Friday, February 3, 2012

The Man Who Saved the World

In the darkest days of WWII, when Hitler was steamrolling Europe and the appeasers in England like Nevile Chamberlain had their heads in the sand, one man spoke out against the German menace. Winston Churchill, whose career had its ups and downs, was just beginning to reestablish himself as a respected figure in British government. Though he knew his voice would be in the minority, Churchill warned that war was imminent if Hitler was not stopped. The British people and their government remembered the horrors of WWI and were not anxious to go to war again. We all know what happened; luckily, England realized its grave error and put Winston Churchill  in charge of winning the war. Never in history did one man, by the force of his will and the power of his words, do so much to save the world from disaster.

In the late 1930s, with Hitler gobbling up European countries like candy,  Churchill, along with Lord Beaverbrook, aggressively stepped up production of war materials including fighter planes and bombers. Knowing that Germany's Luftwaffe dominated the skies, this single strategic initiative allowed England to catch up and eventually overtake Germany's war production. Britain's Royal Air Force, suitably equipped and trained, was able to frustrate Hitler's and Air Marshall Goering's plan to destroy RAF bases , thus paving the way for a naval attack on England. In expressing his gratitude to these pilots, Churchill uttered one of the many memorable quotes that would be the hallmark of his career, and which would help boost morale in England and around the world: 'Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few'?

It would not be the last time Churchill used the power of words to rally the people. At a time when Germany was winning the war, confidence and optimism were in short supply in England. France had fallen and the British were staring down the barrel of the German war machine. Realizing how badly the people needed to believe that victory was possible, Churchill rallied them yet again with these words: "We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and the oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."

One of the great events that helped turn the tide against Germany was the ability of the Allies to decipher encoded German signals traffic by breaking the Enigma coding device, a machine like a typewriter, which encrypted secret messages. A coded message was sent from the German foreign minister to his ambassador in Mexico City informing him of plans to invade the United States. On being notified of these plans, officials in Washington were understandably perturbed, and hastened to effect the entry of the U.S. into the war, something that Churchill was trying hard to do. One of the many errors Hitler made was declaring war on the United States, an action that brought America's military might to bear against an already faltering Germany.

Another bad decision of Hitler's was taking on Russia. Early in the war, Russia and Germany were secret allies. While on the surface Stalin was trying to make an alliance with Britain and France he was in fact carrying on secret negotiations with the Nazis in order to obtain guarantees of Soviet safety from the Germans. On August 23, 1939 the world was shocked to learn that a German Soviet non-aggression pact had been signed. In effect, the pact meant that Germany was free and clear to invade Poland without fear of interference from the Soviet Union. When the British code breakers learned that Hitler was now planning to turn against his Russian ally, Churchill warned Stalin who didn't believe him, fearing a trick. When the Germans did invade Stalingrad, Russia became an ally of the West and helped to crush the German armies.

Did Winston Churchill save the world from Nazi domination? The answer is yes. At a time when the Nazi threat was not yet recognized for what it was, a man of courage was needed to stand up and tell the truth, thereby preserving the hopes of the civilized world; thankfully the good Lord sent us Winston. As relentless as he was in winning the war, he was magnaminous to his enemies in peacetime. Here is a final quote to commemorate the man who rallied not only England, but the world, at a time when things were looking so bleak: "Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour'!”


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Joseph Del Broccolo said...

Interestingly, how Hitler could wage a war without a reliable source of oil amazes me. He and the Japanese both made that mistake.

Churchill held the winning hand, with a navy that held the Commonwealth together.

Nice blog old man.

Jim Pantaleno said...

Thanks Joe, Churchill is a hero of mine along with you.