Winston Churchill (1874-1965) is one of the most famous politicians in the history of Great Britain, and indeed of the whole world. He was the Prime Minister of the country in 1940-1945 and 1951-1955. It is a multifaceted personality that has manifested itself not only in politics, but also in literature. In 1953, Churchill received even the Nobel Prize for his work.
The British in 2002, on the basis of a survey of the BBC, called politics the greatest representative of the nation in history. Thanks to him, the English were able to withstand in both world wars, the politician is known for his historical speeches, which inspired his people to great feats.
Today the story of Churchill’s life is popularly viewed by biographers, and his image was repeatedly embodied on a movie screen. Nevertheless, in the life of the famous English politician there are many puzzles, blank spots or simply common myths. Let’s try to learn about Churchill a little more, refuting some legends about him.
Churchill was born into a noble family.
Actually, only Churchill’s father, the third son of the Duke of Marlborough, could boast of aristocratic origin. But his wife, nee Jenny Jerome, had a different dignity. She was the daughter of an American millionaire. The Churchill family riches their wealth-Randolph did not have an inheritance or title. Even the British Prime Minister Disraeli in his time ironically said of the Dukes of Marlborough: “They are not rich enough to be dukes.” The family sold out their family values, paintings and lands on the sly. A marriage to a rich, albeit beterless American, allowed Randolph to immediately pay off his debts and get a solid foundation for further activity.
Randolph was not the father of Winston Churchill.
Relations between the spouses Jenny and Randolph were not ideal. The man did a lot of politics, he was sick. His wife had many admirers. It was thanks to them that a career developed between her husband and her son. And Winston himself was born only 7.5 months after the wedding. It is likely that he was not premature, but was simply conceived even before the wedding on the side. In any case, there is no truth here. On the one hand Prince of Wales Bertie openly told Winston that without him he would not have been born. And on the other hand, Randolph himself never questioned his paternity.
Among the American ancestors of Churchill were the Iroquois Indians.
By being half American, the British prime minister himself was proud. But thanks to his maternal grandfather, Winston had at least two ancestors who fought with the British during the War of Independence. Jenny’s mother, nee Clarissa Willcox, was probably half the Mohawk. Her father, David Willcocks, married Anna Baker, settling in New York in 1791. There are rumors that Clarissa was actually a foster child, half Indian, but this is never to be recognized. Winston’s mother, showing her son the portrait of his grandmother, marked her swarthy face and oval, not at all Anglo-Saxon. But the family legend of the Iroquois ancestors never received documentary evidence.
If Winston Churchill were a duke, his fate was different.
If the elder brother of his father, George Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, had no heirs, Winston would have inherited the title. Together with this he would have the right to sit in the House of Lords. The myth says that then Churchill would not be able to become prime minister, the story would have developed quite differently. In fact, in the United Kingdom there is no legislative ban on a member of the House of Lords to hold the post of Prime Minister. The last time this honorary post was taken by a member of the upper house in 1895, it was Count Robert Salisbury. Even Churchill himself, already a prime minister, was given the title of lord in April 1953, but for another two years he headed the government. So the title of the Duke would not have been an insurmountable obstacle to Winston Churchill’s success.That’s only meetings in the House of Lords had much less political weight than in the House of Commons. So, being among noblemen, the politician in any case had little chance to get the post of prime minister. On the other hand, his Churchill occupied in a critical situation, when the Allies lost in France. If at that time the politician was in the House of Lords, he would still be able to criticize the policy of appeasement and blow trumpet about 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, also engaged in politics. In the 1880s, thanks to his wit and sarcasm, he reached the pinnacle of his career. Randolph Henry Spencer often performed vividly in the House of Commons, and in the government managed to visit the Minister for 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 disagreement with other ministers on the issue of foreign policy. In 25 years of politics, he married the American beauty Jenny Jerome. The passion flared up so quickly that the engagement was announced three days after the meeting. After retiring from active affairs, Randolph started off with his wife on a journey. 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 45 years old. The cause of death was general paralysis, although rumors about the last stage of syphilis began to spread. A sharp deterioration in his health could be the result of tertiary syphilis, which affects the brain and manifests itself 10 to 20 years after infection. In 1924, an autobiography of journalist Harris came out, which told the story of an English politician, Jennings. He was a friend and colleague of Randolph. Allegedly in his time fellow students put the drunk Randolph with the “old witch”. He woke up in the morning, was horrified, threw money to the whore and fled. Soon Randolph was forced to see a doctor for a disinfectant. As a result, he had typical round chancres. In fact, this story is extremely doubtful. The probability of contracting syphilis from one sexual act is less than one percent. At the time of publication, Jennings was already dead, and there was a motive for him to slander Churchill because of political disagreements and quarrels. It is worth saying that the same journalist Harris claimed about the presence of syphilis in both Oscar Wilde and Guy de Maupassant. The version with syphilis is also denied by the fact that neither Randolph’s spouse nor his children had any signs of it. At the end of the XIX century, the detection of syphilis was extremely difficult, and it was accepted in medicine to write off everything for this disease.
Churchill adored the Armenian cognac.
This myth is overgrown with even details. It is believed that everything began with the meeting of Stalin with Churchill either at the Tehran, or at the Yalta Conference. Armenian cognac was so popular with an Englishman that Stalin began to send his colleague regularly on a box of the best brandy “Dvin”. Once Churchill discovered that his favorite drink had lost its former taste. Then the politician expressed his discontent with the Soviet leader. It turned out that the master Margar Sadrakyan, who was engaged in blending cognac, was repressed and exiled to Siberia. Stalin had to return to the specialist, restore the rank and even reward the star of the Hero of Socialist Labor. 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 tried brandy “Dvin”, and this drink was really developed by Sedrakyan. The master worked at the Yerevan Brandy Factory as a technologist from 1948 to 1973. But the brand began to be produced since 1945, that is, “Dvin” in Tehran, Churchill could not try. And the whole story and the dispatch of cognac looks contrived – after the Fulton speech, the relations between Britain and the USSR have cooled noticeably. A favorite brand of brandy Churchill all biographers call “Hine”.
Churchill was a stutterer.
Surprisingly, this question interests contemporaries today. There is an opinion that in fact Churchill did not stutter, but lisped. But even authoritative funds to combat stuttering use the image of the politician in their advertisements. Biographers tell how in 1897 the young Winston turned to the doctor with a lisp. He pronounced “c” as “sh”. And with this, experts could not do anything, and Churchill was able even in spite of this to become a brilliant orator. In fact, the problems with speech were the same as those of the father, who also did not have a clean “c”. After returning from India in 1897, Winston visited Sir Felix Semen, a well-known expert on speech problems. He confirmed that the young man does not have birth defects, the problem can be solved through practice and perseverance. Churchill himself explained his manner of speaking through his nose by the fact that his language has some special bundle. Nevertheless, he practiced a lot, repeating complex phrases. Churchill’s numerous secretaries do not write anything about his stammering, and in his speeches there was only a charming lisp. In the course of public speeches, the politician played his own voice in order to achieve maximum effect, sometimes imitating stammering in places. But he never had such a defect.
Churchill was a mediocre student.
Biographers write that Churchill did not really study well, but he was not mediocre. The thing is that the future prime minister did not show himself where he was not interested. But he singled out useful subjects for himself. Churchill shone on history, English, military tactics and strategy.
Sir Alexander Fleming twice saved Churchill.
Fleming became famous as an inventor of an antibiotic. There is a myth about how Churchill nearly drowned in a Scottish lake, saved by his country boy Alex. Allegedly in gratitude for this politician decided to sponsor his medical education. Alexander Fleming later invented penicillin and this medicine saved the sick with a pneumonia premiere. 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. Later, the politician could receive other antibiotics for viral diseases, these funds have already become public. Speaking of the first part of the myth – could a 13-year-old teenager save a 20-year-old guy? And there are no records from biographers about that history with the lake in Scotland. And in the financial accounts of the Churchill family there is nothing that would have anything to do with paying for the training of Alexander Fleming. He in general at 14 years old moved to the brothers in London, choosing a 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.
June 4, 1940 in the House of Commons, in a difficult time for the country, Winston Churchill uttered one of the greatest speeches in history. This was his fourth performance as a prime minister. The audience was shocked, bursting into a standing ovation. That evening the BBC broadcast a speech on the radio. It is said that Churchill refused to repeat the emotional performance, this was done for him by the actor Norman Shelley, who managed to imitate the voice of the politician. And this myth was included in numerous books about Churchill. In fact, on the evening of June 4, there was no broadcast of speech politics at all. The radio announcer in the news simply read out excerpts from the speech. It was alleged that the basis for hearing was due to Shelley’s interview given in December 1981. Only he died back in the 1980s. Churchill really did not like the radio, but there is no evidence that someone had replaced him there. The study of policy speeches by linguists confirmed this.
Churchill knew about the upcoming attack of Japan on Pearl Harbor, but did not warn the US.
According to this myth, the British politician, with his silence, did everything to involve America in the Second World War. American journalists even call Churchill a traitor for this.In fact, British and American cryptographers could only recognize 5 to 20 percent of Japanese code. The military themselves argue that they have not received an encoded evidence of an attack from the enemy. Was it possible to learn something from the noise? Accordingly, neither Churchill nor the American authorities knew about the place of attack of the Japanese. But conspiracy theories continue to blossom, exposing “traitors”.
Churchill brutally suppressed the revolt of the Welsh miners.
In 1911, a strike broke out in the coal mines in Rondda. The workers were indignant at the unfair labor remuneration system. Then it was on strike from 25 to 30 thousand miners. After the robberies began, the authorities applied to the military department. Churchill, as the Minister of the Interior, consulted with the Minister of War. It was decided to send the police to Wales, but to place nearby troops. Churchill himself wrote to the king that in the valley of Rondd there is a satisfactory situation. The area is controlled by the police, there is no need to enlist the army. When the situation became heated, Churchill drew in additional forces, again not using the army. He was then criticized for being indecisive, but one can only imagine what would happen if opposing rebels were thrown into bayonets, not batons. This would lead to many victims. A funny story occurred in 1967, when an Oxford student in his work wrote that Churchill generally suppressed that rebellion by tanks.
Churchill knew about the Holocaust, but did not stop it.
The fact that Churchill knew about the Holocaust is not new. Politics accuse him 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 not right to think that his assistance consisted only in bringing the war to victory. The politician took several steps, global and minor, to try and mitigate the consequences of the Holocaust. At the same time, 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 making public German cipher messages.
On the night of November 14, 1940, three hundred German bombers dropped over 500 tons of explosives into the sleeping English town. 33 thousand incendiary bombs and dozens of mines on parachutes fell on industrial Coventry. More than 507 civilians were killed. It is said that Churchill knew of the impending attack, but allowed it to happen in order to draw America into the war. Allegedly, the prime minister defended an important secret – the decoding of the Enigma code, which enabled him to use knowledge in the future. In fact, intelligence reported to Churchill on November 12 that the Germans are preparing for a raid on one of five objectives: Central London, Greater London, the Thames Valley, the Kent or Essex coast. 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 toward the need to protect the capital. Firefighters and rescuers in London received instructions, and Churchill himself planned, just in case, to spend the weekend outside the city. 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 greater than in London. But even these measures were not enough to save the city from a fiery storm. But Churchill did everything he could. He just logically trusted the experts, waiting for a strike elsewhere.
Churchill quoted the radical poet Claude Mackay.
When Jamaica celebrated the 50th anniversary of its independence, Churchill’s center received a request from the authorities of the island state. They wanted to know whether the legendary prime minister really 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 swept the States in 1919, a poem “If we are destined to die” was created. It was published in the left press.Already in our time there was a myth that Churchill quoted McKay’s lines when speaking in the House of Commons or the US Congress. In fact, there is no evidence of this citation in the protocols of the policy statement. It is unlikely that the premier, knowing the ambiguous personality of the poet, would allow himself to be quoted. Especially in the Congress in those days, the mainly southern racists sat. Confusion could arise from the fact that Churchill used the very phrase “If we are destined to die” in his speeches during the Second World War. It is not excluded that Churchill heard these words somewhere. Mackay in 1919 moved to London, where he worked in radical newspapers. And Churchill liked to read all the press that had to do with politics.
Churchill maintained food supplies to occupied Europe.
According to this myth, the Englishman wanted to cause riots among the needy, while Roosevelt insisted on sea supplies of food. Churchill supported the American president, who carried out humanitarian aid to France. But in 1943, Roosevelt offered to help occupied Norway, which caused Churchill’s objections. The Englishman believed that the 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 exposed the matter so that Churchill decided to leave the Belgians without food. The Americans themselves initially wanted to help only the unoccupied territories. Yes, and Churchill on the one hand knew the hopelessness of the Belgian uprising, and on the other – 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 in the Second World War, the Bengal Holocaust happened.
Some researchers directly accuse Churchill of the famine that occurred 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 to India the ships necessary for war in Europe. Yes, and the large number of Indians allowed to look through your fingers at the increased mortality. The real cause of the outbreak of famine was the seizure of Burma by the Japanese, which deprived India of the main source of rice. The internal resources were damaged by the destructive cyclone that passed through East Bengal in October 1942. Churchill can be imputed to the fact that he refused to transfer food supplies to India from other countries, but it was war time – everyone needed it. In fact, the British prime minister was deeply concerned about the humanitarian catastrophe, he did everything possible to enable the Indians to feed themselves. A wise move was the appointment of the vice-king, Field Marshal Wavell, who mobilized the military to deliver food to the affected areas. So Churchill tried to soften the problem. In addition, the British were in the region busy with deterring the Japanese. If they invaded Bengal, the victims would be much more.
The first use of 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 Russian troops with chemical weapons. The full use of poison gas took place during the First World War. Then the Germans fired several French shells with some poisonous substances. But the wind then ripped off the attack. The Germans were the first to start a chemical war. In total during the First World War, the parties used 125 thousand tons of toxic gases, which claimed 800 thousand lives. For the sake of killing people used about 60 different poisonous compounds. After the end of the First World War, the Entente began to fight in Russia, using already tested chemical weapons. August 27, 1919 under the Arkhangelsk British against the Red Army used a new means, adamsit. The soldiers who fell into the green cloud were tearing blood, losing consciousness.Winston Churchill at that time was a military minister and welcomed such actions. He considered it permissible to use poisonous gases against uncivilized tribes, meaning Indians. Churchill criticized his colleagues for his disgust. And chemical attacks against the Red Army continued throughout September 1919. However, the weapons were not as effective as Churchill hoped. Guilty of that was the damp autumn weather. The British themselves have sunk the weapons themselves in the White Sea. Thus, Churchill, although he stands behind the use of lethal chemical weapons, was clearly not a pioneer in this matter.
Churchill had a parrot that scolded Hitler’s strong words.
There is a legend that in 1937 a politician bought a female ara and named it Charlie. This bird he taught obscene swearing at the Nazis and personally Hitler. Today in the world there are several birds claiming the title of “parrot Churchill.” One of the main contenders, the blue-yellow macaw Charlie lives in Heathfield and is considered the oldest bird in England. Tourists are hungry to see this creature. But the daughter of the politician, Mary Soames, claims that her father never had a foul-mouthed bird. In the suburban manor of Chartwell lived the same gray Gabon parrot Polly. The woman considers the ridiculous idea that during the war, Churchill wasted valuable time teaching the bird to swear words.
Churchill had an English bulldog.
Where this myth came from is easy to understand. A wise politician often posed with a bulldog. This breed for the British is a symbol of adherence to tradition, patriotism and stability. But at home at Churchill lived a dwarf brown poodle Rufus. In general, the politician was crazy about cats.
Churchill bowed before Stalin.
There is a rather voluminous myth about the respect that the British prime minister felt for the Soviet leader. There is also a story about the fact that at the entrance of Stalin, Western politicians unwittingly stood up, and the famous phrase “took the country with a plow, but left it with an atomic bomb.” Researchers convincingly break this myth. In some sources Churchill’s speech in the House of Lords occurs in 1959 on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the birth of Stalin. It’s only in the collection of works that the politician does not have such a speech. References to the British encyclopedia lead nowhere – there is neither a volume nor a page number. Yes, and Churchill could not glorify Stalin, given the emerging warming of Britain and the USSR Khrushchev. If you disassemble in detail that “performance”, it turns out that part of it was simply taken from another speech Churchill, still 1942. And in 1959, the 84-year-old Englishman was seriously ill and his speech center was struck. And the phrase about a plow and a bomb in general appeared in 1953 in the communist writer Isaac Deutscher. True, it was originally about reactors. Simply the compilers replaced them with bombs and inserted into Churchill’s false speech. So for the sake of Stalin’s moods and was cooked up, otherwise you will not tell, this myth.
Churchill was an avid smoker.
Classic is the image of Churchill with a cigar in his hand. It was said that he daily smoked from 8 to 15 Havana cigars. However, the politician himself was calm about this habit. So, in 1947, a hernia was removed, and he refused cigars without any problems for two weeks, fearing complications. And before his speech in Fulton in March 1946, Churchill demonstratively lit a cigar, explaining to others that the audience would expect a brand name from him. The politician did not want to disappoint his voters.