Why Churchill Considered Negotiating With Germany In 1940Roundup: Talking About History
Britain's disastrous performance in the early years of the Second World War left Winston Churchill considering peace negotiations with the Nazis, documents unearthed by a Cambridge historian reveal.
Correspondence contained in a major new book on the war-time Prime Minister shows he believed Britain faced no alternative by the summer of 1940 - and contradicts his public declaration that he would never negotiate with the Germans.
It is not the only example of him glossing over potentially damaging details, according to Professor David Reynolds, who has examined thousands of documents in his new analysis of Churchill's wartime record and of his subsequent memoir, The Second World War. These include the true extent of his relationship with Stalin and his doubts about the D-Day strategy.
Published next month, the book argues that after Dunkirk, and before the Russians and Americans entered the war,"a negotiated peace with an alternative German government" seemed"the best possible outcome" to Churchill.
"Churchill was at pains to say in his memoirs that he was never going to negotiate with Germany, but it is clear that in 1940 he had not ruled out talking to a non-Hitler German government," said Professor Reynolds."Here was a man who was looking into the abyss."
The desperation felt by Churchill is starkly illustrated by one of the quotes unearthed by Professor Reynolds. It records a conversation between Churchill and General Hastings Ismay. The latter tells the PM in the summer of 1940:"We will win the Battle of Britain", to which Churchill replies:"You and I will be dead in three months' time."
Professor Reynolds goes on to describe Churchill's long-term patronage for an alternative D-Day plan, involving"at least six heavy disembarkations" in locations including Denmark, Holland and Bordeaux. This too was played down when Churchill came to writing The Second World War.
"Churchill rewrote his strategy in the light of D-Day and post-war American criticism," said Professor Reynolds whose book, In Command of History: Churchill Fighting and Writing in the Second World War, is published by Penguin on 4 November."In doing so, he tried to deceive his readers - and perhaps himself - on an issue of central importance."
Churchill began publishing his epic six-volume history of the war in 1948. With access to hundreds of top-secret documents, his account quickly become the definitive history of the war and helped him to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. But, it now appears, he also used it as a tool to hide his own, admittedly few, mistakes and weaknesses from future generations of historians.
Professor Reynolds also questions Churchill's insistence in his memoirs that he spotted the post-war Soviet threat early on - arguing that he put more trust in Stalin than he would ever publicly admit.
"Through his memoir, Churchill succeeded in stamping his image of the war on all of us," said Professor Reynolds."He was very keen to ensure that his view of himself was the one that posterity had as well. It was a very determined, pre-emptive strike on the verdict of history."
comments powered by Disqus
Adam All - 6/24/2008
I believe this Article shows clearly that Churchill was not trustworthy as prime source of WWII especially in the Area of High Dispute!
Still a fact that his book is valuable source as it was even recognized by German War leader who survived after the war.
In his memoirs "Heinz Guderian» Disputed his view in pre-war stage but he admitted that his memoirs is valuable source.
The same way Albert Kesserling in his memoirs defend Churchill statements about the battle of Britain and prove that Churchill views in his memoirs was not true and doesn't express the German high command in any way.
- Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation among documents sold for $6.2m in New York
- Family shines light on American POW killed by Hiroshima blast
- In Hiroshima 71 years after first atomic strike, Obama calls for end of nuclear weapons
- Artist Corrects Inaccuracies At The George W. Bush Library With Augmented Reality
- “Unprecedented” discovery of mysterious structures created by Neanderthals
- History Relevance Campaign meets at the Smithsonian
- Bernard Lewis Turns 100
- David Lowenthal, author of "The Past Is a Foreign Country,” says it’s folly to scratch the names of slaveholders off buildings
- Jean Edward Smith, biographer of FDR and Ike, has a new biography coming out … of George W. Bush
- Flora Fraser, biographer of George and Martha Washington, wins $50,000 George Washington Prize