Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko Churchill | September 16, 2017

What would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 45)

Naturally when the war had ended the Russian Bear glowered over half of Europe. Communism and Bolshevism seemed to be the ultimate winner of the Second World War.

Joseph Stalin had emerged with all the spoils. He had enlarged the Soviet boundaries by many hundreds of miles, and in some case thousands of miles; and he had substituted Communism for Democracy and Political Freedom in seven sovereign European states. Soviet Russia had extended her influence throughout the Far East, and Liberty was imprisoned behind the bayonets of the Russian army and the jails of Iron Feliks.

At that time it was not surprising that William Bullitt, a former American Ambassador to Moscow, wrote an article entitled: “How We Won the War and Lost the Peace” because no one could pretend that the post-war world was resembling anything close to what the democratic leaders of the West had envisaged or dreamed of.

When Winston Churchill and F.D. Roosevelt met at Newfoundland in 1941, four months before the Japanese attack drew the United States into the conflict, they had drawn up a remarkable document, the Atlantic Charter, setting forth the peace aims on which they both agreed.

The two Great Men had wished to see the Independence, Liberty, and Democracy of the European small nations firmly established. The rights of man upheld. The free and democratic system of government spread as far and wide as possible. And they had High Hopes and Aspirations for the Anglo-Saxon Christian to evolve into Peace for All Time. Or at least for some time.

So…

What happened to the vision?

Did the democratic leaders blunder?

Have they been played?

Where was it that they lost the Game?

Did they underestimate the ‘Gamesmanship’ or the ‘Brinkmanship’ of Joseph Stalin, the Great bear, and his willy bear-cubs, the Rossiya generals, and their war armies & general staff?

Did the Western Allies lacked the post-war Vision?

But for the British Statesman named Winston Churchill, the Big Question was always this: What responsibility does Winston Churchill bear for this unwanted outcome?

Indeed, it was a peculiar twist of fate that ordained Churchill to be the first, and so far the only, British Prime Minister to visit Joseph Stalin.

Yet, it was Winston Churchill who had wooed Stalin into his harem of friends and allies, after a year of fighting alone against the Nazi Fuhrer Adolf Hitler, and his evil Hun military hordes. no Englishman or American had fought against Bolshevism with greater passion. And it was this PM Winston Churchill who made fast friends with Stalin and his bears to check Hitler, and further it was Churchill who introduced Roosevelt to Stalin, and thus created the troika that came to rule the world after VE day.

And both men also remembered that in 1919 it was Winston Churchill, who was largely responsible for the Allied military interventions against the Red Army. And it was Churchill who in the nineteen-twenties preached the evils and dangers of the Marxist-Leninist creed, on a hundred platforms.

Yet it was also himself who in 1937 had declared: “I will not pretend that, if I had to choose between Communism and Nazism, I would choose Communism.”

Still according to his worldview, the dictatorship of the proletariat, with its repressive and terrible regimentation, its slaughter of the bourgeoisie, its atheism, its elimination of Liberty and all Human Rights along with all the refinements of life, outraged and repelled Winston Churchill’s sensibilities…

Yet when Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union, he did not hesitate to reach out his hand and offer Help and Friendship to Joseph Stalin, his erstwhile former enemy…

On the evening of 21 June, 1941, he was walking on the croquet lawn at Chequers with his secretary Mr Colville. He knew from intelligence reports that a German attack on Russia was only a matter of hours. He told Colville that if he believed he would rally the Right-wing forces in Britain he was mistaken, for England would fight on the side of the Soviet Union. Colville asked Churchill whether, in view of his position as an arch anti-Communist, this was not bowing down in the House of Rimmon?

Winston Churchill replied:

“Not at all.”

“I have only one purpose, the destruction of Hitler, and my life is much simplified thereby.”

“If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.”

The next morning the news broke that Germany had opened her attack
on Russia and that same evening Winston publicly cast his lot with the
Soviets.

Winston Churchill told the British people in a BBC radio broadcast: “No one has been a more consistent opponent of Communism than I have been for the last twenty-five years.”

“I will unsay no word that I have spoken about it. But all this fades away before the spectacle which is now unfolding. The past with its crimes, its follies, and its tragedies, flashes away. I see the Russian soldiers standing on the threshold of their native land, guarding the fields which their fathers have tilled from time immemorial. Can you doubt what our policy will be?”

“We have but one aim and one single irrevocable purpose. We are resolved to destroy Hitler and every vestige of the Nazi regime.”

“From this nothing will turn us.”

“Nothing.”

“We will never parley, we will never negotiate with Hitler, or any of his gang.”

“We shall fight him by land, we shall fight him by sea, we shall fight him in the air, until, with God’s help, we have rid the earth of his shadow and liberated its peoples from his yoke.”

“Any man or state who fights on against Nazidom will lave our aid.”

“Any man or state who marches with Hitler is our foe.”

“That is our policy and that is our declaration.”

“It follows therefore that we shall give whatever help we can to Russia and the Russian people.”

This statement raised the curtain on the uneasy and temperamental partnership with the Soviet Union that dissolved so swiftly after the close of the war. Churchill wrote Stalin a letter and the Dictator replied thanking the Prime Minister for his support. The relationship between the two men was bound to be dramatic, for each had long recognized the other as a formidable and implacable opponent. For years they had studied each other’s moves with careful attention; they despised and feared each other’s system of government; they upheld philosophies diametrically opposed. They could clasp hands on only one issue: “Survival against Germany. Yet their personalities were not altogether unlike. Both were dominating, blunt, and practical, and neither left the other in any doubt as to his views. They enjoyed good food, good drink, and they both liked to sit up late talking. From the point of view of conviviality they had something in common.”

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As a matter of fact, Winston Churchill’s first meeting with Stalin took place in Moscow in August 1942, just fourteen months after the Soviet Union had been drawn into the war.

Winston was received with appropriate ceremony, and driven to a luxurious country house on the outskirts of the city, which was known as State Villa No. 7. In one of his first interviews with Stalin an amusing exchange took place which perhaps illustrates the difference of approach between the Eastern and Western mind. Winston was charmed to find, in the grounds of State Villa No. 7, a fountain and a tank full of goldfish. He assumed that Stalin had heard that goldfish were one of his hobbies and had ordered the tank to be especially installed. At one of his first interviews with the Russian dictator he told him how delighted he was with the fish, and thanked him for being so thoughtful Stalin looked slightly taken aback, for he probably did not even know the tank existed. But he instructed the interpreter to tell the Prime Minister that he was gratified he liked the fish and would he care to take them back to London with him?
This time it was Winston Churchill’s turn to be taken aback for he had no desire to carry a bowl of ordinary goldfish to England. He thanked the dictator but said he would have to refuse his offer as the fish would not travel well in a bomber. Stalin nodded and spoke to the interpreter who said: “Since the Prime Minister is unable to take the fish with him, would he care to have them for breakfast?”

Winston Churchill’s dealings with Stalin were always difficult, and often unpleasant. From the moment the German attack began, the British arranged to send the Russians millions of pounds’ worth of supplies, including rubber, oil, aluminium, doth, tanks, guns and planes. Some of the materials came from British factories, others from American firms earmarked for England under the Lend-Lease agreements. Shipping these supplies to Russia entailed a great sacrifice for Churchill, as they were desperately needed by the British themselves to equip their armies in the Middle East, and build up air supremacy over the Germans. Besides this, Britain had the difficult task of delivering the goods. The Royal Navy had to organize and operate convoys to Murmansk and Archangel, through the dangerous Arctic passage, a performance which continued throughout the war. Yet Britain received very litde thanks for her effort, for the Russian dictator wanted only one thing: A second front against Hitler in Europe, in order to take the pressure off the Russian army.

Stalin’s demand for a second front came the month after the Germans launched their attack on him. It was not only an impossible request but, considering the circumstances, one of the most brazen ever made. After all, it was Stalin, by his pact of friendship with the Nazis in 1939, who had given Hitler the signal to begin the war. He had helped the Germans to tear Poland to pieces, invaded Finland and occupied the Baltic States. Then he had sent Germany a flow of materials in order to expedite the attack on France. When the air assault on England began, Molotov had even gone so far as to meet von Ribbentrop in Berlin to discuss “dividing up” the British Empire. Now, in 1941, having been caught unawares by his treacherous ally, Stalin imperiously and unashamedly demanded that the British should reopen the second front which he himself had helped to
destroy, only twelve months previously.

Churchill explained to the Russian dictator that his demand was out of the question. An amphibious operation against strongly fortified positions demanded hundreds of landing craft and thousands of pounds of equipment which would take many months to accumulate. Nevertheless Stalin kept hammering this theme, and continued to hammer it, until the “invasion plans were completed two years later. At times the relations between Britain and Russia seemed near a breaking-point, for Stalin refused to see the operational difficulties involved. In September 1941 Mr Maisky, the Soviet Ambassador, called on Churchill emphasizing the extreme gravity of the situation, and when Winston explained as he had done so often before the impossibility of a second front at that time, he began to threaten him. “When I sensed an underlying air of menace in his appeal (writes Churchill), I was angered, and I said to the Ambassador, whom I had known for many years, remember that only four months ago we in this island did not know whether you were not coming in against us on the German side. Indeed, we thought it quite likely that you would. Even then we felt sure we should win in the end. We never thought our survival was dependent on your action either way. Whatever happens, and whatever you do, you of all people have no right to make reproaches to us. As I warmed to the topic the Ambassador exclaimed, “More calm, please, my dear Winston Churchill” but thereafter his tone perceptibly changed.”

Stalin’s demands were not only confined to military matters. From the very beginning he kept his political objectives well in view. Seven months after his country was invaded he formally asked Britain and the United States to recognize Russia’s 1940 frontiers; these, of course, included the great territorial gains he had seized, as Germany’s ally, in Poland, Finland and the Baltic States. It was remarkable that he could remain calculating enough to make these requests at a time when his armies were being hurled back, and the very existence of his country was at stake. His timing was shrewd for it must not be forgotten that for two years the Allies labored and fought the common enemy, under the spasmodic fear that Russia might sign a separate peace. This intriguing political and diplomatic subject was adequately expanded upon by Winston Churchill in his thorough book on the subject, aptly titled “The Grand Alliance.”

Churchill at first reacted strongly against Stalin’s demand — then two
months later, surprisingly enough, he acceded to it, and tried to persuade
Roosevelt to accept it. His argument was that the Russians had already
liquidated so many people in Poland and the Baltic States that there was very little left to protect. The President, however, was adamant, insisting that the
demands, were not in keeping with the Atlantic Charter. The reason Churchill gives in his book, “The Hinge of Fate” for his sudden volta-facie, in explaining the deviation from his beliefs, is somewhat convoluted if not outright unconvincing. He says he did not feel “the moral position could be physically maintained” and that “in a deadly struggle it is not right to assume more burdens than those who are fighting a great cause can maintain.” This attitude is not at all in keeping with Winston’s character and one can only regard his explanation as a poor excuse for one of the very few lapses of this type in his career, or his explanation is simply a cover up for his deeply diplomatic mind crafting away a deal to double-cross Stalin through this ploy of acquiescence to the Dictator’s demands for spoils of war. Indeed Winston was prescient even in this, before the war was over, it was Roosevelt, who was paving the way for the fulfillment of the Russia Leader’s political aims, and it was Churchill who curtailed those effectively, having earned the trust of Stalin and in this wise way — Winston managed to save a few small countries like Greece, Finland, Denmark, and Austria, from becoming a spot of lunch, for the Russian bear.

Yet even at the height of their military defeats, the attitude of the Soviet Union in its dealings with Great Britain and her government, was haughty and often insulting. Churchill writes that they “had the impression that they were conferring a great favour on us by fighting in their own country for their own lives. The more they fought the heavier our debt became.” British personnel stationed in Russia were invariably treated with cold hostility. Permits were withheld and information denied them, as though they were enemy aliens. Even the British sailors who ran the convoys to Murmansk and Archangel were so badly used that Churchill was forced to issue a series of vehement protests.

Stalin sometimes ignored Winston’s telegrams altogether, at other times delayed his replies for weeks at a time. Occasionally the tone of his message was friendly but more often it was laden with reproaches. Churchill declares that he bore them with a patient shrug for “sufferance is the badge of all who have to deal with the Kremlin.”

In The Grand Affiance, book, Winston Churchill, writes: “When the two leaders met face to face they did not get on badly. Although they disagreed on the issues involved they were fascinated by each other’s reactions. At their first meeting Stalin teased Churchill for having taken a leading part in the Allied military intervention in Russia at the end of the first war. He declared that when Lady Astor visited the Soviet Union she had told him that Churchill had misled Lloyd George and was therefore entirely to blame. Then she went on to assure Him that Churchill was finished. “I am not so sure” Stalin had replied. “If a great crisis comes the English people might turn to the old warhorse.” Winston laughed at this recital. “Have you forgiven me?” he asked. Stalin replied with a smile: “All that is in the past and the past
belongs to God.”

The next night Churchill got a little of his own back on Stalin. The
dictator invited him to dinner at his flat in the Kremlin. Only Molotov
and an interpreter were present. Stalin’s daughter waited on the table but
she did not sit down. The Marshal uncorked rows of bottles and the three
men sat talking from 8.30 until 2.30 in the morning. They carried on a
light-hearted conversation but every now and then the vein became more
serious. This time it was Winston Churchill’s turn to probe into the past, and he gives a fascinating account of it in his Second World War. “Tell me,” I asked, “have the stresses of this war been as bad to you personally as
carrying through the policy of the Collective Farms?” “Oh no,” said
Stalin, “the Collective Farm policy was a terrible struggle.” “I thought
you would have found it bad,” said I, “because you were not dealing with
a few score thousands of aristocrats or big landowners, but with millions
of small men.” “Ten millions,” he said, holding up his hands. “It was
fearful. Four years it lasted. It was absolutely necessary for Russia, if we
were to avoid periodic famines, to plough the land with tractors. We must
mechanize our agriculture. When we gave tractors to the peasants they
were all spoiled in a few months. Only Collective Farms with workshops
could handle tractors. We took the greatest trouble to explain it to the
peasants. It was no use arguing with them. After you have said all you can
to a peasant he says he must go home and consult his wife, and he must
consult his herder. After he has talked it over with them he always
answers that he does not want the Collective Farm and he would rather
do without the tractors.” “These were what you call Kulaks?” I asked
“Yes,” said Stalin. “It was all very bad and difficult but necessary.”

This appears to have been the most intimate conversation Churchill ever
had with Stalin.

Although the two men got on well personally, Churchill could never rid his mind of the terror that lay behind Stalin’s rule. When he discussed the Collective Farm policy he could not escape the vision of the three million Kulaks who had been cruelly exterminated in the enforcement of the system. He found it difficult to put out of his mind the killing and the suffering, the vast concentration camps, and the slave labour, on which Stalin’s absolute power rested.

These feelings were sharpened in the spring of 1943 when the Polish Government accused the Russians of the massacre of fourteen thousand officers who had been taken prisoner by the Soviets when the latter invaded Poland. Sikorski claimed that he had proof that their bodies lay in mass graves in the Katyn Woods. The Soviets did not deny that they were dead but claimed that the slaughter was done by the Germans when they overran the region. Churchill was sickened by the crime and after probing the evidence found it difficult to believe that the nasty deed had been perpetrated by anyone else but the Russians. When the war ended this evidence was strengthened still further by the fact that although many German war criminals were tried at Nuremberg, the Soviet Government did not attempt to clear its own name, by proving them guilty of the atrocity. Instead, they avoided all mention of the Katyn murders. This is the evidence as shown in the book The Hinge of Fate.

Winston Churchill’s abhorrence of the totalitarian regime’s disregard for human life evinced itself in a personal incident at Teheran. Stalin gave a dinner for
Churchill, Roosevelt, and four or five of their closest advisers. In the course of the evening the dictator declared that when the war was over the German General Staff must be liquidated. The whole force of Hitler’s armies, he claimed, depended on fifty thousand officers and technicians, and all these must be rounded up and shot. Churchill was repelled by the idea of such cold blooded murder and said: “The British Parliament and public will never tolerate mass executions. Even if in war passion they allowed them to begin, they would turn violently against those responsible after the first butchery had taken place. The Soviets must be under no delusion on this point.”

Stalin insisted on pursuing the subject, and repeated that fifty thousand must be shot. Churchill reddened with anger and declared that he would “rather be taken out in the garden here and now and be shot myself than sully my own and my country’s honour by such infamy.”

The other members at the table were obviously embarrassed at the turn the conversation had taken, and signalled to Winston that it was all a joke. Whereupon Elliot Roosevelt, the President’s son, who had joined the party
uninvited, rose from the end of the table and made a speech saying how
wholeheartedly he agreed with Stalin, and how sure he was that the United States Army would support it. This impertinent and fatuous intervention was more than Churchill could bear. He left the table and walked off into the other room. A few minutes later Stalin himself, grinning broadly, draped a hand on his back and explained it was all in fun. Churchill was not convinced then, nor was he at any time later, that Marshal Stalin was joking. Especially knowing the fate of the thousands of innocent Poles n the Katyn woods. This incident though is an important reminder, of Winston’s refusal to lend himself even to a jest, about killing innocents and involving moral principles. This is some indication of how wide was the chasm between him, the fatuous Americans, and the Russian master criminal of war.

Churchill was always conscious of this division.

He knew that when the war ended — Russia would be the dominant, dark, & crimson power, spilling blood all over again on the European Continent.

To be continued:


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