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A Very Surprising World War II TYPED LETTER SIGNED by Winston Churchill
“I think you greatly exaggerate the military strength of both Russia and Germany...”
(5 x 8 inches)
Item Number: 14530
A fascinating, almost inexplicable letter, difficult to reconcile with Churchill’s legendary stature as a pre-war Cassandra of the Nazi threat. Written on Chartwell notepaper (5 x 8 inches), dated 11 May 1939, to Mons. Alexander Schifrin:
Dear Sir [in ink, in Churchill’s hand]
I thank you for sending me your book, which I have looked into with some attention. I think you greatly exaggerate the military strength of both Russia and Germany, particularly the former. I am much obliged to you for your courtesy.
Sincerely, [again, in Churchill’s hand]
The letter is in very good condition, with small stains at the upper and lower right corners, as well as a tiny chip in the upper right. The book referred to here is THE MILITARY STRENGTH OF THE POWERS, by Max Werner, a.k.a. Alexander Schifrin (1901-1951), a self-taught military analyst, who early on foresaw the threat of a major world war and turned his energies to estimating the military strength and preparedness of the likely protagonists. Born Aleksandr Shfrig in Kharkov, Ukraine in 1901, Schifrin was a Menshivik, exiled soon after the Bolshevik victory in the revolution. It appears that he first went to Palestine, where he had family, and from there to Germany, where he settled. Turning to journalism, he became widely-known as the political editor of the socialist paper Mannheimer Volksstimme. When the Nazis assumed power, Schifrin fled to France. There he quickly discovered how ignorant the French military authorities were of the German preparations for war. In an interview with Air Minister Pierre Cot, Schifrin was finally asked by Cot where he’d gotten his information. “From the military library at Vincennes,” responded Schifrin. “Why was I never given this information?” thundered Cot. Schifrin was astounded and so indignant at what he regarded to be the French military’s criminal incompetence, he set out to write his first book, THE MILITARY STRENGTH OF THE POWERS. (His original title was: TOWARDS THE SECOND WORLD WAR.) When the Nazis invaded France, Schifrin fled to the U.S., where he wrote under the name Max Werner. Despite Churchill’s assessment of his work, Werner became a highly regarded columnist and the author of many astute, if controversial, books about the military course of the war.