and first attestation, and the approximately 50 year gap between putative utterance and appearance in reference works, all as undocumented hearsay.
    • Detailed discussion at "Here are Two Tickets for the Opening of My Play. Bring a Friend—If You Have One", Garson O'Toole, Quote Investigator, March 25, 2012.
  • If you're going through hell, keep going.
  • Americans Will Always Do the Right Thing — After Exhausting All the Alternatives.
    • This is a modification of a March 1967 quote by Israeli politician Abba Eban who said, "Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources." Eban used various versions of this quote over the years. In 1979 he said, "My experience teaches me this: Men and nations do act wisely when they have exhausted all the other possibilities."[9]
    • In a 1970 Congressional hearing, a version of the quote first referenced Americans. It was attributed to an unnamed Irishman. "And indeed, we often know how to do things by the philosophy that was expounded by another Irishman I know. He said that you can depend on Americans to do the right thing when they have exhausted every other possibility."[10]
    • The earliest known attribution of the quote to Churchill occurred in 1980.[11]
  • Gentlemen, We Have Run Out Of Money; Now We Have to Think
    • This quote, or a minor variation of it ("Gentlemen, we have run out of money. It is time to start thinking.") is also attributed to (Sir) Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937), the famed New Zealand chemist and physicist. [12]
  • Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions
    • This appears to be a variation of a quote often attributed to Caskie Stinnett in 1960, "A a person who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip" [13] but which appears to have been in common use in the 1950s and is first recorded in the Seattle Daily Times in 1953 as "Diplomat—one who can tell you to go to hades and make you look forward to the trip".[14]
  • The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter
    • Attribution debunked in Langworth's Churchill by Himself.[29] First known appearance is in a 1992 usenet post.
  • Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm
    • Attribution debunked in Langworth's Churchill by Himself. The earliest close match located by the Quote Investigator is from the 1953 book How to Say a Few Words by David Guy Powers.[30]
  • However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results
    • Attribution debunked by Langworth. [31]
  • Germany's unforgivable crime before the second world war was her attempt to extricate her economic power from the world's trading system and to create her own exchange mechanism which would deny world finance its opportunity to profit. We butchered the wrong pig.
    • debunked in 2017, earliest appearance was a 2001 foreword to a reprint of the 1938 book "Propaganda in the Next War"
      • this is also used appears (minus the last sentence) on 159 of the 2018 book "The Spine of Western Culture" by Carlos Wiggen, who said Churchill wrote this in a letter to Robert Boothby
  • Germany's unforgivable crime before WW2 was its attempt to loosen it's economy out of the world trade system and to build up an own exchange system from which the world-finance couldn't profit anymore.
    • page 216 of "Distribia: A Society Free of Tribalism" by Ali Cheaib, published 5 March 2018. Claims the quote comes from a 1960 autobiography called "Winston Churchill - The Second World War". A permutation of the above false quote.
  • Germany's unforgivable crime before WW2 was its attempt to loosen its economy out of the world trade system and to build up an independent exchange system from which the world-finance couldn't profit anymore ... We butchered the wrong pig
    • from page 179 of "The Economics of War: Profiteering, Militarism and Imperialism" a 2019 book by Imad A. Moosa, who wrote "Apparently Churchill said the following in 1946 and 1960, respectively" regarding it and a preceding quote. This version is a combination of the two preceding ones: combining the "wrong pig" statement and the "second world war" > "WW2" formats.

Quotes about Churchill

Alphabetised by surname
I wish I knew as much about anything as that young man knows about everything. ~ H.H. Asquith
It must be a melancholy satisfaction to see how right you were... Let's hope it's not too late. ~ Clement Attlee
Stalin immediately ordered construction work to begin on the Iron Curtain, which was given its name by Sir Winston Churchill, who, in a historic anecdote at a dinner party, said, "Madam, I may be drunk, but an iron curtain has descended upon BLEAAARRRGGGHHH." ~ Dave Barry
I decided to keep the Rembrandt Peale portrait of George Washington that Dad and Bill Clinton had placed over the mantel. I added busts of Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, and Winston Churchill- a gift on loan from the British government courtesy of Prime Minister Tony Blair. I had told Tony that I admired Churchill's courage, principle, and sense of humor- all of which I thought were necessary for leadership. ~ George W. Bush
Look, if Churchill hadn't done what he did to defeat the Nazis, you wouldn't be here, none of us would be here. What is more, we have to take a special interest in him because he, too, led a little island against a great enemy. ~ Fidel Castro
You had Mr. Churchill on the radio explaining that we'd never surrender, and above you had the Spitfire, and you couldn't help thinking: Yes, we can win this thing. ~ Jeremy Clarkson
All my thoughts are with you on this day which is so essentially your day. It is you who have led, uplifted and inspired us through the worst days. Without you this day could not have been. ~ Anthony Eden
Rarely were the needs of a nation and the chief quality of its leader better matched than in 1940. Nothing can ever take that from him. No one in his senses will ever try. ~ Michael Foot
In the dark days and darker nights when England stood alone--and most men save Englishmen despaired of England's life--he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle. ~ John F. Kennedy
It is fun to be in the same decade with you. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
Remember him, for he saved all of you. ~ C.L. Sulzberger
He is a great man. He is, of course, our enemy and has always been the enemy of Communism, but he is an enemy one must respect, an enemy one likes to have. ~ Tito


  • Having...announced his "Four Years Plan", Churchill was sincere enough in his commitment to social reform. If a Churchill Government had been elected in 1945 some form of National Health Service would have been introduced, along with comprehensive social insurance and policies to maintain full employment.
    • Paul Addison, Churchill On The Home Front, 1900–1955 (1992), p. 438
  • Churchill's general conception of British history was also, in a sense, commonplace. It was a romantic Whig history: the story of the growth of liberty and representative institutions at home, in parallel with the rise of Britain as a great power overseas. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the Great Reform Act of 1832 were accompanied by Blenheim, Trafalgar and Waterloo. It was a story, besides, of great men: great parliamentarians like Hampden or Pitt, and great commanders like Cromwell or Nelson. But this was the point at which the national myth of Whig history merged into the family myth of Winston Churchill. Among the great men of history were Churchill's father, Lord Randolph, and his ancestor, John Churchill, the first duke of Marlborough. It was they who provided the link between Churchill's conceptions of British history, and his sense of personal destiny. The Glorious Revolution, and the rise of Britain as a great power, were exemplified for Churchill by the career of Marlborough. The rise of parliamentary democracy was exemplified by the career of Lord Randolph. Churchill came to see his own life as a re-enactment and continuation of theirs.
    • Paul Addison, 'Destiny, history and providence: the religion of Winston Churchill', in Michael Bentley (ed.), Public and Private Doctrine: Essays in British History presented to Maurice Cowling (1993), pp. 242-243
  • The government took the threat of UFOs so seriously in the 1950s that UK intelligence chiefs met to discuss the issue, newly-released files show...he papers also include a wartime account claiming prime minister Winston Churchill ordered a UFO sighting be kept secret to prevent "mass panic"... the latest batch of UFO files released from the Ministry of Defence to the National Archives shows that, in 1957, the committee received reports detailing an average of one UFO sighting a week... The files also include an account of a wartime meeting attended by Winston Churchill in which, it is claimed, the prime minister was so concerned about a reported encounter between a UFO and RAF bombers, that he ordered it be kept secret for at least 50 years to prevent "mass panic". Nick Pope, who used to investigate UFO sightings for the MoD, said: "The interesting thing is that most of the UFO files from that period have been destroyed... But what happened is that a scientist whose grandfather was one of his [Churchill's] bodyguards, said look, Churchill and Eisenhower got together to cover up this phenomenal UFO sighting, that was witnessed by an RAF crew on their way back from a bombing raid...The reason apparently was because Churchill believed it would cause mass panic and it would shatter people's religious views.
  • [T]he splendid leadership he gave this country and the Commonwealth from the moment he became Prime Minister in the Second World War—a leadership which not only saved the freedom and genius of Europe's most civilised peoples from eclipse, but also carried Britain triumphant with no more than a third of her former sacrifice of life through a Second World War half as long again as the First... Not one, in fact, of the great Englishmen who have possessed the priceless combination of political and military sense...has surpassed Churchill in the distinctive genius for statesmanship in peace and war on which the greatness of this little island has been built, namely, an infallible instinct for the balance of power indispensable to its security, alertness to any threatened disturbance of that balance however far ahead, and imaginative resource, when the balance has been disturbed, in righting it by the most effective and economical use of our always inadequate strength. It is due, I repeat, to this, the dominant element in his genius, that Western Europe is not at this moment a dependency of either Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia.
    • Lord Altrincham, 'Churchill in International Affairs', Charles Eade (ed.), Churchill By His Contemporaries (1953), p. 182
  • [The War] at once raised issues which transcended all party divisions and, obliterating all the questions of the passing hour, linked up the England of to-day with the England that fought the Spanish Armada, that humbled Louis XIV and wore down Napoleon. In that new, that eternal England, he by natural right came into his own. He is to-day the spirit of old England incarnate, with its unshakeable self-confidence, its grim gaiety, its unfailing sense of humour, its underlying moral earnestness, its unflinching tenacity. Against that inner unity of spirit between leader and nation the ill-cemented moral fabric of Hitler's perversion of the German soul must be shattered in the end.
    • Leo Amery, BBC broadcast (29 November 1941), quoted in The Times (1 December 1941), p. 2
  • We have at this moment a much better atmosphere, in which there is far less industrial tension than there was sometime back... I hold no brief for the present Minister of Munitions [Winston Churchill]. I believe he has his personal and political detractors—I am not concerned with them one way or the other—but in my opinion he has brought courage and a certain quality of imagination to the task of dealing with labour questions since he became Minister of Munitions. Because of that, the situation has perceptibly improved, and I hope he will go on in the same direction.
    • William Anderson, speech in the House of Commons (6 November 1917), quoted in David Lloyd George, War Memoirs, Volume II (1938), p. 1160
  • The world depends on the United States to shape history. No person recognized this fact better than Winston Churchill, whose nation depended on American intervention in the Second World War. At the time, he wrote, "How heavily do the destinies of this generation hang upon the government and people of the United States... Will the United States throw their weight into the scales of peace and law and freedom while time remains, or will they remain spectators until the disaster has occurred; and then, with infinite cost and labor, build up what need not have been cast down?"
    • Anonymous, A Warning (2019), p. 180
  • I wish I knew as much about anything as that young man knows about everything.
    • H. H. Asquith, in response to Churchill's questioning him in the House of Commons (c.a. 1910) as quoted by Freeman Dyson, The Scientist As Rebel (2006).
    • Compare the remark attributed (1870) to the Marquis of Landsdowne after reading Thomas Macaulay's History of England: "I wish I could be as certain about anything as Tom Macaulay is about everything".[32]
  • It must be a melancholy satisfaction to see how right you were... Let's hope it's not too late.
    • Clement Attlee to Churchill after reading his book Step by Step, 1936-1939 (1 July 1939), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1979), p. 1078
  • You may have the best machinery in the world, you may have adequate supplies of munitions, you may have the men, you may have the generals; but wars are fought out eventually always as contests of will, and there are needed in the responsible positions men who are prepared to give decisions, who are not afraid to take risks, men of inflexible will-power. In all these respects, I say, from very close working with him for the last two years, that we have in the Prime Minister a leader in war such as this country has rarely had in its long history.
  • One of these days I'll make a few casual remarks about Winston. Not a speech—no oratory—just a few words in passing. I've got it all ready. I am going to say that when Winston was born lots of fairies swooped down on his cradle gifts—imagination, eloquence, industry, ability, and then came a fairy who said "No one person has a right to so many gifts", picked him up and gave him such a shake and twist that with all these gifts he was denied judgment and wisdom. And that is why while we delight to listen to him in this House, we do not take his advice.
    • Stanley Baldwin in conversation with Thomas Jones (22 May 1936), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters. 1931-1950 (1954), p. 204
  • Stalin's strategy at the end of World War II was to acquire a small "buffer zone between Russia and Germany, consisting of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, and most of Germany. In an effort to garner public support in these nations, Stalin mounted a public-relations campaign around the upbeat theme "Maybe We Won't Have Your Whole Family Shot," and in 1945 Eastern Europe decided to join the Communist bloc by a vote of 28,932,084,164,504,029-0. Heartened by this mandate, Stalin immediately ordered construction work to begin on the Iron Curtain, which was given its name by Sir Winston Churchill, who, in a historic anecdote at a dinner party, said, "Madam, I may be drunk, but an iron curtain has descended upon BLEAAARRRGGGHHH."
    • Dave Barry, Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort-Of History of the United States (1989), p. 126
  • Right away Churchill jumped up and said: Our entire tragedy is that we have a weak government. The Baldwins are idiots, totally lacking in talent, etc. If England is to be dependent on them, she is lost. They are concerned only with deposing and crowning kings, while Germany is arming and growing stronger, and we are slipping lower and lower. But this situation will not last long. England will wake up and defeat Mussolini and Hitler, and then your hour will also come.
    • David Ben-Gurion's diary entry after meeting Churchill (9 June 1937), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1979), pp. 848-849
  • [O]ne of the greatest Englishmen of our time.
    • Tony Benn, diary (24 January 1965), quoted in The Benn Diaries, 1940–1990 (1996), p. 123
  • [Winston Churchill] does not talk the language of the 20th century but that of the 18th. He is still fighting Blenheim all over again. His only answer to a difficult situation is send a gun-boat.
    • Aneurin Bevan, Speech at Labour Party Conference, Scarborough, 2 October 1951, in 'Daily Herald' 3 October 1951
  • Lloyd George was a bigger man than Churchill, and one of the biggest things about Churchill was that he knew it.
  • He stands out from his contemporaries as a great and resplendent figure with none to rival him in his many-sidedness... The historians will speak of him as one of the greatest of parliamentarians...they will speak of him as the statesman to whom the whole world looked for guidance when the very skies seemed about to fall; they will recount his mastery of the written and the spoken word; they will discuss every element in his many-sidedness; and the great figure who has dominated our age will take his destined place in the long and noble line of those who...have been clothed with a kind of immortality... Winston Churchill, it may be confidently said, will never be forgotten. He will be remembered beyond all other things as the man who rallied the forces of freedom all over the world when it was confronted by a "monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime".
    • Norman Birkett, 'Churchill the Orator', Charles Eade (ed.), Churchill By His Contemporaries (1953), pp. 223–224
  • Many of his speeches will live as examples of human speech at its highest and best, and they will be woven into the fabric of our own history and the history of the world. For many of these speeches made history before our very eyes. They changed the shape of events. They proclaimed the greatness of our past and the nature of our great traditions. They shed a clear light upon the path of duty, and they implanted in ordinary men and women the resolve to make the day of danger their finest hour. They appealed to the noblest and deepest feelings of mankind when discouragement and despair besieged their hearts, and brought triumph out of the jaws of defeat; and many of those speeches will remain a great possession for all time of the country whose interests they preserved and maintained. They will also remain as an undying memorial to the man who made them and became the greatest figure of his age.
    • Norman Birkett, 'Churchill the Orator', Charles Eade (ed.), Churchill By His Contemporaries (1953), p. 233
  • Among the many memorable things Churchill said was this: Talking of Dingra, he said that there had been much discussion in the Cabinet about him. Lloyd George had expressed to him his highest admiration of Dingra's attitude as a patriot, in which he (Churchill) shared. He will be remembered 2,000 years hence, as we remember Regulus and Caractacus and Plutarch's heroes, and Churchill quoted with admiration Dingra's last words as the finest ever made in the name of patriotism.
    • Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, diary entry (3 October 1909), quoted in Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, My Diaries: Being a Personal Narrative of Events, 1888–1914. Part Two: 1900 to 1914 (1920), p. 288
  • Every man who's had to command troops in combat has had to look at the big picture. When Harry Truman made the decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan, he didn't do that assuming he wasn't going to be criticized for it. He was looking at ending the war and saving a million American lives. He provided vision for the nation in spite of the fact that many criticized him then and even more do now. And what about Winston Churchill? He let the Germans bomb the British city of Coventry to protect the fact that the Allies had broken the Germans' code. He allowed the Germans to bomb Coventry because he was looking strategically at ending the war. And he knew if he let it be known that he was reading the Germans' mail, they would immediately change their code. That's thinking strategically versus at the tactical situation. I think everybody who's ever commanded troops has had to look at circumstances strategically. And that amounts to having vision.
    • William G. Boykin, Man to Man: Rediscovering Masculinity in a Challenging World (2020), p. 29
  • [F]rom the prisoner's point of view—I am speaking from the prisoner's point of view today—when the Prime Minister [Winston Churchill] was Home Secretary he did more for the prisoners than any Home Secretary we have had in the last 50 years. The speech to which my hon. Friend referred was made when the Prime Minister was Home Secretary in the Liberal Government before the First World War. Anyone who has experienced prison conditions knows that the reforms which the right hon. Gentleman introduced in that period...made more difference to the conditions in prisons than any reforms which have been introduced by other Home Secretaries.
  • Meetings between Roosevelt and the JCS were impromptu and usually convened to deal with a specific problem. The President would decide who would attend, presumably those whom he wanted for advice. The record shows that King was in the White House some thirty-two times during 1942, although there may have been other meetings that were not on the President's appointment calendar. The scheduled appointments then diminished for the remainder of the war: eight in 1943, nine in 1944, and one in 1945. In contrast, Churchill met with the British Chiefs of Staff almost daily.
    • Thomas B. Buell, Master of Sea Power: A Biography of Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King (1980), p. 242
  • In the late 1930s, as Britain refused to adapt to the new realities of war, Winston Churchill observed, "The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences."
    • George W. Bush, in his speech "A Period of Consequences" at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, on September 23, 1999
  • [I]t does seem true, almost a truism, that Churchill's famous phrases – 'blood, sweat, toil and tears', 'their finest hour', 'we shall never surrender' – did express something inarticulate, perhaps dormant but perhaps not, in the hearts and minds of his countrymen, of most classes. They achieved their effect by a heroic yet very simple expression of the will to resist ('we shall fight them in the hills') and by invoking the naïve sense of nationhood and history which most of his literate subjects shared with him... Churchill clearly achieved and retained a popularity far greater than – because different in kind from – that of any peacetime leader... He radiated his courage over the microphone as successfully as he pumped blood into the sclerotic arteries of the House of Commons... And, whatever their private opinions, all classes were clear that there nowhere was, nor ever had been, anyone quite like this man they were cheering. Such singularity, in such a high position, could only amount to greatness.
    • Angus Calder, The People's War: Britain, 1939–45 (1969), pp. 96–98
  • The men were thrilled to see him. I've never seen such enthusiasm. It's not surprising—he has such presence—such personality—also the man in the street realizes that he has been right in everything he has said since 1933. Those in high places say he's finished—I don't believe it. He has a following in the country far bigger than those in Westminster think.
    • Ronald Cartland to his sister Barbara Cartland after visiting the Austin aeroplane factory with Churchill (spring 1938), quoted in Neville Thompson, The Anti-Appeasers (1971), p. 171 and Paul Addison, The Road to 1945 (1994), p. 77
  • Look, if Churchill hadn't done what he did to defeat the Nazis, you wouldn't be here, none of us would be here. What is more, we have to take a special interest in him because he, too, led a little island against a great enemy.
    • Fidel Castro's answer to a student who objected to Castro calling Churchill "a tremendous man" because he was a colonialist, during his visit to a Havana bookshop (13 February 1964), quoted in 'Castro Expounds in Bookshop Visit; Premier Outlines Hopes to University Students', The New York Times (14 February 1964)
  • The Prime Minister made an important and moving statement. I sat behind him...and he was eloquent, and oratorical, and used magnificent English; several Labour Members cried. He hinted that we might be obliged to fight alone, without France, and that England might well be invaded.
    • Conservative MP Henry Channon's diary entry after Churchill's "We shall never surrender" speech (4 June 1940), quoted in Robert Rhodes James (ed.), Chips: The Diaries of Sir Henry Channon (1967), p. 256
  • Churchill's associations with Scott's Manchester was part of his education as a Liberal, and he emerged as not only an eloquent but also an effectual exponent of Scott's kind of progressivism... From his Manchester base Churchill became, almost at a bound, a Radical leader... When Churchill was beaten in the Manchester North West by-election, the Guardian mourned the party loss as less than the "irreparable" personal loss of "a rising and formative political force which we would gladly have kept for our special help and service".
    • Peter Clarke, Lancashire and the New Liberalism (1971), pp. 189-190
  • Churchill showed himself formidably equipped to fulfil a role which Scott had always known he could not himself: that of inspirational leader, leading, moreover, in the direction which Scott had mapped out. At its zenith their relationship represented the fusing of such complementary elements as made progressive achievements possible. Nothing could have pleased Scott more than that in May 1909 the fate of the Budget should impel Churchill to come to Manchester to tread out the corn in his best fashion. Here was the right issue and the right man to rally Lancashire to it; and here was Scott, proud to play host to him – surely their finest hour? And throughout 1909 Scott gave what help he could in ensuring that Churchill's important speeches received full-dress treatment in the Guardian.
    • Peter Clarke, Lancashire and the New Liberalism (1971), pp. 190-191
  • You had Mr. Churchill on the radio explaining that we'd never surrender, and above you had the Spitfire, and you couldn't help thinking: Yes, we can win this thing.
  • The little band that Churchill called into his confidence included...myself... All of us were obsessed with the German peril and the nakedness of our country to meet it, and Winston was galvanic in collecting the latest information to place before us. I have vivid recollections of his prophetic warnings couched in such terms of urgency that none of us could fail to realise that here was a patriot who was prepared to stake everything in rousing his countrymen to action... I can see the great man now pacing the floor of my drawing room...delivering short pungent sentences such as, "at this moment all through Germany the factories are lit up, the clanging of hammers goes on all night, and the only answering British sound is the snoring of 'X'!"
  • Every day there are four or five columns in the Manchester Guardian consecrated to his honour.
    • Lord Curzon, speech in Oldham, reported in The Manchester Guardian (22 December 1909), quoted in Peter Clarke, Lancashire and the New Liberalism (1971), p. 191
  • He is much more attractive than the Edens and other gentlemanly wishy-washies. He is a real tough and at the moment talking our language.
    • Labour MP Hugh Dalton's diary entry (3 October 1938), quoted in Ben Pimlott, Hugh Dalton (1986), p. 259
  • He was quite magnificent. The man, and the only man we have, for this hour... As we separated several of us went up and spoke to him. He had risen from the long table and was standing in front of the fireplace. I patted him on the back and said: 'Well done, Prime Minister! You ought to get that cartoon of Low, showing us all rolling up our sleeves and falling in behind you, and frame it and stick it up there'. He answered with a broad grin, 'Yes, that was a good one, wasn't it?'
    • Hugh Dalton's diary entry on Churchill's declaration that Britain would fight on (28 May 1940), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), pp. 419-420
  • A British soldier once described Winston Spencer Churchill as "a pugnacious looking b[astard]." Others mistakenly regarded Churchill's plump figure as the affirmation of a jolly fat man. One historian has aptly described him as resembling a cherubic, jumbo-size baby with a cigar stuck in its mouth. There are hardly sufficient adjectives in the English language to describe the British wartime prime minister, but a descriptive (and contradictory) few will suffice. Churchill was brilliant, pampered, petulant, romantic, pragmatic, courageous, egotistical, eccentric, possessed of enormous perseverance, opinionated beyond measure, and impossibly demanding; furthermore, he drank too much, suffered from depression (his "black dog"), "waddled rather than walked," and by any criterion ought to have been too old to carry the enormous burden of a prolonged war that threatened Britain's very existence. His mood swings were legion and ranged from tears to jokes- on occasion at one and the same time. Eisenhower tells the tale of meetings during which "I've seen tears run over his chin." During one such encounter Eisenhower had just rejected as impossible something Churchill wanted done in Italy. "He painted a terrible picture if we didn't do it... He said, 'if that should happen I should have to go to His Majesty and lay down the mantle of my high office.' And here were tears running down. But within ten seconds he was telling a joke... The man could use pathos, humor, anecdote, history, anything to get his way." Warts and all, Winston Churchill nevertheless represented the indomitable spirit of a defiant nation under siege. His oratory was stirring, and like FDR's, it galvanized an entire nation. In 1939 when Lord Halifax suggested that Britain make peace with Hitler, Churchill not only declined but instead vowed to rescue "mankind from the foulest and most soul-destroying tyranny which has ever darkened the stained pages of history."
    • Carlo D'Este, Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life (2002), p. 328-329
  • Winston Churchill was unlike anyone Eisenhower had ever met. Though he was a megalomaniac on a par with MacArthur, Churchill elicited a wholly contrary response from Eisenhower, whose aversion to big egos was built on a lifetime of experience with such men. With Churchill, Eisenhower found himself up against a powerful personality- with a penchant for the dramatic gesture- in whom were combined politician, statesman, warlord, and frustrated soldier would much rather have been on the battlefield commanding troops: The latter he had in common with Eisenhower.
    • Carlo D'Este, Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life (2002), p.
  • Winston Churchill, who worried about the "pan-Asian malaise" and the looming "shadow of Asiatic solidarity," was himself inordinately fond of the racial slurs that were guaranteed to alienate Asian peoples. His Chinese allies remained "little yellow men" to him, even as the same phrase became an everyday expression in discussions of the Japanese enemy.
    • John W. Dower, War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War (1986), p. 161-162
  • All my thoughts are with you on this day which is so essentially your day. It is you who have led, uplifted and inspired us through the worst days. Without you this day could not have been.
    • Anthony Eden's telegram to Churchill (8 May 1945), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Road to Victory: Winston S. Churchill, 1941-1945 (1986), p. 1351
  • A later call on President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill, a guest at the White House, was no more than an informal chat. It had no military significance, but it was the first time I ever had a personal talk with either of these two men. Tobruk, in the African desert, had just fallen to the Germans and the whole Allied world was thrown into gloom. These two leaders, however, showed no signs of pessimism. It was gratifying to note that they were thinking of attack and victory, not of defense and defeat.
  • An inspirational leader, he seemed to typify Britain's courage and perseverance in adversity and its conservatism in success... He was a great war leader and he is a great man.
    • Dwight D. Eisenhower, 'Churchill as an Ally in War', Charles Eade (ed.), Churchill By His Contemporaries (1953), pp. 128–129
  • His vitality, his brainpower, his endurance, his wit, his eloquence, his industry, his application were superabundant, superhuman. The first and last impression left by the Colosseum concerns its size. So with Churchill: the man was huge. Then, also, for the bulk of the British adult population, the moment which must stand out most proudly in their collective memory was 1940. More deliberately than at any other time in its history the nation united in a good cause... That was their finest hour. Churchill was the prime organiser, the voice, the symbol and the historian of those great days... His precise virtue then was that he represented his countrymen in that crisis better than at any other moment in his career. He exemplified, in word and deed – more, in every inflection and gesture – the untiring, resplendent courage which the hour demanded... Rarely were the needs of a nation and the chief quality of its leader better matched than in 1940. Nothing can ever take that from him. No one in his senses will ever try.
  • I have got a good recollection of Mr. Churchill when he was in the Colonial Office and somehow or other since then I have held the opinion that I can always rely on his sympathy and goodwill.
    • Mahatma Gandhi in conversation with G. D. Birla, quoted in Birla's letter to Churchill (23 September 1935), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1979), p. 619
  • He would often go into no-man's-land. It was a nerve-wracking experience to go with him. He would call out in his loud, gruff voice—far too loud it seemed to us—"You go that way, I will go this... Come here, I have found a gap in the German wire. Come over here at once!" He was like a baby elephant out in no-man's-land at night. He never fell when a shell went off; he never ducked when a bullet went past with its loud crack. He used to say, after watching me duck: "It's no damn use ducking; the bullet has gone a long way past you by now."
    • Edmund Hakewill-Smith, quoted in Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill: The Challenge of War, 1914–1916 (Volume III) (1971), p. 658
  • [Churchill] said, "You were very rude to me, you know." I told him, "Yes, but you were rude too." Then, with just a hint of a smile, he looked up and said blandly, "Yes, but I am a great man." There was no answer to that. He knew, as I and the rest of the world knew, that he was right.
    • Roy Howells, in Churchill's Last Years (1966), p. 62
  • As early as 1919, Churchill, then a cabinet minister in Lloyd George's government, foresaw the potential for German-Soviet collaboration.
    • James C. Humes, Churchill: The Prophetic Statesman, Regnery History, Washington DC, 2012, p. 136
  • Finally, a word about British objectives. They were, as Churchill defined them, much simpler: to survive at all costs, even if this meant relinquishing leadership of the Anglo-American coalition to Washington, even if it meant weakening the British empire, even if it also meant collaborating with the Soviet Union, a regime the younger Churchill had hoped, in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution, to crush. The British would attempt to influence the Americans as much as possible—they aspired to the role of Greeks, tutoring the new Romans—but under no circumstances would they get at odds with the Americans. Stalin's expectation of an independent Britain, capable of resisting the United States and even going to war with it, would have seemed strange indeed to those who actually shaped British wartime and postwar grand strategy.
  • He ought to be the Minister of Supply if we are in for a crisis. His energy and fiery brain seem unimpaired with age. He is certainly not dismayed by our difficulties. He says that our rulers are now beginning to get frightened... He said that sometimes he couldn't sleep at night thinking of our dangers, how all this wonderful Empire which had been built up so slowly and so steadily might all be dissipated in a minute. He was just the stuff required in an emergency. The thing is to say when the emergency has arrived.
    • General Ironside's diary entry (6 December 1937), quoted in Colonel Roderick Macleod and Denis Kelly (eds.), Time Unguarded: The Ironside Diaries, 1937–1940 (1962), p. 42
  • I keep thinking of Winston Churchill down at Westerham, full of patriotism and ideas for saving the Empire. A man who knows that you must act to win. You cannot remain supine and allow yourself to be hit indefinitely. Winston must be chafing at the inaction. I keep thinking of him walking up and down the room.
    • General Ironside's diary entry (27 July 1939), quoted in Colonel Roderick Macleod and Denis Kelly (eds.), Time Unguarded: The Ironside Diaries, 1937–1940 (1962), p. 86
  • In Winston Churchill we have a man capable of keeping up the courage of the people. Thank God for that. I know no one else amongst our political leaders who can do it.
    • General Ironside's diary entry (18 August 1940), quoted in Colonel Roderick Macleod and Denis Kelly (eds.), Time Unguarded: The Ironside Diaries, 1937–1940 (1962), p. 390
  • [T]he upsurge of the national spirit was largely his own creation. The great qualities of the British race had seemed almost dormant until he had aroused them. The people then saw themselves as he portrayed them. They put their trust in him. They were ready to do anything that he asked, make any sacrifice that he demanded, and follow wherever he led.
    • Hastings Ismay, The Memoirs of General The Lord Ismay, K.G., P.C., G.C.B., C.H., D.S.O. (1960), p. 155
  • To the occupied nations in Europe he was already the living symbol of resistance and hope. Only if Britain was victorious could they regain their freedom, and they felt that if anyone could bring about that victory, it was Churchill. Travelling in Scandinavia and the Low Countries after the war, this was the sort of thing that I heard on all sides: "You in England had no idea what Churchill meant to us. We used to sit in dark cellars with the wireless turned on as low as possible, and while one of our number patrolling the streets would keep a look out for the Gestapo, we would strain our ears to catch his every word. His voice was the only ray of light in an otherwise completely dark and hopeless world."
    • Hastings Ismay, The Memoirs of General The Lord Ismay, K.G., P.C., G.C.B., C.H., D.S.O. (1960), p. 156
  • I now put Churchill, with all his idiosyncrasies, his indulgences, his occasional childishness, but also his genius, his tenacity and his persistent ability, right or wrong, successful or unsuccessful, to be larger than life, as the greatest human being ever to occupy 10 Downing Street.
  • He never over-claimed his part in 1940. Disaster had united rather than disrupted the people of Britain as he knew it would. Although as a nation we were alone, as individuals we were all in it together. He felt our temper exactly... But it was not to his eloquence, or even to his humour, alone that we responded; disaster had struck the scales from our eyes, and suddenly we saw the towering courage that had been Churchill's all his life. We all knew, in that instinctive way that tells true from false, that here was a man who would stand to the last; and in this confidence we could stand with him.
  • Unlike modern military operations, whose names are chosen for their public relations value, operations in World War II were christened on the governing principle that the name should give no hint of the objective. To this, Winston Churchill added a second requirement: operations should not be given boastful or frivolous monikers. As he told Pug Ismay, "Intelligent thought will already supply an unlimited number of well-sounding names that do not suggest the character of the operation or disparage it in any way and do not enable some widow or mother to say that her son was killed in an operation called 'BUNNYHUG' or 'BALLYHOO'.
    • Johnathan W. Jordan, in his book American Warlords: How Roosevelt's High Command Led America To Victory In World War II (2016), p. 475.
  • I know I speak for all Americans, your fellow citizens, in extending warmest congratulations and affectionate best wishes on your 90th birthday. As you celebrate this milestone in a full and eventful life we remember with gratitude, and future generations will continue to do so, your magnificent eloquence, your unfailing courage and your great service to the cause of freedom and human dignity.
  • Perhaps if the British people could speak, they would ask for peace. But since the official voice of England asks not for peace but for destruction, it is destruction we must provide.
    • William Joyce, telling to the listeners in 1939, that "England is ripe for invasion", and England expects the United States for help, in speech, Joyce criticized Churchill. Real-Time Diplomacy: Politics and Power in the Social Media Era, p. 113.
  • In the dark days and darker nights when England stood alone--and most men save Englishmen despaired of England's life--he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.
    • John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, made this remark as he signed a proclamation conferring honorary status as a United States citizen upon Winston Churchill, on April 9, 1963. Churchill is one of only eight people to be made an honorary citizen of the United States of America, and the first to receive it in history.
  • One day during the conference King lunched alone with Mr. Churchill and enjoyed the opportunity for an extended conversation. So convincingly did the Prime Minister speak that King, as he remarked afterward, kept his hand on his watch. Had this cherished personal belonging been asked of him, he might not have known how to refuse it! Although King was not in accord with the suggestions of operations in the eastern Mediterranean and an attack on the soft underbelly of Europe, he was in hearty agreement with Mr. Churchill's desire to clear the enemy out of North Africa so that Allied shipping might freely use the Mediterranean and avoid the long voyage around the Cape of Good Hope.
  • In King's view, there could have been no finer comrades-in-arms for the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff than the Prime Minister and the British Chiefs of Staff. King both respected and enjoyed Mr. Churchill. The two men were similar in their entire frankness and their determination in pursuing given thoughts and courses of action. From time to time they collided, but basically they understood one another.
    • Ernest King and Walter M. Whitehill, Fleet Admiral King: A Naval Record (1952), p. 646
  • Take Winston Churchill into the Cabinet. Churchill is the only Englishman Hitler is afraid of. He does not take the PM or Lord Halifax seriously, but he placed Churchill in the same category as Roosevelt. The mere fact of giving him a leading ministerial post would convince Hitler that [you] really meant to stand up to him... Churchill's admission to the Cabinet would be the most effective measure. Otherwise trouble would start again very soon.
  • In twenty-five years' knowledge of our [labour] movement I have known no leader to whom that faith has been given in greater measure or from a fuller heart.
    • Harold Laski, Tribune (4 October 1940), pp. 11–12, quoted in Paul Addison, The Road to 1945 (1994), p. 196
  • As I look at the Europe Hitler has devastated, I know very intimately that, as an Englishman of Jewish origin, I owe you the gift of life itself.
    • Harold Laski to Churchill (2 September 1944), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Road to Victory: Winston S. Churchill, 1941-1945 (1986), p. 972
  • It will take a great deal of patience to undo the harm that Churchill has done.
    • David L. Lawrence, Don't Call Me Boss: David L. Lawrence, Pittsburgh's Renaissance Mayor, p. 168
  • 1919: but two years later Mr. Winston Churchill was entrusted by our harassed Cabinet with the settlement of the Middle East; and in a few weeks, at his conference in Cairo, he made straight all the tangle, finding solutions fulfilling (I think) our promises [to the Arabs] in letter and spirit (where humanly possible) without sacrificing any interest of our Empire or any interest of the peoples concerned. So we were quit of the wartime Eastern adventure, with clean hands, but three years too late to earn the gratitude which peoples, if not states, can pay.
  • You know the difference between a politician and a statesman? Here is the LeMay definition: a politician is a high-profile hooker looking for money to fund a campaign so that he can be in position to be owned by a political party, doing their bidding like a slave. Johnson fit that category. A statesman is a politician whose allegiance is only to their nation, and who, despite the feelings of others, does what he believes in his gut is in the best interest of his country, politics be damned. That even means doing something that may cost him his career, but he takes the moral high ground as he sees it, to do what must be done. That was Churchill. That's the difference. Ronald Reagan is a statesman, and make a note of it- we may not have any more in the future. They are a damned dying breed. That also applies to military commanders. You can have a charismatic, friendly, and amiable type of leader, but that is a difficult position to hold when you have to maintain discipline. It can be done, but it is hard. Then there is the hard-ass, no-holds-barred, get-it-fucking-done leader who pushes his men and expects ever-better results afterward. The easygoing leader may be liked more by his men, but the hard-ass will sure as shit have their attention, and if she shares the dangers with them, he will have their respect. Respect is everything.
    • Curtis LeMay, as quoted from a 1986 interview with Colin Heaton, as quoted by Colin Heaton and Anne-Marie Lewis, Above The Reich: Deadly Dogfights, Blistering Bombing Raids, and Other War Stories from the Greatest American Air Heroes of World War II, in Their Own Words (2021) p. 349
  • He would make a drum out of the skin of his own mother in order to sound his own praises.


  • Only that giant among statesmen, our great Prime Minister, seemed convincing in his role as an apostle of arms and the Covenant. Of him at least men could feel that when he said arms he meant arms. The rich versatility of his nature and the varied phases of his career had equipped him to grasp hold of issues which to narrower men seemed incompatible. The Liberal in him could talk of the Covenant with propriety, the Tory in him could speak of arms with conviction. To quote a schoolboy's naïve but telling description of the Younger Pitt: "He had a broad mind with room in it for many thoughts."
  • The truth is that Churchill never was and never had been, in the true sense, a party man. He would fight the party battle con amore, when necessary. But behind these ephemeral struggles, he saw always the vision of the nation. He was proud of its great past and was determined that its future should be no less glorious. Some of the older Members of the party were surprised and even disturbed at his being given the high post of Chancellor of the Exchequer immediately after his return to the party fold... But as the Parliament proceeded, no one could withhold admiration for the wit, humour, ingenuity, and oratorical skill which he deployed. The Budget speeches were a work of art. None of us had heard anything of the kind—such mastery of language, such careful deployment of the arguments, such dexterous covering of any weak point... I am trying to picture the Churchill of 1924–9: unique, wayward, exciting, a man with a peculiar glamour of his own, that brought a sense of colour into our rather drab political life... But it is impossible to describe the effect of the continual flow of his talk. The arresting thoughts were invariably clothed in equally striking phraseology.
  • We are also short of heroes today—or too aware of our leaders’ shortcomings—which may help to explain the cult of Winston Churchill, a cult which is perhaps even more pronounced in North America than it is in the United Kingdom. The British, after all, have had direct experience of Churchill in other roles than that of the great World War II leader. They are more likely to remember his long political career with its share of mistakes and failures. In North America, the Churchill who is remembered is largely the towering figure who fought on alone against the Axis and who helped craft the Allied victory, not the author of the disastrous Gallipoli landings in World War I or the ailing prime minister who stayed too long in office in the 1950s. President George W. Bush is, not surprisingly, fond of comparing himself to the first Churchill, not the second.
  • The next thing I was asked to do was to go up to Norwich and “rouse the town,” as they say. Winston Churchill was in the British cabinet and was going to make a speech there. Well, the English suffragists knew that the government was completely opposed to suffrage, and they conceived this plan to publicly ask all the cabinet members what they were going to do about votes for women. For that moment at least, the whole audience would turn to the subject of suffrage. We considered it an inexpensive way of advertising our cause. I thought it was a very successful method. (What happened at Norwich?) AP: I went to Norwich with one other young woman, who was as inexperienced as I was, and we had street meetings in the marketplace, where everyone assembled for several nights before Mr. Churchill’s speech. I don’t know whether we exactly “roused the town,” but by the time he arrived, I think Norwich was pretty well aware of what we were trying to do. The night he spoke, we had another meeting outside the hall. We were immediately arrested. You didn’t have to be a good speaker, because the minute you began, you were arrested.
  • Winston (Churchill) believes in the maximum of injustice enforced with the maximum of brutality.
  • His countrymen have come to feel that he is saying what they would like to say for themselves if they knew how.
    • Lord Moran's diary (24 December 1941), quoted in Lord Moran, Winston Churchill: The Struggle for Survival, 1940–1965 (1966; 1968), p. 28
  • Stalin told how he had asked Lady Astor [in 1931] about politicians in England. '"Chamberlain," she said, "is the coming man." 'What about Winston?' '"Oh, he's finished," she replied.' Stalin had retorted: 'If your country is ever in trouble, he will come back.'
    • Lord Moran's diary (14 August 1942), quoted in Lord Moran, Winston Churchill: The Struggle for Survival, 1940–1965 (1966; 1968), p. 76
  • Many years on, historians will read this and your speeches in Arms and the Covenant. They will wonder but I doubt if they will decide what devil of pride, unbelief, unselfishness or sheer madness possessed the English people that they did not ride as one man, depose the blind guides... and call on you to lead them to security, justice and peace. There is a Polish proverb about the Poles themselves...'Wise is the Pole after the event'. The English electorate is growing more Polish daily.
    • Desmond Morton to Churchill after reading his book Step by Step, 1936-1939 (2 July 1939), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1979), p. 1078
  • Churchill had the mind of an historian and the courage of a solider. First, Churchill could see the patterns of the past being repeated in the present, and second, he had no fear of risking political death by going against the polls or conventional wisdom.
  • The man who rallied the nation was Churchill, a gifted and courageous man, but a patriot of the limited, traditional kind. In effect Churchill said simply, "We are fighting for England," and the people flocked to follow him... I personally have always admired him as a man and as a writer, little as I like his politics.
    • George Orwell, 'Fascism and Democracy', The Left News (February 1941), quoted in Peter Davison (ed.), The Complete Works of George Orwell, Volume XII: A Patriot After All, 1940–1941 (1998), p. 380
  • [T]he political reminiscences which he has published...have always been a great deal above the average, in frankness as well as literary quality... Churchill's writings are more like those of a human being than of a public figure... Whether or not 1940 was anyone else's finest hour, it was certainly Churchill's... [O]ne has to admire in him not only his courage but also a certain largeness and geniality which comes out even in formal memoirs of this type... The British people have generally rejected his policies, but they have always had a liking for him, as one can see from the tone of the stories told about him... At the time of the Dunkirk was rumoured that what he actually said, when recording the speech for broadcast, was: "We will fight on the beaches, we will fight in the streets... We'll throw bottles at the b—s; it's about all we've got left"—but, of course the BBC's switch-censor pressed his thumb on the key at the right moment. One may assume that this story is untrue, but at the time it was felt that it ought to be true. It was a fitting tribute from ordinary people to the tough and humorous old man whom they would not accept as a peace-time leader but whom in the moment of disaster they felt to be representative of themselves.
    • George Orwell's review of Churchill's Their Finest Hour in New Leader (14 May 1949), quoted in Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus (eds.), The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell. Volume IV: In Front of Your Nose, 1945–1950 (1968), pp. 491–495
  • War not only has its own weapons, it has its own ethic, its own standard of right and wrong... Do whatever is necessary to win. This fact was emphasized in a recent statement by Winston S. Churchill, former first lord of the British admiralty: "When all is over, torture and cannibalism were the only two expedients that the civilized, scientific, Christian states had been able to deny themselves: and these were of doubtful utility."
    • Kirby Page, "What is War?" Christian Century 41 (May 15, 1924)
  • He looked invincible, which he is. Tough, bulldogged, piercing. He made his way through the smoke, through the City workers all crying "Good old Winston" – "Give 'em socks" – "Good luck" – and the culminating cry of "Are we down-hearted?" to the heaven-rising response of "No-o-o-o-o" which echoed around the City, around the world indeed. It was magnificent, tremendous, stirring, dramatic.
    • Colin Perry's diary entry recording Churchill's visit to the East End of London during The Blitz (c. 9 September 1940), quoted in Philip Ziegler, London At War (2015), p. 115
  • His violent disagreement with Neville Chamberlain did not spring solely from thwarted ambition or personal dislike. Such motives may have sharpened the phrases and honed his epigrams, but the long policy of appeasement, the weakening of Britain's world role, the acceptance of oppression and racialism were to Churchill a denial of England's historical destiny and, because a denial, bound to end in disaster.
    • J. H. Plumb, 'The Historian', in Churchill: Four Faces and the Man (1969; 1973), p. 123
  • One of the reasons for the immense popularity of Churchill in 1940 was the not unfounded instinct of the common people that, but for him, their rulers would have betrayed them. There is a certain fallacy in attempting to decide what was Churchill's one crucial contribution to the survival of Britain. Great historical events are determined by a whole array of causes, each of which would be entitled in isolation to be regarded as crucial. But I feel sure that many people besides myself believe it was by being an immovable obstacle to compromise or surrender in 1940 that Churchill saved his country.
    • Enoch Powell, 'Churchill and War', BBC Radio (29 July 1983), quoted in Rex Collings (ed.), Reflections of a Statesman: The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (1991), p. 298
  • There is a great longing for leadership and even those who are far apart from you in general politics realize that you are the one man who has combined full realization of the dangers of our military position with belief in collective international action against aggression. And if we fail again now, will there ever be another chance.
    • Independent MP Eleanor Rathbone to Churchill (10 September 1938), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1979), p. 971
  • It is fun to be in the same decade with you.
    • U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945), in response to 60th-birthday greetings from Churchill, as quoted in The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations (1993), p. 148.
  • An analogous process I shall call Churchillian Drift ... Whereas quotations with an apothegmatic feel are normally ascribed to Shaw, those with a more grandiose or belligerent tone are, as if by osmosis, credited to Churchill.
    • Nigel Rees, Brewer's Quotations (London: Cassell, 1994) p. x., also quoted in Why Do We Quote by Ruth Finnegan (2011), pg. 241
  • [H]e became the greatest leader in war this country has ever had.
    • A. L. Rowse, 'The Summing-Up—Churchill's Place in History', Charles Eade (ed.), Churchill By His Contemporaries (1953), p. 345
  • Even repeated by the announcer, it sent shivers (not of fear) down my spine. I think that one of the reasons why one is stirred by his Elizabethan phrases is that one feels the whole massive backing of power and resolve behind them, like a great fortress: they are never words for words' sake.
    • Vita Sackville-West to Harold Nicolson (4 June 1940) after Churchill's "We shall never surrender" speech, quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 469
  • Early in the afternoon [of 8 September 1940] I accompanied the Prime Minister on a tour of the East End, and then I saw the extraordinary spirit with which Londoners fought back... Although it was still early in the afternoon people were already coming in for the night, carrying their bedding and belongings, but they dropped them to the ground to cheer the Prime Minister. Putting his hat on the end of his stick he twirled it round and roared, "Are we downhearted?" and they shouted back, "No!" with astonishing gusto. "Hit 'em back, Winston!" the East Enders cried. "Hit 'em hard!" "Never fear," he answered in his most most bulldog way, "we'll hit back as soon as we can." Pessimists had predicted panic and bitterness in the East End, but I saw nothing of the kind. Smiles, cheers and grim determination showed already that "London could take it".
  • As we were leaving the House [of Commons] late tonight, he called me into the Chamber to take a last look round. All was darkness except a ring of faint light all around under the gallery. We could dimly see the table, but walls and roof were invisible.
    "Look at it", he said. "This little place is what makes the difference between us and Germany. It is in virtue of this that we shall muddle through to success & for lack of this Germany's brilliant efficiency leads her to final disaster. This little room is the shrine of the world's liberties."
    • MacCallum Scott, diary entry (5 March 1917), quoted in Paul Addison, 'Destiny, history and providence: the religion of Winston Churchill', in Michael Bentley (ed.), Public and Private Doctrine: Essays in British History presented to Maurice Cowling (1993), p. 245
  • [H]is ideas are to me reactionary, he is out of touch with modern social trends. But he has served his country with the highest distinction; in moments of peril he was undaunted; in majestic phrases, which linger in the memory of those who heard them, he crystallised the resolution of the whole nation.
    • Labour MP Emanuel Shinwell, 'Churchill as a Political Opponent', Charles Eade (ed.), Churchill By His Contemporaries (1953), p. 83
  • Sir Winston Churchill is the leader of the Conservative Party, but at the root of his many-sided nature there remains the essence of Liberalism. His tolerance, his sympathy with the oppressed and the underdog, his courage in withstanding clamour, his belief in the value of the individual and in self-government for communities sufficiently advanced to use it wisely, all derive from a heart and a head which made him in his early years of Ministerial office a Liberal statesman... Now that the ex-Liberal Minister has become leader of the Conservative Party, has he not carried into that body the reinvigorating spirit of English liberalism and so brought to fulfilment his father's notion that Toryism could be led into democratic channels? The content of national policy changes with time, but there is a profound sense in which Sir Winston Churchill, though a Conservative Prime Minister, is a Liberal still.
    • John Simon, 'Churchill as a Liberal', Charles Eade (ed.), Churchill By His Contemporaries (1953), pp. 59, 61
  • In their native countries, Roosevelt and Churchill are regarded as examples of wise statesmen. But we, during our jail conversations, were astonished by their constant shortsightedness and even stupidity. How could they, retreating gradually from 1941 to 1945, leave Eastern Europe without any guarantees of independence? How could they abandon the large territories of Saxony and Thuringia in return for such a ridiculous toy as the four-zoned Berlin that, moreover, was later to become their Achille’s heel? And what kind of military or political purpose did they see in giving away hundreds of thousands of armed Soviet citizens (who were unwilling to surrender, whatever the terms) for Stalin to have them killed? It is said that by doing this, that they secured the imminent participation of Stalin in the war against Japan. Already armed with the Atomic bomb, they did pay for Stalin so that he wouldn’t refuse to occupy Manchuria to help Mao Zedong to gain power in China and Kim Il Sung, to get half of Korea!… Oh, misery of political calculation! When later Mikolajczyk was expelled, when the end of Beneš and Masaryk came, Berlin was blocked, Budapest was in flames and turned silent, when ruins fumed in Korea and when the conservatives fled from Suez – didn’t really some of those who had a better memory, recall for instance the episode of giving away the Cossacks?
  • In contrast to the ultimate realization that he was dealing with a formidable enemy in the east, Hitler clung to the end to his preconceived opinion that the troops of the Western countries were poor fighting material... His opinions on the Western statesmen had a similar bias. He considered Churchill, as he often stated during the situation conferences, an incompetent, alcoholic demagogue. And he asserted in all seriousness that Roosevelt was not a victim of infantile paralysis but of syphilitic paralysis and was therefore mentally unsound. These opinions, too, were indications, of his flight from reality in the last years of his life.
    • Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs (1970), p. 306-307
  • Marshal Stalin proposed a toast to the health of the Prime Minister, whom he characterized as the bravest governmental figure in the world. He said that due in large measure to Mr. Churchill's courage and staunchness, England, when she stood alone, had divided the might of Hitlerite Germany at a time when the rest of Europe was falling flat on its face before Hitler. He said that Great Britain, under Mr. Churchill's leadership, had carried on the fight alone irrespective of existing or potential allies. The Marshal concluded that he knew of few examples in history where the courage of one man had been so important to the future history of the world. He drank a toast to Mr. Churchill, his fighting friend and a brave man.
    • Joseph Stalin's toast to Churchill at Yalta (8 February 1945), quoted in Robert Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History (1948), p. 868. Also quoted in Lord Moran, Winston Churchill: The Struggle for Survival, 1940-1965 (1968), p. 252
  • The great aristocrat, the beloved leader, the profound historian, the gifted painter, the superb politician, the lord of language, the orator, the wit—yes, and the dedicated bricklayer—behind all of them was a simple man of faith, steadfast in defeat, generous in victory, resigned in age, trusting in a loving providence, and committing his achievements and his triumphs to a higher power.
  • Remember him, for he saved all of you: pudgy and not very large but somehow massive and indomitable; baby-faced, with snub nose, square chin, rheumy eyes on occasion given to tears; a thwarted actor's taste for clothes that would have looked ridiculous on a less splendid man. He wore the quaintest hats of anyone: tinted square bowlers; great flat sombreros squashed down on his head; naval officer's caps rendered just slightly comic by the huge cigar protruding beneath the peak. On grave and critical occasions he sported highly practical Teddy-bear suits few grown men would dare to wear in public. He fancied oil painting, at which he was good, writing, at which he was excellent, and oratory, at which he was magnificent.
    • C.L. Sulzberger, in his book The American Heritage Picture History of World War II (1966), p. 97
  • The saviour of his country.
  • Confidence in the Prime Minister stood at eighty-eight per cent in July [1940]... There is no doubt that the British were united, nor is there the least doubt that they found in Churchill an exact expression of their own obstinacy, courage, and refusal to recognise the apparent logic of facts.
  • As I saw and knew him his outstanding characteristics are his fearlessness, honesty, patriotism and his sense of destiny.
    • Walter H. Thompson, 'Guarding Churchill', Charles Eade (ed.), Churchill By His Contemporaries (1953), p. 170
  • He is a great man. He is, of course, our enemy and has always been the enemy of Communism, but he is an enemy one must respect, an enemy one likes to have.
    • Tito, as quoted in Jasper Ridley, Tito: A Biography (1994), p. 323.
  • Winston sent me a peevish telegram to ask why Gandhi hadn't died yet! He has never answered my telegram about food.
    • Archibald Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell, in his diary entry for 4 July 1944 (published in Wavell: the Viceroy's Journal, ed. Penderel Moon, 1973). Wavell was the Viceroy of India from 1943 to 1947, when the Japanese invasion of Burma, combined with colonial mismanagement, had caused a famine in Bengal. Often misquoted as "If food is so scarce, why hasn't Gandhi died yet?"
  • My dear Winston. That was worth 1,000 guns & the speeches of 1,000 years.
    • Labour MP Josiah Wedgwood to Churchill (4 June 1940) after his "We shall never surrender" speech, quoted in Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour: Winston S. Churchill, 1939–1941 (1983), p. 468
  • Among a stream of visitors to the 9th Division in England, while it was preparing for D-Day in the early months of 1944, was Prime Minister Winston Churchill. When he arrived to address the assembled troops, he went at first not to the speaker's stand but behind a small outbuilding. He reappeared minutes later buttoning his fly, making sure no one missed the reason for the delay. The troops loved it.
  • Tonight our nation mourns the loss of the greatest man any of us have known... It was his leadership...and that response which saved Britain and saved freedom... It was his courage, his humanity, the response he evoked in our people, that wrote in those wartime years, that imperishable chapter in our history, a chapter which will always bear the title he gave to one part of that chapter, "Our Finest Hour". For over-riding and sustaining those qualities which marked his years of leadership was his great sense of history—of, in his words, walking with destiny—thinking not so much perhaps of himself but of his country, of the Commonwealth.
    • Harold Wilson, broadcast (24 January 1965), quoted in The Times (25 January 1965), p. 8
  • The book is a record of perspicacity and courage on your part. England owes you many apologies.
    • Lord Wolmer to Churchill after reading his book Step by Step, 1936-1939 (5 July 1939), quoted in Martin Gilbert, Prophet of Truth: Winston S. Churchill, 1922–1939 (1979), p. 1079
  • On 30 January 1965, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's funeral took place. One of its most memorable moments was when cranes on the London docks dipped as his funeral barge went past. However, it later emerged that the dockworkers had originally refused to dip the cranes as they "didn't like" Churchill, and had to be paid extra to do it. While typically depicted as a national hero today, in fact Churchill was hated by many, especially working class people, hence why he lost the 1945 election. And despite being presented as an anti-fascist, Churchill actually supported fascism. He declared that Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini was "a really great man", and wrote that he "whole-heartedly" supported Mussolini "from the start of the finish in [his] triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism", and supported Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), describing the independent African nation as not "civilised". Churchill also supported the military coup of general Francisco Franco and his fascist army in Spain, and wrote of his admiration for Adolf Hitler in Germany, with whom he also advocated appeasement until late in 1938, even after Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia. In his younger days Churchill also opposed the vote being given to women, or working class men. Famously, he was a virulent racist, who supported using poison gas on civilians, and he sent troops against striking British workers. During World War II he was also a key architect of the manufactured Bengal famine, which killed between two and four million people. This clip from Jeremy Paxman's documentary discusses Churchill's funeral and includes a former docker explaining why they didn't want to lower their cranes for him:

Churchill's Finest Hour (November 27, 2009)


Mark Riebling, "Churchill's Finest Hour," City Journal (November 27, 2009). Full essay online

  • Winston Churchill led the life that many men would love to live. He survived 50 gunfights and drank 20,000 bottles of champagne. [...] And of course, by resisting Hitler, he saved Europe and perhaps the world.
  • Following the pattern set by Julius Caesar in The Gallic War, Churchill wrote books to vindicate policy; but he may also have made policy with an eye toward writing books. If so, the implications are alarming. Did Churchill conceive bold operations, such as the disastrous 1915 Dardanelles offensive, because these would make exciting episodes in the text of his life? A. J. Balfour once joked that Winston had written an enormous book about himself and called it The World Crisis. Was there more truth in that joke than we have so far known?
  • He was the outlier of a new type: the first twentieth-century personality to be famous for being famous. If he toured Africa with 17 pieces of matched luggage, or got hit by a car crossing Fifth Avenue in New York, he wrote about it. His life became a forerunner of reality TV; in today's terms, he did everything to seek celebrity but release a sex tape. A great question of Churchill biography, therefore, is how this Paris Hilton of British politics became the second coming of King Arthur.
  • What then is the moral of Churchill's life? He was the twentieth century's great man, but we must sharply circumscribe his greatness. Because he drew the sword from the stone in 1940, what he did before and after seems admirable. Through his steadfast stance, Churchill rallied the English to die with honor—therefore they deserved to win. Whoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whoever shall lose his life shall preserve it (Luke 17:33). Yet were it not for this one courageous triumph, we might now say of him: Never had one man done so little with so much.


  1. Churchill, Winston (13 April 1905). "Chapter 1: Why I am a Free Trader". in Stead, W.T.. Coming Men on Coming Questions. 
  2. Churchill, Winston (1974). Rhodes James, Robert. ed. Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches 1897-1963. Chelsea House Publishers / R.R. Bowker Company. ISBN 0835206939. 
  3. Robert Rhodes James, ed., Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches 1897-1963 vol. 3, 1914-1922, vol. 3 (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1974), 2671.
  4. Norman Rose: "Churchill: An Unruly Life", pg 146
  5. Barczewsk, Stephanie, John Eglin, Stephen Heathorn, Michael Silvestri, and Michelle Tusan. Britain Since 1688: A Nation in the World, p. 301
  6. Toye, Richard. Churchill's Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made, p. 172
  7. Matters, Military History (2010-11-20). Winston Churchill Quotes | Military History Matters (in en-US). Retrieved on 2022-03-09.
  8. Google books link
  9. a b Churchill, Winston (2013). The Dawn of Liberation, 1945. Rosetta Books. ISBN 9780795329494. 
  10. Winston S. Churchill, Churchill in His Own Words, ed. Richard M. Langworth (London: Ebury, 2012), 148; and James, His Complete Speeches vol. 8, 7774.
  11. Hoggart, Simon (4 June 2001). "Hats off to Soames, Off Message but on Majestic Form". The Guardian. 
  13. Churchill, Churchill by Himself, 381.
  14. Reinventing the Wheel. Footnote #5
  15. The speech is in James W. Muller, ed., Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" Speech Fifty Years Later (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999), which collects the papers from that occasion. A readable .pdf is on the Churchill Centre website (scroll to pages 18-24):
  16. Full text available here:
  23. François Bondy (1976), "European Notebook", Encounter, vol. 47, p. 51.
  24. François Bondy (1979), "Ignazio Silone: In Memoriam", The Washington Quarterly, vol. 2, issue 2.
  25. Robert Deis. Churchill's alleged quip about British naval tradition. This Day in Quotes.
  26. Richard Langworth. Churchill by Himself: The Definitive Collection of Quotations. p. 577. ISBN 1586489577. "In dinner conversation ca. 1955, private secretary Anthony Montague Browne confronted WSC with this quotation. 'I never said it. I wish I had,' responded Churchill. (AMB to the editor.) 'Compare "Rum, bum, and bacca" and "Ashore it's wine women and song, aboard it's rum, bum and concertina", naval catchphrases dating from the nineteenth century' -- Oxford Dictionary of Quotations" 
  29. Google books link
  30. 1953, How to Say a Few Words by David Guy Powers, Quote p. 109, Doubleday & Company, Garden City, New York. Referenced by Quote Investigator
  31. Published by Richard Langworth online:
  32. link
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