Part of a statement issued by Churchill to the press responding to remarks made by Hitler about Churchill, 6 November 1938
ReferenceCHAR 9/133/18-19 (images 23 and 24)
I’m surprised that the head of a great state is attacking an ordinary British MP who isn’t even a party leader. Attacking me probably increases my influence rather than reducing it.
Hitler is wrong to say that Mr Eden, Mr Duff Copper, myself and the Labour and Liberal leaders want war with Germany. However, we do want our country to be properly defended and we also want to be able to help those we’ve promised to defend. I admire Hitler as a leader and for the way he has restored German pride. But he should be happy with his successes and should now stop demanding more. History would be very positive towards Hitler if he became a man of peace and tolerance now.
6.11.38 1 [handwritten]
Mr Churchill issued the following statement:
I am surprised the head of a great state should set himself to attack British members of Parliament, who hold no official position and are not even the leaders of parties. Such action on his part can only enhance the influence they may have, because their fellow-countrymen have long been able to form their own opinions about them, and really do not need foreign guidance.
Herr Hitler is quite mistaken in supposing that Mr Eden, Mr Duff-Cooper, myself and the leaders of the Liberal and Labour parties are war-mongers. Not one of us has ever dreamed of an act of aggression against Germany. We are, however, concerned to make sure that our own country is properly defended, so that we can be safe and free, and also help others to whom we are bound. Herr Hitler ought to understand this mood and respect it. I have always said that if Great Britain was defeated in war, I hope we should find a Hitler to lead us back to their our rightful position among the nations. I am sorry, however, that he has not been mellowed by the great success which has attended him. The whole world would rejoice to see the
Hitler of peace and tolerance, and nothing would adorn his name in world history so much as acts of magnanimity and of mercy and pity for the forlorn and friendless, the weak and the poor.
Since he has been good enough to give me his advice, I venture to return the compliment.
What is this source?
This is a draft of Churchill’s statement to the press following an article by Hitler. It was later published in the national press.
Background to this source
This article was a response to a piece which had been written by Hitler. Hitler was upset by the views of Churchill and other British politicians in criticising Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement and in criticising Hitler. Anthony Eden was a Conservative and as Foreign Secretary from 1935 he’d been a key Cabinet minister involved with Britain’s relations with Germany. Eden resigned in February 1938 because he disagreed with appeasement. Duff Cooper was also a Conservative Cabinet minister who criticised the policy of appeasement and resigned the day after the Munich Agreement. The Liberal and Labour Parties were also very critical of the Conservative government’s policy of appeasement under Chamberlain.
In the years 1935–38 the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had been pursuing aggressive policies such as building up German arms and demanding territories. In 1936 he marched troops into the Rhineland and there’d been no resistance. In 1938 he joined Austria to Germany. In September 1938 he was demanding the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia should become part of Germany. War looked very likely but British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew to meet Hitler in Munich and effectively gave him what he wanted, assuming that this would satisfy Hitler and guarantee future peace.
How can we use this source in the investigation?
Remember, we’re hoping that this source can be useful to us in investigating how far people agreed with Churchill’s views on appeasement in the 1930s. Sources usually help historians in two ways:
- Why does Churchill say he’s surprised?
- Why does he think Hitler’s attacks will make Churchill and other critics of Hitler more influential?
- In what ways is Hitler mistaken?
- What does Churchill think of Hitler?
- What does he think Hitler should do next?
Which of the inferences below can be made from this source?
|On a scale of 1-5 how far do you agree that this source supports this inference?||Which extract(s) from the source support your argument?|
|Churchill was a lone voice in criticising appeasement.|
|Churchill admired Hitler.|
|Churchill wasn’t being listened to.|
|There was a strong fear of war.|
Need help interpreting the source?
- The key to this source is understanding that by this date Hitler and Churchill had been opposed to each other for years. The tone of this article looks polite, but you can see the ways in which Churchill is criticising Hitler.
- Saying that Hitler should do certain things is a roundabout way of saying that he is not doing those things and is wrong for not doing them.
Explore the guide to interpreting letters