From World War to Cold War: Churchill, Roosevelt, and the International History of the 1940s

By David Reynolds | Go to book overview

5
Churchill the Appeaser?

Between Hitler, Roosevelt, and Stalin, 1940–1944

On Bonfire Night, 5 November 1944, a German V-1 'flying bomb' landed in Sussex. Nothing surprising in that: southern England had been under fire since June. But this V-1 carried propaganda not explosives. Its four-page leaflet explaining why Britain should sue for peace ended with a V-1 shaped crossword. The clues and answers included the following:

He is your enemy, too. Bolshevik.

He wants all you have got. Roosevelt.

Britain has none at inter-Allied conferences.Voice.

At Tehran, Churchill practically did this before Stalin. Knelt.1

The claim that Churchill had sold out Britain to America and Russia was a staple of Nazi wartime propaganda. As the Yalta conference was beginning in February 1945, Hitler denounced Churchill for living in the past:

The crucial new factor is the existence of these two giants, the United States and Russia.
Pitt's England ensured the balance of world power by preventing the hegemony of
Europe—by preventing Napoleon, that is, from attaining his goal.… If fate had granted
to an ageing and enfeebled Britain a new Pitt instead of this Jew-ridden, half-American
drunkard, the new Pitt would at once have recognised that Britain's traditional policy of
balance of power would now have to be applied on a different scale, and this time on a
world scale. Instead of maintaining, creating and adding fuel to European rivalries
Britain ought to do her utmost to encourage and bring about a unification of Europe.

In these final outpourings, Hitler argued that he had given Churchill plenty of opportunity for 'grasping the truth of this great policy' and allowing Germany a free hand on the Continent. Britain 'could have pulled her chestnuts out of the fire' after the defeat of Poland or the fall of France. 'At the beginning of 1941,' Hitler claimed, 'after her success in North Africa had re-established her prestige,

Apart from a few cuts to avoid overlap with Chapters 4 and 6, this chapter appears as first published
in a festschrift for Zara Steiner—see Michael Dockrill and Brian McKercher, eds., Diplomacy
and World Power: Studies in British Foreign Policy, 1900–1950 (Cambridge, 1996), 197–220.
The editors and Prof. Peter Clarke kindly commented on a draft version.

1 CAB 66/57, WP (44) 642 (TNA); cf. Sunday Dispatch, 13 Jan. 1945, p. 4.

-99-

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