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Churchill’s Judgement of Hitler – “Arguably: Selected Essays” – Christopher Hitchens

July 5th, 2012 · No Comments · Genocide, History, Leadership, Politics, WW2

It’s important to remember that many people, before the war, could look at Hitler and see a man with whom business could be done. Winston Churchill, in a 1935 essay from his book Great Contemporaries, had this to say:

“It is not possible to form a just judgment of a public figure who has attained the enormous dimensions of Adolf Hitler until his life work as a whole is before us. Although no subsequent political action can condone wrong deeds, history is replete with examples of men who have risen to power by employing stern, grim, and even frightful methods, but who, nevertheless, when their life is revealed as a whole, have been regarded as great figures whose lives have enriched the story of mankind. So may it be with Hitler.”

I’ve always thought that—coming as it did two years after Hitler’s seizure of power—this was a bit lenient. Churchill raised his eyebrows all right at the maltreatment of the German Jews, and at the pace of German re-armament, but (as he had done earlier with Mussolini) could not withhold admiration for Hitler’s Kampf itself:

“The story of that struggle cannot be read without admiration for the courage, the perseverance, and the vital force which enabled him to challenge, defy, conciliate, or overcome all the authorities or resistances which barred his path.”

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