Winston Churchill (1874-1965) is one of the most famous politicians in the history of Great Britain and the whole world. He served as Prime Minister of the country from 1940-1945 and 1951-1955. This is a multifaceted personality who has shown himself not only in politics, but also in literature. In 1953, Churchill even received the Nobel Prize for his work.
The British in 2002, based on a BBC poll, named the politician the greatest representative of the nation in history. Thanks to him, the British were able to withstand both world wars, the politician is known for his historical speeches that inspired his people to great deeds.
Today, the life story of Churchill is popularly considered by biographers, and his image has been repeatedly embodied on the silver screen. Let's try to learn a little more about Churchill, refuting some of the legends about him.
Churchill was born into a noble family. In fact, only Churchill's father, the third son of the Duke of Marlborough, could boast of an aristocratic origin. But his wife, nee Jenny Jerome, had another dignity. She was the daughter of an American millionaire. The Churchill family ran out of their wealth - Randolph did not shine an inheritance or title. Even the British Prime Minister Disraeli at one time said ironically about the Dukes of Marlborough: "They are not rich enough to be dukes." The family was slowly selling off their heirlooms, paintings and lands. And marriage to a rich, albeit rootless American woman, allowed Randolph to immediately pay off his debts and get a solid foundation for further activities.
Randolph was not the father of Winston Churchill. The relationship between spouses Jenny and Randolph was not ideal. The man was involved in politics a lot, was ill. His wife had many admirers. It was thanks to them that the career of both her husband and her son developed. And Winston himself was born just 7.5 months after the wedding. It is likely that he was not premature, but simply conceived before the wedding on the side. In any case, the truth cannot be found here. On the one hand, Prince of Wales Bertie openly told Winston that without him he would not have been born. On the other hand, Randolph himself never questioned his paternity.
Among Churchill's American ancestors were the Iroquois Indians. The British Prime Minister was proud of the fact that he was half American. But thanks to his maternal grandfather, Winston had at least two ancestors who fought the British during the war of independence. Jenny's mother, née Clarissa Willcox, was most likely half Mohawk. Her father David Willcox married Anna Baker, settling in New York State in 1791. There are rumors that Clarissa was actually an adopted child, half Indian, but this will never be known. Winston's mother herself, showing her son a portrait of his grandmother, noted her swarthy face and oval, not Anglo-Saxon. But the family legend of the Iroquois ancestors never received documentary evidence.
If Winston Churchill had been a duke, his fate would have been different. If the elder brother of his father, George Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, had no heirs, then Winston would have inherited the title. Along with this, he would have received the right to sit in the House of Lords. The myth says that then Churchill would not have been able to become prime minister, history would have developed quite differently. In fact, there is no legal prohibition in the United Kingdom for a member of the House of Lords to serve as Prime Minister. The last time this honorary position was occupied by a member of the upper house in 1895, it was the Earl Robert of Salisbury. And Churchill himself, already being prime minister, received the title of lord in April 1953, but headed the government for another two years. So the title of Duke would not have become an insurmountable obstacle in Winston Churchill's path to success. But the meetings in the House of Lords had much less political weight than in the House of Commons. So, being among the noble nobles, the politician in any case had little chance of getting the post of prime minister. On the other hand, Churchill took it in a critical situation when the Allies were losing in France. If at that moment the politician was in the House of Lords, he would still be able to criticize the policy of appeasement and trumpet the German danger. It was these arguments that led Churchill to the post of prime minister.
Churchill's father died of syphilis. Randolph Henry Spencer, Lord Churchill, was also involved in politics. In the 1880s, thanks to his wit and sarcasm, he reached the pinnacle of his career. Randolph Henry Spencer often spoke brightly in the House of Commons, and in the government he managed to visit the Minister of Indian Affairs, and then the Chancellor of the Treasury (in fact, the Minister of Finance) and the leader of the lower house. The lord resigned himself, feeling disagreements with other ministers on the issue of foreign policy. At the age of 25, the politician married the American beauty Jenny Jerome. The passion flared up so quickly that the engagement was announced three days after they met. After retiring from active affairs, Randolph set off with his wife on trips. The couple visited Russia, South Africa, and then drove around the world. But Randolph's physical condition was getting worse. He returned to London, where he died in 1895 at the age of 45. The cause of death was indicated by general paralysis, although rumors of the final stage of syphilis spread. A sharp deterioration in his health could be the result of tertiary syphilis, which affects the brain and manifests itself 10-20 years after infection. In 1924, the autobiography of the journalist Harris was published, which retells the story of one English politician, Jennings. He was a friend and colleague of Randolph. Allegedly, at one time fellow students put a drunk Randolph with an "old witch." He woke up in the morning, was horrified, threw the money to the whore and ran away. Soon, Randolph was forced to see a doctor for a disinfectant. As a result, he developed the typical round chancres. In fact, this story is extremely dubious. The probability of contracting syphilis from one sexual intercourse is less than a percent. At the time of publication, Jennings was already dead, and he had a motive to slander Churchill because of political differences and quarrels. It is worth saying that the same journalist Harris claimed that Oscar Wilde and Guy de Maupassant had syphilis. The version with syphilis is refuted by the fact that neither Randolph's wife nor his children were found to have any signs of it. At the end of the 19th century, the identification of syphilis was extremely difficult, so it was customary in medicine to attribute everything to this disease.
Churchill loved Armenian brandy. This myth has even grown into details. It is believed that it all began with a meeting between Stalin and Churchill, either at the Tehran or Yalta conference. The Englishman liked the Armenian cognac so much that Stalin began to regularly send his colleague over the box the selected Dvin cognac. One day Churchill found that his favorite drink had lost its former taste. Then the politician expressed his dissatisfaction with the Soviet leader. It turned out that the master Margar Sadrakyan, who was engaged in the blending of cognac, was repressed and exiled to Siberia. Stalin had to return the specialist, restore the rank and even award the Hero of Socialist Labor with a star. In fact, Churchill's biographers could not find traces of this theory in his biography. In fact, it is only true that the politician really once tasted the Dvin brandy, and this drink was really developed by Sedrakyan. The master worked permanently at the Yerevan Brandy Factory as a technologist from 1948 to 1973. But the brand began to be produced in 1945, that is, "Dvin" in Tehran, Churchill could not try. And the whole story with the dispatch of cognac looks far-fetched - after the Fulton speech, relations between England and the USSR have noticeably cooled. And all biographers call Churchill's favorite brandy "Hine".
Churchill was a stutterer. Surprisingly, this question is of interest to contemporaries today. It is believed that in fact Churchill did not stutter, but lisped. But even reputable anti-stuttering funds use the image of a politician in their advertisements. Biographers tell how, as early as 1897, young Winston consulted a doctor with a lisp. He pronounced "s" as "w". And the experts could not do anything about this, and Churchill was able to become a brilliant orator even in spite of this. In fact, the problems with speech were the same as those of my father, who was also not given a clean "s". After returning from India in 1897, Winston visited Sir Felix Semyon, a renowned expert on speech problems. He confirmed that the young man does not have birth defects, the problem can be solved with practice and perseverance. Churchill himself explained his manner of speaking through the nose by the fact that his tongue has a certain special bundle. Nevertheless, he practiced a lot, repeating difficult phrases. Churchill's numerous secretaries do not write anything about his stuttering, and in his speeches there was only a charming lisp. During public speeches, the politician played with his voice for maximum effect, sometimes imitating stuttering in places. But he never had such a defect in speech.
Churchill was a mediocre student. Biographers write that Churchill really did not study well, but he was not mediocre. The fact is that the future prime minister did not show himself where he was not interested. And here he singled out objects useful for himself. Churchill shone in history, English, military tactics and strategy.
Sir Alexander Fleming saved Churchill twice. Fleming became famous as the inventor of the antibiotic. There is a myth about how Churchill almost drowned in a Scottish lake, saved by his country boy Alex. Allegedly in gratitude for this, the politician decided to sponsor his medical education. Alexander Fleming later invented penicillin and with this drug saved the prime minister who fell ill with pneumonia. This is how the double salvation took place. First of all, it is worth knowing that Churchill at one time was treated for pneumonia not with penicillin, but with sulfadiazine. In the future, the politician could receive other antibiotics for viral diseases, these funds have already become generally available. Speaking of the first part of the myth, could a 13-year-old boy save a 20-year-old boy? Yes, and there are no biographers about that story with the lake in Scotland. And in the financial accounts of the Churchill family, there is nothing that would have to do with the payment of Alexander Fleming's studies. In general, at the age of 14, he moved to his brothers in London, choosing the medical path following the example of his older brother.
Churchill's speeches on the radio during the war were read by a specially hired actor. On June 4, 1940, in the House of Commons, at a difficult time for the country, Winston Churchill delivered one of the greatest speeches in history. This was his fourth appearance as a premiere. The audience was shocked with a standing ovation. The BBC broadcast the speech that evening on the radio. They say that Churchill refused to repeat the emotional performance, it was done for him by the actor Norman Shelley, who managed to imitate the voice of the politician. And this myth has made it into numerous books about Churchill. In fact, on the evening of June 4, there was no broadcast of the politician's speech at all. The radio news announcer simply read out portions of the speech. It was claimed that the basis for the rumor came from an interview with Shelley given in December 1981. But he died back in 1980. Churchill really disliked radio, but there is no evidence that he was replaced there. Studies of politician speeches by linguists have confirmed this.
Churchill knew about the impending Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but did not warn the United States. According to this myth, the British politician, with his silence, did everything to draw America into the Second World War. American journalists even call Churchill a traitor for this. In fact, British and American ransomware could only recognize 5 to 20 percent of the Japanese code. The military themselves claim that they never received coded evidence of the attack from the enemy. How could you learn something from the noise? Accordingly, neither Churchill nor the American authorities knew about the site of the Japanese attack. But conspiracy theories continue to flourish, exposing "traitors."
Churchill brutally suppressed the riot of the Welsh miners with his troops. In 1911, a strike broke out in the coal mines in Rhondda. The workers resented the unfair pay system. Then from 25 to 30 thousand miners went on strike. After the looting began, the authorities turned to the military department. Churchill, as Home Secretary, consulted with the War Secretary. It was decided to send the police to Wales, but place troops nearby. Churchill himself wrote to the king that a satisfactory situation remained in the Rhondda Valley. The area is controlled by the police, there is no need to involve an army. As the situation escalated, Churchill brought in additional forces, again without using the army. He was then criticized for indecision, but one can only imagine what would have happened if bayonets, and not clubs, had been thrown against the irritated rioters. This would result in many casualties. A funny story happened in 1967, when an Oxford student wrote in his work that Churchill generally suppressed that uprising with tanks.
Churchill knew about the Holocaust, but did not stop it. Churchill's knowledge of the Holocaust is not new. The politician is accused that he did nothing for the Jews, did not offer any plan for their salvation. Biographers believe that Churchill personally made a lot of efforts to overcome the persecution of Jews. It is wrong to think that his help consisted only in bringing the war to victory. The politician took several steps, global and small, to try to mitigate the impact of the Holocaust. However, he often found himself in opposition to the British civil and military bureaucracy and even to the American administration.
Churchill allowed Coventry to be burned without disclosing the German ciphers. On the night of November 14, 1940, three hundred German bombers dropped over 500 tons of explosives on the sleeping English city. 33,000 incendiary bombs and dozens of parachute mines fell on industrial Coventry. More than 507 civilians were killed. It is said that Churchill knew about the impending attack, but let it happen in order to drag America into the war. Allegedly, the prime minister was protecting an important secret - the decoding of the Enigma code, which made it possible to use the knowledge in the future. In fact, intelligence reported to Churchill on November 12 that the Germans were preparing for a raid on one of five targets: Central London, Greater London, Thames Valley, Kent Coast, or Essex. On November 9, a German pilot was shot down, who showed that between November 15 and 20, Coventry or Birmingham could be attacked. However, analysts considered this questionable, leaning towards the idea that the capital should be protected. Firefighters and rescuers in London received instructions, and Churchill himself planned to spend a weekend in the countryside just in case. Back on November 2, the mayor of Coventry complained about the city's poor defense. Churchill ordered to strengthen the air defense system, the number of anti-aircraft guns per capita was five times more than in London. But even these measures were not enough to save the city from a firestorm. But Churchill did everything he could. He just logically trusted the specialists, expecting a blow elsewhere.
Churchill quoted the radical poet Claude McKay. As Jamaica celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence, the Churchill center received a request from the island nation's authorities.They wanted to know if the legendary premier had indeed quoted McKay in his speeches. This poet was born and raised in Jamaica, then he moved to America and became a radical. In response to the racial riots that engulfed the United States in 1919, the poem "If We Are Fated to Die" was created. It was published in the leftist press. Already in our time, the myth has appeared that Churchill quoted McKay's lines in his speech in the House of Commons or the US Congress. In fact, there is no evidence of such citation in the minutes of the politician's speech. It is unlikely that the prime minister, knowing the poet's ambiguous personality, would allow himself to quote him. Moreover, the Congress in those days was mainly attended by racist southerners. Confusion may have arisen because Churchill used the very phrase "If we are destined to die" in his speeches during the Second World War. It is possible that Churchill heard these words somewhere. McKay moved to London in 1919, where he worked for radical newspapers. And Churchill loved to read all the press related to politics.
Churchill held back food supplies to occupied Europe. According to this myth, the Englishman wanted to cause riots among the needy, while Roosevelt insisted on sea food supplies. Churchill supported the American president, who carried out humanitarian aid to France. But in 1943, Roosevelt offered to help occupied Norway, which provoked Churchill's objections. The Englishman believed that conditions in Belgium are worse than in Norway, so it is illogical to take such a step. The prime minister's policy was directed against a common enemy, and the intriguers presented the matter in such a way that Churchill decided to leave the Belgians without food. The Americans themselves, in general, initially wanted to help only the unoccupied territories. And Churchill, on the one hand, knew all the hopelessness of the Belgian uprising, and on the other, he did not provoke this situation in any way. It is known that the British advocated the evacuation of children from Belgium to Switzerland, where they would not have suffered so much from the blockade of Europe.
Because of Churchill, the Bengal Holocaust happened during the Second World War. Some researchers directly blame Churchill for the famine that happened in 1943-1945 in Bengal. Then 6-7 million Indians died, which the country that defeated Nazism prefers not to remember. Allegedly, Churchill decided not to send ships to India necessary for waging a war in Europe. And the large number of Indians allowed to turn a blind eye to the increased mortality. The real reason for the outbreak of famine was the Japanese capture of Burma, which deprived India of its main source of rice. Domestic resources were damaged by a destructive cyclone that swept through East Bengal in October 1942. Churchill can be imputed that he refused to transfer food supplies to India from other countries, but that was wartime - everyone needed it. In reality, the British prime minister was deeply concerned about the humanitarian catastrophe, he did everything possible so that the Indians had the opportunity to feed themselves. A smart move was the appointment of Field Marshal Wavell as Viceroy, who mobilized the military to deliver food to the affected areas. So Churchill tried to mitigate the problem. In addition, the British were in that region also busy with the containment of the Japanese. If they had invaded Bengal, there would have been many more casualties.
The first use of the lethal gas is associated with Churchill's name. Even during the Crimean War of 1853-1855, the British were going to shell the positions of the Russian troops with chemical weapons. The full use of poison gas took place during the First World War. Then the Germans fired several shells with some toxic substances at the French. But the wind then thwarted the attack. The Germans were the first to start chemical warfare. In total, during the First World War, the parties used 125 thousand tons of poisonous gases, which claimed 800 thousand lives. For the sake of murder, people used about 60 different poisonous compounds. After the end of the First World War, the Entente began to fight on the territory of Russia, using already tested chemical weapons. On August 27, 1919, near Arkhangelsk, the British used a new means, adamsite, against the Red Army. The soldiers caught in the green cloud vomited blood, losing consciousness. Winston Churchill at that time was the Minister of War and welcomed such actions. He considered it permissible to use poisonous gases against uncivilized tribes, meaning the Indians. Churchill criticized his colleagues for disgust. And the chemical attacks against the Red Army continued throughout September 1919. However, the weapon was not as effective as Churchill had hoped. The damp autumn weather was also to blame. The British sank the weapons themselves in the White Sea. Thus, Churchill, although he is behind the use of deadly chemical weapons, was clearly not a pioneer in this matter.
Churchill had a parrot scolding Hitler with strong words. There is a legend that in 1937 a politician bought a female macaw and named her Charlie. He taught this bird to swear at the Nazis and Hitlers personally. There are several birds living in the world today, claiming the title of "Churchill's parrot." One of the main contenders, Charlie's blue and yellow macaw lives in Heathfield and is considered the oldest bird in England. Tourists are eager to see this creature. But the politician's daughter, Mary Soames, claims that her father never had a foul-mouthed bird. Polly, a gray Gabonese parrot, lived on the Chartwell country estate. The woman finds it ridiculous to think that during the war Churchill spent precious time teaching the bird to swear.
Churchill had an English Bulldog. Where this myth came from is easy to understand. The wise politician often posed with the bulldog. For the British this breed is a symbol of commitment to tradition, patriotism and stability. But Churchill had a dwarf brown poodle, Rufus. In general, the politician was crazy about cats.
Churchill admired Stalin. There is a rather voluminous myth about the respect the British prime minister had for the Soviet leader. Here is the story that when Stalin entered, Western politicians involuntarily got up, and the famous phrase "took the country with a plow, and left with an atomic bomb." Researchers have convincingly shattered this myth. Some sources contain Churchill's speech in the House of Lords in 1959 on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the birth of Stalin. Only in the collected works of the politician there is no such speech. Links to Encyclopedia Britannica lead nowhere - no volume, no page number. And Churchill could not glorify Stalin, taking into account Khrushchev's outlined warming in England and the USSR. If you analyze in detail that "speech", it turns out that part of it was simply taken from another speech by Churchill, back in 1942. And in 1959, an 84-year-old Englishman was seriously ill and his speech center was struck. And the phrase about the plow and the bomb in general appeared in 1953 by the communist writer Isaac Deutscher. True, initially it was about reactors. It's just that the compilers replaced them with bombs and inserted them into Churchill's fake speech. So, for the sake of Stalinist sentiments, this myth was concocted, you cannot say otherwise.
Churchill was a heavy smoker. The image of Churchill with a cigar in his hand is considered a classic. He was said to have smoked 8 to 15 Havana cigars daily. However, the politician himself was calm about this habit. So, in 1947, he had a hernia removed, and he gave up cigars for two weeks without any problems, fearing complications. And before his performance in Fulton in March 1946, Churchill defiantly lit a cigar, explaining to those around him that the audience would expect a trademark from him. The politician did not want to disappoint his voters.