"The Man Who Saved the World"? - How the British Think About Winston Churchill Today

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2003

13 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table Of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Historical Facts about Churchill

III. How is Churchill depicted in British Media today?

IV. What do you think about Churchill? – a sample questionnaire for a survey in Britain

V. Conclusion

VI. Bibliography

VII. A sample questionnaire for a survey in Britain

I. Introduction

Often in history, people change their opinion about important historical figures. Statesmen despised by their people are often admired soon after their death or even right after they are deselected. People revered during their lifetime have become outcasts after historical facts turned up that proving they were failures or even felons.

Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1955, has experienced both during lifetime. Before Winston Churchill became British Prime Minister, some people called him a “brilliant abnegator.“[1] But his courageous fight against Hitler during World War II had a lasting effect on Churchill’s reputation, and in the years after the war he was almost transfigured.

Incredibly much has been written about Churchill as a politician, statesman, strategist and historian, a man with indomitable zest for action, a brilliant mind and a hot temper.[2] As a consequence from the personality cult of his time, he was declared the “Anti-Hitler.“[3] John Charmley, a Churchill biographer, writes that „Churchill stood for the British Empire, for British independence and for an “anti-socialist vision of Britain.“[4]

Yet not every aspect of his long and eventful life is viewed positively today: Charmley also points out that all Churchill had contributed to the European idea was “hardly more than an impressive speech.“[5] Churchill’s order to bomb civil residential areas of German cities in WWII to demoralize the people and to take revenge on the Germans for air raids on Coventry and London is seen as critically as his involvement in decisions that led to the to the expulsion on 12.4 million people after WWII. Yet most people agree that Churchill’s unbendingness saved the lives of millions of people.[6]

Other biographers often emphasized his racist attitudes, although these were still common among Europeans until the late 1950s.[7] Churchill was convinced of the White - not to say Anglo-Saxon - supremacy.[8] Most interestingly, under his government Britain started becoming a multicultural society. The same goes for the principles of eugenics, which he was convinced of, but which were also widespread among contemporaries.[9] However, he also talked about the Jews as „the most impressive and remarkable race that has ever appeared on earth,“[10] which contrasts him from ideological racists of his time as well as the fact that many biographers mention his magnanimity as his predominant character trait.[11]

So we see that Churchill is a most complex and interesting figure in history. During an ASIII history lesson, we had a discussion whether Churchill is still being admired among the British or not. I thought this question was interesting enough to write a research paper about it.

II. Historical facts about Churchill

Winston Spencer Churchill was born in 1874 as a descendant of the famous duke of Marlborough.[12] His political career started with an unsuccessful candidature for the House of Commons in 1899.[13] But in 1906 Churchill was elected as a Liberal Member for North-West Manchester. He had a variety of political functions until the outbreak of WWII on 1 September 1939, when he joined the war cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty.[14]

On Friday, 10 May 1940 Churchill received the order to form a new administration from King George VI: “It was the evident wish and will of the parliament and the nation that this should be conceived on the broadest possible basis and that it should include all parties, both those who supported the late government and also the parties of the Opposition,“[15] he said to the House of Commons in his first speech as Prime Minister.

This day was a fateful one in European history. Until then, Hitler’s direct opponents had been politicians who were clearly inferior to him considering decisiveness and willpower.[16] Hitler had been sure that the British government under Chamberlain, who had promised “Peace for out time“ after the Munich Conference in 1938, would finally accept the occupation of Poland[17], since Chamberlain was a most successful economist but knew little about foreign affairs.[18]

After Neville Chamberlain's policy of “containment“ had failed to stop Hitler and his Nazi regime, “hard-liner“ Churchill managed to motivate the British people to fight Nazi Germany. His first speech to the house of Commons became his most famous one, also containing the words “I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government; ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.’“ (...) “You ask, what is your policy? I can say: it is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us;“[19]


[1] Aigner 147

[2] Aigner 147

[3] Aigner 149

[4] Charmley 698

[5] Charmley 698

[6] Krockow 216

[7] Roberts 291

[8] Roberts 291

[9] Roberts 292

[10] Roberts 291

[11] Münkler 29

[12] Münkler 25

[13] Münkler 27

[14] www.winstonchurchill.org

[15] Churchill 7

[16] Münkler 15

[17] Münkler 21

[18] Krockow 101

[19] Churchill 9

Excerpt out of 13 pages


"The Man Who Saved the World"? - How the British Think About Winston Churchill Today
University of Koblenz-Landau  (I. f. Anglistik&Romanistik)
Area Studies III
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
424 KB
The paper deals with the depiciton of Winston Churchill in the British print Media. It also contains a sample questionnaire for a possible research among British people. The Appendix offers a critique of a variety of British newspaper web sites where I searched for information about the depiction of Winston Churchll.
Saved, World, British, Think, About, Winston, Churchill, Today, Area, Studies
Quote paper
Bernd Blasius (Author), 2003, "The Man Who Saved the World"? - How the British Think About Winston Churchill Today, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/58293


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