The Second World War (book series)

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The Second World War (1948-1953) is a six-volume history of the period from the end of the First World War to July 1945, written by Winston Churchill.

Moral of the Work[edit]

In War: Resolution

In Defeat: Defiance

In Victory: Magnanimity

In Peace: Good Will

Volume I: The Gathering Storm[edit]

Theme of the Volume[edit]

  • How the English-speaking peoples through their unwisdom, carelessness, and good nature allowed the wicked to rearm.


  • I have followed, as in previous volumes, as far as I am able, the method of Defoe's Memoirs of a Cavalier, in which the author hangs the chronicle and discussion of great military and political events upon the thread of the personal experiences of an individual. I am perhaps the only man who has passed through both the two supreme cataclysms of recorded history in high Cabinet office.
    • p. iii
  • I do not describe it as history, for that belongs to another generation. But I claim with confidence that it is a contribution to history which will be of service to the future.
    • p. iv
  • I have adhered to my rule of never criticising any measure of war or policy after the event unless I had before expressed publicly or formally my opinion or warning about it.
    • p. iv
  • Let no one look down on those honourable, well-meaning men whose actions are chronicled in these pages, without searching his own heart, reviewing his own discharge of public duty, and applying the lessons of the past to his future conduct.
    • p. iv
  • 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." There never was a war more easy to stop than that which has just wrecked what was left of the world from the previous struggle. The human tragedy reaches its climax in the fact that after all the exertions and sacrifices of hundreds of millions of people and of the victories of the Righteous Cause, we still have not found Peace or Security, and that we lie in the grip of even worse perils then those we have surmounted. It is my earnest hope that pondering upon the past may give guidance in days to come, enable a new generation to repair some of the errors of former years and thus govern, in accordance with the needs and glory of man, the awful unfolding scene of the future.
    • p. iv

Book I: From War to War 1919 - 1939[edit]

Ch. 1: The Follies of the Victors[edit]

  • After the end of the World War of 1914 there was a deep conviction and almost universal hope that peace would reign in the world.
    • p. 3
  • When Marshal Foch heard of the signing of the Peace Treaty of Versailles he observed with singular accuracy: "This is not Peace. It is an Armistice for twenty years."
    • p. 7
  • The multitudes remained plunged in ignorance of the simplest economic facts, and their leaders, seeking their votes, did not dare to undeceive them. The newspapers, after the fashion, reflected and emphasised the prevailing opinions. Few voices were raised to explain that payment of reparations can only be made by services or by the physical transportation of goods in wagons across land frontiers or in ships across salt water; or that when these goods arrive in the demanding countries, they dislocate the local industry except in very primitive or rigorously controlled societies.
    • On the economic clauses of the Treaty of Versailles, and the reparations Germany was to pay.
    • p. 7
  • The victors imposed upon the Germans all the long-sought ideals of the liberal nations of the West. They were relieved from the burden of compulsory military service and from the need of keeping up heavy armaments. The enormous American loans were presently pressed upon them, though they had no credit. A democratic constitution, in accordance with all the latest improvements, was established at Weimar. Emperors having been driven out, nonentities were elected. Beneath this flimsy fabric raged the passions of the mighty, defeated, but substantially uninjured German nation.
    • p. 10
  • A gaping void was opened in the national life of the German people. All the strong elements, military and futile, which might have rallied to a constitutional monarchy and for its sake respected and sustained the new democratic and parliamentary processes, were for the time being unhinged. The Weimar Republic, with all its liberal trappings and blessings, was regarded as an imposition of the enemy. It could not hold the loyalties or the imagination of the German people. For a spell they sought to cling as in desperation to the aged Marshal Hindenburg. Thereafter mighty forces were adrift; the void was open, and into that void after a pause there strode a maniac of ferocious genius, the repository and expression of the most virulent hatreds that have ever corroded the human breast — Corporal Hitler.
    • p. 11
  • As a result of the general financial and political disorganisation of Germany, together with reparation payments during the years 1919 to 1923, the mark rapidly collapsed. The rage aroused in Germany by the French occupation of the Ruhr lead to a vast, reckless printing of paper notes with the deliberate object of destroying the whole basis of currency. In the final stages of the inflation the mark stood at forty-three million millions to the pound sterling. The social and economic consequences of this inflation were deadly and far-reaching. The savings of the middle classes were wiped out, and a natural following was thus provided for the banners of National Socialism.
    • p.12
  • At the Washington Conference of 1921, far-reaching proposals for naval disarmament were made by the United States, and the British and American Governments proceeded to sink their battleships and break up their military establishments with gusto. It was argued in odd logic that it would be immoral to disarm the vanquished unless the victors also stripped themselves of their weapons.
    • p.13
  • The United States made it clear to Britain that the continuance of her alliance with Japan, to which the Japanese had punctiliously conformed, would constitute a barrier in Anglo-American relations. Accordingly, this alliance was brought to an end. The annulment caused a profound impression in Japan, and was viewed as the spurning of an Asiatic Power by the Western World... Thus, both in Europe and in Asia, conditions were swiftly created by the victorious Allies which, in the name of peace, cleared the way for the renewal of war.
    • p. 14
  • In the Second World War every bond between man and man was to perish. Crimes were committed by the Germans under the Hitlerite domination to which they allowed themselves to be subjected which find no equal in scale and wickedness with any that have darkened the human record. The wholesale massacre by systematised processes of six or seven millions of men, women, and children in the German execution camps exceeds in horror the rough-and-ready butcheries of Genghis Khan, and in scale reduces them to pigmy proportions. Deliberate extermination of whole populations was contemplated and pursued by both Germany and Russia in the Eastern war. . . . We have at length emerged from a scene of material ruin and moral havoc the like of which had never darkened the imagination of former centuries.
    • p.15
    • 1949 edition

Ch. 3: Lurking Dangers[edit]

  • It is in these circumstances that we entered upon that period of exhaustion which has been described as Peace. It gives us, at any rate, an opportunity to consider the general situation. Certain sombre facts emerge, solid, inexorable, like the shapes of mountains from drifting mist.
    • Reflecting on the four years which elapsed between the Armistice and the change of Government in Britain at the end of 1922
    • p. 40
  • In their loss of purpose, in their abandonment even of the themes they most sincerely espoused, Britain, France, and most of all, because of their immense power and impartiality, United States, allowed conditions to be gradually built up which led to the very climax they dreaded most. They have only to repeat the same well-meaning, short-sighted behaviour towards the new problems which in singular resemblance confront us today to bring about a third convulsion from which none may live to tell the tale.
    • p. 41
  • I have written even earlier, in 1925, some thoughts and queries of a technical character which it would be wrong to omit in these days:  May there not be methods of using explosive energy incomparably more intense than anything heretofore discovered? Might not be 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? Could not explosives even of the existing type be guided automatically in flying machines by wireless or other rays, without a human pilot, in ceaseless procession upon a hostile city, arsenal, camp, or dockyard? As for poison gas and chemical warfare in all its forms, only the first chapter has been written of a terrible book. Certainly every one of these new avenues to destruction is being studied on both sides of the Rhine with all the science and patience of which man is capable. And why should it be supposed that these resources will be limited to inorganic chemistry? A study of disease — of pestilences methodically prepared and deliberately launched upon man and beast — is certainly being pursued in the laboratories of more than one great country. Blight to destroy crops, anthrax to slay horses and cattle, plague to poison not armies only, but whole districts — such are the lines along which military science is remorselessly advancing.  All this is nearly a quarter of a century old.
    • p. 41
  • It is natural that a proud people vanquished in war should strive to rearm themselves as soon as possible. They will not respect more than they can help treaties exacted from them under duress. "...Ease would retract Vows made in pain, as violent and void." The responsibility, therefore, of enforcing a continual state of military disarmament upon a beaten foe rests upon the victors. For this purpose they must pursue a twofold policy. First, while remaining sufficiently armed themselves, they must enforce with tireless vigilance and authority the causes of the treaty which forbid the revival of their late antagonist's military power. Secondly, they should do all that is possible to reconcile the defeated nation to its lot by acts of benevolence designed to procure the greatest amount of prosperity in the beaten country, and labor by every means to create a basis of true friendship and of common interests, so that the incentive to appeal again to arms will be continually diminished. In these years I coined the maxim, "the redress of the grievances of the vanquished should precede the disarmament of the victors." As will be seen, the reverse process was, to a large extent, followed by Britain, the United States, and France. And thereby hangs this tale.
    • p. 42

Ch. 4: Adolf Hitler[edit]

  • The fierce anger of all Germany at the French occupation of the Ruhr in 1923 brought what was now called the National-Socialist Party a broad wave of adherents. The collapse of the mark destroyed the basis of the German middle class, of whom many in their despair became recruits of the new party and found relief from their misery in hatred, vengeance, and patriotic fervour.
    • p. 54
  • Mein Kampf, a treatise on [Hitler's] political philosophy... When eventually he came to power, there was no book which deserved more careful study from the rulers, political and military, of the Allied Powers. All was there — the programme of German resurrection; the technique of party propaganda; the plan for combating Marxism; the concept of a National-Socialist State; the rightful position of Germany at the summit of the world. Here was the new Koran of faith and war: turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with its message.
    • p. 55
  • The main thesis of Mein Kampf is simple. Man is a fighting animal; therefore the nation, being a community of fighters, is a fighting unit. Any living organism which ceases to fight for its existence is doomed to extinction. A country or race which ceases to fight is equally doomed. The fighting capacity of a race depends on its purity. Hence the need for ridding it of foreign defilements. The Jewish race, owing to its universality, is of necessity pacifist and internationalist. Pacifism is the deadliest sin; for it means the surrender of the race in the fight for existence. The first duty of every country is therefore to nationalise the masses; intelligence in the case of the individual is not of first importance; will and determination are the prime qualities. The individual who is born to command is more valuable than countless thousands of subordinate natures.Only brute force can ensure the survival of the race; hence the necessity for military forms. The race must fight; a race that rests must rust and perish...
    • p. 55
  • The ceaseless struggles and gradual emergence of Adolf Hitler as a national figure were little noticed by the victors, oppressed and harassed as they were by their own troubles and party strife. A long interval passed before National Socialism or the "Nazi Party," as it came to be called, gained so strong a hold of the masses of the German people, of the armed forces, of the machinery of the State, and among industrialists not unreasonably terrified of Communism, as to become a power in German life of which world-wide notice had to be taken. When Hitler was released from prison at the end of 1924, he said that it would take him five years to reorganise his movement.
    • p. 57
  • The S.A. had become to a large extent a revolutionary movement fanned by the discontents of temperamental or embittered subversives and the desperation of ruined men. They differed from the Bolsheviks whom they denounced no more than the North Pole does from the South.
    • p. 59
  • Hitler, for his part, although prepared to use any battering-ram to break into the citadels of power, had always before his eyes the leadership of the great and glittering Germany which had commanded the admiration and loyalty of his youthful years.
    • p. 60
  • It seemed that agreement could be reached. The extraordinary basis of this was the principle, subject to various reserved interpretations, of "equality of armaments" between Germany and France. It is indeed surprising... that anyone in his senses should have imagined that peace could be built on such foundations.
    • p. 64

Ch. 5: The Locust Years (1931-1935)[edit]

  • On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler took office as Chancellor of Germany. The hand of the Master was soon felt upon all who would or might oppose the New Order. On February 2, all meetings or demonstrations of the German Communist Party were forbidden, and throughout Germany a round-up of secret arms belonging to the Communists began. The climax came on the evening of February 27, 1933. The building of the Reichstag broke into flames. Brown Shirts, Black Shirts, and their auxiliary formations were called out. Four thousand arrests, including the Central Committee of the Communist Party, were made overnight.
    • p. 69
  • [I]n the new Nazi Germany minorities were now to learn that they had no rights.
    • p. 70
  • I should very much regret to see any approximation in military strength between Germany and France. Those who speak of that as though it were a right, or even question of fair dealing, altogether underrate the gravity of the European situation. I would say to those who would like to see Germany and France on an equal footing in armaments: "Do you wish for war?"
    • Churchill speaking to the House of Commons in May, 1932
    • p. 72
  • [W]hen in 1932 the German delegation to the Disarmament Conference categorically demanded the removal of all restrictions upon their right to rearm, they found much support in the British press. The Times spoke of "the timely redress of inequality," and The New Statesman of the "unqualified recognition of the principle of the equality of states." This meant that the seventy million Germans ought to be allowed to rearm and prepare for war without the victors in the late fearful struggle being entitled to make any objection. Equality of status between victors and vanquished; equality between a France of thirty-nine millions and a Germany of nearly double that number!
    • p. 73
  • [The French] must be greatly concerned at what is taking place in Germany, as well as at the attitude of some others of their neighbours. I dare say that during this anxious month there are many good people who have said to themselves, as I have been saying for several years: "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, the persecution of large numbers of individuals solely on the ground of race — when we see all that occurring in one of the most gifted, learned, and scientific and formidable nations in the world, one cannot help feeling glad that the fierce passions that are raging in Germany have not yet found 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 hers, to ask France to halve her air force while the German air force remains whatever it is, is a proposal likely to be considered by the French Government, at present at any rate, as somewhat unseasonable.
    • Churchill speaking to Parliament, March 23, 1933
    • p. 75
  • It is difficult to find a parallel to the unwisdom of the British and weakness of the French Governments, who none the less reflected the opinion of the Parliaments in this disastrous period. Nor can the United States escape the censure of history. Absorbed in their own affairs and all the abounding interests, activities, and accidents of a free community, they simply gaped at the vast changes which were taking place in Europe and imagined they were no concern of theirs.The considerable corps of highly competent, widely trained professional American officers formed their own opinions, but these produced no noticeable effect upon the improvident aloofness of American foreign policy. If the influence of the United States had been exerted, it might have galvanised the French and British Politicians into action. The League of Nations, battered though it had been, was still an august instrument which would have invested any challenge to the new Hitler war-menace with the sanctions of international law. Under the strain the Americans merely shrugged their shoulders, so that in a few years they had to pour out the blood and treasures of the New World to save themselves from mortal danger.
    • p. 77
  • We must regard as deeply blameworthy before history the conduct, not only of the British National and mainly Conservative Government, but of the Labour-Socialist and Liberal Parties, both in and out of office, during this fatal period. Delight in smooth-sounding platitudes, refusal to face unpleasant facts, desire for popularity and electoral success irrespective of the vital interests of the State, genuine love of peace and pathetic belief that love can be its sole foundation, obvious lack of intellectual vigour in both leaders of the British Coalition Government, marked ignorance of Europe and aversion from its problems in Mr. Baldwin, the strong and violent pacifism which at the time dominated the Labour-Socialist Party, the utter devotion of the Liberals to sentiment apart from reality, the failure and worse than failure of Mr. Lloyd George, the erstwhile great wartime leader, to address himself to the continuity of his work, the whole supported by overwhelming majorities in both Houses of Parliament: all these constituted a picture of British fatuity and fecklessness which, though devoid of guile, was not devoid of guilt, and, though free from wickedness or evil design, played a definite part in the unleashing upon the world of horrors and miseries which, even so far as they have unfolded, are already beyond comparison in human experience.
    • p. 89

Ch. 6: The Darkening Scene (1934)[edit]

  • Not one of the lessons of the past has been learned, not one of them has been applied, and the situation is incomparably more dangerous.
    • Churchill to Parliament on February 7, 1934, Speaking out on the League of Nations inactivity concerning the Hitler Movement, and protesting efforts of those who "continued to work for the disarmament of France"
    • p. 93
  • The awful danger of our present foreign policy is that we go on perpetually asking the French to weaken themselves. And what do we say is the inducement? We say, "Weaken yourselves," and we always hold out the hope that if they do it and get into trouble, we will then in some way or other go to their aid, although we have nothing with which to go to their aid. I cannot imagine a more dangerous policy. There is something to be said for isolation; there is something to be said for alliances. But there is nothing to be said for weakening the Power on the Continent with whom you would be in alliance, and then involving yourself more [deeply] in Continental tangles in order to make it up to them. In that way you have neither the one thing nor the other; you have the worst of both worlds. ¶The Romans had a maxim, "Shorten your weapons and lengthen your frontiers." But our maxim seems to be, "Diminish your weapons and increase your obligations." Aye, and diminish the weapons of your friends.
    • Churchill to Parliament on March 14, 1934, commenting on the common declaration made by the British, French, and Italian governments, upon the maintenance of Austrian independence.
    • p. 95

Ch. 7: Air Parity Lost (1934-1935)[edit]

  • The pacifism of the Labour and Liberal Parties was not affected even by the grave event of the German withdrawal from the League of Nations. Both continued in the name of peace to urge British disarmament, and anyone who differed was called a "warmonger" and "scaremonger." It appeared that their feeling was endorsed by the people, who, of course, did not understand what was unfolding.
    • p. 111
  • If Great Britain and France had each maintained quantitative parity with Germany, they would together have been double as strong, and Hitler's career of violence might have been nipped in the bud without the loss of a single life. Thereafter it was too late. We cannot doubt the sincerity of the leaders of the Socialist and Liberal Parties. They were completely wrong and mistaken, and they bear their share of the burden before history. It is indeed astonishing that the Socialist Party should have endeavored in after years to claim superior foresight and should have reproached their opponents with failing to provide for national safety.
    • p. 115

Ch. 8: Challenge and Response (1935)[edit]

  • The United States had washed their hands of all concern in Europe, apart from wishing well to everybody, and were sure they would never have to be bothered with it again. But France, Great Britain, and also - decidedly - Italy, in spite of their discordances, felt bound to challenge this definite act of Treaty violation by Hitler. A conference of the former principal Allies was summoned under the League of Nations at Stresa, and all these matters were brought to debate.
    • p. 131

Ch. 9: Problems of Air and Sea (1935–1939)[edit]

  • Many things were adopted in the war which we were told were technically impossible, but patience, perseverance, and, above all, the spur of necessity under was conditions, made men's brains act with greater vigour, and Science responded to the demands.
    • Churchill to the House on June 7, 1935
    • p. 149

Ch 10: Sanctions Against Italy (1935)[edit]

  • The export of aluminium into Italy was strictly forbidden; but aluminium was almost the only metal that Italy produced in quantities beyond her own needs. The importation of scrap iron and iron ore into Italy was sternly vetoed in the name of public justice. But as the Italian metallurgical industry made but little use of them, and as steel billets and pig iron were not interfered with, Italy suffered no hindrance. Thus, the measures pressed with so great a parade were not real sanctions to paralyse the aggressor, but merely such half-hearted sanctions as the aggressor would tolerate, because in fact, though onerous, they stimulated Italian war spirit. The League of Nations, therefore, proceeded to the rescue of Abyssinia on the basis that nothing must be done to hamper the invading Italian armies. These facts were not known to the British public at the time of the election. They earnestly supported the policy of the sanctions, and believed that this was a sure way of bringing the Italian assault upon Abyssinia to an end.
    • p. 176
  • If ever there was an opportunity of striking a decisive blow in a generous cause with the minimum of risk, it was here and now. The fact that the nerve of the British Government was not equal to the occasion can be excused only by their sincere love of peace. Actually it played a part in leading to an infinitely more terrible war. Mussolini's bluff succeeded, and an important spectator drew far-reaching conclusions from the fact. Hitler had long resolved on war for German aggrandisement. He now formed a view of Great Britain's degeneracy which was only to be changed too late for peace and too late for him. In Japan, also, there were pensive spectators.
    • p. 177

Ch. 11: Hitler Strikes (1936)[edit]

  • Hitler was now free to strike. The successive steps which he took encountered no effective resistance from the two liberal democracies of Europe, and apart from their far-seeing President, only gradually excited the attention of the United States.
    • p. 90
  • Virtuous motives, trammeled by inertia and timidity, are no match for armed and resolute wickedness. A sincere love of peace is no excuse for muddling hundreds of millions of humble folk into total war. The cheers of weak, well-meaning assemblies soon cease to echo, and their votes soon cease to count. Doom marches on.
    • p. 190
  • On May 21, 1936, Hitler in a speech to the Reichstag declared that "Germany neither intends nor wishes to interfere in the internal affairs of Austria, to annex Austria, or to conclude an Anschluss." On July 11, 1936, he signed a pact with the Austrian Government agreeing not to influence in any way the internal affairs of Austria, and especially not to give any active support to the Austrian National-Socialist Movement. Within five days of this agreement secret instructions were sent to the National-Socialist Party in Austria to extend and intensify their activities. Meanwhile, the German General Staff under Hitler's orders were set to draw up military plans for the occupation of Austria when the hour should strike.
    • p. 206

Ch. 12: The Loaded Pause—Spain (1936–1937)[edit]

  • For four hundred years the foreign policy of England has been to oppose the strongest, most aggressive, most dominating Power on the Continent, and particularly to prevent the Low countries falling into the hands of such a Power... [I]t would have been easy and must have been very tempting to join with the stronger and share the fruits of his conquest. However, we always took the harder course, joined with the less strong Powers, made a combination among them, and thus defeated and frustrated the Continental military tyrant whoever he was, whatever nation he led. Thus we preserved the liberties of Europe...
    • Churchill to the Conservative Members Committee on Foreign Affairs, March, 1936
    • p. 207
  • Those who are possessed of a definite body of doctrine and deeply rooted convictions upon it will be in a much better position to deal with the shifts and surprises of daily affairs than those who are merely taking short views, and indulging their natural impulses as they are evoked by what they read from day to day.
    • p. 210
  • It is part of the Communist doctrine and drillbook, laid down by Lenin himself, that Communists should aid all movements toward the Left and help into office weak Constitutional, Radical, or Socialist Governments. These they should undermine, and from their falling hands snatch absolute power, and found the Marxist State.
    • p. 212

Ch. 14: Mr. Eden at the Foreign Office: His Resignation[edit]

  • The Foreign Secretary has a special position in a British Cabinet. He is treated with marked respect in his high and responsible office, but he usually conducts his affairs under the continuous scrutiny, if not of the whole Cabinet, at least of its principal members. He is under an obligation to keep them informed. He circulates to his colleagues, as a matter of custom and routine, all his executive telegrams, the reports from our embassies abroad, the records of his interviews with foreign Ambassadors or other notables. At least this has been the case during my experience of Cabinet life. This supervision is, of course, especially maintained by the Prime Minister, who personally or through his Cabinet is responsible for controlling, and has the power to control, the main course of foreign policy. From him at least there must be no secrets. No Foreign Secretary can do his work unless he is supported constantly by his chief. To make things go smoothly, there must not only be agreement between them on fundamentals, but also a harmony of outlook and even to some extent of temperament. This is all the more important if the Prime Minister himself devotes special attention to foreign affairs.
    • Introduction to Ch. 14
  • Mussolini only understands superior force, such as he is now confronted with in the Mediterranean.
    • p. 247
    • Mr. Churchill to Mr. Eden, 20 Sept 1937
  • It is the fact that whereas "appeasement" in all its forms only encouraged their aggression and gave the Dictators more power with their own peoples, any sign of a positive counter-offensive by the Western Democracies immediately produced an abatement of tension.
    • p. 248
  • Lord Halifax... This High Church Yorkshire aristocrat and ardent peace-lover, reared in all the smiling good will of former English life, who had taken his part in the war as a good officer, met on the other side the demon-genius sprung from the abyss of poverty, inflamed by defeat, devoured by hatred and revenge, and convulsed by his design to make the German race masters of Europe or maybe the world. Nothing came out of this but chatter and bewilderment.
    • p. 249
    • Halifax meets Hitler

Ch. 15: The Rape of Austria (February, 1938)[edit]

  • Mussolini had been driven into the German system by sanctions so ineffectual that they had angered him without weakening his power. He might well have pondered with relish on Machiavelli's celebrated remark, "Men avenge slight injuries, but not grave ones." Above all, the Western Democracies had seemed to give repeated proofs that they would bow to violence so long as they were not themselves directly assailed.
    • p. 262
  • Hitler: ...Well, two years ago when we marched into the Rhineland with a handful of battalions - at that moment I risked a great deal. If France had marched then, we should have been forced to withdraw. . . . But for France it is now too late!
    • Hitler to Austrian Chancellor, Herr von Schschnigg, 12 February 1938
    • p. 263
  • I do not believe that we can make progress in European appeasement if we allow the impression to gain currency abroad that we yield to constant pressure.
    • Mr. Eden, in the House of Commons, 21 February 1938
    • p. 265
  • Mr. Attlee made a searching point. The resignation of Mr. Eden was being proclaimed in Italy as "another great victory for the Duce."
    • p. 265
  • The other day Lord Halifax said that Europe was confused. The part of Europe which is confused is that part ruled by parliamentary governments. I know of no confusion on the side of the great Dictators. They know what they want, and no one can deny that up to the present at every step they are getting what they want.
    • Churchill in the House of Commons, 22 February 1938
    • p. 266

Ch. 16: Czechoslovakia[edit]

  • Whatever may happen, foreign countries should know - and the Government are right to let them know - that Great Britain and the British Empire must not be deemed incapable of playing their part and doing their duty as they have done on other great occasions which have not yet been forgotten by history.
    • Churchill to constituents, 27 August, 1938

Ch. 17: The Tragedy of Munich[edit]

  • The belief that security can be obtained by throwing a small state to the wolves is a fatal delusion.
    • p. 304
  • Hitler rejoined that the Army was the instrument of the State, that he was the head of the State, and that the Army and otehr forces owed unquestioning obedience to his will. On this Beck resigned... For Beck there remained only a tragic but honourable fate.
    • p. 311
  • 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 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.
    • p. 320
  • There is no merit in putting off a war for a year if, when it comes, it is a far worse war or one much harder to win.
    • p. 320
  • It is baffling to reflect that what men call honour does not correspond always to Christian ethics. Honour is often influenced by that element of pride which plays so large a part in its inspiration.
    • p. 321

Ch. 18: Munich Winter[edit]

  • [T]here were always two Polands; one struggling to proclaim the truth and the other grovelling in villainy.
    • p. 323
  • A moment may come when, owing to the invasion of Czechoslovakia, a European war will begin, and when that moment comes we must take part in that war, we cannot keep out of it, and there is no doubt upon which side we shall fight.
    • Duff Cooper, in his resignation speech
    • p. 325
  • [T]he deep difference between the Prime Minister and myself... The Prime Minister has believed in addressing Herr Hitler through the language of sweet reasonableness. I have believed that he was more open to the language of the mailed fist.
    • p.325
  • The desertion of an ally, especially from fear of war, saps the spirit of an army. The sense of being forced to yield depresses both officers and men.
    • p. 338

Ch. 19: Prague, Albania, and the Polish Guarantee[edit]

  • History... we are told is mainly the record of the crimes, follies, and miseries of mankind...
    • p. 347
  • You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than live as slaves.
    • p. 348

Ch. 20: The Soviet Enigma[edit]

  • I have never seen a human being who more perfectly represented the modern conception of a robot... His smile of Siberian winter, his carefully measured and often wise words, his affable demeanour, combined to make him the perfect agent of Soviet policy in a deadly world.
  • The main military purpose and scheme of the Dictators is to produce quick results, to avoid a prolonged war. A prolonged war never suits dictators.
    • Mr. Lloyd George on Dictators
    • p. 372

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