Guntram von Schenck, September 2021

CHURCHILL´s Legacy - Threat to Europe


Churchill, Stalin, Hitler – a Confrontation

GOOGLE-Translation (slightly adjusted): Churchill, sein Erbe - Gefahr für Europa, in:

Winston Churchill is seen in the West as a statesman who saved Europe from Fascism and National Socialism. The British are convinced, that he defied as Prime Minister of Great Britain Nazi Germany after the defeat of France in 1940, all by himself. Accordingly, he was turned into a hero.

Especially in England, where his memory is held in high esteem, it is for example exactly registered that the bust of Churchill was placed after a US presidential election in the Oval Office of the White House as evidence of the special Anglo-Saxon relationship between London and the USA.

A book by Boris Johnson, published 2015:´The Churchill Factor´ shows how powerful Churchill´s legacy still works in the United Kingdom (1). Boris Johnson has been Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since July 2019, which he led out of the European Union (EU). It is the book of a successful politician, who realized with Brexit the legacy of Churchill - as he sees it - and who will continue to do so.

Johnson´s book raises two central questions: How should Churchill be assessed in the light of recent discussions, particularly within the former British Empire? What indications does the book give for London politics, since Boris Johnson and large parts of the English society place themselves in the tradition of Churchill? And a third: How should Churchill be historically classified alongside his European co-protagonists Stalin and Hitler?

British Empire

Churchill´s path is so interwoven with the British Empire that the history of the Empire in the first half of the 20th century cannot be written without Churchill´s role. The same is true of Churchill´s biography, which can only be presented in the context of the Empire.

Churchill´s reputation and fame has been scratched over time. For example, on 12 June 2020, a statue of Churchill in front of the British Parliament was nailed up for protection after the statue had previously been smeared with the words: Churchill was a racist. Voices from the former Empire are growing louder, characterizing and criticizing Churchill as an imperialist, a colonialist and a racist.

The British Empire was the largest colonial empire that had ever existed. In 1920 it reached its greatest expansion with the takeover of the German colonies. Like the Spanish one a few centuries before, it was an empire in which "the sun never set". It spanned the whole globe. Piracy against the Spanish fleet in the 16th century was at the beginning. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the slave and sugar trade between the Caribbean and Africa were the source of wealth for English merchants - leading to the growing power of London.

The English triangular trade - the purchase / robbery of African slaves, their transport and sale to America and the return of ships loaded with sugar and other colonial goods to England - was stopped at the beginning of the 19th century. The trade was no longer profitable; there were now substitutes for Caribbean sugar in Europe. The British slave traders were amply compensated for this loss by the government (2). Today in Jamaica there are voices demanding billions in damages from London for the slave trade.

England´s triangular trade was replaced by textile trade in the 19th century. Cheap raw materials were imported from the colonies and sold as finished goods made in the British Isles in the colonies and around the world. This banned and ruined India´s flourishing textile industry and forced Indians and other colonial peoples into purchasing British goods. Where there was resistance, market access and sales of British goods were forced under the "free trade" flag.

Europe´s technological lead ensured British military superiority: arrows, sabers, spears and old muzzle-loaders could do nothing against British rapid-fire rifles. A particularly macabre example of forced market opening are the Opium Wars of 1839-1842 and 1856-1860 against China, with the result that the English could sell opium grown on their Indian plantations in China without restrictions. The health and social consequences for the Chinese population were of course catastrophic.

If these are aspects that have been discussed and researched for a long time, the widespread annihilation of native populations in North America, Australia and New Zealand by mostly English settlers adds another serious point of criticism. The recent discovery of thousands of graves of indigenous children buried next to re-education facilities in Canada sheds new light on the late victims of Anglo-Saxon land grab. In Australia, the government, after long disputes, pays compensation for children of the indigenous population who have been “stolen” for re-education. The gloomy dark sides and consequences of colonialism, which continue to the present day, become visible when the facts are dealt with.

With the conquest and settlement of North America, Australia and New Zealand by English colonists, the indigenous inhabitants (Indians in North America, Aborigines in Australia, Maoris in New Zealand) were gradually pushed back, robbed of their economic traditional means of subsistence, their way of life and their culture were destroyed. The indigenous people were deprived of any prospects for the future when they were resettled in reservations and penned there. The extinction of many indigenous tribes and peoples was the result. These practices continued well into the 20th century.

The emergence of today´s Anglo-Saxon world in Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand was, from the point of view of the indigenous peoples concerned, a disguised genocide. The graves of the indigenous population are the humus from which Anglo-Saxon societies are nourished. More and more contemporary researchers and critics of European colonial policy see it similarly (3). As we know today, Hitler was inspired by the Anglo-Saxon conquest and settlement for his planned conquests in Eastern Europe. The failure of the attack on the Soviet Union prevented him from doing so.

The English were not alone with their British Empire. Almost all European states took part in the colonization of the world, some earlier (Spain, Portugal), others at the same time (France, Holland) or later (Germany, Belgium). Settlers came not only from the British Isles, but also, among others, from Germany, Italy or Scandinavia. But the English were by far the most successful, clasping the globe like an octopus and seizing the riches of the world for themselves. They were the undisputed pinnacle of European colonialism and imperialism. For the English Conservatives (Tories) and parts of English society, this is still an occasion for nostalgic glory today.

The justifications are known: spreading Christianity and protecting Christian missionary activity, the claim that the countries were empty and that they were made arable and valued for the very first time; natives were cruel, uncivilized barbarians, racially inferior and only capable of a higher way of life through the guiding hand of the white man, etc. The subjection of the world to a higher purpose is the “burden of the white man”. Even today, conservative English historically see themselves as benefactors and react irritated when this self-image is questioned.

Churchill and the Empire

For Boris Johnson Churchill is the personified incarnation of the Empire in the first half of the 20th century: without Churchill no Empire, without the Empire no Churchill. Churchill´s life cannot be retold here. But it is remarkable that at a young age he was present in those places where the Empire smelled of gun smoke: in Sudan, Afghanistan and South Africa. He went to Afghanistan on a punitive military expedition, during which settlements were burned, resisting Afghans `killed without quarter´ and wells destroyed (4). In South Africa he fought in the war against the Boers (1899-1902), on whose territory gold and diamonds had been found, which aroused the desire of the British. Boer women and children were imprisoned in concentration camps in order to break Boer resistance. Around 30,000 died there of hunger and disease.

During World War I, Churchill was responsible for one of the Entente´s worst defeats. The Gallipoli peninsula, through which access to the Black Sea could be controlled, was to be conquered by Allied troops. It was an idea of Churchill. Above all, Australian troops, members of the Empire, were used. The campaign was a failure and the Australians suffered cruel losses. Since then there has been a crack between London and Australia. Churchill temporarily lost his government post. After the war, Churchill, as the minister responsible, put down the uprising of the Arabs in Iraq, who opposed their colonization and rebelled against the arbitrarily imposed new borders. Churchill suppressed the uprising by using chemical weapons: "with excellent moral effect", as Churchill noted (5).

A particularly dark chapter of Churchill´s imperial policy concerned India during World War II. In Bengal there was a severe famine in 1943. The British Viceroy Archibald Wavell had asked Churchill in 1943 to release food supplies stored there in order to alleviate the famine. Churchill refused on the grounds that he needed the supplies to wage war against the Germans. At the time, Churchill remarked to the Secretary of State for India, Leo Amery: “I hate Indians... they are a beastly people with a beastly religion“ (6).

Leo Amery, an ardent advocate of British imperial colonial policy, commented: "On the subject of India, I believe Winston is not quite sane... I didn´t see much difference between his outlook and Hitler´s" (7). According to various estimates, the following famine cost between three and five million Indian lives. The food was never retrieved, it was not used for warfare (8). In 1931 Churchill called Mahatma Gandhi, who led India to independence, a "naked fakir" (9).

The list of questionable and problematic deeds and misdeeds of Churchill in the Empire is incomplete. From today´s point of view, a large part of them can undoubtedly be called criminal. Here they are only hinted at in order to get a better assessment of Churchill´s mentality and his role in Europe, not least with regard to Germany. They are unsavory and dealing with them is shocking. The critical reappraisal should be left to the British and those affected in the former colonies. That happens, but it is an excruciating process (10).

Churchill and Europe

Churchill´s policy is by no means undisputed in Europe: in Greece, after the withdrawal of the Germans in 1944, he instigated a civil war by supporting and helping to power those forces that had previously collaborated with the Germans (11). After consultation with Stalin, Greece should belong to the area of influence of Great Britain. The Greek civil war lasted for several years and left terrible devastation. In Yalta 1945 Churchill, if certainly not voluntarily, surrendered the ally Poland to Stalin, even though Great Britain had entered the war because of Poland in 1939.

Mers-el-Kebir is another date that marks Churchill´s ruthless power politics: France signed an armistice with Germany after the Wehrmacht victory on June 22, 1940 in Compiegne. The role of the French navy remained unclear. It is true that the French government under Darlan had given the British guarantees not to let the French fleet fall into the hands of the Germans. It was larger and more modern than the German Navy. But Churchill distrusted these guarantees from the French, who had been his allies only a few days ago, and had the French navy sunk on July 3, 1940 in Mers-el-Kebir near Oran in North Africa without warning.

Before the negotiations between the French naval commander, Gensoul, and a subordinate British officer, Captain Holland, were concluded, the British attack on the French navy began during the afternoon of 3 July 1940. It ended with the death of 1,300 French sailors and the destruction of French warships. Boris Johnson himself writes that it was a slaughter, albeit a necessary one. It was according to Johnson: "the chilling and calculated act of a skull-piling warlord from the steppes of central Asia" (12). Nevertheless, Boris Johnson justifies Mers-el-Kebir as absolutely necessary and correct (13). In retrospect, the British portrayed the attack and destruction of the French navy as a misunderstanding. After Churchill was re-elected Prime Minister in 1951, the traces of the attack are said to have been removed from the files.

The prevention of a dominant power on the European continent and the maintenance of the European balance of power was, according to Johnson, British policy for five centuries (14). They were a prerequisite for the unhindered, global English reach on the globe and the imperial control of London on all oceans. England only intervened in the dealings on the continent when it came to restoring the European balance of power against a dominant power. This outsider policy is said to be part of the DNA of London politics.

This was just as true for France under Louis XIV and Napoleon as it was for Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm II or Adolf Hitler. It always went against the dominant or potentially dominant power on the continent, regardless of who was at the top there. Boris Johnson writes, referring to Churchill on the outbreak of war in 1914: "Britain had absolutely no choice but to follow the rules of 500 years of foreign policy - and try to prevent a single power from dominating the continent"(15). So much as an afterthought to the hotly debated war guilt issue of the First World War, that was attributed solely to Germany in the Versailles treaty 1919.

Especially the latter was a painful experience of the resistance against Hitler. Eugen Gerstenmaier, the later President of the Bundestag (1954-1969), who belonged to the resistance and plotting against Hitler around July 20, 1944 in the Kreisau Circle, writes that “the resistance (against Hitler) had the bitter experience that the war was not only against Hitler and his empire but was led against Germany in every form” (16). The enemy was Germany as the dominant, hegemonic power, regardless of who was at the top there.

Bare power politics are trimmed with the claim that London saved freedom and democracy for the peoples of Europe. This is propaganda: the fact is that after 1945, for example, Central and Eastern Europe came under the control of Stalin and communism (Yugoslavia is a special case). Only the states of Western Europe were liberated alongside the USA. Spain and Portugal remained dictatorships and Greece was plunged into civil war. As a colonial power until the mid-20th century, the UK was a persistent and brutal oppressor of freedom and freedom movements in the former Empire. In many cases, the colonies could only break free by force from colonial shackles. The close alliance with Stalin (Uncle Joe), truly no friend of freedom and democracy, which Churchill had entered into, is also unforgettable. Churchill always defended the Empire, not democracy, during World War II.


Boris Johnson associates the European Union (EU) with the Nazis´ when he writes about Churchill´s resistance against Hitler in 1940: “This country would not have been a haven of resistance, but a gloomy client state of an infernal Nazi EU (17). The concept of the EU is being brought, in a fanciful rapprochement, close to the Europe occupied by the Nazis; the EU is fantasized as the dominant power on the continent, which despite all differences is the successor of earlier dominant powers. Where the French with Louis XIV and Napoleon or Germans with Wilhelm II or Hitler failed, the EU is now raising its head of terror and threatens England´s freedom, sovereignty and future. Boris Johnson and his comrades-in-arms, the Brexiteers, live in these ideas, which they interpret as Churchill´s legacy.

Whether the prevention of a dominant power on the European continent, in whatever form, can still be a useful political goal of British politics today is very much the question. After the end of the Second World War, Churchill himself advocated a close union between France and Germany, in other words the formation of a dominant power constellation on the continent. The cooperation between France and Germany has worked well to this day. Great Britain, however, should remain outside. With Brexit, Johnson and his colleagues see themselves in harmony with Churchill´s tradition. Britain should not be part of the European unification.

This raises the question. whether for Johnson and his colleagues Brexit is also synonymous with fighting the EU as the dominant power in Europe, whether a return to 500 years of British policy towards the continent is on the horizon? If London resumes previous politics and wants to play these old games because it has been so successful for the last five centuries, it will be dangerous for the European Union, albeit without at the same time, as in the past, a consolidation of Great Britain´s global position. Non-European powers dominate globally today. The collapse of the EU will also tear the UK down as Europe looses as a whole. If London tries to destroy the European Union despite the new world situation, Europe would be finally marginalized and the further decline of the United Kingdom would be sealed.

The bitter disputes before and after the United Kingdom left the EU are pointing in that direction. Deterioration in relationships, growing mutual distrust, the escalating dispute over Brexit succession plans, the boiling up of emotions on both sides of the Channel, the negative dynamics triggered by Brexit plus the alleged or actual DNA of English politics are a bad omen. After Brexit, we have a mined path ahead of us: the quarrel is always about money and interests that are perceived as vital. With the inside knowledge of 40 years of British membership, it shouldn´t be particularly difficult to exploit the EU´s known weaknesses in order to destroy the Union. British games could indeed cause the downfall of the European Union.

The EU is still a precarious entity that has not been tried and tested in the dangers and storms of world politics. The EU is Europe´s last chance to maintain, defend and consolidate its voice and weight on a global level. Johnson and the Tories have to clarify which legacy they think is Churchill´s: the prevention of a dominant power on the continent or the benevolent tolerance of an expanding and deepening EU? So far, the answer is ambivalent.

The move towards the ruthless, lying, sometimes nefarious and underhanded pursuit of national interests, which Churchill embodies and which Johnson and the English Conservatives justify, should be a warning. Only a few days before the attack on the French navy in Mers-el-Kebir (July 3, 1940), when Churchill had the French navy sunk without warning, France was London´s closest ally. Who puts a minimum of trust in Boris Johnson and his Brexiteers is acting grossly negligent.

Churchill and Germany

As former opponents of the war, the Germans are not specifically eligible for joining in loudly in criticizing Churchill. Nevertheless: the decades in which Churchill decisively shaped British politics are also the decades of rivalry and hostility between Great Britain and Germany, which erupted in two world wars. Therefore the conflict between Great Britain and Germany cannot be ignored; Churchill´s picture would be incomplete at a crucial point.

The wars between Germany and Great Britain point to a constellation known as the so-called THUCYDIDES - Trap: the established power is challenged by a challenger or climber. The Greek historian THUCYDIDES described this conflict in his story of the 30-year Peloponnesian War between rising Athens and hegemonic Sparta (431 - 404 BC). A war becomes almost inevitable, even if the protagonists don´t want it themselves, they are drawn into it. At the beginning of the 20th century, Great Britain was confronted with the rising German Empire, which outstripped England industrially and in turn claimed a “place in the sun”. In a comparable way, the USA today sees itself challenged by the rising China (18). We live a kind of Déjà-vu.

After winning World War I, Britain reached the height of its power and expansion with the Empire. The German competitor was decisively weakened. Economically, Germany stumbled from hyperinflation into the global economic crisis, with the rise of the Nazis it politically isolated itself. After taking over the former German colonies, London was able to control and rule on the world stage. Nevertheless, signs of the crisis could not be overlooked. Great Britain´s economy suffered severely from the reintroduction of the gold standard, and initial resistance arose in the colonies. London avoided another war with the German Reich with the "Appeasement"-policy as long as possible, knowing full well that a second armed conflict would weaken the United Kingdom decisively.

After the Second World War, the British Empire was only a shadow of itself. Heavily indebted and relegated to USA´s junior partner, Great Britain was so exhausted and weak that it had to release the crown jewel India from the Empire immediately after 1945. London was no longer a world power. The victory of 1945 was a sham victory for the British, a victory that obscured reality. The Empire dissolved and fell apart. In 1945 Churchill was only in name one of the "Big Three". Roosevelt (USA) and Stalin (Soviet Union) were the main players. Compared to the Soviet Union, which bore the brunt of the war against the Wehrmacht, Great Britain´s military contribution was comparatively small. Towards the end of the Second World War, Churchill tried to retake on the role of one of the "Big Three" when he suggested to Stalin that Poland should be shifted westward by 200 kilometers to the Oder-Neisse. This way he was able to prove his worth as a useful ally to Stalin.

Churchill´s complicity with Stalin, which found its meaningful expression in the “story of matches”, is at the beginning of this nation´s shift. Churchill had placed three matches on the table at the conference in Tehran (November 28-December 1, 1943), one for Russia, one for Poland and one for Germany. He shifted them to the west each time to demonstrate his idea of the new order in Europe. According to tradition, Stalin was amused and hit it (19). In this relaxed way, imperialist colonial powers have drawn borders in Africa and elsewhere without regard to populations and centuries-old settlement areas. The matches are carefully kept in London to this day.

The westward shift of Poland at Germany´s expense affects not only Germany, but all of Europe. Germany lost a quarter of its territory, including losses after the First World War, around a third. The resulting expulsion of 13 to 15 million Germans from Central and Eastern Europe, from settlement areas that they had occupied for 800 years, was a forced people displacement that had not been seen in Europe since the High Middle Ages. 1 to 1.5 million Germans perished while fleeing as a result of the displacement. The Poles, too, had to leave their eastern territories, which fell to the Soviet Union. Ethnic cleansing is rightly considered a crime around the world today. Seldom has lasting peace emerged from such sowing.

Stalin was not just someone, which was also known in London in 1943. After all, on August 23, 1939, Stalin and Hitler had divided Poland with the so-called Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact and, as agreed, Stalin also invaded Poland in September 1939. A little later he had 30,000 Polish officers and other elites killed in Katyn. The murderous purges of Stalin in the Soviet Union with millions of victims were also well known. Uncle Joe, as Stalin was nicknamed in Allied propaganda, was anything but a philanthropic, trustworthy contemporary. But as an ally he was indispensable, since the Red Army bore the brunt of the fight against the Wehrmacht.

Britain´s military contribution to the war was, in fact, comparatively modest. The solitary position of Great Britain after the defeat of France 1940, the retreat behind the English Channel to the British island were not as heroic as claimed: after all, the United Kingdom had the empire behind it and quickly received US support in the form of loans and arms (including Lend-Lease Act). The greatest merit in the victory over Nazi Germany certainly went to the Soviet Union with a share of 50-60 percent, as the Wehrmacht bled to death in the vastness of Russia. The US is likely to claim around 20-25 percent thanks to the use of its enormous economic, industrial and demographic potential. Others like the partisans in Yugoslavia, Greece and France have a share of about 5-10 percent. The rest, i. e. around 10-15 percent, would be British.

To compensate, the British, at Churchill´s instigation, flew massive area bombings on civilian targets in Germany, causing about 800.000 civilian victims, women, children, old men: for example on April 14, 1945 in Potsdam, two weeks before the fall of Berlin, with around 1,500 casualties and 24,000 destroyed apartments. The destruction of cultural monuments of German national importance was inevitable and implicitly intended. (It reminds of a gangster-film: a man is already down, fighting with death, but he gets more bullets to make sure he really dies.) The bombings were militarily questionable or useless, which was well known in London. But Churchill forced them because they were the only means of attacking Germany, as Boris Johnson writes in his Churchill book (20). What hatred must have been behind this will to destroy and annihilate!

The resurgence of Germany after Reunification in 1990 was foreseeable. As the geographically central and economically strongest power in the heart of Europe, Germany would again have an important say in Europe, and on some issues the decisive word. The political baggage of the Nazi era would fade away more and more and allow Germany to assert itself politically more freely again. It would use the European Union to stress its interests. Hence Margaret Thatcher massively resisted to the restoration of German unity after the down-fall of the Berlin wall 1989, even if no Kaiser, no Hitler ruled Germany any more and Germany was now a democratically constituted state.

The enemy was not permanently annihilated, but raised his head again, in a new shape. One day before the conclusion of the 2 + 4 treaty of September 12, 1990 on reunified Germany’s final internal and external sovereignty, London tried to torpedo the signing of the treaty with a trick. The blame should be placed on Moscow. The alarmed German delegation was able to prevent the sabotage of the 2 + 4 treaty by London at the last moment with the help of the Americans.

The English are resentful and not quick to forget. Nowhere in the world is the memory of the Second World War kept alive and fostered more than on the British Isles. According to the English coach, memories of the world war should have motivated his team during the football game England against Germany at the European Championship 2021 at Wembley in London. Churchill´s glorification belongs in this context.

Anyone who travels with open ears in countries of the former British Empire gets to hear: Great Britain has conquered a World Empire in over a hundred wars, but has lost everything after two wars with Germany. This is the experience and perception of those nations and peoples previously under British rule, who had to live in colonial dependence and British oppression.(Ask the Irish, Indians, Arabs...)


Churchill, Stalin, Hitler - a confrontation

The comparison and confrontation of historical personalities was a popular genre in antiquity, brought to high esteem by PLUTARCH (ca. 45 – ca. 125 AD). They were considered illustrative and useful.

Comparisons with Hitler or other Nazi greats are in Germany still taboo. Anyone who breaks the taboo will inevitably go astray and irrevocably withdraw from the consensus-based dialogue. But it is not that simple: Stalin f.ex.called Churchill in his answer to his speech in Fulton (USA) on March 5, 1946, the "new Hitler" (21). The renowned American historian Timothy Snyder posed the question: Hitler vs. Stalin: Who was worse ?(22). The already mentioned Leo Amery, Minister for India and Burma in the Churchill cabinet during the Second World War, also compared Churchill with Hitler (see above). In his 2021 published book:`Churchill´s Shadow´, Geoffrey Wheatcroft points out, that there was some "uncanny affinity" between Churchill an Hitler: "Hitler horribly magnified some of the worst and most repellent sides of Churchill... both had more of a touch of megalomania" (23). So the question is not new. There are a few things to think about.

The most important commonality between Churchill, Stalin and Hitler is their failure in the main goal they had set for themselves. Hitler wanted to make the German Reich a world power: at the end of the war the German Reich had ceased to exist. The British Empire, whose preservation was an absolute war goal for Churchill, collapsed immediately after 1945 when it had to grant independence to India, the crown jewel of the Empire. The loss of India was the decisive fatal blow. Great Britain was so weakened after the war that it could no longer maintain the Empire and world power status. Stalin´s empire fell apart some years later in 1991/1992 when the Soviet Union - due to overstretch and a communist state doctrine (dogmatized by Stalin) unable to reform - disintegrated and the Warsaw Pact dissolved. Today Russia is roughly the size to which it was forcibly thrown back after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on March 3, 1918 between the German Reich and the young Soviet Union. In contrast: The collapse of the Soviet Union took place voluntarily in 1991/1992, an important difference to Brest-Litovsk 1918 (!). As far as there were victories up to 1945, they were sham victories that had no lasting consequences.

All three: Hitler, Churchill and Stalin have de facto lost the war. Even if contemporaries perceived it somewhat differently, historical retrospect does not allow any other judgment. The United Kingdom has shrunk to a regional power and a junior partner of the United States; it nostalgically mourns (under Boris Johnson) past greatness. Russia clings to a world power status without having the necessary, above all economic, potential. Germany is again the strongest power in Europe, but has neither the political weight nor the moral prestige that would be necessary for a hegemonic position; both were gambled away during the Nazi era. Churchill, Stalin and Hitler in their bitter struggle, which they waged against and with one another to the point of annihilation, undermined and destroyed the dominant world position of Europe.

It can hardly be denied that Churchill was a colonialist and imperialist who put the defense and future of the Empire above all else. The Empire with its worldwide colonies was his life, as Boris Johnson rightly writes. Stalin was certainly an imperialist who enlarged the Soviet Union and incorporated new lands, the Baltic States, parts of Poland and Romania. It´s an open question, whether the introduction of communism in the Warsaw Pact states can or must be called colonialism. After all, some of the states, such as Czechoslovakia and East-Germany, were economically more developed than the Soviet Union itself. Hitler, who wanted to make the German Reich a world power, was an imperialist. He wanted to colonize Eastern Europe, what never happened because of the course of war. Some of his proxies also dreamed to restore the German colonial empire.

There has never been an empire that could only be conquered and defended by gentle persuasion and cultural superiority. This also applies to Churchill, Stalin and Hitler. For this purpose, nefarious, devious actions such as the destruction of the French navy in Mers-el-Kebir or the starvation and death of several million Indians could be justified as necessary, in part against resistance from their own ranks. With the so-called Holodomir of 1932/1933, Stalin, too, mercilessly drove several millions to starvation in the Ukraine, justified, as he saw it, by the goal of establishing communism. For this, the kulaks, the rich peasants perceived as enemies of communism, had to be annihilated. Hitler starved millions of Soviet prisoners of war to death and planned even more deaths from starvation after the victory. The starvation of millions of people didn´t count for Stalin, Hitler or Churchill. All three are characterized by ruthless inhumanity in the pursuit of interests and goals.

Boris Johnson devotes an entire chapter to the question of whether and to what extent Churchill was a player who bet everything on one card (24). He comes to the conclusion that no other politician has taken so many obviously risky positions as Churchill. No other politician has been involved in so many messes as this one. Churchill loved risky businesses and believed in providence, a guardian angel or demon who would protect him from harm, e. g. from enemy bullets. It was not only in his stormy youth that Churchill sought danger in wars. As a politician he flourished in wars: it was his element. Hitler, too, was a gambler who repeatedly bet everything on one card. For a long time he had rushed from victory to victory until he lost everything with his last venture, the attack on the Soviet Union with Operation Barbarossa. Similar risky undertakings are less known from Stalin; he moved more cautiously and waited for the others to make mistakes, which of course did not prevent him from invading Finland in the so-called Winter War from November 1939 to March 1940.

Churchill convinced the British War Cabinet after the defeat of France in 1940 to continue the war against Germany. His argument was inter alia that it is better to perish fighting than to surrender (25). Churchill shared with Adolf Hitler the conviction that it was better to fight to the bitter end than to capitulate. Hitler refused to give up and surrender until the final battle for Berlin in April 1945. Both accepted that millions of people would loose their lives as a consequence. The determination to pursue political aims to the end regardless of sacrifices is characteristic of both.

All three also had a will to annihilate that did not stop at serious crimes. Stalin persecuted his internal party opponents and rivals to death. The purges in the Communist Party and the Communist International fell victim to all who stood in the way of his autocracy and his path to communism. He pursued them far and wide, like his rival Trotsky, whom he had murdered in Mexico with an ice ax. Before the Second World War he had almost the entire officer corps of the Red Army wiped out / liquidated. The kulaks have already been mentioned. His hateful paranoia made victims of millions of people who lost their lives in forced labor camps, the so-called gulags.

Churchill´s will to annihilate was directed primarily against the Germans, against whose civilian population he deployed bomber squadrons that had no other aim than to demoralize and terrorize the population, although the British warfare soon realized that this would not achieve the desired goal. On the contrary: the Germans continued to fight until the end. About 800,000 civilians, women, children and old men fell victim to the bombing raids, they burned in the ruins or were buried under them. The extinction of the German East, the provinces of Silesia, East and West Prussia, East Pomerania and the Sudeten area, which Churchill initiated and implemented with Stalin, testify to the irreconcilable will to crush the German rival once and for all. Prussia, that Germany had united in 1870/1871, not only had to disappear from the map, the provinces from which it was created also had to be physically wiped out.

Hitler´s will to annihilate surpasses both of them, of course. The murder of 6 million European Jews dwarfs everything the world has seen so far. Much has been written about the Holocaust and we know almost everything that can be said about it (26). Anti-Semitism was and is not a purely German phenomenon, but it culminated with Hitler in World War II with the Holocaust, a crime against humanity par excellence. There was also anti-Jewish persecution in Stalin´s Soviet Union after World War II, but it cannot in any way be compared with Hitler´s policy of extermination. In the Anglo-Saxon countries and France, antisemitism was also widespread in the form of so-called salon antisemitism; one remembers, for example, the antisemitic statements of the wife of US President Roosevelt. Churchill made no anti-Semitic statements.

The question of racism remains. Racist remarks by Churchill abound, like those already mentioned about India. Churchill believed in the superiority of the white race. It is not by chance that his statue in front of the British Parliament was smeared with allegations of racism. In Europe and North America from the 19th well into the 20th century, racism was a basic conviction that was hardly questioned and was held to be scientifically proven. Even today, for example, the word “race” is still to be found, but questioned, in the Basic Law of the Federal Republic. In this sense, Churchill was a racist, a child of his time, even if some of his utterances, even for people who were close to him, sometimes exceeded the measure of what is reasonable (27). Hitler was undoubtedly a racist who took racial ideology to extremes with antisemitism and the Holocaust. There is nothing similar from Stalin that has been handed down. As a Georgian in the Russian-dominated Soviet Union, he showed no superiority towards the Central Asian or Siberian indigenous peoples who were part of the Soviet Union.

Churchill had the advantage over Stalin and Hitler that, as Prime Minister, he was in charge of Great Britain at a time when it was still a saturated world power with stable and proven internal rules and structures. The British Empire was a solid power, even if there were signs of crisis between the two world wars. In such a situation, radicalism and excessive actions by politicians tend to be the exception, they are unusual and uncommon. Stalin, on the other hand, was General Secretary of the Communist Party at the head of a state that had undergone a radical revolution, whose structures were still developing and therefore precarious. A revolutionary radicalism was mapped out, power struggles ended fatally for the protagonists. Hitler, in turn, conquered power in a country that, to put it briefly, was traumatized by the defeat in World War I and that was determined to revise the results of the Versailles Treaty of 1919, possibly by force. The result was radicalism and the search for scapegoats for the lost war.

Churchill, Hitler and Stalin were, as far as ruthless, murderous will to power and annihilation is concerned, children of their time. They were brothers in spirit and in deed, not of equal rank, but similar. If Hitler is undeniably in the top position, then Stalin and then Churchill follow him in the ranking. To use a (cynical) picture: for Hitler the gold medal, for Stalin silver and bronze for Churchill.


(1) Boris Johnson, The Churchill Factor, How one man made history, London 2015. The book has been criticized as `trite´ and `breezy´, but its value is not historical and/or literary, its intention is programmatic.

(2) cf. The human stain, The Economist, November 14, 2020, p. 48 f.: book reviews of Padraic Scanlan, Slave Empire, Robinson 2020; Michael Taylor, The Interest, Bodley Head, 2020

(3) The human stain, The Economist, ibid.

(4) Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Churchill´s Shadow, Bodley Head, 2021, p. 21

(5) Ben MacIntyre, Invasion, Bombs, Gas - we have been here before, in: The Times, London, 15 February, 2003, p. 20

(6) Priyamvada Gopal, Why can´t Britain handle the truth about Churchill, in: The Guardian, March 17, 2021

(7) ibid

(8) Joseph Lazzaro, Bengal Famine of 1943. A Man-Made Holocaust, International Business Times, February 22, 2013

(9) Johnson, Churchill, p. 216

(10) cf. Saul Dubow, Britain´s imperial history deserves better than petty culture wars, in: The Guardian online 08/13/2021; Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Churchill´s Shadow, l.c.

(11) Athens 1944: Britain´s dirty secrets, in: The Guardian, November 30, 2014

(12) Johnson, Churchill, p. 239

(13) Johnson, Churchill, p. 236

(14) Johnson, Churchill, p. 174

(15) ibid

(16) Der Kreisauer Kreis, Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte, 15 (1967), 3, p. 238

(17) Johnson,Churchill, p. 30

(18) i. a., Graham Allison, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides´s Trap?, New York, 2017

(19) cf. Michael Sontheimer, Churchill´s Streichhölzer (Churchill´s matches), in: Der Spiegel, 1/2011

(20) Johnson, Churchill, p. 277

(21) Gregor Schöllgen, Geschichte der Weltpolitik von Hitler bis Gorbatschow 1941-1999, Munich 1999, p. 44

(22) The New York Review of Books, January 27, 2011

(23) Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Churchill´s Shadow, p. 206

(24) Johnson, Churchill, p. 201

(25) Ian Kershaw, Fateful Choices: Ten decisions that changed the World 1940-1941, 2007 (German edition 2008: p. 65)

(26) i. a. : Guntram von Schenck, Kriegswende 1941 and Holocaust, Schriften zur Politik und Geschichte, Radolfzell 2013, p. 235; Holocaust - Consequence of Hitler´s addiction to fame ?, ibid. p. 250, and: www.guntram-von

(27) Priyamvada Gopal, Why can´t Britain handle the truth about Churchill? l. c

Guntram von Schenck, September 2021

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