CHURCHILL OUT OF HIBERNATION, WEEK 33
England’s isolation ends in “THE GRAND ALLIANCE,” as allies — both friendly and unfriendly — at last join Churchill in a united stand against Hitler and his armies. Next up in our stampede through Winston Churchill’s book-length works, the third volume of his war memoirs.
Winston Churchill knew that Britain’s ultimate wartime salvation resided with the United States. On becoming Prime Minister, his pursuit of a relationship with President Franklin Roosevelt—initially conducted entirely by letter, telegram, or telephone—slowly, and with repeated setbacks, flowered into an intense friendship. Churchill nurtured their connection with an extraordinarily nuanced pursuit that at times verged on seduction. He genuinely liked Roosevelt. But even more, he desperately needed him.
All of this, Churchill candidly documents in the third volume of his war memoirs, “The Grand Alliance.”
The bombing of Pearl Harbor and Hitler’s declaration of war on the United States four days later finally levels Churchill’s one-sided courtship and makes Roosevelt his full partner in the war. Hitler’s invasion of Russia five months earlier, in June 1941, had brought a third personality to the dance, the Soviet despot Joseph Stalin. Churchill set aside his abhorrence of Communism to welcome the once-hated Stalin, and to provide Stalin with whatever war materials he asked for to avert a Soviet defeat by Germany. When questioned by his Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden about this painful accommodation, Churchill replied that the destruction of Hitler was all that mattered now. If Hitler invaded Hell, said Churchill, he would at least make a favorable reference to the Devil.
Though we all now feel as if we have been to Hell and back, we offer no favorable reference to the Devil here, only our continued good wishes for our united health and safety.