CHURCHILL OUT OF HIBERNATION, WEEK 34
In every great battle there comes a point where the tide begins to turn. For Winston Churchill, in his war memoirs, that turning point was “THE HINGE OF FATE,” the title he gave to his fourth volume. We look to it next, as we scale the heights of Churchill’s book-length works.
The first three volumes of Churchill’s The Second World War documented the many, and often masterful, ways in which Winston Churchill grappled with defeat. The fourth volume, “The Hinge of Fate“ allowed Churchill a taste of victory. It opens in 1942, with Germany dominating the Red Army in Russia, Rommel dominating the Allied Armies in the North African desert and “The Onslaught of Japan” (as Churchill characterized it) in the Far East. Then, about halfway through, “The Hinge of Fate” presents us with Britain’s first victory of the war at the Battle of Alamein. Rommel’s ultimate destruction soon follows, along with Allied victories over Japan at Midway and Guadalcanal, and the Nazi collapse at Stalingrad. In fact, as Churchill points out, “Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat.”
Pertinently, “The Hinge of Fate,“ includes Churchill’s account of the Casablanca Conference in January 1943, at the conclusion of which, Churchill persuaded Franklin Roosevelt to journey with him to Marrakech, a four-hour drive, so that Churchill could show the President the brilliant sunset over the distant snow-covered Atlas Mountains; one of Churchill’s favorite views. Arriving at the Villa Taylor, Churchill climbed the winding stairs to the rooftop and insisted that Roosevelt be brought up as well. Two servants made a sling seat for the President of their linked arms. Roosevelt was greatly moved by the view and Churchill was equally moved by the President’s sharing of this moment with him. The next day, after Roosevelt departed, Churchill brought his palette and easel up to the roof and painted his only painting of the war, which he later presented to FDR as a gift.
It is this painting, “Marrakech” (“Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque”) that is in the news just now, poised to be auctioned at Christie’s on March 1 for what will certainly be the highest price ever attained by a Churchill artwork.
The painting stands as a testament to the moment in which it was painted. Fortunes do change. Darkest hours do yield to determination, sagacious planning and massed forces fighting back as one.
As we face our own “Hinge of Fate” right now,
we wish you all a healthful turning point.