What are your thoughts on Winston Churchill?

Jul 2018
18
England
#1
I was just curious to know what your opinion on Winston Churchill is. People's opinions seem very divided on him.

I believe that he was a very important man in history and he played a key part in the Allied victory in the Second World War. Some politicians in the UK were looking for an early peace but Churchill refused to allow an early exit from the War which may have led to a Germany still controlled by the Nazi Party. His oratory skills and his very strong relationship with the United States were also very important in the war effort. I don't believe there was a better person to be Prime Minister during the Second World War which is why I consider him as a Great Wartime Leader. However, I do not believe he was a great man; he made many errors that cost lives e.g. the Bengal Famine fiasco, the Gallipoli disaster, and the creation of the Black and Tans. He had many views that would not be acceptable in today's society, he had a short-temper, and a drinking problem.

In conclusion, I believe that he was an important figure person in British History that made a hugely positive change on the world which is the reason why he is remembered in the way that he is, rather than for some of the other parts of his 60+ year career in politics. I understand why people hold him in such high regards (for example, in the BBC greatest Briton Poll, he came 1st), but I also understand why some people would not like the man.

So what do you all think?
 
Dec 2012
1,556
U.S.A.
#2
My view of Churchill is one of admiration. His speech about not giving up and continuing the fight is quite possibly the greatest speech I have ever heard. He was one of the finest wartime leaders to have ever led a nation, in my opinion.


As an American it is not proper for me to comment on his internal policies affecting the UK and territories.
 
Aug 2015
2,359
uk
#4
He stood firm when Britain needed a strong leader. People say that Hitler's speeches were long and mesmirising, but Churchill's were direct, blunt and to the point; but just as effective. It wasn't just what was said, it was the way in which he said it.

The same qualities that led him to be a great wartime leader were not necessarily the same required of a PM in peace time, and in that respect I see him as similar to Wellington. Still, Britain would have been much the poorer if he had never been at the helm during WW2.
 
Jun 2017
2,555
Connecticut
#5
My view on Churchill is very negative. He's not one of the worst people ever or anything though I don't think he was the best person but he's very overrated by those who don't vehemently dislike him and he gets credit for things that had very little to do with him while getting no blame for things that had a lot to do with him.


1)As an aristocrat the positions that jump started his career in the Admiralty were not based on merit. He is a clear cut example of someone who would not have been as successful without his family background. I mean during Gallipoli I think he still might have been in his freaking 20's and there is no reasonable basis to suggest that would been the case without his background.

2)Not going to sugarcoat it, I blame him for WWI(or to be specific it being a long general war) more than any other individual. The admiralty under his control lied about Germany's naval program in order to get funding for his massive program. This is vital because the UK and Germany were actually on pretty friendly terms before the Brits started to believe the Germans were planning to build a larger navy to attack them based on Churchill' false information. Before this they were actually more hostile with the French and Russians and would almost certainly not entered the war on the Allied Powers side to "protect Belgian neutrality". This misinformation got hundreds of thousands of British people killed, and resulted in a bunch of Germans being starved to death all in preemption of an imaginary threat(you can say it's because of Belgian neutrality officially but I think it's ridiculous to suggest they'd have done the same without the naval threat). It's like the British version of the WMD thing that no one ever talks about. Did I mention he was in his 20's when he did this?

If you want the full story on this episode I'd recommend reading Dreadnought.

3)Gallipolli. I don't think this needs to be explained. Anyhow there is a reason people were so skeptical of making him Prime Minster(some of these people were naturally aware about the naval armament bit as well as the Gallipolli thing). People always look at the way people viewed Churchill before WWII as if they were somehow wrong because Churchill became PM and subsequently the Allies won WWII. Well what happened in WWII that proved that their original assessment of Churchill was false? There really isn't much. And yes many of these people changed their minds and my answer to that is the man was a war time PM and regardless of how much he contributed he was naturally going to get credit. Time also heals all wounds and by the aftermath of WWII, the stuff I had previously cited was as far back as 40 years before and far overshadowed by his legend as the winner of the war especially among younger people.

4)Churchill gets credit for winning WWII when he really didn't do anything to contribute to the wars successful outcome. He's just given credit for not being a coward like his predecessor who didn't want to get a million of his soldiers killed for the territorial integrity of a country that had been made up at Versailles twenty years before, which long term threat of Hitler aside is pretty logical reasoning that in other situations would tend to be the right decision. His invasion of Norway was a failure and the UK's survival was due to a combination of the English Channel and Hitler not wanting to actually invade the UK. Churchill making inspirational speech's during a war he was powerless to alter the outcome of doesn't mean he won the war. Being a good orater didn't save the UK though watching movies and television you'd think Churchill's voice was responsible for the fall of the Third Reich. The Americans and the Soviets were necessary to win WWII and it was not possible for the UK to do anything except maybe survive on their own which was arguably due to the Soviets being the Germans main target.

4(b)If you think Germany could have invaded the UK with air superiority if it was a priority(and I do), Churchill does get credit here for bombing Berlin which compelled Hitler to give up strategic bombing for civilian bombing which bled the Lufwaffe dry but even that led to a bunch of innocent British people getting hurt. If you believe Hitler couldn't have invaded the UK regardless I don't understand how this then becomes a positive decision as you switch the target of your enemy's airforce to RAF pilots and people working at strategic locations to civilians who would otherwise not have been in danger.

4(c)Anyhow the UK was not capable of winning WWII without the Americans and were not able to invade Germany themselves. Their biggest contribution to victory was serving as a huge natural aircraft and soldier carrier for the American led invasion of France.

5)Mers El Kebir. In one of the biggest examples of "history being written by the victors", while Japan gets blame for it's attack on Pearl Harbor Churchill is not given blame for similar and worse tactics because he's a "good guy". While Taranto was against an enemy Mers El Kebir was against an ally. It's messed up to kill over a thousand people(in one of the most gory ways possible) who's first impulse when seeing you is to think you're on their side. Yes I realize the strategic importance of preventing the French fleet from falling into German hands(which if the UK could have not been invaded no matter what as some claim didn't exist) but Darlan had promised to not let this happen and despite having every reason to go back on that out of spite due to getting his men blown up he did end up keeping this promise.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
14,222
SoCal
#6
My view on Churchill is very negative. He's not one of the worst people ever or anything though I don't think he was the best person but he's very overrated by those who don't vehemently dislike him and he gets credit for things that had very little to do with him while getting no blame for things that had a lot to do with him.


1)As an aristocrat the positions that jump started his career in the Admiralty were not based on merit. He is a clear cut example of someone who would not have been as successful without his family background. I mean during Gallipoli I think he still might have been in his freaking 20's and there is no reasonable basis to suggest that would been the case without his background.

2)Not going to sugarcoat it, I blame him for WWI(or to be specific it being a long general war) more than any other individual. The admiralty under his control lied about Germany's naval program in order to get funding for his massive program. This is vital because the UK and Germany were actually on pretty friendly terms before the Brits started to believe the Germans were planning to build a larger navy to attack them based on Churchill' false information. Before this they were actually more hostile with the French and Russians and would almost certainly not entered the war on the Allied Powers side to "protect Belgian neutrality". This misinformation got hundreds of thousands of British people killed, and resulted in a bunch of Germans being starved to death all in preemption of an imaginary threat(you can say it's because of Belgian neutrality officially but I think it's ridiculous to suggest they'd have done the same without the naval threat). It's like the British version of the WMD thing that no one ever talks about. Did I mention he was in his 20's when he did this?

If you want the full story on this episode I'd recommend reading Dreadnought.

3)Gallipolli. I don't think this needs to be explained. Anyhow there is a reason people were so skeptical of making him Prime Minster.

4)Churchill gets credit for winning WWII when he really didn't do anything to contribute to the wars successful outcome. He's just given credit for not being a coward like his predecessor who didn't want to get a million of his soldiers killed for the territorial integrity of a country that had been made up at Versailles twenty years before, which long term threat of Hitler aside is pretty logical reasoning that in other situations would tend to be the right decision. His invasion of Norway was a failure and the UK's survival was due to a combination of the English Channel and Hitler not wanting to actually invade the UK. Churchill making inspirational speech's during a war he was powerless to alter the outcome of doesn't mean he won the war. Being a good orater didn't save the UK though watching movies and television you'd think Churchill's voice was responsible for the fall of the Third Reich. The Americans and the Soviets were necessary to win WWII and it was not possible for the UK to do anything except maybe survive on their own which was arguably due to the Soviets being the Germans main target.

4(b)If you think Germany could have invaded the UK with air superiority if it was a priority(and I do), Churchill does get credit here for bombing Berlin which compelled Hitler to give up strategic bombing for civilian bombing which bled the Lufwaffe dry but even that led to a bunch of innocent British people getting hurt. If you believe Hitler couldn't have invaded the UK regardless I don't understand how this then becomes a positive decision as you switch the target of your enemy's airforce to RAF pilots and people working at strategic locations to civilians who would otherwise not have been in danger.

4(c)Anyhow the UK was not capable of winning WWII without the Americans and were not able to invade Germany themselves. Their biggest contribution to victory was serving as a huge natural aircraft and soldier carrier for the American led invasion of France.
I want to make a point here--had Britain dropped out of the war in 1940, the Soviet Union could have been defeated by the Nazis in 1941-1942. Without British and American aid, I'm unsure that the Soviet Union would actually be able to sustain a protracted war against Nazi Germany--though it might ironically do a bit better at the beginning since Stalin would have probably prepared more for a Nazi invasion had Britain already made peace with Nazi Germany.

Thus, while the US and the Soviet Union were more crucial for Allied victory than Britain were, had Britain not fought on in 1940, the Soviet Union might have fallen--in which case Nazi Germany would have probably been victorious considering that I doubt that Britain and the US would have been willing to wage a years-long war against Nazi Germany without a second front while they waited for the US to build an extremely massive number of nukes (which might not have been foreseeable several years ahead of time).

5)Mers El Kebir. In one of the biggest examples of "history being written by the victors", while Japan gets blame for it's attack on Pearl Harbor Churchill is not given blame for similar and worse tactics because he's a "good guy". While Taranto was against an enemy Mers El Kebir was against an ally. It's messed up to kill over a thousand people(in one of the most gory ways possible) who's first impulse when seeing you is to think you're on their side. Yes I realize the strategic importance of preventing the French fleet from falling into German hands(which if the UK could have not been invaded no matter what as some claim didn't exist) but Darlan had promised to not let this happen and despite having every reason to go back on that out of spite due to getting his men blown up he did end up keeping this promise.
Didn't France previously promise the UK not to make a separate peace with Nazi Germany, though? If so, why exactly should Churchill--without hindsight--have believed in France's promises this time around--especially when the risk of being wrong could have been very catastrophic?
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,513
Benin City, Nigeria
#7
How could he have been in his 20s during the Gallipoli campaign? Was there some much earlier, small conflict at Gallipoli that he took part in?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
14,222
SoCal
#8
I was just curious to know what your opinion on Winston Churchill is. People's opinions seem very divided on him.

I believe that he was a very important man in history and he played a key part in the Allied victory in the Second World War. Some politicians in the UK were looking for an early peace but Churchill refused to allow an early exit from the War which may have led to a Germany still controlled by the Nazi Party. His oratory skills and his very strong relationship with the United States were also very important in the war effort. I don't believe there was a better person to be Prime Minister during the Second World War which is why I consider him as a Great Wartime Leader. However, I do not believe he was a great man; he made many errors that cost lives e.g. the Bengal Famine fiasco, the Gallipoli disaster, and the creation of the Black and Tans. He had many views that would not be acceptable in today's society, he had a short-temper, and a drinking problem.

In conclusion, I believe that he was an important figure person in British History that made a hugely positive change on the world which is the reason why he is remembered in the way that he is, rather than for some of the other parts of his 60+ year career in politics. I understand why people hold him in such high regards (for example, in the BBC greatest Briton Poll, he came 1st), but I also understand why some people would not like the man.

So what do you all think?
I'm currently reading Winston Churchill's post-World War II memoirs--which you can read for free here: https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.211070 -- and I have to say that Churchill was extremely far-sighted in regards to the threat posed by Hitler and Nazi Germany as well as to the potential that the Soviet Union would have in an anti-Nazi alliance. I personally consider it a huge tragedy that Britain, France, and the Soviet Union were not able to create an anti-Nazi alliance in 1938-1939. I think that the best moment for this would have been in late 1938 since Czechoslovakia--unlike Poland, Romania, and the Baltic countries--would have probably actually wanted Soviet military assistance. Having the Soviets fight to protect a country which doesn't want it probably isn't going to be very appealing to the Soviet Union.
 
Jun 2017
2,555
Connecticut
#10
How could he have been in his 20s during the Gallipoli campaign? Was there some much earlier, small conflict at Gallipoli that he took part in?
I was wrong. I remember reading he was under 30 somewhere, was probably a reference to when he took over the Admirality or started his career. He was in his mid 30's when the events of 1) happened and was in his early 40's at Gallipolli. That is still very young though.
 
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