CHURCHILL OUT OF HIBERNATION, WEEK 25
Dark days demand great leadership and great leadership demands resilience, eloquence and empathy. THE UNRELENTING STRUGGLE, the second volume of Winston Churchill’s war speeches, contains all of these attributes in abundance. It is decidedly a book for our tremulous moment, covering the darkest stretch of the World War II, from November 1940 through the end of 1941, when England stood alone. The speeches in it constitute an object lesson in how to grapple publicly and honestly with bad news, and still inspire.
We embrace THE UNRELENTING STRUGGLE next in our passage through Winston Churchill’s book-length works.
While it is well known that Winston Churchill’s first year (and more) as Prime Minister was dominated by the Blitz at home and outright defeat on the battlefield, it is perhaps surprising to recollect that Churchill was at times attacked for all of this misery personally in the House of Commons. His response appears in The Unrelenting Struggle: “I may not agree with all the criticism,” Churchill acknowledged to the Commons in January 1941. “I may be stirred by it, and I may resent it; I may even retort — but at any rate, Debates on these large issues are of the very greatest value to the life-thrust of the nation, and they are of great assistance to His Majesty’s Government.”
Seventy-two Churchill speeches and radio broadcasts are collected in
The Unrelenting Struggle. They address the terror overhead in London,
the relentless attrition extracted by Hitler’s U-Boats on the sea and the overwhelming might of Hitler’s armies across Europe. Churchill’s words
were virtually all that England had to cling to in 1942, when The Unrelenting Struggle was published.
Dark as its contours remain, The Unrelenting Struggle culminates with Churchill’s ebullient Christmastime address to a Joint Session of the U.S. Congress on the heels of Pearl Harbor, with America at last in the war and at England’s side. He opened with a witticism that still stands as his most pointedly personal: “I cannot help reflecting that if my father had been American and my mother British instead of the other way around, I might have got here on my own.”
Churchill concluded with an admonition that echoes louder than ever right now: “Duty and prudence alike command first that the germ-centers of hatred and revenge should be constantly and vigilantly served and treated in good time, and that an adequate organization should be set up to make sure that the pestilence can be controlled at its earliest beginnings, before it spreads and rages throughout the entire earth.”
We wish you continued health and safety protected from the germ-centers of hatred and revenge.